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A Deeply Civilized Country Welcomes a New Emperor

by John Brian Shannon

April 30, 2019 | Japan’s former Emperor Emeritus Akihito chose to abdicate Japan’s Chrysanthemum Throne due to age and personal (health) reasons today, choosing his son Naruhito to become Japan’s new Emperor in an elegant but simple ceremony.

Each Japanese Emperor represents a particular era and is so named by the incoming royal; “Showa” (enlightened peace) was the name of Emperor Hirihito’s era (1901-1989), while his son Akihito’s era was named “Heisei” (1989-2019) and the newest Emperor Naruhito’s reign will be known as ‘Reiwa” (2019-onward).

The name of each era carries deep significance and is chosen according to the state of the country and the aspirations of Japan in the opinion of the Emperor of the day.

Therefore, Akihito’s reign as named Heisei, or, “peace everywhere” (literally; 地平かに天成る “peace on the heaven and earth”) while the new Emperor chose to name his reign ‘Reiwa” which means “order and harmony” (literally; 令和 “fair and gentle”) and we can see these kinds of terms used by Japanese Emperors going back to the first Emperor of Japan, 575-610 BCE.


Reiwa: as taken from Japan’s historic poetic works

Original Kanbun text:

于時、初春令月、氣淑風和、梅披鏡前之粉、蘭薫珮後之香。

Classical Japanese translation (kanbun kundoku):

時に、初春の令月にして、気淑く風和ぎ、梅は鏡前の粉を披き、蘭は珮後の香を薫す。

English translation:

“It was in new spring, in a fair (“Rei”) month,
When the air was clear and the wind a gentle (“wa”) breeze.
Plum flowers blossomed a beauty’s charming white
And the fragrance of the orchids was their sweet perfume.”


The Chrysanthemum Throne Continues to Guide Japan’s Deeply Civilized Culture

Much can be gleaned by looking at the leaders (ceremonial leaders or hands-on political leaders) of any country.

Countries with warmonger, hawkish, troublesome, or even meddlesome leaders usually bring war against other countries or groups and it usually ends in some kind of disaster.

That’s not to say that countries under threat should give in to their enemies! War, or the use of so-called ‘Soft Power’, are instruments employed by governments to defend their countries from attack and such measures are often completely justified. Yet, some leaders have incited war over the centuries, or (almost worse!) allowed military preparedness to fall to such a low level that their country was too tempting a target, and so, were invaded or attacked by hostile powers.

Contrast that to the gentle urging of Japan’s Emperors who have favoured and advocated for the statecraft of “peace and harmony” and “fair and gentle” treatment of citizens for centuries in the longest-running continuous governance model in the world.

Japanese Emperors have been continuously guiding Japan’s people since 575 BCE (almost 550-years before the Roman Empire was created!) towards peace and harmony.

The only country in the world with both a pacifist constitution and 2500-year continuous line of sovereign leaders (although that pacifist constitution was slightly watered-down since the war on terror began in 2001) remains one of the world’s leading economies and its citizens enjoy a very high standard of living, proving that culture is much more than numerous art galleries, operatic works, or stunning architecture.

A ‘culture of excellence’ is almost always led by its most senior leaders and they work to set a high standard for citizens to meet, resulting in Japan’s postition as one of the most successful countries on planet Earth.

With grateful hearts we thank former Emperor Akihito and his family for decades of enlightened leadership and the culture of excellence that he promoted during the Heisei era, and we warmly welcome Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito and his family to the Chrysanthemum Throne.