Japan assures world that Reiwa is all about 'beautiful harmony' and has nothing to do with 'command'
Japan Times -- Apr 04
The Foreign Ministry confirmed Wednesday the name for Japan’s forthcoming new Imperial era, Reiwa, means “beautiful harmony” in English.

Within days of the announcement of the new gengō, as such eras are known, the ministry has presented an English translation for the new name.

The move is intended to dispel what the ministry considers erroneous reports overseas that the new era name has connotations of “command” or “order” — one of the most common meanings of the kanji for rei that forms the first half of Reiwa.

“Having seen talk overseas that the new gengō means ‘order’ or ‘command,’ we felt the need to let the world know that nobody (in the government) thinks like that,” Hiroatsu Satake, a foreign ministry official, told The Japan Times.

“If you look up that individual kanji in dictionaries, I believe a meaning like this does show up, but it has multiple other meanings too. We felt we should at least make it clear this particular one is not the intended meaning here,” Satake said.

The foreign ministry’s attempt to dissociate Reiwa from the authoritative nuance of command or law chiefly associated with rei, which is used in terms such as meirei (command) or hōrei (law), may have been clear enough from its issuance of the translation “beautiful harmony.”

But that rendition of Reiwa fails to reflect the original context in which the kanji rei was used in “Manyoshu” — the nation’s oldest existing anthology of poetry, from which the new gengō was drawn.

Reiwa was inspired by a portion of a passage written by prominent poet Otomo no Tabito, who used rei to render reigetsu, an “auspicious month,” as he detailed the soft manner of an early spring breeze.

News source: Japan Times
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