Current Affairs 2 April 2019 Digest 1: World Autism Awareness Day 2019 observed; Japan's new imperial era 'Reiwa'

The World Autism Awareness Day was observed across the world on April 2, 2019 with an aim to raise awareness about autism throughout the world. Japan on April 1, 2019 declared ‘Reiwa’ as the name of its new imperial era that will begin on May 1, 2019 once the new Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Apr 2, 2019 16:51 IST
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Story1: World Autism Awareness Day 2019 observed

2 April: World Autism Awareness Day

The World Autism Awareness Day was observed across the world on April 2, 2019 with an aim to encourage the Member States of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about autism throughout the world.

Theme of World Autism Awareness Day 2019

The theme of World Autism Awareness Day 2018 was “Assistive Technologies, Active Participation”.

For people suffering from autism, the access to affordable assistive technologies is a must to enable them to exercise their basic human rights and thereby contribute to the understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Assistive technology can help them participate on an equal basis with others.

What is Autism?

• Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lifelong developmental disability that manifests itself during the first three years of life.

• It results from a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, mostly affecting children and adults in many countries irrespective of gender, race or socio-economic status.

• Autism is characterized by impairments in social interaction, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication and restricted, repetitive behaviour, interests and activities.

• Though there is no cure for it, therapeutic and behavioural guidance can considerably improve quality of life.

When was the day proclaimed?

The day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly through the resolution 62/139.

The resolution to proclaim World Autism Awareness Day was passed in the UN Council on November 1, 2007.

It was in 2008 when the UN General Assembly unanimously declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day.

World Autism Day is also one of the only four official health-specific UN Days.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Persons with Disabilities

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the ambitious new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 SDGs and 169 targets that promise to leave no one behind.

While all SDGs are universally applicable, disability and persons with disabilities are explicitly referenced in the following goals:

SDG 4: Quality Education

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Story 2: Japan names new imperial era as 'Reiwa'

Japan on April 1, 2019 declared ‘Reiwa’ as the name of its new imperial era that will begin on May 1, 2019 once the new Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Crown Prince Naruhito will succeed his father Emperor Akihito, who will abdicate the empire on April 30, 2019, putting an end to three decades long ‘Heisei’ era.

The new era will be the 248th in the history of Japan. The announcement regarding the same was made by Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Japan's emperor has no political power, but remains a highly symbolic figure.

Era name ‘Reiwa’

The era name ‘Reiwa’ is drawn from the 7th century poetry collection “Manyoshu”. The name is made up of the two characters ‘Rei’ and ‘Wa’ that stands for ‘order’ and ‘peace’, respectively.

It is likely to be the first time that the Japanese era name (gengo) has been drawn from a Japanese document, depicting a break from over 1,300 years old custom of choosing the name from Chinese classics.

End of ‘Heisei’ era

The current Japanese era is known as ‘Heisei’ which means achieving peace. The era began on January 8, 1989, a day after the death of the Emperor Hirohito, when Emperor Hirohito’s son Emperor Akihito acceded to the throne as the 125th Emperor of Japan.

Heisei will be the first era without a war in Japan’s modern history.

The era will end on April 30, 2019 with the abdication of Emperor Akihito. Emperor Akihito’s abdication will be the first in 200 years.

Japanese Imperial Era Name (Gengo)

Origin of the concept of Imperial Era Name

Japan imported the imperial calendar system from China about 1,300 years ago in 645 CE. The first era was named as ‘Taika’ to celebrate the great Taika reform of 645.

Japan adopted the practice of "one emperor, one era name” with the beginning of ‘Meiji’ era that spanned from 1868 to 1912.

Names of four modern eras

There have been four era names in Japan’s modern period:

  • Meiji (1868-1912)
  • Taisho (1912-1926)
  • Showa (1926-1989)
  • Heisei (1989-till now)


Under the 1979 Era Name Law of Japan, PM Abe appointed a panel of experts on classical Chinese and Japanese literature to nominate two to five era names to choose from. The choice is made by the top officials; the emperor does not choose the name.


The era names need to meet strict criteria, should be easy to read and write. The name should be unique in itself, not used commonly or previously for an era name.

The era name also customarily doesn't begin with the initials of the previous modern eras - M, T, S or H.

Change in era name

The change in era name creates businesses for both the outgoing and the incoming Emperors, for instance, anything dubbed as the last of an era such as “last of Heisei” tends to attract the fans of era’s emperor.


The imperial era name is used in government and business documents, newspapers, calendars and coins. It is the way Japanese count years, although use of the Western calendar is becoming more widespread now-a-days. Elders often use it to identify their generations.

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