I've just imported a car from Japan. There are a number of stickers on the car that I don't need and so I am pulling them off one-by-one. Even though I may not need to keep the stickers, there may be some information on them that may be useful.

One of them says,


Now I think this means, evidence of validity period of vehicle inspection, until year: Reiwa-5 (2023), month: January, day: 21. But, Google Translate doesn't translate the date that way. And neither can I find any reference to referring to 令和 (Reiwa) with just "年". So, I thought I would check. Is the year specified, 2023?

Footnote: Google Translate turns "5年1月21日" into "January 21, 5".

2 Answers 2


I think the answer is generally no.

The 5 in the sticker does mean 令和5年 as you understand, but usually if the year indicates that of a Japanese era (昭和, 平成, 令和 etc), they are shown as such. The stickers are exceptions.


The kanji 年 is a generic "unit" for year, just as 月 is for month and 日 is for day of the month. 年 is used regardless of the era or the calendar type. The calendar type or the era name can be specified before the number:

  • 紀元前3000年 = 3000 B.C.
  • 西暦2023年 = 2023 A.D.
  • 昭和48年 = Showa 48
  • 令和5年 = Reiwa 5
  • 宇宙世紀78年 = Universal Century 0078

In your case, it is a convention to use the Japanese era system in these vehicle inspection stickers, and the era name (令和) is not explicitly specified. In other words, all you can do is remember that it's in Reiwa. This system works because we understand these stickers are valid only for a few years. In other business fields, such a convention is clearly confusing, so people just use the Western calendar (2023年) or explicitly add the era name (令和5年, or R5 for short).

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