The Heat: Japan’s new emperor

The Heat

Japan is now in the era of Reiwa which means “beautiful harmony.” Emperor Naruhito takes over the throne Wednesday, after his father – Akihito – abdicated due to his age and failing health.

Since World War II, the position has lost power but the emperor is still a revered figure in the country, which names the reigns of its emperor as eras – a millennial tradition that has its roots in China. Although Japan uses the Gregorian calendar, the era appears on coins, official paperwork and even on driver’s licenses.

For the first time, the name was not taken from Chinese literature, but from a Japanese poem. That, along with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s desire for stronger defense forces, raised concerns that the country would take a more nationalistic turn.

To discuss:

  • Yoshikazu Kato is an adjunct associate professor at the University of Hong Kong.
  • Sourabh Gupta is a resident senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies.
  • Hiroki Takeuchi is an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University.
  • Qinduo Xu is a senior fellow at Pangoal Institution.

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