Japanese govt. chooses 'Reiwa' as new era name

Japanese govt. chooses 'Reiwa' as new era name

"Reiwa" is a name that will be on the lips of most Japanese today and it will be for years to come. It's the name the Japanese government has selected for the new era, which is set to start when Crown Prince Naruhito becomes the new Emperor on May 1.

The announcement was highly anticipated in Japan because it will define the years ahead, as well as play a daily role in people's lives.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced on Monday, "The new era name is 'Reiwa'." Suga said, "We'll work towards getting the new era name widely accepted and deeply rooted in the lives of the Japanese people."

The Chief Cabinet Secretary says the new name was taken from Manyoshu, the oldest existing anthology of Japanese poetry.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explained the meaning and inspiration of the new era name saying, "Culture is nurtured when people beautifully bring their hearts together. 'Reiwa' has that meaning."

Abe says the name represents the hope that every Japanese person will achieve their aspirations just like a plum flower flourishing after a severe winter.

The government chose the new era name after going through numerous steps, including discussions with an expert panel and heads of both houses of the Diet.

NHK has learned that the government submitted six name proposals to the experts. The final decision was made by all ministers at a Cabinet meeting.

Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30, which will end the current "Heisei" era.

The government is announcing the new name in advance, so companies and the general public can prepare for the change.

The era name is used on numerous occasions and official papers, including drivers' licenses, health insurance cards, and calendars.

It's the first time for the character "rei" to be used in an era name. The second "wa" has been used 19 times in past era names.