Editorial Notes

Japan's transition to new era should be smooth: Yomiuri Shimbun

Japan's Emperor Akihito (right) and Crown Prince Naruhito wave to a crowd during the New Year's greeting ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, on Jan 2, 2019.
Japan's Emperor Akihito (right) and Crown Prince Naruhito wave to a crowd during the New Year's greeting ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, on Jan 2, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

In its editorial, the paper urges the government to plan suitably for the new era in Japan.

TOKYO (THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - It is important to smoothly usher in each critical juncture of the times - the Emperor's abdication, the enthronement of a new emperor and a change in the name of an era.

It is hoped that the government and the people will cooperate to make the necessary arrangements for everything to go perfectly.

On the 30th anniversary on Monday of the demise of Emperor Showa and the accession to the throne by the current Emperor, ceremonies were held at the Imperial Palace and elsewhere to mark the anniversary of Emperor Showa's passing.

At a New Year press conference held prior to the ceremonies, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revealed a plan to announce the name of the new era on April 1, one month before Crown Prince Naruhito's accession to the throne and the switch to the new era name.

He emphasised that the advance announcement of the new name is aimed at curbing the impact of an era name change on the lives of the people.

The Emperor's abdication during his lifetime is the first such move in about 200 years.

In 2017, the government worked to have an exceptional-case law established to realise the Emperor's abdication, thereby paving the way for a change in the Imperial reign.

A distinctive feature of the upcoming era name change is that it is possible to make the necessary preparations in advance.

The government has an obligation to ensure no confusion or hindrance is caused to society.

Compared to the change of reign to Heisei, the forthcoming change comes at a time when computers are widespread in society.

It can be called an appropriate measure to announce the new era name in advance, thereby securing time to modify computer systems and make other preparations.

Government offices, local governments and private corporations set to modify their computer programs should be asked to take extreme care in this respect.

 
 
 

There were objections to the prior announcement within the Liberal Democratic Party, with some saying it is logical to announce the new era name after the enthronement of a new emperor.

Even if the new era name is announced in advance, they asserted, a government ordinance that stipulates the name should be signed and promulgated by the new emperor.

In that case, the switch to the new name would take place on May 2.

The name of an era is established by the Cabinet through a government ordinance. If a problem arises just because tradition and formalities are obstinately pursued over convenience, it seems to further encourage a tendency to prefer the Western calendar over the name of the Japanese era.

There are even concerns that the new era name will not become integrated in the lives of the people.

The government will select the name of a new era hereafter.

It will examine several possible names, each consisting of two kanji letters.

In consideration of the practice adopted in the Heisei era-name change, the government is expected to decide on the new era name after presenting it to an expert council.

These steps should be calmly proceeded with.

There will be 10 consecutive holidays before and after May 1.

This is said to be the longest stretch of holidays since the National Holidays Law took effect in 1948.

Some expect the holidays to create such ripple effects as an increase in people making trips and eating out during the holidays.

On the other hand, there are concerns that medical, childcare and financial services, among others, could be adversely affected.

Arrangements must be made for medical institutions in each area to take turns accepting patients.

Another task is to secure childcare services during the holidays.

It is also a pressing task to think about how to handle the massive amount of market transactions to be expected after the end of the holidays.

It is important to minimise possible confusion and start a new era.

The government should promptly put together measures to ease the burdens to be imposed on local governments and corporations.

The Yomiuri Shimbun is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organisations.