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'Reiwa' era name announcement draws plaudits, mountains of internet mentions

Hashtagged references to Reiwa, Japan's next era name, are seen on Twitter.

TOKYO -- Some 64 percent of respondents to an online poll by internet search portal Yahoo! Japan approve of the next "Reiwa" era name, set to go into effect on May 1 when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends to the Imperial Throne.

As of just before noon on April 2, some 213,325 votes had been cast in the survey, with 64.3 percent in favor of the next era name. Some 28 percent said they did not think it was a good choice, with 8 percent stating they did not know or were indifferent.

"There are really a lot of answers to the poll, which shows how interested the Japanese people are in the new era name," a Yahoo public relations representative said. The survey will run until April 11.

Meanwhile, there were some 370,000 Twitter references to "Reiwa" over a 15-minute period from 11:45 a.m. on April 11, shortly after the era name's announcement, according to a Yahoo Japan analysis. In the two hours from 11:30 a.m., Reiwa mentions hit some 4.5 million. References apparently peaked twice, at the moment Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga revealed the era name, and when it was revealed it had been taken from a passage about plum blossoms in the "Manyoshu," the oldest extant collection of Japanese waka poetry.

The new era name announcement was also a major draw on TV, with public broadcaster NHK's live coverage of the event grabbing a 19.3 percent viewer share in the Kanto region around Tokyo from 11:00 to 11:57 a.m. on April 1, according to ratings tracker Video Research Ltd.

(Japanese original by Daisuke Oka, Business News Department, Yuka Narita, City News Department, and Hisanori Yashiro, Cultural News Department)

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