What's happening in Asia in April?

Got a trip to Asia coming up? Want a heads up on major events taking place in the region? Here’s our monthly guide to what's happening in Asia.

April 11: Indian general election

April 11 will mark the beginning of the world’s biggest democratic event: the Indian general election. With more than 900 million eligible voters, the election will be held in seven phases over two months. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party will be seeking re-election, but they’ll face stiff competition from the Congress Party, led by Rahul Gandhi — a member of India’s most famous political family (his great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first Prime Minister of India).

April 12-16: Songkran (Thailand)

One of Thailand’s biggest celebrations, Songkran marks the beginning of the Buddhist New Year. The festival is best known for its huge water fights, with thousands of people taking to the streets armed with water guns, hoses and buckets. The water is said to symbolise purification, and the “washing away” of bad luck and sins. Songkran is also an occasion for spring cleaning the home, spending quality time with family, and visiting temples.

April 17: Indonesian general election

Jokowi and Prabowo

Joko Widodo and Prabowo Subianto. Image via tempo.co

Up to 193 million eligible voters in Indonesia will go to the polls on April 17, in what will be the world’s largest single-day election. The election will see incumbent president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo go head-to-head with Prabowo Subianto, a former general in the Indonesian armed forces who lost to Jokowi in 2014. This election is also significant as for the first time in Indonesia’s history, the presidential and legislative elections will be held on the same day, meaning voters will have to cast five ballots.

April 27-May 6: Golden Week (Japan)

If you have a trip to Japan planned for this time of year, be warned — it’s the country’s busiest travel season. “Golden Week” refers to a collection of four national holidays that occur within seven days in late April and early May. In 2019, there is an additional holiday — May 1 is when the new Emperor ascends the throne, and this date has been designated a one-off holiday. This means Japanese people will enjoy an unprecedented 10 days off in a row.  

April 30: Abdication of Emperor Akihito (Japan)

After a 30-year reign, 85-year-old Emperor Akihito will step down from the throne on April 30, marking Japan’s first abdication in two centuries. He will be succeeded by his eldest son, 59-year-old Crown Prince Naruhito, the following day. The event will also signal the end of the Heisei era (the new era name will be revealed on April 1).

April 30: Reunification Day (Vietnam)

On April 30, 1975, North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces captured the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, forcing South Vietnam to surrender and ending the Vietnam War. This event marked the first step towards reunification, which officially took place on July 2, 1976. April 30 is a public holiday in Vietnam, and in the run up to the date, cities are decorated with banners, flags and lights.

Main image: Wikimedia Commons

- Asia Media Centre