I briefly wrote about the Japanese Emperor in my previous post. To recap, the imperial calendar year “Heisei” will end this year on April 30, when the current Emperor Akihito steps down and renounces his duties.

=> Post about the Emperor’s reign.

The Imperial Household Agency (宮内庁) is yet to release the name of the new era, but they have officially announced that the title of the to-be-former Emperor will be “Emperor Emeritus”. You may be wondering, “that’s great, but how do they say it in Japanese?” Well, it’s Joko (上皇), pronounced like “Joe Koe”.

The practice was quite common in pre-modern Japan. In fact, according to Wikipedia, almost half of emperors in history have stepped down during their lifetime. Of course, it wasn’t always because they were retiring. Some would give the throne to their heirs, only to be controlling them from behind.

When Japan was modernized into the Meiji era, the rules were changed for the era to continue until the Emperor passed away. Abdication was not an option, until the Heisei Emperor expressed health concerns, and asked the parliament to look into what they can do. The result is the current situation, in which the Heisei Emperor will abdicate end of April. However, this is a one-time measure, and will not allow for future emperors to do the same. I guess they will have to request their own one-time law.