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The Reiwa Era Begins

SNA (Tokyo) — The following stories were reported recently by the Shingetsu News Agency.

Rolling Coverage: New Emperor

—The Heisei Era ends with the abdication of Emperor Akihito and the Reiwa Era begins with the reign of Emperor Naruhito.

—China Foreign Ministry praises the now-abdicated Emperor: “Emperor Akihito visited China in 1992 and met with Chinese party and state leaders on many occasions. He has made positive contributions to China-Japan relations.”

—Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako planning to make their first trip in about a month to participate in a tree-planting festival in Aichi Prefecture, a fitting start for a new Emperor who is known to be an environmentalist.

—There’s a growing suspicion that May 1 was chosen as the accession day for Emperor Naruhito in order to bury its significance in Japan as May Day, the celebratory day for labor unions and the political left. Abe has been booed at May Day events, and this could his payback.

—Far left Zenshin News Network provides their report on a May Day gathering and protest march, including their demand for the abolition of the Imperial System in Japan. 815 people participated.

—Kyodo News survey finds that the Japanese people support the idea of a female Emperor by a 79.6% to 13.3% margin. So, in case you were wondering who Shinzo Abe, Nippon Kaigi, and those rightwing knuckleheads really represent, it is only 13.3% of the public.

—Police say that the man arrested by allegedly breaking into a school and leaving knives on Prince Hisahito’s desk has made comments against the Imperial System during his interrogation. They tracked him down to his hotel using surveillance cameras all over Tokyo.

—Emperor Naruhito makes his first public appearance: “I hope that Japan will further prosper, while exploring world peace by working together with other countries,” he declares.


—National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) and other groups hold events to support the Constitution of Japan on its memorial day. They have so far succeeded in preventing Shinzo Abe from achieving his lifetime dream of destroying Japan’s official pacifism.

—Democratic Party For the People leader Yuichiro Tamaki reportedly greeted coldly and with heckling at a pro-Constitution meeting in Tokyo. His party’s centrist message not going over very well with left-leaning audiences.

—At a Nippon Kaigi cult meeting in Tokyo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe renews his pledge to seek the revision of Japan’s Peace Constitution by the end of next year. This is the third consecutive year he has made this promise to Nippon Kaigi, and it is now ringing hollow.

—Rightwinger Yoshiko Sakurai declares at the Nippon Kaigi cult meeting: “In the Reiwa Era our splendid Japan must strengthen our advance. There can be no true rebirth of this nation without amendment of the Constitution.”

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Shiori Yamao makes comments that clearly suggests that she supports some kind of revision of Article 9 of the Constitution. This is not likely to go down well with many others in the progressive party.

—Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan to cooperate in elections more closely with the other opposition parties than they had planned. Their lagging public approval ratings are inducing them to scale back their ambitions to go it alone.


—Japanese visiting the Russian Far East using e-visa system warned to strictly abide by the conditions. Visitors are required to enter and leave Russia through same port of entry. They must not stay more than eight days (to the hour). Several Japanese have been fined.

—South Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha states “clear will” to improve Japan relations in “future oriented manner… while squarely facing history.” This comes as Lawyers for a Democratic Society files court request for sale of Japan assets to compensate forced laborers.

—Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tells the Sankei Shinbun: “I want to meet Chairman Kim Jong-Un unconditionally and talk with him frankly with an open mind.” In other words, Abe getting tired of being on the sidelines of East Asia diplomacy, waiting for phone calls to fill him in.

—Finance Minister Taro Aso urges China to no longer seek loans from the Asian Development Bank, saying that other countries have more need of them.

—Latest realignment plan holds that about 1,700 US Marines in Okinawa to be relocated to Guam in late 2024-early 2025.

—Outgoing Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller tells the US Congress that the plan to send some of the US Marines in Okinawa to Guam should be “reviewed.” This may be a prelude to further delays or cancellation of Pentagon plans to move some Marines out of Okinawa.

—Center for Strategic and International Studies hosts young Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers in Washington, trying to ensure that the Pentagon view of the world remains dominant in the Japanese government in the future as well.

—Foreign Ministry to train specialist archivists to make more effective use of its diplomatic archives. Aim is to become more effective at rebutting others’ historical claims, including regarding the territorial dispute with Russia and “comfort women” issue with South Korea.


—Japan and Russia reach agreement on Japanese harvesting of konbu (kelp) around Kaigara-Signalnyi Island (part of the disputed Habomais). The agreement for 2019 is the same as 2018, with Japanese boats authorized to harvest 3470 tons and to pay 90.8 million yen (US$818,000).

—Time magazine reports US President Donald Trump agreed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s request to delay serious trade talks until after the July House of Councillors elections. Abe willing to sell out the nation’s trade interests more dearly for domestic political advantage.


—Asian Development Bank says it will spend US$5 billion, including loans, over the next five years to combat plastic waste and other pollution on the seas. The survival of coral reefs and sustainable fish stocks are said to be at stake.

—Japanese aerospace start-up Interstellar Technology, founded by Takafumi Horie (Horiemon) launches the small, unmanned Momo-3 rocket into space. It an important step for Japan’s burgeoning commercial space flight industry.


—Internal Affairs Ministry: At the beginning of the Heisei Era in 1989 there were about 23 million children under 15 years old in Japan. Now, at the beginning of the Reiwa Era, there are only about 15 million children in Japan, a reduction of nearly one-third.

Note: There were no separate “Today in Japan” reports issued between May 1 and May 4.

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