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Japan announces next emperor reign will be known as 'Reiwa era'

Japan on Monday announced that the reign of its next emperor will be called "Reiwa," translating to pursuit of harmony.

The current “Heisei,” or "achieving peace," era will end when Emperor Akihito abdicates on April 30.

His son, Naruhito, is set to ascend the throne the following day.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explained during a press conference that the name evokes "Japan's long history, rich culture and beautiful nature. We will take over these national characteristics to the next era," according to CNN.

"Like the flowers of the plum tree blooming proudly in spring after the cold winter, we wish the Japanese people to bloom like individual flowers with the [promise of the] future. With such a wish for Japan, we decided upon 'Reiwa.'"

This is the first time the country has drawn its era name from Japanese poetry rather than Chinese classics.

The move toward Japanese literature was expected from Abe's conservative government, which has often campaigned on having national pride.

“I think the first adoption of an era name drawn from Japanese classics under the Abe government, which has the strong backing of conservatives, seems to be quite significant,” Eiichi Miyashiro, an era name expert and senior editorial staff member at the Asahi newspaper, told The Associated Press.