Japan has announced that the name of its new imperial era, set to begin on 1 May, will be “Reiwa” – signifying order and harmony.
The country’s current era, Heisei, will end in a month with Emperor Akihito’s historic abdication.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced the highly anticipated name by holding up a board with the characters handwritten on it.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has addressed the nation to explain its meaning.
Each Japanese emperor’s reign, or “gengo”, is given a name that is then used alongside the Western calendar to mark the years.
What does Reiwa mean?
The term for the new era is made up of the two characters Rei and Wa. Rei can mean “commands” or “order”, as well as “auspicious” or “good”.
Wa often means “harmony”, and is also used in the Japanese word for “peace” – “hei-wa”.
It is the first time a gengo’s name has been taken from an old anthology of Japanese poems, the Manyoshu, instead of a Chinese one, Mr Abe said.
The Manyoshu symbolises Japan’s “profound public culture and long tradition”, he said.
“Our nation is facing up to a big turning point, but there are lots of Japanese values that shouldn’t fade away,” Mr Abe told reporters.
The Manyoshu, which dates back to the 8th Century, depicts the auspicious month (“reigetsu”) in early spring when the winds have become temperate (“fu-wa”).
There have been only four eras in Japan’s modern history. Emperor Akihito’s current era, Heisei, which means “achieving peace”, was preceded by the Showa era (1926-1989), which can be translated as “enlightened harmony”.
Before that, the Taisho era (1912-1926) meant “great righteousness”, while the Meiji gengo (1868-1912) meant “enlightened rule” in English.
How significant is an imperial era?
Each gengo’s name aims to set the tone for the upcoming decades, and remains significant to most Japanese in their daily life.
It appears on coins, newspapers, driving licences and official paperwork.
Monday’s unveiling of the era name follows weeks of speculation and top-secret cabinet discussions and the winning term was eventually chosen by cabinet from a selection drawn up by a panel of scholars and experts.
Although still widely used, the gengo calendar is declining in popularity as Japan opens up to global influence.
Since both calendars use Western months, many people simply use them alongside each other.
China officials fired as coronovirus deaths surge past 1,300
Health officials in China‘s hard-hit central province of Hubei reported on Thursday that 242 more people died from the coronavirus COVID-19 as of Wednesday – the highest in a single day and more than twice the previous record high – pushing the death toll across the country to 1,355.
The province’s health commission also reported a huge jump in new cases, saying a further 14,840 people had been confirmed with the infection over the 24-hour period to midnight on Wednesday (16:00 GMT).
As this developed, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday that the head of the Communist party in the province of Hubei has been relieved of his post – the latest in a line of local officials fired.
Hubei is at the centre of the outbreak, which is thought to have originated in a now-closed seafood market in the capital of Wuhan late last year.
Former Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong has been appointed as the new secretary of the Hubei Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, replacing Jiang Chaoliang, the report said, citing the party’s central committee.
Al Jazeera’s Katrina Yu, reporting from Beijing, said “it was expected that somebody’s head was on the chopping block”.
“There’s been a lot of criticism about the information not being so forthcoming” from Hubei officials, she added. (Via AlJazeera)
NBA Legend Kobe Bryant dies at 41
Basketball legend Kobe Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore Bryant were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday.
It’s hard to believe NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, whose prodigious talent and win-at-all-costs spirit made him one of the most famous and decorated athletes in history, is gone.
Trump confirms he is considering attempt to buy Greenland
Donald Trump has confirmed he is considering an attempt to buy Greenland for strategic reasons, though he said the idea is “not No1 on the burner”.
The US president’s interest, reported earlier this week, was greeted internationally with widespread hilarity but with indignation in Greenland and Denmark.
The government of the semi-autonomous Danish territory insisted it was not for sale. The Danish prime minister called any discussion of a sale “absurd”.
Nonetheless, on Sunday White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow first confirmed the story in an interview, before Trump spoke to reporters as he left New Jersey to return from vacation to Washington.
Saying the “concept came up” and he was “looking at it”, the man who runs a notoriously leaky White House also questioned how the idea found its way to the press.
Trump sought to tie the idea of a US purchase of the world’s largest island – not including the continent of Australia – to his own area of professional expertise, saying it would be “essentially a large real estate deal”.
“Denmark essentially owns it,” he said. “We’re very good allies with Denmark, we protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world. So the concept came up and I said, ‘Certainly I’d be.’ Strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested but we’ll talk to them a little bit. It’s not No1 on the burner, I can tell you that.”
(Via The Guardian)