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Opinion

Heisei Japan -- the center cannot hold

Beneath a stagnant surface, profound social change is taking place

| Japan
Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko smile as they start a parade from the palace on the day of his enthronement.

The imminent abdication of Japan's Emperor Akihito marks the end of 30-year Heisei Era, 1989-2018. The preceding era, Showa, 1926-89, was a traumatic period dominated by the Second World War and post-1945 national recovery.

Japan at the end of Showa was completely transformed. What then can we say about Heisei looking back? If you ambush a regular Watanabe with this question, they may scratch their head.

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