April 1, 2019 / 8:24 AM / 21 days ago

The Reiwa bump: new imperial era name sends ripples across Japan Inc

TOKYO (Reuters) - As Japan revealed the name of its new imperial era on Monday, Internet users rushed to register domain names linked to the choice, “Reiwa”, which also sparked a jump in name-related stocks.

People gather to watch a huge screen broadcasting live reports on the unveiling of the new era name 'Reiwa' by Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo, Japan, April 1, 2019, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

For weeks, anticipation had mounted over the new era name, or “gengo,” which is used on coins, calendars, newspapers and in official paperwork, and over time captures a national mood.

Traffic on Japan’s largest registration site for website names surged tenfold after the news. The name, drawn from an ancient Japanese text, takes effect on May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito becomes emperor.

“Most of our (Reiwa-related) domain names have been taken,” said a spokeswoman for GMO Internet, which runs the website, onamae.com.

The rush of those trying to check the meaning and the correct way to write the name also disrupted some services at website alc.co.jp of language service provider Alc Press, a spokeswoman said.

The first character of the name means “good” and “beautiful” as well as “order” or “command”, while the second means “peace” or “harmony”.

The announcement came a month early so government offices and companies can update computer software and make preparations to avoid glitches when the new era begins next month.

When the closely guarded secret was finally announced, investors spurred a “Reiwa” rise in some stocks.

Shares of book retailer Bunkyodo Group Holdings jumped as much as 29 percent on expectations that Japanese will buy copies of the Manyoshu anthology of poems that inspired the name. The stock closed up 4 percent.

Companies with tenuous links to the new name also received a boost.

Advertising firm Ray Corp, whose name sounds like the first syllable of Reiwa, rose as much at 19 percent before closing up 7 percent.

Daiwa Industries, known in Japanese as Daiwa Reiki Kogyo, rose 5 percent in heavy volume trade.

Companies outside Japan also experienced the impact.

Western Australian real estate portal REIWA, which runs the website reiwa.com, said 70 percent of its internet traffic on Monday came from Japan.

The surge could be an “opportunity to entice migration and foreign investment back into our state,” Chief Executive Neville Pozzi said in a statement.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa; Editing by Darren Schuettler

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