The upcoming abdication of the Chrysanthemum Throne, the enthronement of [徳仁]{なるひと} and the start of the [令和]{れいわ}[時代]{じだい} presents a specific and unusual conundrum:

It has become customary to refer to former (i.e. dead) emperors of Japan by their era name rather than their given name, and impolite to refer to the sitting emperor by their era name.

The question then: Is this custom tied to enthronement and abdication (making [明仁]{あきひと} [平成]{へいせい}[天皇]{てんのう} on May 1st), or is it tied to 明仁's actual death (date TBD)?

2 Answers 2


The current Emperor Akihito will be called 上皇【じょうこう】 ("Emperor Emeritus") after the abdication on April 30. The full name with an honorific title will be (明仁)上皇陛下 ("His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus (Akihito)"). Something like 昭和天皇 is a 追号 (posthumous name), and the current Emperor will not be called 平成天皇 until his demise. (To be precise, his 追号 can be different from 平成天皇, but this is highly unlikely.)


  • Wikipedia - 上皇 (天皇退位特例法)

    上皇(じょうこう、英: Emperor Emeritus)とは、2019年(令和元年)5月1日以降の、天皇の退位等に関する皇室典範特例法第二条の施行に基づき退位する日本の天皇の称号。

  • nippon.com — Emperor Akihito to Be Called Emperor Emeritus after Abdication

    Emperor Akihito will be called the Emperor Emeritus and Empress Michiko the Empress Emerita after the Emperor's abdication on April 30, the Imperial Household Agency said Monday. It has been already decided that in Japanese the Emperor's post-abdication title will be Joko and the Empress' Jokogo.


So far, never.

His title after death is not decided yet and technically could be other than 平成天皇.

  • 2
    While technically correct, this doesn't really answer the question; it just pushes it down the road. Setting aside the question of whether a name other than 平成天皇 is practically or historically feasible, the question concerns when the name (whatever it might be) is given; not what it is. Apr 1, 2019 at 21:03

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