Extraordinary Press Conference by Foreign Minister Taro Kono
Monday, April 1, 2019, 12:30 p.m. Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Minister Kono: Following the announcement of the new era name, the Ministry of Affairs has notified 195 countries recognized by Japan and international organizations concerning the new era name. We also intend to send further information in due course, detailing the meaning behind the new era name, among other matters. I will now take your questions.
Reporter: The new era name has just been announced, so can I ask what your first impressions were upon hearing the name?
Minister Kono: Although the new era name has been announced, the Heisei era will continue for a little longer. As His Majesty the Emperor also noted himself in a recent ceremony, the Heisei era has been one of lasting peace for Japan without wars and we must continue to endeavor to ensure that the Heisei era can also come to an end peacefully. Similarly, in the new era it will be incumbent upon us to make efforts to ensure that peace continues to prevail.
Reporter: What was your impression of the name “Reiwa”?
Minister Kono: I don’t think that I should voice a personal opinion on this matter.
Reporter: A short while at the full Cabinet meeting did you make any kind of statement. Or did any other ministers express opinions of some kind?
Minister Kono: The content of the meeting was as described by the Chief Cabinet Secretary.
Reporter: You stated in your opening remarks that following the notification of the new era name to the countries recognized by Japan, further information will be provided in due course, including the meaning behind the new era name, among other matters. Where and what kind of explanations do you plan to provide?
Minister Kono: We intend to provide such information through diplomatic channels, including from both Japanese diplomatic missions overseas to the governments of other countries, and also to the embassies of those countries here in Japan.
Reporter: This is the first time for an era name to be chosen based on a classical Japanese text, the Manyoshu, or Anthology of Ten Thousand Leaves. Could you share your opinions on this point? I imagine it is the case that multiple proposals for the new era name were tabled.
Minister Kono: Everything is as it was explained by the Chief Cabinet Secretary.
Reporter: I have a question on a basic point, but was the new era name written using the letter “r” in the Roman alphabet and was this the name that was notified to other countries?
Minister Kono: My understanding is that it is standard practice for “ra, ri, ru, re and ro” of the Japanese syllabary to be written in the Roman alphabet using the letter “r.”
Reporter: The new era name has now been decided and with the accession to the throne next month and various ceremonies and events continuing over the course of the next year the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) will be expected to acquit various duties during this period. Could you tell us how you intend to lead the ministry during this period?
Minister Kono: Today it is simply the case that the new era name has been announced and the Heisei era is due to continue for a little longer. Given that the new Emperor will accede to the throne on May 1 and that the ceremony of enthronement will take place in October, the MOFA will maintain close communications with other countries and will receive and welcome all invited guests who will travel to Japan to attend the ceremony of enthronement.