The Japanese government announced on Monday that the new Japanese era name when Crown Prince Naruhito accedes to the Imperial Throne will be "Reiwa" (令和), spelled with the kanji for "command/order" and "peace." The source of the kanji is inspired by the Man'yōshū, the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry. In the case of the passage it refers to, the "rei" in this case means more "auspicious" or "excellent." The same kanji for "wa" was used in the Shōwa era (1926–1989). Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated about the name, "For the first time in history, we based our era name on Japanese literature."
The new era name will take effect on May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito becomes the new emperor, after Emperor Akihito's abdication takes effect on April 30.
Emperor Akihito indicated his desire to abdicate due to health reasons in 2016, and the Japanese government passed a special law allowing his abdication in 2017.
Image via The Japan Times