Sixty-two percent of respondents favorably accept the new era name of Reiwa, while 31 percent are having difficulty feeling close to it, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey conducted on Monday and Tuesday in response to the announcement of the name.
The survey also showed that those who answered that the start of the new era on May 1 would change the atmosphere of Japanese society was 31 percent, less than half of the 64 percent who replied that it would not.
When those who answered that they favorably accept Reiwa were asked about the degree to which they like it, 33 percent said “very much” and 29 percent replied “somewhat.”
Looking at the rate of those who favorably accept Reiwa by gender, 68 percent were women, higher than 56 percent for men. By age, those 18 to 29 and those in their 40s were in the 50 percent range, while those in their 30s and in their 50s or older were in the 60 percent range.
In a survey with the same questions and options conducted in January 1989 when the Heisei era started, a total of 61 percent favorably accepted Heisei — the results were 27 percent for “very much” and 34 percent for “somewhat” — while 33 percent said it was hard to feel a sense of closeness to it.
The rates of “likability” and “difficult feeling closeness” with Heisei and Reiwa were thus almost the same.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explained on Monday that Reiwa carries the connotation that “culture will be born and grow among people who care for each other in a beautiful manner.”
The rate of those who think that this connotation is suitable as an ideal for the people was 82 percent. Respondents who think that Reiwa is easy to write reached 78 percent and 76 percent think it is easy to read.
Reiwa, which was derived from the “Manyoshu,” Japan’s oldest poetry anthology, is the first era name sourced from classical Japanese literature, as far as it is possible to confirm.
Eighty-eight percent have a high opinion of Reiwa being derived from Japanese literature.
50% to use both Reiwa, Western
Asked whether they will use the Reiwa year or the Western year in their daily lives from May 1, 50 percent said they will use both almost equally, followed by 24 percent who chose the Western year and 22 percent who chose Reiwa.
The rate of those who support the continuation of the era system was 82 percent. However, compared to the high rate of those who want to use both the Japanese and Western years, the number of those who want to mainly use the Japanese year was small.
Among people who want to use both, this response was given in the 50 percent and 60 percent ranges for those in their 50s or younger. For those in their 60s, this answer was in the range of 40 percent.
These figures were the highest given for any answer in these age groups. Although for those in their 70s or older, almost the same high rates of answers were given for both using the Japanese year, and using it and the Western year.
About 40 percent of those in their 70s or older replied that they will use the Japanese year, followed by about 30 percent of those in their 60s, in the range of 10 percent for those in their 30s to 50s, and less than 10 percent for those 18 to 29.
Among those who support the continuation of the era system, 53 percent answered that they will use both the Japanese and Western years, while 25 percent chose only the Japanese year.
The previous survey on March 22-24 asked people which they were using more, the Japanese year or the Western year. Forty-one percent said the former, 33 percent said both and 25 percent said the Western year.
In the latest survey, following the announcement of Reiwa, those who replied that they will use both reached 50 percent, indicating that the number of people using both could rise further.
Asked whether they think it is better to use the Japanese year or the Western year for dates in public documents used by the central government or municipalities, 36 percent said that it is better to use both together, 33 percent said the Japanese year and 26 percent chose the Western year.
In another question, the approval rating of the Abe Cabinet was 53 percent, slightly higher than the 50 percent of the previous survey on March 22 to 24. The disapproval rating dropped to 32 percent from 35 percent in the previous survey.
The latest survey was conducted by polling 936 households on landlines and 1,376 mobile phone users who were sampled with a random digit dialing method. All respondents were eligible voters 18 or older. Of them, 1,073 people — 502 on landlines and 571 on mobile phones — gave valid answers. (JMH added cabinet support rate graph.)