TOKYO - The government may announce the name of the next era around mid-April next year, ahead of the change in the era name following the crown prince’s enthronement on May 1, according to government sources.
In line with the announcement, the government plans to approve an ordinance on the adoption of a new era name at a Cabinet meeting, the sources said. The current Emperor will then sign and promulgate the ordinance.
As both the public and private sectors require time to update their systems ahead of the start of a new era, the government will announce the new name beforehand.
“[The government] will take into account the influence on people’s lives,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. The government could reveal the date of the announcement as early as the beginning of the new year.
Even if the current Emperor signs and promulgates the government ordinance in mid-April, it will come into effect on May 1 when the crown prince ascends to the throne and becomes emperor, marking the start of the new era.
Within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and other entities, conservatives who place importance on the system through which era names coincide with the reigns of emperors have claimed the new emperor should sign and promulgate the ordinance.
If events unfold as desired by conservatives, the signing and promulgation of the ordinance would be conducted on May 1. In this scenario, the ordinance would be promulgated several weeks after being approved by the Cabinet.
However, government ordinances are generally promulgated within a few days after Cabinet approval. The Cabinet Legislation Bureau has concluded that it is “not appropriate” to postpone promulgation of the ordinance as advocated by conservatives. Postponing promulgation until the ordinance is signed by the new emperor could violate the Constitution’s ban on imperial involvement in politics, as it would mean consideration is shown toward the new emperor for procedures related to the change in the era.
When the Showa era gave way to the Heisei era, the current Emperor promulgated the government ordinance on Jan. 7, 1989 — the day of his enthronement — with the Heisei era officially beginning on Jan. 8. If this precedent is followed, the new era would begin on May 2 if the ordinance is promulgated on May 1, which means the Heisei era would encompass May 1.
According to sources, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already expressed such concerns to those involved in the matter.
Thus far, the government has prepared for the change in eras on the assumption that the new name will be announced about a month before the enthronement on May 1.
Yet in consideration of conservatives, a government source said, “It is best for the announcement to be made as close as possible [to the day of enthronement].”
The government plans to examine to what extent the announcement date can be postponed without disrupting people’s lives.