INTERVIEW: Open Discussions Necessary for New Era Name in Japan

Politics Society

Tokyo, April 1 (Jiji Press)--Nobuo Ishihara, who served as deputy chief cabinet secretary when the Japanese era name was changed from Showa to Heisei in 1989, has called for open discussions on the name of a new era that will succeed the current one in line with Emperor Akihito's abdication and Crown Prince Naruhito's ascent to the throne in 2019.

"This time, the Imperial succession is set to take place while the Emperor is alive, so we can hold discussions in a very open manner," Ishihara, 91, now head of the Research Institute for Local Government, said in an interview with Jiji Press, stressing the need to ensure transparency in the debates on the new era name, and ceremonies and other events related to the handover of the throne.

Crown Prince Naruhito is scheduled to rise to the throne on May 1 next year following Emperor Akihito's abdication on April 30 the same year, in the first succession from a living Emperor in about 200 years in Japan.

After Emperor Hirohito, the father of Emperor Akihito and posthumously called Emperor Showa, was diagnosed as cancer, the Japanese government secretly started, about a year before the demise of Emperor Hirohito, preparations for his funeral and enthronement ceremonies for the current Emperor, as well as work to select members of a panel of experts for deciding an era name, Ishihara said.

"We were unable to say (openly) that 'we are making preparations for Emperor Hirohito's funeral' while he was fighting his disease," Ishihara recalled. "Such consideration is unnecessary this time," he said.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press