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Gov't to use family name first in Roman alphabet in documents

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It is normal to put your surname first in English official documents.

No, it is not 'normal' in English speaking countries.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is absolutely no reason to change it. The traditional way of putting the family name first is what we do in Japan. I'm not sure what the big deal is.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

You absolutely can use it with old names. Just drop the dashes that are used for style and move the 'no' to the end of the family name.

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'no' is not part of their Family name. By this logic you could just change a German name like Lacey Von Erich to Laceyvon Erich. I wonder if they'll be happy to know that their first name is actually Laceyvon and not Lacey. Seriously, what the hell kind of logic is this? You're altering somebody's name. How arrogant and ethnocentric do you have to be to alter a person's last name like that just to fit your customs?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hungary is a western country. Surname first is the convetion in Hungary.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When you make a change like this you end up with some names written " First Last" and some written "Last First". How can you tell which way is correct? In most cases you can guess based on what you think are common family and given names. But, how would you do that with a computer? To resolve the problem you can simply add a comma after family name like this: "Last, First". That is the common way to do it in English. Using the comma resolves the problem completely. People named "First Last" generally don't like it if you call them "Last First", But if you simply add a comma they understand. It gets a bit more complex if you add a "Middle" name. My Japanese drivers license has "Last First Middle". I constantly get called by my middle name if someone refers to my drivers license.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When I print, I start with my family name first, when I sign, I always use my first name, not a problem so far.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

OK correct me if I’m wrong...

Im Japanese and I have never thought that Japan did anything besides have the Family name first. It’s everywhere!

I don’t get to write my first name first. I am addressed by my surname first.

At work, in public, at events, it’s always the same.

Now there’s been all this time and money spent on changing something that was never anything different?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Hello Kitty 321

you cannot use the Western name order on old names because there are those with a 'no' in between the surname and first name, ie. Ike-no-Taiga.

You absolutely can use it with old names.  Just drop the dashes that are used for style and move the 'no' to the end of the family name.

"Ikeno Taiga"

"Hirano Satoshi"

"Uchino Sakura"

"Nakano Miyabi"

"Takeno Hiro"

"Tsuchino Hikari"

"Mizuno Masato"

(Note, any names listed above are only examples, I don't know if they are all real people.)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Even in English Visa and Other Application, the block of Surname comes before First Name.

Japanese Tradition is good, actually some old ways are better.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A simple "comma" in between names will solve all the confusion, I supposed.

e.g. Shibayama, Masahiko

Kono, Taro

Have you not encountered this name rule at school in one time or another? A surname is always preceded by a ' , ' followed by a given name. You may have failed to notice, if you are a passport or driver's license holder here in Japan or any other countries, that you surname is written first. And in most passenger manifest on ships or planes, list the names surname first too.

We are talking black and white here, These are official public and private documents.

Either it is in kanjis' or romaji's doesn't change your personality. The thing is, we've been writing our surnames (last LN name) first in Kanji's since who knows when. So it is equally appropriate to write in the same order in romaji'. If you want to call your colleagues at work by their first names first to avoid confusions, that's your prerogative.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Fox Sora Winters

It is better because when you are writing about Japanese history, the names suddenly change order in the Meiji period. Putting the surname in uppercase helps but it is still confusing. And before you ask, you cannot use the Western name order on old names because there are those with a 'no' in between the surname and first name, ie. Ike-no-Taiga.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Nice to know that they are focusing on the really important issues.... don’t worry about the country debt, lack of pensions, population age, being almost at war with all neighbors, etc, etc... as long as we refer to PM as Abe Shinzo everything will be fine. Taro Aso needs to change his name to Hole Aso...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It's better to follow the Japanese tradition when writing Japanese names in the Roman alphabet,

But why is it better? In what way is it better? The people proposing this never seem to be able to explain this. Because it's traditional? Not all traditions should be kept. Some are outdated and should be left behind. We're all individuals, so why should we be identified through the family that we belong to? What if we're not close with our family? But then, this is Japan. Individuality is still frowned upon in many places. "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down" and all that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Many official documents in western countries like the US/Canada/UK Passports show family name first anyway. In the US, many federal identification cards, military ID cards etc start with family name first as well.

Dug up my old state driver's license, Family name (last name) was also printed first.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Writing the family name first when using romanji will cause confusion outside Japan - for example, on passports, credit cards etc.

Many official documents in western countries like the US/Canada/UK Passports show family name first anyway. In the US, many federal identification cards, military ID cards etc start with family name first as well.

So I highly doube it would cause any confusion outside of Japan.

My credit card in Japan has family name first, no one has ever said anything to me in years of using when traveling around abroad.

When living outside of Japan I had an ID card for over 10 years that had my middle an given name switched around and no one ever asked anything as well.

As foreigners in Japan, we're already used to this anyway, as all Government documents in Japan have foreigner names with family name first.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This action, to me, just seems to reflect a feeling of insecurity among the officials who enacted it. It reminds me of the city and airport and railway station renaming mania that overtook India from the 1990s in an effort to stamp out vestiges of British imperialism. I'd still rather write "Calcutta" than "Kolkata."

Yes, it's true that Japan's Meiji Era leaders went a bit overboard with their crash Westernisation of society at a time when the U.S. and European countries dominated the world--but honestly, switching the order in which names are printed in official documents was just about the least regrettable thing that occurred.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Showa was 26 - 89. Just add and subtract.

Showa ended in 64 not 26.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

with all that's happening in the world and our universe is this really important? Japan GROW UP.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

i applaud Japan for keeping their culture and staying strong against western influences. Stay Japanese Japan!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In which case they can write my name with given names first and family name last - fair's fair!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How to make a political agenda devising people about something nobody care?

You have it!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

zichi

Showa was 26 - 89. Just add and subtract.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Guff

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Names are easy but remembering dates according to the Japanese calendar are more difficult.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Who cares about this kind of thing? Right wing nationalists. That's who.

Insofar as this is meant by Japan's nationalist to once again symbolically roll back 'concessions' made to 'Western Imperialism' by reinstating Japan's 'beautiful customs," I naturally oppose this.

I leave symbols to the symbol minded.

Dump Art. 9. Just do it and be done with all this errant nationalist pussy-footing.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Writing the family name first when using romanji will cause confusion outside Japan - for example, on passports, credit cards etc.

I just checked my UK passport - it's surname first, given names after, on the next line.

It helpfully has printed above the names, surname/nom and given names/prenoms.

No confusion at all.

Now I come to think of it, my Japanese bank accounts are also surname-first. They insist I use the name on my passport, in the way it is shown on my passport.

Middle names are critical in English - how else will you know when your parents are REALLY mad at you? That's when the middle name gets used.

Wow, I must have really upset my parents at birth. I've always been called by my middle name.

Invalid CSRF

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Many halves won’t be enamoured of this transparent piece of 脱欧入亜 and we’re likely to see many of them ditch the foreign name and revert to the Japanese parent’s name. That, or suffer having their foreignness highlighted, which is what will happen every time they are addressed by their non-Japanese surname first. Perhaps they’ll exempt those with foreign surnames from this latest edict, but my guess is they won’t because encouraging self-censorship in the name of group cohesion is exactly what they want.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Lets not get into middle names. Those confuse the hell out of everyone here.

And yet they insist you include it..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Jimizo, Blow Joe, feel good.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

It is what it is...I will put my name in whatever order they want since is not a thing to worry about. Heck in us everytime I fill out a document I have to check last name first or otherwise since it varies. Better to think about fun stuff :-)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How will Joe Blow feel about this?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Your tax dollars at work folks.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

^ it escaped my angle brackets. I meant family name, first name middle name/initial.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Western dominance and convention is now declining in the world. Nations like India and Japan and her culture are on the rise

Japan is not on the rise, cobber.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I'm Bond, James Bond!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Sometimes in the form, it will be like , ; so there is a comma after the family name.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ALT's take note; your job just had one more task removed.

All good.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Without actual rather than explained examples I really don't know in what context this change is meant for. Why in the world are they writing Japanese names in roman letters in formal government documents? What I do know however is that this name order question usually does seem to arise from some psychological complexes. You could say victim complex but I tend to think of the one that declares a part of the male anatomy to be lacking in size.

For me the base of the thing is simply in grammar. In typical spoken and written languages of Europe, the name order is given name first. I don't care where you are from, you should use the correct grammar of the language you are speaking or writing, including name order. Thus Japanese written in roman letters should have last name first always as its still Japanese language. Not only is all that just obeying grammar, its avoiding confusion. I don't want people calling me Mr. Norman or calling out to me "Hey, Goodman!". And I don't want to beat my head against the wall trying to explain to every soul I meet which is my given and family name. That said, certain formal documents in English we do put the last name first.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@theFu

Excellent point! ; )

2 ( +2 / -0 )

OK, for all the people here complaining, I just checked my immigration card, my drivers license, and my credit cards and they all have my last name first. I also checked my American drivers license, my birth certificate, and my passport and they have my family name first. Even my Air Force id from 25 years ago has family name first. Only my diploma has my first name first. I really don’t understand what the big deal is anyway. If you want to sign your name first name first go for it. If you do it enough times and they keep telling you “no” eventually they’ll stop telling you “no”. Just like how they don’t like people to check boxes here you have to put an X. I just keep putting a check in they tell me I can’t do that but I put a check anyway and eventually they stop telling me “no”.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Middle names are critical in English - how else will you know when your parents are REALLY mad at you? That's when the middle name gets used.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Most US Federal forms have the family name 1st, given name 2nd and middle name 3rd. Most, but not all. Just depends on who created the form.

As long as what is expected is clearly labeled, I don't see any issue with either order.

In parts of some countries, people only have 1 name. It isn't related to any family name or parent. Guess it is easier for them?

Aren't there more important things that need attention?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Just tell me which name to write first and I'll go along. This is nothing to get worked up about.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

@Daito

Since when using Roman alphabet means writing in English?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I don't understand why this is so important all of a sudden after 100 years. It will only lead to confusion.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wow this is a very important and timely issue. Now, all our problems are solved.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Just pick a system and stick with it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It is normal to put your surname first in English official documents.

Aye but this is Japan...

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

*And this is just silliness from the government, another one. In English it is so that the first name is written first, so the nationalist Japanese owe to respect the language rules if they don't like.*

Who said anything about English? We are talking about writing using the Roman alphabet - English is just one of the many languages that use the Roman alphabet. It is only an alpahabet - it does not have prescribed rules about how to put names.

It is appropriate that if someone wants to put their surname first because that is how it is in their culture, they should do. It is not up to the West to expect other cultures to conform to their practice.

And it is something the world is getting used to - the North Korean leader's name is known as Kim Jong-Un for example - some people may think that his given name is "Kim", but most understand that it is his family name that is Kim.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

It is normal to put your surname first in English official documents. I don't see why Japan has to make such a big deal out of it. It's as if they are trying to glorify some ancient Japanese tradition and show descent towards the western ideals. Yuk! Yuk!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Usually, you work in a small group, and in that small group chances are you will be the one and only William. That brings us back to where we started.

Really? Down here in Okinawa I work in a group that has 4 people named Miyagi, 3 named Oshiro, , 2 Shinzato and a few others as well.

If we dont use FIRST names first, there is confusion!

We are talking about JAPAN here not some English speaking country!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

When Programs of Anime and others shows air, the characters' names would be pronounced as Family name then Personal name. Only when it is translated into English is it reversed whether it is in Subtitles or Spoken English. Since many of international followers of Japanese Culture are aware of the Perchance to do Family name first, it would make sense to do this as a revision that sets Japan Culture as different than other Countries. I agree with the change.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

On official documents in the U.S., the last name is often used first, such as Abe, Shinzo. With a comma, the order is understood. But in ordinary conversation, all English-speaking countries use first name first, so this is a step backwards, and just makes the nationalists happy.

Ironically, the J-gov mentioned that China and Korea say their names backwards, but when should Japan need to follow neighbors who really don't care for Japan anyway?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Personally, I don't think it's really a big deal. I've been filling out documents in Japan with my last name first for quite some time now. I still sign my name the way I always have (no one can read it anyway). Is it really something so difficult to adjust to?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@cleo Today 05:16 pm JST

Which comes first is simply a matter of syntax, not collectivist thinking.

If we are going to follow the syntax, then we can just continue writing it as per usual English syntax. To propose reversing the order will be to deny the importance of grammatical syntax, thus letting other things rise up.

@commanteerToday 05:31 pm JST

How can being one of the many millions of people named William be an indicator of individuality?

Usually, you work in a small group, and in that small group chances are you will be the one and only William. That brings us back to where we started.

Plus, remember, people in English find it hard to break their usual syntax. To ensure they get it, the name would have to be written "SHIBAYAMA Mashiko", which only further destroys the harmony and visual smoothless of the text. The reader has to pick up the signal, throw away his usual assumption that this is the first name, read the last name, and then read the first name. BUMP!

Plus did you notice the family name just got more prominent again? The family is big, individuals are small.

It isn't that big a deal, true, but if we are to discuss the merits of this change, such considerations must come into play.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Write the family names all in capital letters then there will be no problem and confusions.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I always sign last first and first last, so no changes for me.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

 It's better to follow the Japanese tradition when writing Japanese names in the Roman alphabet," education minister Masahiko Shibayama said at a press conference.

Shouldn't this be Shibayama Masahiko? (See confusion already!)

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The family name will be used first when eating in at restaurants, and used second when taking out.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Writing the family name first when using romanji will cause confusion outside Japan - for example, on passports, credit cards etc.

I do think this is a non-issue and a great deal of government time and media inches are given over to an essentially minor issue.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Lets not get into middle names. Those confuse the hell out of everyone here.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

vanityofvanities

Zichi

Are you writing your address in Japanese order too? It will be confusing. When I write a letter to a friend in U.S. I will write my name the same say as now and my address too in English way.

WOW! Amazing! Do people still write letters anymore, even those "I wish you were here" postcards?

Well sometimes I did sent cards to my mother in Florida but she's gone now. I would write her address in English in the normal accepted style. The same with the sender address they like to have in America. But to the Japanese post office they only see the USA and everything else is ignored. Just thrown into the bag for the USA.

If I'm doing the same in Japan, then I will write the address in Japanese and in the order of Japanese. Same with the sender address.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

So, whenever I sign something over here in Japan using the alphabet I have to write in reverse order.Now, this sucks, gonna mess up my whole thinking (of what is still left). I always went given name and then family name, for xx-amount of years. And now they want me to get used to this?

Judging by the article it should only apply to Japanese names, but since online forms always separate last name and first name with the last name first, it feels weird entering your first name first..

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@ klausdorth

Yes, I did read the article. It is a well-known fact that the Koreans and Chinese have retained their native name order, it is only that Japanese that did not in their rush to adopt all things Western during the Meiji period.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Zichi

Are you writing your address in Japanese order too? It will be confusing. When I write a letter to a friend in U.S. I will write my name the same say as now and my address too in English way.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

If my signature is required I sign with my normal one or just use my hanko.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

First name first emphasizes the individual over the family. Last name first emphasizes the family (collective) over the individual. Insisting on the Japanese style means that even when speaking in English, a person's most distinguishing characteristic is not himself, but the family he belongs to.

I don't think there is anything at all to that. Especially when you consider that first names such as James or William are many times more common than even the most common family names. How can being one of the many millions of people named William be an indicator of individuality?

Funny this rule though. I have some places where I am required to use family name first, and others where I am not. Nothing to do with protocol, and everything to do with how my name was first interpreted. I cannot change the order once it is in the system.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Probably better to follow the Japanese of family name first then less confusion from those needing to use it. Sort of like the address of a road, road name first and then the number.

Nothing for anyone to get worked up over.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

daito hak

I agree this is silliness from the government. This rule applies only to the government documents in Japan and if any Japanese is writing for English publications, they will have to write the same way as we do now.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

*First name first emphasizes the individual over the family. Last name first emphasizes the family (collective) over the individual. Insisting on the Japanese style means that even when speaking in English, a person's most distinguishing characteristic is not himself, but the family he belongs to.*

I think you're thinking way too hard.

The family name either comes first, or it comes last. It's literally a toss-up, one of the other.

Historically, names follow a similar pattern; (belongs to).

In English, the genitive is expressed using of, so (of) became .

In Japanese, the genitive is expressed using の, so (の) became .

Which comes first is simply a matter of syntax, not collectivist thinking.

So, whenever I sign something over here in Japan using the alphabet I have to write in reverse order.

I don't see that your signature has to change (Most folk can't read my signature anyway, few would know whether it was in the 'right' order or not). Just when you print your name, you follow the custom of the country you're in.

I see a molehill, and people yelling 'MOUNTAIN!!!'

Invalid CSRF

19 ( +20 / -1 )

And this is just silliness from the government, another one. In English it is so that the first name is written first, so the nationalist Japanese owe to respect the language rules if they don't like.

-7 ( +6 / -13 )

Shibayama's ministry, the ministry of education is saddled with many scandals and problems yet he could only think of name change.

Well, I guess he is vying for the honour of best minister in Abe cabinet.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

It is more arrogant for Westerners to insist that they use the Western method.

First name first emphasizes the individual over the family. Last name first emphasizes the family (collective) over the individual. Insisting on the Japanese style means that even when speaking in English, a person's most distinguishing characteristic is not himself, but the family he belongs to.

The last name referenced first exists also in so called "western". For example in France they use the last name first in all official documents and in formal interactions. There is nothing unique to Asia or Japan here.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

@papigiulioToday 04:46 pm JST

Who cares if the name is written before or after the family name, or above, or below or in reverse, underlined, striked...

Actually, there is a difference, and it is not to the favor of the East Asian style.

First name first emphasizes the individual over the family. Last name first emphasizes the family (collective) over the individual. Insisting on the Japanese style means that even when speaking in English, a person's most distinguishing characteristic is not himself, but the family he belongs to.

Do you want such a piece of collectivist thinking to be mandatory?

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

Who cares if the name is written before or after the family name, or above, or below or in reverse, underlined, striked...

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Chip on shoulder move. But of course, nothing will change, eventually, some Japanese will express a grievance about how confusing it is in Japan for entering and recognising foreigners and visiting ethnic Japanese vs local Japanese. Then the cycle will reverse and on and on it goes.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

"Hello Kitty 321",

oh really? Did you read the complete article or just the comment section?

"Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who was educated in the United States, also raised the issue, saying that Asian leaders such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae In retain their original name order in English."

-16 ( +3 / -19 )

@ Vince Black

In what way is it arrogant? It is the East Asian way, nobody complains that the Koreans or Chinese have retained their native name order. It is more arrogant for Westerners to insist that they use the Western method.

18 ( +30 / -12 )

What a brilliant idea (NOT)!

So, whenever I sign something over here in Japan using the alphabet I have to write in reverse order.Now, this sucks, gonna mess up my whole thinking (of what is still left). I always went given name and then family name, for xx-amount of years. And now they want me to get used to this?

-16 ( +6 / -22 )

Respect to the diversity of languages? More like plain arrogance

-12 ( +13 / -25 )

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