New era name lays bare Japan's sinister intention

ARTICLE
By Jang Chol

Japan began to use the name of era "Reiwa" (令和 - KR) on May 1.

reiwa
Prime Minister Abe pledged to "shape a bright future for Japan in the Reiwa era which succeeded Heisei".

Why then did the Japanese authorities choose "Reiwa" as the new era name?

The Japanese authorities advertise the new era name as they use uncommonly flowery language, saying "Reiwa" means "beautiful harmony".

Abe officially announced it means that "culture is born and grows as people live and help each other with a beautiful mind" and the foreign ministry gave a briefing on it, saying it means "beautiful harmony". Apparently, they are trying to give an "amicable and florid impression" to people at home and abroad.

The publication that the new era name was copied from an old Japanese collection of poems and songs printed in around 760, in particular, seems to be aimed at evoking the pride of the citizens in the "long history and national culture".

But actually, it mirrors the authorities' intention to ingratiate themselves with the public with such political rhetoric that the 30-year-long Heisei (平成 - KR) era of stagnation marked by tremendous natural disasters, "lost 20-years" in economic progress and widening socio-economic gap is over finally and a balmy spring has come.

In the name of the new era "Reiwa", "rei" carries the meaning of "nobility" and "wa" is much used in the meaning of "Japan" as it was derived from Yamato (大和 - KR).

Therefore, "Reiwa" is naturally interpreted as "noble Japan". Abe in his book "To a beautiful country" published in 2006 argued for pilgrimage to the Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社 - KR) and denied Japan's war crimes and Tokyo military tribunal to preach chauvinism, saying that "patriotism directly means loving the king of Japan and respecting and worshipping those people who sacrificed their lives for the country". In this sense, preaching a "noble Japan" is consistent with the praise of extreme nationalism.

In other words, Japan has selected the new era name in order to incite nationalism by stimulating "national pride" of the local people.

However, Japan's new era name is construed otherwise in the world.

China said that "Chinese character of 'rei' (令 - KR) originally means 'order', so ‘Reiwa’ means 'forcing peace' and it can be thought only by Japan which forgot the history of its aggression". BBC, The Washington Post and media of other countries reported that "Reiwa" means "to order peace, or command peace".

Why "Reiwa" was selected as the era name has so far been unknown, but the reason may be uncovered if it is considered in connection with how Heisei, which has been used since 1989, was instituted. The course of its institution was closed to public for 20 years.

It has recently been disclosed that "Heisei" had already been prepared by the conservative forces over two decades before it was published and the initiator was Yasuoka Masahiro (1898-1983. 安岡正篤 - KR). He was active as a rightist thinker from the period of Japan's invasion of the Asian continent and known as a behind-the-scenes figure of the political circle. He is said to have revised the surrender address of the "emperor" so craftily as not to include such words as "surrender" or "defeat" and polished the policy speeches of the successive prime ministers after Japan's defeat. He died in 1983, but a meeting of erudite people held to change era name in 1987 reportedly announced his sealed proposal as if it reflected the general will of the public.

All in all, underlying "Heisei" was the strong ambition of Japan to achieve the dream of "oriental peace" or overseas territorial expansion it had failed to do in the past.

In this context, "Reiwa" means "peace controlled by order of Japan" as commented by foreign media. In other words, Japan wants to become a country which orders and controls the world by reviving as the "leader" of Northeast Asia and the world.

*The author is Fellow at the Institute of International Studies of the DPRK.

(Source: Pyongyang Times - July 27, 2019)