A new era: Japan welcomes its 126th emperor and celebrates Reiwa 

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. (AFP)
Updated 22 October 2019

A new era: Japan welcomes its 126th emperor and celebrates Reiwa 

DUBAI: Japan will welcome its 126th emperor in a fascinating, history-filled ceremony on Tuesday, but who is Naruhito and what will his “era” signify?

On April 1 this year, the Japanese public intently waited for the government to announce the name of the nation’s new imperial era following the abdication of Emperor Akihito, who led Japan for 30 years.

Historically, the implementation of the imperial era name (or gengo) dates back to Japan’s modernization days of the Meiji Era in the late 19th century. Simply put, each emperor represented a new era.

This unique system remains relevant in politics and several aspects of daily life, as it is used in official documents, local newspapers and the Japanese calendar.

But the name is of deeper significance than official use. “It’s supposed to convey a certain meaning and motto of what should come during the reign of the emperor,” Dr. Griseldis Kirsch, a senior lecturer on contemporary Japanese culture at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, told Arab News.

Reiwa, officially translated as beautiful harmony, has been selected as the name for the era of the incoming imperial couple Naruhito and Masako.

A two-character term that is derived from an ancient anthology of Japanese poems known as “Manyoshu,” Reiwa has drawn some controversy since the term is “not entirely clear,” said Kirsch.

Linguistically, the characters’ meanings have changed over time, and there was a lack of agreement on a proper English translation.

Although the term represents peace amid the current troubled times, Reiwa has a slightly passive tone compared to the former Heisei (achieving peace) era.

“It’s about Japan and its inner harmony… that’s pretty clear in the second character ‘wa’ because it can mean ‘Japanese’ or ‘Japan’,” said Kirsch.

The relatively young incoming royals have been described time and again as a “modern couple.”

Masako — a Harvard-educated former diplomat who speaks five languages — gave up a promising career to join the Imperial Court.

Then-Crown Prince Naruhito — an Oxford-educated environmentalist who is dedicated to water conservation — reportedly pursued his wife-to-be for years before she finally married him in 1993, after rejecting his proposals over fears her career would be jeopardized.

The imperial couple have been famously candid about their difficulties in starting a family, with Princess Masako suffering a miscarriage in 1999 while Naruhito slammed press’s harassment of his then-pregnant wife as “truly deplorable.”

The couple gave birth to a girl, Princess Aiko, in 2001.


Egyptian actor Amr Waked says he will star in ‘Wonder Woman’ sequel

The 46-year-old actor is set to star in the superhero sequel to “Wonder Woman.” (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 November 2019

Egyptian actor Amr Waked says he will star in ‘Wonder Woman’ sequel

  • Waked is best known to international audiences and in Hollywood for his role in the 2005 film “Syriana”
  • He joined Hollywood stars Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Gwyneth Paltrow in the 2011 film, “Contagion”

DUBAI: Egyptian actor Amr Waked is reportedly set to make another appearance in a blockbuster Hollywood flick. The 46-year-old actor took to Twitter this week to say he is set to star in the superhero sequel to “Wonder Woman.” 

“Wait for my appearance in the superhero film ‘1984’ (Part II), directed by Patty Jenkins and expected to come out in June 2020,” Waked tweeted.

Waked is best known to international audiences and in Hollywood for his role in the 2005 film “Syriana,” for which in 2006 he won a “Special Award for Arabs in International Cinema” at the Cairo International Film Festival.

He joined Hollywood stars Matt Damon, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, and Gwyneth Paltrow in the 2011 film, “Contagion” and co-starred in the British film “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” with Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor and Kristin Scott Thomas and also co-starred in “Lucy” alongside Morgan Freeman and Scarlett Johansson.

Lebanon banned the showing of the first “Wonder Woman” film that Israeli lead actress Gal Gadot starred in after activists in the country campaigned against its release.

Controversy surrounded the Israeli actress who previously served in the Israel Defense Forces before pursuing a career in acting.