Celebration marks dawn of new Japanese era

The accession of the new Japanese emperor is to be honoured in an event jointly hosted by the University and the Consulate General of Japan.

The passing of the Heisei Era – encompassing the reign of Emperor Akihito – and the beginning of the Reiwa Era – the rule of his son Emperor Naruhito – will be marked at a lecture from a world-renowned scholar at Broomhall House in Fife.

David Howell, Professor of Japanese History at Harvard University, will deliver a talk on the historical significance of the change for the world’s oldest royal family and the geo-political challenges that Japan faces today.

Heisei means peace and stability in Japanese.  This gives us a profound sense of history when we look back at the Heisei era.  Despite its name, the period included extraordinary events such as the Burst Economy, the Lost Economic Decade and natural disasters, the worst of which was the 2011 Tsunami.  But this period also showed Japanese people are resilient and have many international friends including Scotland.  Entering this new era, I see good prospects for the enhancement of this relationship.

Mr Nozomu TakaokaConsul General of Japan

Significant event

Emperor Akihito’s 30-year reign on the Chrysanthemum Throne will end on 30 April with his abdication.

Emperor Akihito will be the first to abdicate since 1817, before Japan became a constitutional monarchy in the Meiji Era. While the emperors’ role in government has been symbolic after the Second World War, the Imperial family is still significant in the country’s culture. Crown Prince Naruhito will be the first emperor born after the war.

Professor Aaron William MooreHanda Chair of Japanese-Chinese Relations at the University of Edinburgh

Handa Chair

The Handa Chair of Japanese-Chinese Relations was established at the University in 2010.

Founded by Japanese philanthropist Dr Haruhisa Handa, the post is based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures. The post holder works closely with the Centre for Japanese Studies, the Scottish Centre for Chinese Studies and the Confucius Institute for Scotland.

Broomhall history

This year also marks the UK/Japan Season of Culture 2019/20.

An exhibition recording the first encounter of the British and Japanese governments in 1858 – Diplomacy and Discovery: An Imperial Encounter with Japan - is currently on display at Broomhall House, home of the Family of Bruce.  

Several members of the Bruce family served as British diplomats and officials in Asia during the 19th century.

James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, negotiated the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in Edo – modern day Tokyo – in 1858.

My family is honoured to be hosting such a prestigious event to mark the Imperial Transition.  Our links with Japan extend to the Ansei era of 1854-60, when James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin, negotiated the first Anglo-Japanese agreement.

Lord Bruce 

Related links

Japanese Studies at the University of Edinburgh

Consulate-General of Japan

Broomhall House