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Japanese Firms Preparing for New Calendar Era Following Emperor’s Abdication in 2019

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A newspaper staffer distributes an extra edition on the planned date of Emperor Akihito’s abdication outside Shinbashi Station in Tokyo on Friday. | AP

The government is expected to pick an era name composed of two Chinese characters that are easily read and have not been used in the past.

Calendar, diary and fortune-telling businesses are anxiously awaiting the announcement of the name of Japan’s next Imperial era, which the government said Friday will begin on May 1, 2019, the day after the Emperor abdicates.

In modern Japan, a gengō era name lasts for the length of an emperor’s reign and is widely used in calendars and official documents along with the standard Gregorian calendar. The government is expected to announce the new era name sometime in 2018 to minimize disruption to people’s lives.

Ryusho Takashima, chairman of the Tokyo-based fortune calendar company Takashima Ekidan, expressed concern about whether his company will be able to publish its products for 2019 on time.

The company publishes four fortune calendars, selling around 200,000 copies. Because it prints new calendars in April for released around August, a late announcement could affect production, he said.

Takahashi Shoten Co., a major diary company in Tokyo, omitted the era name in most of its mainstay items for 2018. As for products for 2019, it plans to print the new era name if an announcement is made by January, when it begins production.

“Our priority is to avert any confusion,” said company executive Takashi Okubo.

Calendar makers are especially paying attention to changes in holidays, including the Emperor’s birthday, currently on Dec. 23. The difference in calendars of weekdays, written in black, and holidays in red is important, a senior official of the calendar maker Todan Co. said. The birthday of Crown Prince Naruhito is Feb. 23.

[Read the full story here, at The Japan Times]

“We want necessary information at an early stage,” said an official of JMA Management Center Inc., known for its Nolty diary products.

The government is expected to pick an era name composed of two Chinese characters that are easily read and have not been used in the past.

The history of gengō in Japan dates back to the seventh century. The first modern Japanese era was called Meiji (1868-1912), which was followed by Taisho (1912-1926), Showa (1926-1989) and Heisei.

The new era name could also affect companies registering trademarks. In January … (read more)

via The Japan Times

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