Farewell to Heisei 2019/1/19

Another New Year has begun. However this is a special and unusual year for Japan, since the era of Heisei will end on April 30th after 30 year’s reigning of the current Emperor.

Historically in Japan there is a specific name of era which has nothing to do with Christian calendar and the first specific name of era is Taika which began in 645 A.D.  Since then the system to have each name for each era has been continuing until now.

From Meiji era which began in 1867, it was fixed by the law to have one era for one  Emperor. It was announced earlier the current Emperor to abdicate on April 30th this year. It means Heisei era will end soon and a new era will begin from May 1st this year.


Royal family has a long history and there was a time when most Emperors selected abdication before their death. Especially in Heian period (794-1185), two thirds of total 33 Emperors during the period abdicated from the position even though they were young and healthy enough to act as the Emperor.

However Meiji government set the law that Emperor should remain at the position for life. It is to avoid meaningless confusion to have plural authorities which frequently happened during Heian period.

Therefore the coming abdication of the current Emperor will be the first occurrence since Meiji era and all people have to be careful and cautious for not allowing unnecessary confusion.  Japanese Emperor has been always sacred authority and symbolic presence of people’s unification mainly because of the pure bloodline and clear continuity.