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Draft bill proposal seeks to curtail unconventional 'kirakira' kanji name readings

46 Comments
By Krista Rogers, SoraNews24

We’ve all heard of some unusual names that celebrities in particular give to their kids. Whether obscure or just plain nonsensical, these types of names are known as kirakira names (literally, “sparkling” or “flashy” names) in Japan. Even when bestowed without any feelings of malice, unusual names, especially in cases when the reading of the name kanji differs vastly from typical readings, can present a host of challenges to everyone from the child in question experiencing healthy social development to medical professionals when making records.

However, it appears that kirakira names may soon become a thing of the past if newly proposed legislation is approved to amend Japan’s Family Registration Law, which would limit the phonetic kanji name readings in koseki, family registers, to those that are generally recognizable by society. A subcommittee of Japan’s Legislative Council met on February 2 to compile a draft proposal for revisions to the law. The family registration system records the kinship of individuals from birth until death in Japan, and this would be the very first amendment to be enacted regarding allowable name readings. Part of the motivation for such a change is also that a certain degree of name standardization is necessary for the digitalization of many governmental administrative functions.

Specifically, the proposal seeks to impose restrictions on phonetic readings of name kanji that are:

  • potentially offensive, discriminatory, obscene, not suitable for nomenclature, or generally unpleasant (e.g., 悪魔 / Akuma / “devil”)
  • character names that would cause unease when given to real people (e.g., 光宙 / Pikachu / “Pikachu”)
  • contradictory to the meaning of the kanji (e.g., 高 / Hikushi / the kanji’s meaning is “high” but the reading indicates “low”)
  • readable as another common name (e.g., 鈴木 / Sato / the kanji are usually read as “Suzuki”)
  • completely irrelevant to the kanji (e.g., 太郎 / Maikeru / the kanji are usually read as “Taro” but the reading indicates “Michael”)
  • easily misread or not clear (e.g., 太郎 / Jiro / the kanji are usually read as “Taro” but the reading indicates “Jiro”)

As to what makes a kanji name reading “generally recognizable by society,” the Ministry of Justice intends to notify local governments as to which readings qualify–typically speaking, those that are widely acceptable across the country, appear on the common-use kanji list (the 2,136 characters currently taught in primary and secondary school), or appear in the Kanwa Jiten (the definitive dictionary of kanji used in Japan). If the proposed revisions are enacted, the person listed as the family head in a koseki must notify local government agencies of the kanji readings of their surname and all first names of family members within one year. If they fail to comply, standard name readings may be assigned instead. Individuals will also be able to petition agencies in the case of unusual name readings that don’t appear in the dictionary with an explanation for their request.

Final discussions regarding the changes are scheduled to take place at a general assembly meeting of the Legislative Council, after which a recommendation will be submitted to the Minister of Justice. The goal would be to eventually submit the bill during the regular session of the Diet.

Since it sounds like my request to name my future theoretical child after the King of Monsters is probably a no-go at this point, I guess I’ll have to settle for something a little more ordinary.

*Source: Mainichi Shimbun via *Golden Times

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Kanji fail — Japanese parents shocked to learn their baby girl’s name has inappropriate meaning

-- New wave of “creative” Japanese names read more like riddles

-- The most popular Japanese baby names of the past 30 years, from Sakura to Shota

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

46 Comments
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I feel sorry for the people who have to deal with their names when they become adults. Like the boy who was literally named "王子" OOjisan, (Prince) he, at 16, officially had his named changed with the family courts because he was constantly embarrassed.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Most countries or local authorities that register babies either have a list of banned names or have the authority to reject a name that is obscene or offensive or a trademark. The first name "Nutella" is banned in France and although nothing id written in stone in the UK local authorities would actually not allow a baby to be registered with the name "Akuma."

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Yeah it’s not uncommon for a country to have a list of names they won’t allow. NZ for example doesn’t allow names such as King, Queen, Saint, Sir etc. Another one that isn’t allowed is Justice, which I’ve seen for some people who have immigrated. NZ has a huge list of requirements.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Thanks LDP for tackling the important issues. Now I don't have to worry about feeling uneasy calling someone Pikachu-san.

I suppose you think the rest of the government just sits around doing nothing all day? This isnt an LDP issue and while you want to blame the LDP for it, you are far off the mark.

If you feel "uneasy" about calling someone "Pikachu-san" just imagine how they feel!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I'm with Yubaru. The kid grows up self conscious, probably bullied, and will end up changing their name when they reach majority anyway. Just to satisfy some weird desire of their parents'.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Thanks LDP for tackling the important issues. Now I don't have to worry about feeling uneasy calling someone Pikachu-san.

3 ( +11 / -8 )

How the "individuality" club is out in force.

You want a stupid name great do it to yourselves.

But use common sense and at least let your children have an easier life.

Childhood and adolescence are hard enough not to have to deal with being called the Devil or a pokemon character.

A large portion of these children end up changing their names as adults because they just realise the problems they cause.

If you are a millionaire celebrity and you know your kids will be treated special then great "Moon unit" will get them by just fine along with the multiple millions of dollars.

But Joe blow's or Jiro Taro's kids being called that is going to be a problem.

This isn't about stopping individuality, it is about stopping stupidity and possibly harm to children.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I was amazed and disappointed at how many of the younger generation working at the bookstores completely argued the fact that kanji was infact pictographs at all.

I find that hard to believe.

I have been in Japan over 30 years and it is explained/taught in school.

My children knew it in elementary school, my friend's children ranging from 3rd grade elementary to 1 year Jr high know it.

Perhaps you where the one misunderstanding?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

before everyone freaks out (too late), this is not ordering what to name your kid. This is saying use the proper alphabet. In my country you can not name a kid something offensive. You also can not use characters that are not the alphabet. It is the same thing.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Good Lord, who in their right mind would give this lifelong pain in the ass to their own children??

Ridiculous names aside, imagine having to explain your own name over and over to every single person you meet for a 100 years to come??

"Erh, Ms. 七海, how should I call you?"

"Marin desu!"

↑this over and over can be even more mind numbing than "why did you come to Japan?"

1 ( +5 / -4 )

If not allowing offensive and character names is understandable, I am quite worried about the unusual reading one. 

No dictionary allows 太 to be read as "ma" just like the letter "A" in English can not be read as a "P"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We gave our three children short easily pronounced names that are difficult to shorten.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Draft bill proposal seeks to curtail unconventional 'kirakira' kanji name readings

This is what the public is hungering for from its lavishly compensated legislators.

It is the equivalent of American culture war conservative grifters.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

finally rich

Today 09:42 am JST

Good Lord, who in their right mind would give this lifelong pain in the ass to their own children?

Apparently quite a few people here.

I imagine they didn't grow up with such a situation.

I gave my Daughter a Kanji for a fairly popular girls name, what I didn't realize at the time is it is even more popular in its other pronunciation as a boys name.

Which means she is constantly correcting people example " no not John it is Jane" .

My mother thought it would be a great idea and a family tradition to name me after my great-grandfather forgetting we lived I Quebec a French speaking place and her father and grandfather ( my great-grandfather) were Scottish and his name was an old Traditional Scottish Celtic name near impossible to read in English even less for the French speaking population of Quebec.

Not even my own Quebecois grandmother could pronounce it.

90% of my friends couldn't.

I ended up changing it to a more modern from of the name and even then people still have trouble with it.

The parent may think it is so cool but it is the child that has to deal with the consequences.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

the affected person feels very bad or is bullied with the given name it can be changed by the person itself, as a kid after school entry and second if fully entering adult society

Said by someone that hasn't experienced or done it.

First the child cannot change their name without permission from the parents that were stupid enough to given them the name.

After adulthood gets very complicated (I know and all I did was make a spelling change)

It affects everything, if you have diplomas you need to go "try" and get the chance made, professional licensing the same!

These days the cost in most places is not high but is in some cases difficult and paying a professional is simpler but expensive.

Read this as a first person account of the consequences of parents being fools.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190411/p2a/00m/0na/012000c#:~:text=Applications%20take%20about%20a%20month,some%2092%25%2C%20were%20approved.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

wallaceToday  09:41 am JST

Goes against the constitution.

Sounds like you're knowledgeable about this issue.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There are many in Ireland that have names that are written totally different to how they are pronounced.... But its fun trying to guess.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't think the government should dictate which names are/aren't permitted, but I do agree that completely arbitrary "yomi"/pronunciation of standard kanji should be allowed for registered names. If you want to name your kid Pikachu, fine, just use either of the kanas.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

EDIT: I don't think the government should dictate which names are/aren't permitted, but I do agree that completely arbitrary "yomi"/pronunciation of standard kanji should NOT be allowed for registered names. If you want to name your kid Pikachu, fine, just use either of the kanas.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Rodney

Today 12:32 pm JST

I know loads of people with the same names. Kinda gets boring.

Actually it is western countries that do that more.

All they do is use the same names giving them a local language twist.

John, Jean, Giovanni, Ivan, Ivon, Sean, Shawn, Iain, Yan, Jan, etc....

But kanji can be way more versatile by mixing ( using a bit of common sense).

Western country.

Father John son John Jr or perhaps

Father John grandfather Peter Som John Peter Smith

Take my Japanese friend

Father 2 kanji Noriyoshi

Grandfather 2 kanji Takayoshi

His name (the son/grandson)

Takanori Using the "Nori" from his father and the "Taka" from the grandfather. (I am not including the actual kanji for certain reasons)

So creating unique but non offensive or silly names is far simpler in Japan.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A number of Japanese as well as foreigners have difficulty with place names around Japan, especially in the countryside, with an obscure reading; and have to look for a hiragana or even romajii sign! TIJ!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

If not allowing offensive and character names is understandable, I am quite worried about the unusual reading one. As Japan becomes more international, names will too. Thought, I have no idea why 太郎 could be chosen for Maikeru, it could be understandable than parents wanting to name their kid Mickael would want to choose kanji matching the meaning of the name not the pronunciation ; same for foreigner taking Japanese nationality. So, I guess, if they go that way, they have to start listing several kanji option for name which could be also exist outside Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hardly a misunderstanding on my part as i already knew it before looking for the books.

You didn't understand apparently.

I was saying your communication with the Japanese was misunderstood.

If you explained correctly they would have known what you were talking about.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I know loads of people with the same names. Kinda gets boring.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

RKL

wallace

> Goes against the constitution.

> Sounds like you're knowledgeable about this issue.

The wonderful point of the Japanese constitution is that it is written in simple understandable language and is quite short in length. Try it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Look everyone, politicians hard at work.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Skip also directly kanji ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Finally... Some common sense...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

zulander

   Western names lack the meanings given to Japanese names which are fascinating

> Wallace Origin and Meaning

> The name Wallace is both a boy's name and a girl's name of Scottish, English origin meaning "foreigner, stranger".

> Beg to differ.

The translation of my spouse's name is "the small child up a blue tree". Western names came from the bible or occupations.

Wallace is male and female. It is also used for a given name and family name.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

this is not limiting names. you can name your kid anything you want that is not DEVIL or PERVERT or something dumb. If you use hiragana you could name your kid a i u e o they are just saying you can't use kanji that don't have a sound connected tot hem. Like A has a sound connected to it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If the proposed revisions are enacted, the person listed as the family head in a koseki must notify local government agencies of the kanji readings of their surname and all first names of family members within one year. If they fail to comply, standard name readings may be assigned instead. 

Can’t wait for them to move on to place names once they’re done with people’s.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Those of you arguing that the government should restrict names for the sake of sparing children ridicule are completely missing the point. Nobody should be subject to ridicule for their name. Ever. For any reason. People do it and it is wrong. If you want to find a problem to solve, address the bullying and ridicule. Don't always try to enforce conformity through government regulation. Rigid conformity is the problem.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Oh the outrage!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOHPuY88Ry4

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Government has absolutely no business whatsoever telling parents what they can or cannot name their children. It is an offense to individual liberty for any level of government to intrude on the family is such fashion. Government has a duty to record whatever name a parent chooses to give their child and not regulate this. It is not the business of society either to accept or reject the names parents give their children. I guess in Japan people like Sargent Shriver or Picaboo Street could not have had their names registered. The world is a sadder place for such nonsense rules.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

. I guess in Japan people like Sargent Shriver or Picaboo Street could not have had their names registered. The world is a sadder place for such nonsense rules.

It isn't Picaboo it is "Picabo" street is the actual family name.

Picabo was the Native American name of the location she was born near.

They didn't call her Devil, death, Charmander, etc...

Most countries have certain restrictions the USA having the least but states still do have them.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Yes, because that will solve inflation, poverty, sexual inequality and lack of child care support.

Wow I didn't know that government wasn't able to do more than one thing at a time?

Do people really think just because one government department/ministry (not related to financial, economy, etc...) Stops all work because the other part of government are involved in another problem?

Do you really think the "justice ministry" is the one drafting economic legislation or child care etc..?

I guess complaining just to complain is what is done today.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Western names lack the meanings given to Japanese names which are fascinating

Wallace Origin and Meaning

The name Wallace is both a boy's name and a girl's name of Scottish, English origin meaning "foreigner, stranger".

Beg to differ.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Western names came from the bible or occupations.

Which can also be fascinating and interesting. Not devoid of meaning at all.

Also some names can be last names or christian names.

I would say both styles can be fascinating.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The translation of my spouse's name is "the small child up a blue tree". Western names came from the bible or occupations.

Was going to ignore but hey you decide elsewhere to make it personal again.

The constant false claims by certain uneducated usually anglophone people that the bible is the source of western names shows the lack of knowledge.

Alexander was pre bible pre tora one of the more popular names, Clark, Garth, Garrett, Leo, Brigitte/Bridget, Henry, I can list well over 200 common western names with no association with the bible, the fact you cannot or don't know say a lot.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

The next little mouse problem blown up to a big elephant. Just allow any names freely and then demand katakana writing if it doesn’t fit to to the Kanjis and if the affected person feels very bad or is bullied with the given name it can be changed by the person itself, as a kid after school entry and second if fully entering adult society or becoming company staff as adult or third when changing gender or orientation, means a maximum of three times in lifetime and maybe another very rare exception, like changing gender back or a widely known infamous bad person with the same name in media occurring and such. Shouldn’t be a too big problem to allow any names or to change them a few times with all those digital databases and mynumber systems all around. Anyway, of course the kanjis and their original readings have to be kept or untouched, I guess that part is clearly to understand and kind of common sense.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

My spouse has a name with three kanji but most have difficulty pronouncing her full name and end up using a shortened version.

Western names lack the meanings given to Japanese names which are fascinating.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Goes against the constitution.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Draft bill proposal seeks to curtail unconventional 'kirakira' kanji name readings

Yes, because that will solve inflation, poverty, sexual inequality and lack of child care support.

Keep tackling those major issues there, LDP........

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

its one of the Japan Commandements

Thou shalt not stand out.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

newly proposed legislation is approved to amend Japan’s Family Registration Law, which would limit the phonetic kanji name readings in koseki, family registers, to those that are generally recognizable by society

Try to be creatives with your kids name, no you can't do that. This is Japan so no one can't be standout, that's including standout using your unique spelling for your name.

-12 ( +12 / -24 )

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