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End of an era: Emperor's abdication resets Japan calendar

16 Comments
By Kazuhiro Nogi

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© 2019 AFP

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16 Comments
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This is all pomp and symbolism, without any real underlying meaning. The real re-set will come when Abe Shinzo decides to abdicate, or is abdicated by the will of the voters.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

We saw new empires and limits in this Heisei come up.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

And that’s since since 1989? Or 1991?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I hope to dear god the new name does not include the character 安. Nor 倍, just in case. You never know. You sometimes get little emperors in Nagatachō.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Join the rest of the world and just adopt the Julien calendar, for god's sake. How long are you going to perpetuate the myth of Jummu Tenno?

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

expat:

Join the rest of the world and just adopt the Julien calendar, for god's sake. 

Japan has already done that since Meiji Restoration, over 200 years ago. Japan simply retained traditional one in addition to it. History has full of events named after era names ("大化の改新", "享保の改革", "明治維新","大正デモクラシー", etc), it is strange without it. If it is not broken, don't fix it.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

the name of the era has a tangible effect on the daily lives of the Japanese as well as a psychological impact on the nation.

Oh, good grief! Seriously? Does it really have such an impact on people’s lives? Its a lot if kafuffle over nothing if you ask me. Most Japanese can’t even tell you what year it is using the era counting. Then talk to young people about their birthdays. Most don’t know what it is in the Chinese calendar. Then, you have the older generation who know their birthdays in the Chinese year, but not in the Gregorian calendar, which creates huge issues for them if they want to travel it have to deal internationally. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve had to rewrite a form at city hall because I put my birthdate in the Gregorian format. It’s an ancient and troublesome part of the culture hat needs to be updated. Yeah, keep it as a symbolic thing, but it needs to be removed from official documents and procedures.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

It's ok as a minor nod to tradition and culture.... but...as mentioned in the article..." I found myself caught up in such a difficult task. I was sitting under the Sword of Damocles" bespeaks someone who has never left Japan, who thinks the cherry blossoms are the highlight of all nature and who believes human history started with Izanami and Izanagi. Sad.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

These customs, different from many others, keep Japan strong.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Jtsnose...no they don't. The birthrate and the economy and the American soldiers in Okinawa keep Japan strong.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Interesting time to be living in Japan. I will have arrived in one era and probably will die in another one.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I do think the government should stop using the system for documents. It is troublesome. On emperors/kings, I personally am so thankful my ancestors fought to shed the USA of the ridiculous U.K. king system. I think many of them were quite evil. As I think Hirohito was because of WWII. He had much responsibility for Japan's atrocities during that time. Him and the controllers of imperial staff.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Oh, good grief! Seriously? Does it really have such an impact on people’s lives?"

Not anymore, but I think the system has meant a lot to Japanese who were born in the Showa Era since that period went on for so long and had its share of extreme ups and downs. For example, the phrase "Showa hito-keta" (referring to Japanese born in the single-digit Showa years 1 to 9, from 1926 to 1934) probably means a lot to elderly Japanese since people born in those years formed the backbone of the generation that rebuilt the country after World War II. And years Showa 30-39 (1955-1964) are now enshrined in people's minds as a golden era in between the privation of the early postwar years and the environmental degradation and overdevelopment that became impossible to ignore by the late 1960s.

But does the phrase "Heisei hito-keta" (which would mean young Japanese adults born from 1989 to 1997) mean anything to anybody now? Doesn't seem so. And something like Heisei years 20-29 (2008-2017) probably isn't bracketed in people's minds like Showa 30-39. But maybe it's too early still.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan is the only country in the world still using Chinese-style imperial calendars. 

Actually Taiwan and North Korea are two other countries do, even though they did not take the letters from Chinese classic texts, the idea behind is the same.

In the Republic of China (Taiwan) it is 民國108, years counted since the Xinhai republican revolution. Until that point, Qing used the imperial era names, but since there were to be no emperors, the calendar simply called the subsequent years "Republic."

The DPRK originally used the Gregorian calendar exclusively, but after the death of Kim Il Sung, they decided to commemorate their "Eternal President" by instituting the Juche era, reckoned from the birth of Kim Il Sung.

Coincidentally, this year is 主體108 in North Korea. So Taiwan and North Korea shares one more thing aside from international isolation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Those who think Japan's imperial era system is crazy, keep in mind that the Western calendar is based on the speculated year of birth of Jesus Christ (likely off by 4 to 6 years). The Christendom took it on because of the Christian doctrine that Jesus is the King of Kings.

That's just as ancient and anachronistic as the ancient Chinese custom dating back to Confucius or even before him.

Maybe we ought to invent a new one that is not based on any single man (yeah, mostly men).

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Also, there is an Islamic calendar (the year is 1440). Its not the entire world (Gregorian/western calendar) v Japan (imperial calendar), there are other calendars.

Surprisingly, no one uses a scientific calendar year, as opposed to ones based off imperial eras or religious figures. Would love to see what year it is based on age of earth or universe (4,500,000,547?).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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