In Japan, besides the Gregorian calendar, imperial era name called "GENGO" is widely used, and both can be used in official documents. "Heisei" is a current era name. Most era names start with the accession of a new emperor to the throne and that year is the first year of the new era.
Heisei started on 8 January, 1989, the day after the death of Emperor Hirohito, when the Emperor Akihito ascended the throne as the 125th Emperor of Japan. During the Meiji Era, it was stipulated that emperor reigns until death.
However, Emperor Akihito's concern over his health caused him to rethink the tradition. Then Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on 30th April, 2019 and the Era of Naruhito will begin the next day.
Heisei means "Achieving Peace". However, Heisei is marked by political instability at home and abroad and a number of natural disasters. Japanese cabinets were notoriously short-lived and 17 men have occupied the prime minister's office from Noboru Takeshita who was in the office when the Heisei era started to the Shizo Abe administration currently in power.
We also suffered from a number of natural and man-made disasters. The Hanshi-Awaji Earthquake, sarin-gas terrorist attack in Tokyo Metro by Aum Shinrikyo. On 11 March, 2011, Japan suffered the Great East Japan Earthquake, the strongest recorded earthquake in its history and the devastating tsunami, affecting places in the northeast of Honshu.
The new ear name will be announced on April 1, 2019. It is exciting to hear the name. The new era starts from May. It marks the beginning of an exciting new era for Japan.
With the new era starting this year, we are expecting a baby boom is coming. We sincerely hope it will be a peaceful and vigorous one!