New Japanese Imperial Era changes in Excel and Office

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An update for Excel users on the upcoming new Imperial Era in Japan and how to type the Reiwa era name in Office documents

The Japanese government has now announced the new Era name that will coincide with new Emperor. From 1 May 2019 we’ll be in the 令和or Reiwa era.

This might not seem like a big deal to us Gaijin, it’s important for Japanese people and anyone dealing with Japan.

Excel and the Reiwa era

Microsoft has prepared for this change with various patches (and fixes for those patches <sigh>).

Now the era name is known, we hope they’ll move quickly to add the era into the registry so Excel dates will be correct.

See our piece on showing Japanese Era dates in Excel.

Adding Reiwa era now

Here’s now to add the Reiwa era into Excel without waiting for the Microsoft patch. This should NOT be necessary unless you need to implement the change quickly. It’s safer to wait for the official Excel patch, even though the patch will probably make the same registry change.

After making this change we opened up the worksheet from Japanese Era dates in Excel which had the wrong display for the July 2019 date. Like magic, the date display is now correct!

We added the era as a new registry entry as described in Japanese Era dates in Excel.

At Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Nls\Calendars\Japanese\Eras

Add a String value (copy the data line to get the Kanji characters):

2019 05 01

REG_SZ

令和_令_Reiwa_R

The data is an underscore-separated list of the long and short names of the Era. First in Kanji then Western characters.

Typing Reiwa in Word, PowerPoint or Excel

The Kanji characters for the Reiwa era are in any font with Japanese characters, known in Unicode as CJK Unified Ideographs.

The two characters are

Unicode 4EE4

Unicode 548C

Typing them on a western keyboard is easy with the old Alt+X trick. Type the Unicode values above followed by Alt + X.

Or use Insert | Symbol

Unicode

U+32FF has been reserved for the Kanji version of the new era name. That symbol is both character in half-size versions so they’ll fit into space for one character.

A revised Unicode v12.1 will be released on 7 May 2019 to formalize that change. Then Microsoft and other companies will have to update their fonts to include the new character. That could take months to flow down to Office users unless Microsoft updates their Unicode fonts alongside the Excel patch. We don’t think that’s likely, but we can always hope.

In Office type 32FF then Alt + X to see what appears. When we typed this paragraph it looked like this in Word.

If you see proper characters instead of a box placeholder, you’ll know that your system fonts have been updated for your browser.

Reiwa in the Word dictionary

Past Japanese Imperial era names are in Microsoft Word’s English dictionary by default. Presumably ‘Reiwa’ will be added in a future update

If you want to get ahead of the dictionary update, just add Reiwa to your custom Office dictionary in the usual way right-click | Spelling | Add to Dictionary.


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