Japan's Emperor is Abdicating. Here's What It Means.

03/31/201952 Comments

Sometime this weekend, the cabinet members of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party will be locked in a room without communication devices of any kind. Not so much as a smartwatch will remain as they engage in deliberations, and they will stay locked in that room until the decision that they reach is announced to the public.

So what life-and-death decision will be made in this top secret meeting? The formulation of a new national security strategy? The revision of the constitution? A declaration of war?

Not quite. They're going to choose the name for the next era in the Japanese calendar.

Confused? Don't worry. Here's everything you need to know about the changeover in Japanese emperors (but were too embarrassed to ask).

This week The Corbett Report Subscriber offers the complete beginners' guide to the imperial abdication in Japan and a subscriber video about hobbies and pastimes. For full access to the subscriber newsletter, and to support this website, please become a member.

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  1. Nick Sikorski says:

    Excellent rundown! I had actually forgotten all about this (I may work and live in Japan, but I’m up in the mountains…) until my wife mentioned it this morning. Not sure if it’ll be a welcome chance to take a break or whether we’ll simply be drowned under a tidal wave of tourists hitting the local onsen around us..!

  2. scpat says:

    I learned something new today about Japan. Thanks, James. What do I like to do for fun? I like to play guitar also. I have a Yamaha F325 acoustic and a Fender Stratocaster for an electric. Besides that I like backpacking, camping, and exploring new areas.

    • ekawAediW says:

      I have a Yamaha FGX-423SC-BL (whatever that means) for an acoustic, and a (Japanese made) Fender Telecaster. Pretty similar tastes in guitars, it seems we have. I’m currently taking lessons from Vinnie Caggiano, who’s been great!

      I also play copious amounts of board games, converse even more copiously about philosophy and science, and occasionally throw food at birds.

      • scpat says:

        I almost bought a telecaster when I was shopping for an electric. I really liked how well it played and it had a great tone. Do you like to play country music? I know the telecasters have been preferred by many famous country musicians. And what’s it like taking online lessons?

        • ekawAediW says:

          I’m really not sure how the Telecaster became so iconic in the Country scene. I personally have enjoyed learning some country pieces, but I wouldn’t say that it’s any sort of concentration of mine. My Tele has done everything I’ve asked of it and I suppose I play pretty eclectically.

          Taking lessons online is a close second to taking lessons in person! The one major drawback I can identify is the lag time between reception and transmission, making jamming together all but impossible. Otherwise, I’ve found no real issues and can easily recommend it to anyone.

          What kind of music do you gravitate towards?

          • scpat says:

            Interesting about the online lessons. I currently take personal lessons so it’s good to know the differences. I like all kinds of music, but if I had to pick a couple it would be 90s alternative rock and blues. For blues, the Texas Shuffle type of style is groovy. Stevie Ray Vaughn is someone who has always impressed me and playing that style of music is a lot of fun.

  3. Mark K. P. says:

    I like to participate in the great debate about the relative merits of different gin & tonics by sampling as many different gins with as many different tonics as I can get my filthy drunken hands on. Hic!

    Also reconstructing ancient genealogies for which there is virtually no evidence, like the Roman aristocratic houses and Bactrian-Greek royalty. Most eminent families probably acquired their pedigrees by a similar process, and it looks like the Japanese imperials are no exception. Hmm, thanks for that James.

    When i’m sober I . . . well dont even get me started ! but jogging is out of the question, I can tell you that much. watching tv, no never. M&B Warband oh yeah ; 1257 mod edition, ohhh yeeeaahhhh!

    • mkey says:

      Do you grade gin on a curve?

      To meet an M&B aficionado on Corbett report of all places, mind blown. I’ve been periodically hacking and slashing and flinging arrows for over a decade now. Went through more mods and updates than I care to remember.

  4. Octium says:

    Congratulations James on the arrival of your new Lizard Overlord.

    Couldn’t they have just kept the old one alive until December by giving him few more cups of virgin blood so it wouldn’t overload the power grid with solar power?

    Anyhow, for fun and celebration I think I’ll have an outdoor Barbecue. I forget which by-laws that violates now, but if anyone complains I can blame the Japanese emperor.

  5. manbearpig says:

    So at least I better understand the hearsay (or is it “heisei”?) hypothesis that the current emperor’s abdication means he might not want to play ball with renewed militarism: I mean, if his era was known as “peace everywhere”…

    which would lead me to conclude that the choice of a new era name might say a lot about the tone of future Japanese governance…

    then again “heisei” also means monetary system…

    so if “Lost decades of economic stagnation” seem to correspond with “peace everywhere”…?

    might not the opposite be true? an era named “determined economic expansion” go hand in hand with “determined military expansion”…?

    “兵士” allegedly means “soldier” and is allegedly pronounced “heishi” – perhaps it’s not such a millenial jump from


    or even Kyodai-gun or “軍隊” or gun-tai or Okkanai guntai…?

    (At least “gun” (or “goon) is the same East and West…)

    perhaps the new era shall be

    Eikō no kakudai

    or simply


    Cock (your gun) or die?

  6. HomeRemedySupply says:

    I was smiling as I watched What Do You Do For Fun? – Subscriber Video Exclusive #085.

    There are so many things which I do “for fun” and pleasure, that I have a backlog of “fun projects” and activities on my “To Do” list(s).

    My garage, full of shelves, is filled with pending activities. I like to make things and experiment with a vast range of ideas…from anti mosquito concoctions to art glass to various gizmos.
    I enjoy working on potential business concepts.
    I love reading scientific papers, or articles about them.

    Kids and gardening this time of year are just great fun.
    I get a thrill out of kids and their enthusiastic excitement.
    Watching the neighbor kids hide around my duplex while having nerf gun wars is better than any movie.

    Just two days ago, I come home, tired from a long day of loading thousands of pounds on a truck. I am in my mid sixties, so the body bounce isn’t like it used to be.

    With a cool, sunny, 70 degree temperature, I go to the front lawn, pull some weeds and water the flowers, plants and the front vegetable garden which is now expanded.

    I am thinking about how to pot some of the rosemary which I have growing at several locations in the front and back of my small lot. The day before, after painting her nails on the front porch, the older teen Hispanic girl (Anna) from across the street came over when I was tending the garden patch. We chatted. She wanted some rosemary “for her hair”. I promised I’d put together a pot for her.

    • HomeRemedySupply says:


      My rosemary thoughts were interrupted by the two little black 2nd and 3rd graders, Aiden and Jake. Living 10 yards away, they stroll over. Aiden begs to hold the hose and water the peppermint and flowers along the front curb. I let him while I picked weeds.

      We chat. I asked him how school went today. He got kind of excited, and started telling me about showing his fossil bag in class. “Mister. Wait right here. I’ll be right back,” he said as he ran into his duplex.

      About 5 days prior, I gave him a sack with “poppers”, with tubes of glow sticks, with a bag of labeled mineral rocks, and with a bag of labeled fossils. I had supposed the kids would find the rocks and fossils boring, but would have fun the with ‘fireworks type’ poppers and glow sticks. To my surprise, it was the other way around.

      So Aiden comes back with the bag of rocks and bag of fossils and we sit next to each other on the stone wall which I had built around my front garden. Jake stands in front of us. They started showing me the individually labeled pieces from each bag, which had descriptions. I would read the description in “3rd Grade language”. Jake told me how it was coincidental, that at the same time they received the rocks from me, his class started studying rocks. I was being “educated” by the two boys as they got to do a show and tell. Dusk is fast approaching. Their Mom yells from within the house to come in for supper. And off they go.

      For me, this was fun.

    • mkey says:

      That is fun.

      Yesterday we had a small reunion to commemorate 30 years of the local football (the foot-to-the-ball version) firm (one of the eldest, most loosely knitted and most notorious in the area). About 50 people through the duration of the day attended. Disconcerting amounts of beer were consumed. Quite a sizable barbecue erupted. Ball was kicked around between teams consisting of players ranging from 6 to 60. Thankfully no one was injured nor any preexisting conditions have been exacerbated (the 40 something-year-old goalie insisted on playing despite quite a debilitating knee injury).

      A few minor traffic-related tragedies were successfully abrogated. And, most notably, there weren’t any fist fights. All in all, a great day.

      • HomeRemedySupply says:

        I’m laughing here and also at the MBP/mkey discourse (music).
        Ya’ll are too much.

  7. HomeRemedySupply says:

    Corbett’s singing voice kind of reminded me of a Neil Young / Bob Dylan blend, perhaps with some “America” (the band) tossed in.

    • CQ says:

      Whomever he sounds like, he’s got a nice singing voice, not to mention a contagious laugh, doesn’t he?!

      HRS, since you (and other Corbetteers) seem to know quite a bit about music, and I don’t, maybe you could offer your opinion on this young drummer who is severely hearing-impaired: see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYSwj6n8o4g and
      Is Taylor as talented as I suspect he is, or are there lots of drummers who can play like this?

      BTW, the reason I know Taylor is that his dad, James McDowell, has written several articles on 9/11 Truth topics, such as https://www.ae911truth.org/news/250-news-media-events-incontrovertible-tony-rooke.

      * * *

      James, thanks for the “great books” video, for the link to Project Gutenberg, and for alerting us to the new emperor era, whose about-to-be-announced name has me on pins and needles.

      • HomeRemedySupply says:

        Actually, I have no musical talent whatsoever, although I poorly tooted in the High School Band, but had close buddies who were extremely skilled.
        In fact, I sometimes chase the bunnies away from the garden by singing, but the neighbors call the police on me.

        scpat probably has a good lowdown on music.

        That is so cool about Taylor and James McDowell.

        Like you, I enjoy the poetic sounds of nature’s life and the birds singing in the morning. Well, except sometimes that Mockingbird by the bedroom window starts too early.

        • CQ says:

          Thanks for steering me to scpat, HRS. I don’t know if he’s reading this thread, but if so: SHOUT OUT TO SCPAT! YOUR MUSICAL EAR IS BEING SOUGHT AFTER!

          Also, HRS, you sound like the kind of good neighbor Robert Frost would cotton to. You seem to find such satisfaction in the simple things in life — and you obviously take joy in sharing what you have and what you know and what you are.

          In fact, you remind me of an axiom I read recently: “Think for yourself. Live for the world.”

          My sister and her husband, who have two teenage boys, have posted, next to the most-frequently used door to their house, a sign that reads something like this:

          “Before I say anything, I will remember the acronym T.H.I.N.K. and ask myself: Is what I’m about to say . . .


          If it is, then by all means SAY it!
          If it doesn’t meet all five criteria, zip da lip!”

          Don’t you think, HRS, that practicing T.H.I.N.K. would make all our hours “fun” time?!

          • scpat says:

            Looks and sounds like he has good rythm. He’s got the drum stick juggling thing down too. Style points.

            • CQ says:

              Nice of you, scpat, to weigh in with your honest opinion. He’ll appreciate the two compliments you gave him — for rhythm and for juggling.

  8. Stronghorse says:

    My “Fun” time?
    As strange as it may seem, I enjoy learning. I try to learn something new whenever I can. So I read and watch documentaries, and of course, try to keep up with James Corbett’s latest gleanings.
    I also very much enjoy teaching others things they want to learn about. Problem is these days, there is nobody around except me and the dog most of the time, and I live out in the boonies.
    She isn’t much for extended conversations, but she is a fast learner. However, until I can convince her to study English, (or one of the other languages that I can use), we are limited somewhat to playing ball. [That’s me throwing and her chasing.]
    Hmmm, perhaps I should spend more time learning K-9.

    • CQ says:

      That’s sweet, Stronghorse. I understand how you feel about the fun of learning and about companioning happily with your ball-chasing dog.

  9. Not Another Not-Bot! says:

    Is it beyond the pale of speculation to posit the likelihood that the Sun God’s denizens of high culture may, instead of searching through the dusty scrolls of classical China, or those of feudal Japan, look towards the youthful, dynamic, brash, powerful, and paternalistic juvenile Empire of Uncle Sam, locus of Pax Americana, for their titular jargon with which to further ennoble their noble erstwhile demigod leader? Yes,i dare say they might. Consider :Beavis 1.Or Butthead 1?

    • mkey says:

      “Age of evidence deprived Russian electoral hacking” 1?

      • Not Another Not-Bot! says:

        The world is not ready for these enlightened titles. Instead they opted for some bland blah blah about “good” and “harmony”. Along the lines of “the Great War” or “the Good War”. Much more indicative of the zeitgeist to have adopted the characters for “butt” and “head”.

  10. Selinah says:

    this is why i keep subscribing to you James… your sense of humor. in all this madness! Your cut to the chase…no eh’s or airs .. objective presence. Thank you….my pleasure. Your singing’s not bad either!

  11. inanna says:

    Fascinating insight into Japan and the Japanese’s Emperor…something of which I know virtually nil. I always find different cultures absolutely fascinating and intriguing…such a different way of apprehending reality. Though it saddens me greatly to see (yet again) the infiltration of Western ‘education’ into these amazing and historically rich cultures. Cultural homogenisation is a tragic loss to humanity.
    As for fun…sex and laughter are my all round panaceas and keep me grounded in both my humanity and biological feminine drives. I won’t dabble further into the former (out of respect for the reader …though to the disappointment of some, I’m sure..lol ), but what I will say about the latter is I have utter belief in the necessity of laughter for overall wellbeing …something everyone needs in their life. I love it when I laugh so hard that the inside of my belly button is massaged. I leave the rest in the good hands of your imagination…;-)

  12. CQ says:

    James, tonight I finally got around to your Recommended Viewing candidate, “$1 Trillion Devil in the Details,” and was thrilled to see that it’s Episode #3 of John Titus’ new Mafiacracy Now series. (You’d shared Episode #1 with us a couple weeks ago.)

    Then I realized I hadn’t yet watched Episode #2, which I don’t think you featured: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqmMlWbKwIA

    One wouldn’t know from its intriguing title, “New World Order Criminal Bankers Caused the American Revolution,” that Titus devotes the entire 20 minutes of Episode #2 to critiquing the brilliant research done by Alexander Del Mar, who traced private bankers’ hijacking of the monetary systems of nations back to the mid-1600s, when the British East India Company convinced King Charles II to let them export silver to India.

    For those of us who find learning “fun,” Episode #2 is not-to-be-missed history and an essential foundation for our understanding of Episode #3.

  13. manbearpig says:

    Not Kakudai.



    The new Japanese era has been named: “illustration”? A model for the world?

    Of what you should do or what you shouldn’t do?


    Maybe it’s all an April Fool’s joke?

  14. manbearpig says:

    “…Some on social media said the name had more authoritarian overtones, noting that the first character also means “order” or “command”, and features in the Japanese words for official announcement and law. The second character also appears in Yamato, an old word for Japan that has militaristic connotations….”



  15. NES says:

    Absolutely agree with the other posters, excellent review of the historical Japanese Crown. Enjoyed reading it.

    Although I knew Japan had a royal family, I have to admit I was one of those who began reading this article and then said, “Japan still has an Emperor?” just a half second before I read your next sentence–“Wait . . . Japan still has an emperor?”. I LOL at that preemptive strike. You never fail to make me laugh.

    • Mishelle says:

      James, if you haven’t read Commodore Perry’s Minstrel Show by Richard Wiley I think you’d like it. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Japan back in the 70s and is a very good author.

      For fun I dream about learning the banjo, but I know to actually try to learn it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun as fantasizing! 🙂

  16. Lillybilly says:

    I share my home with nine cats, I sew, paint and play with them for fun, also read, write – but never seem to have time for that t the moment – restructuring my life to have that time . Blessings and fascinating article on the Emperor and the Y2K scenario – computers were meant too make our lives simpler 😀 was the mantra 30 years ago

    • CQ says:

      Lillybilly, I wonder if each of your nine companions have nine lives! If so, they might outlive their human. 🙂

  17. flashbytes says:

    I had read how the Japanese calendar works a while back and it’s really cool to have a more complete rundown. Societies are so bizarre.

    I like music and play a few instruments. Guitar has been my obsession for quite a few years and I used to be a drummer since age 7. Sang on a Kiowa powwow drum for 16 years too. Music has always been my endeavor, but strictly a hobby.
    I like force free dog training and studying canine behavior as well.

    • CQ says:

      flashbytes, your last comment resonates with me.

      I learned a truly force-free method of communicating with dogs from Judy Moore, whose website is http://www.helpyourdog.com. Though she no longer gives clinics around the country (her static website reflects that fact), she still sells her slim little book, “Dogs Deserve Dialogue,” which, if one follows the instructions to the “T,” has turned around many a seemingly hopeless case of canine anxiety (which often manifests itself as aggression).

      She also has a DVD showing her students practicing with their dogs — it’s Dialogue’s principles put into action. (The look of the video is dated, but her system is timeless.)

  18. Robert Smith says:

    Akihito became emperor in the same year I was born in, which was 1989. Not only that, I was born shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

  19. Miches says:

    New here and just going through the sub only content. Loving to see James as he is and feeling like I’m getting to know him better. Was hoping to hear more guitar though (I’ve played guitar for >30 years) 🙁

    Does anyone have any links to James jamming? Boy, I would have never put his singing voice to his speaking voice 🙂

    Thanks all,

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