Can Japan’s Hopeful New Era Lift Up a Disillusioned Populace?

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks alongside a placard showing the name of Japan’s new era, “Reiwa,” at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo, April 1, 2019 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks alongside a placard showing the name of Japan’s new era, “Reiwa,” at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo, April 1, 2019 (AP photo by Eugene Hoshiko).
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Later this month, Japan’s Emperor Akihito will become the first monarch to abdicate in the country’s modern history. When he does, the curtains will fall on Japan’s current imperial era, known as “Heisei,” which began in 1989 when Akihito became emperor. His son, Crown Prince Naruhito, will accede to the throne on May 1, opening a new chapter in Japanese history. In a much-anticipated moment earlier this week, the government unveiled the name of that new era: “Reiwa.” Japan’s unique imperial calendar scheme dates back to the 7th century, and ever since the 1860s, the reign of every Japanese emperor […]

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