TOKYO - With one month to go until the historic abdication of Emperor Akihito, Japan will on Monday unveil the name of the new era that will be ushered in when his son ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne.
It may appear trivial to outsiders, but the announcement of a new era name is a massive event in Japan that will be marked with special newspaper editions, calligraphy shows and public festivities.
Although the Gregorian calendar is widely used in the world's third-largest economy, Japan is the only country still using Chinese-style imperial calendars for private and public documents as well as computer records.
The new era name, therefore, has a huge impact on daily life and anticipation is at fever pitch to see what will replace the era that marked Akihito's reign - "Heisei" or "peace prevails everywhere."
Highly secretive talks have been ongoing for months to pick a name for the new era, which should have a "positive meaning and be ideal for the Japanese people," according to government sources cited in local media.
The final selection will be made on Monday when a nine-member panel reportedly including Nobel Prize-winning stem cell scientist Shinya Yamanaka will whittle down the final choice from at least five possible names put forward by scholars.