Photo/IllutrationChief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announces the new era name as Reiwa, holding up a sign bearing two characters on April 1. (Shiro Nishihata )

The new era name that starts in May when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the throne is Reiwa, the government announced on April 1.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga made the much-anticipated announcement Reiwa before noon, holding a sign bearing two characters.

Reiwa was approved at a Cabinet meeting earlier in the day after a series of procedures involving academics, lawmakers holding top positions in the Lower House and Upper House and Cabinet members.

The new era with Naruhito, 59, as the emperor starts on May 1, ending the current Heisei Era in which his father, Akihito, has been the emperor since 1989.

Akihito, 85, abdicates at the end of April.