The Yomiuri ShimbunIt is essential to smoothly carry out a series of rituals, and the change of the era name, which are connected with Imperial succession. The government should take all possible measures to ensure the lives of the people are not negatively affected.
Less than six months remain before the Emperor’s abdication, the crown prince’s enthronement as his successor and the change of the era name. It will be the first time in about 200 years for an Imperial succession to follow an emperor’s abdication.
The government will submit to an extraordinary Diet session a bill to set 10 consecutive holidays during next year’s Golden Week period from late April to early May. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has explained that this is “intended to express the people’s congratulations” on Imperial succession.
The proposed consecutive holidays will serve to prevent confusion in economic and social activities and at the same time provide a chance for the people to look back on the Heisei era. Some people have expressed hope that the planned holidays will bring about economic benefits in such fields as travel and eating out.
The work to select the name of a new era has been making progress. The government will select from among multiple proposals, each consisting of two kanji characters, while considering things such as experts’ opinions.
Concerning the name of a new era, announcement ahead of the enthronement is being studied. It is expected that it will take place one month ahead of the enthronement day — seemingly appropriate timing considering the convenience of the public.
Align events with the times
Compared to the time when the era was changed to Heisei 30 years ago, computers have spread widely, making the whole society dependent on information systems.
Central government ministries and agencies, local governments and private businesses must update various systems. The public and private sectors should make all-out efforts to work out suitable measures as rapidly as possible.
Some Liberal Democratic Party members oppose the announcement in advance, saying, “It is reasonable to announce the name of a new era after enthronement.”
To avert confusion caused by the change of the name of an era, the government has already been going ahead with shifting from the Japanese calendar to the Western calendar. If trouble is caused by the announcement of the new era’s name after enthronement, it may further accelerate the tendency to shun the use of era names.
Many ceremonies accompany the Imperial succession. The Taiirei Seiden no Gi abdication ceremony is set for April 30, and the Kenji to Shokei no Gi for May 1. Rituals and ceremonies to declare the crown prince’s ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne, in Japan and abroad, will continue until next autumn. The government is required to proceed with preparations steadily to carry them out smoothly.
When the era name was changed from Showa to Heisei, government spending amounted to ¥12.3 billion. The banquet to celebrate the enthronement was held seven times, with many distinguished Japanese and foreign guests attending. The government is considering simplifying festivities.
It is imperative to consider the way events should be to fit with the times while keeping traditions and formalities.
Public duties performed by the Emperor and Empress around the country, such as attending the national tree-planting festival and the national athletic meet, will be taken over by a new emperor. The public duties conducted by the crown prince are expected to primarily be transferred to Prince Akishino.
Amid the continued decrease in the number of Imperial family members, how to streamline and share public duties is also an important task.