Reiwa: 令和 The Beginning of Japan’s New Era

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Reiwa: 令和 The Beginning of Japan’s New Era was announced by the Japanese Government on 1 April Monday, 2019. At this time, Japan also entered a new financial year, welcoming with it some changes to its immigration rules too. These new immigration laws will allow some foreign nationals to enter Japan as unskilled workers. However, the biggest headline that stole the show was the change in Era.

The current ‘Heisei’ Era will end on May 1. The New ‘Reiwa’ Imperial Era will than come into play on this date. The change in Era is a result of the stepping down of Emperor Akihito. He is due to be succeeded by Crown Prince Naruhito, who will be become the new Imperial Emperor on the same date. This is the result of the longer than usual 10 day Golden Week Holiday.

Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, revealed the new era name “Reiwa” at a press conference.

Photo Source Reuters

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What Does the New Era Mean ?

The 令和 (Reiwa) Era, has multiple meanings. The first character「令」(Rei) pertains to positive meanings of ‘good’ and ‘beauty’ or ‘rule’ and ‘order’. The second character「 和」(wa) has feelings of ‘peace’, ‘harmony’ and ‘Japanese style and tradition’.

The new Reiwa Era’s name comes from Japan’s oldest poetry anthology ‘Manyoshu’ which was compiled more than 1,200 years ago. It contains poems by people of various social status. This includes emperors, noblemen and noblewomen, warriors and even ordinary farmers.

Abe stated that the new Era should encourage people to care and look after each other. He also said Japan should face the future with a new sense of direction and hope.

Japan also faces a new Era in terms of international events through the Rugby World Cup this year and Olympics in 2020. New Immigration rules for unskilled workers will also have an impact on the future of Japan shrinking labour force. Yet, while there is plenty of potential here to boost its global image, only time will tell to see how effectively it manages these events.

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