Japan will announce the name of the country's next era on April 1, as the country later prepares to abdicate Emperor Akihito.
Today's Heisei era began in 1989 when Akihito succeeded his father Emperor Hirohito, who ruled during the Showa period and is now known as the Showa emperor.
The eras are more than who the emperor of the day is. For example, they are also the basis of the Japanese calendar system: Heisei was 30 in 2018, three decades after the beginning of the era.
While the current system was based on the emperor's rule, this was not always the case. In the past, new epochs have been declared historical events.
For example, the Ansei period, which began on 27 November 1
954 in the Gregorian calendar, was adopted after a series of natural disasters and a fire in the Imperial Palace. The name Ansei means "quiet government" and should usher in a peaceful period.
Names of the epoch can also become political. The Showa era, whose name can be described as the "period of radiant Japan," spanned the rise of Japanese fascism and nationalism as imperial troops invaded numerous neighboring countries under the Rising Sun banner. This attitude is sometimes called Showa nationalism.
Japanese often identify strongly with their own eras – and naming the next is an incredibly important process.
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will decide on Monday, April 1, about the name of the new era, after which it will be published.
Information about how the name of the era is set and the discussions around it have been closely monitored.
On Sunday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the names of academics and other experts advising the government are not publicized, as well as the person or persons who proposed the chosen name are given.
While naming a new era will be largely a symbolic affair, it will be a time for Japan to jointly create a new one The transition also poses a more immediate technical challenge.
Microsoft has warned that Japanese computer software, most of which was written in the Heisei era, could be exposed to a year-2000 moment since Japanese calendar years a combination of the year and epoch name will be described.
In the run-up In the current millennium there were concerns that many computer programs represented only the last two digits of the four-digit year. The years 2000 and 1900 would therefore be indistinguishable:
Millions of dollars were spent to protect against the so-called Millennium Bug.
"The Y2K event has received worldwide recognition of the upcoming changes, which has led to governments and software vendors working Solutions to this problem several years before January 1, 2000, "wrote Microsoft developer Shawn Steele in one of the company's blogs. "Despite this preparation, many organizations had problems with the millennium transition."
Steele warned, "After the era has changed, it will be too late to test for compatibility issues."
While Microsoft and other large corporations have set up checks, the government has warned smaller companies not to be complacent.
According to the NHK public broadcaster, a survey conducted last month found that about 20% of companies had not checked whether calendars in their software use the Japanese system.
"Industry ministers warn that inadequate preparations could lead to unidentified deadlines and possibly data-processing errors," NHK reported.