Photo/IllutrationEmperor Akihito, Empress Michiko and other members of the imperial family attend a special concert on March 18 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne. (Tatsuya Shimada)

Crown Prince Naruhito was told the name of the imperial era that will start when he ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1 before the official announcement.

Shortly after the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved the name Reiwa, Kazuhiro Sugita, a deputy chief Cabinet secretary, phoned Shinichiro Yamamoto, the grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency, and told him about the decision.

The era name was publicly announced April 1.

Yamamoto, in turn, called Yasuhiko Nishimura, the vice grand steward who was standing by at the crown prince's residence on the Akasaka Imperial Grounds. Nishimura wrote down what Yamamoto told him and showed the memo to Naruhito. Nishimura also explained that the name was taken from "Manyoshu," Japan's oldest poetry anthology.

Naruhito reportedly said, "I understand."

At about the same time, Yamamoto met with Emperor Akihito in the Imperial Palace and informed him about the new era name.

Yamamoto said the emperor listened and then proceeded to sign and place his seal on the Cabinet order to promulgate the new name.

Abe did not meet with either Akihito or Naruhito on April 1.