The Justice Ministry plans to give parents more freedom in naming their children by increasing by the end of the year the number of kanji legally designated for personal names, ministry officials said Monday.

“We want to at least double the number of kanji designated for personal names, and possibly increase it to around 1,000,” a senior ministry official said.

Under family registration law, parents must register offspring names with local governments using “common and simple” characters; they are allowed to choose from the 1,945 kanji designated by the ministry for everyday use as well as an additional 285 kanji designated for use in personal names.

In addition to kanji, each of which usually has at least two ways of reading in Japanese, the language has two sets of syllabary characters.

The ministry began collecting data from local governments on past cases in which parents asked that nondesignated kanji be allowed for their children’s names so it can decide on which ones to add to the list, the officials said.

“We will continue not to accept wrongly written characters, but we want to consider all requested kanji unless they are rather difficult to read,” the senior official said.

The ministry decided to take a look at its kanji for personal names after a couple in Osaka, whose registration to name their baby Kaji using the kanji meaning helm was turned down, asked Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama in December to review the system.

There have been a number of other couples who had to change the characters for their newborn’s names or filed suits against the rejection of name registration due to the use of inappropriate kanji.

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