Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe today said that the era name for the new emperor's reign will be disclosed April 1. In his New Year's news conference, Abe said that 2019 will mark pivotal times for Japan, repeatedly referring to Emperor Akihito's stepping down. "We hope to mark a strong start for the era. We will show speed and flexibility like a boar, he said and added that the details of how the new name will be announced are still being worked out.
The era under Akihito is called Heisei, which translates to "achieving peace." Akihito has chosen to buck tradition and abdicate while he is alive, citing frail health. His son becomes emperor May 1. Ahead of his abdication later this year, Japan's Emperor Akihito on Wednesday delivered his final New Year's address Wednesday. He told tens of thousands of well-wishers he was praying for peace.
According to The Imperial Palace, more then 72,000 people flocked to the royal residence on Wednesday morning alone, with many more still arriving for a final chance to see the 85-year-old royal deliver his traditional new year's greeting. "I'm sincerely glad to celebrate the new year together with you under the clear sky," he told thousands. He added: "I pray for the peace and happiness of the people of our country and the world." The Emperor was accompanied by Empress Michiko and other family members.