National

Kojien dictionary definition for 'LGBT' criticized for inaccuracy by advocates

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

The publisher of Kojien, the nation’s most authoritative dictionary, has drawn complaints from advocates for sexual minorities for incorrectly defining the term, “LGBT,” in its latest edition released Friday.

“Lesbian,” “gay” and “bisexual” are terms used to describe sexual orientations, while “transgender” is used to “describe people whose gender identity does not match the sex or gender they were identified as having at birth.”

But the seventh edition of Kojien failed to separate the meaning of “lesbian,” “gay” and “bisexual,” from “transgender,” defining the meaning of “LGBT” collectively as “people whose sexual orientations are different from the majority.”

Following its release, many LGBT advocates took to Twitter and Facebook to point out the mistake, urging the publisher to make a correction.

Iwanami Shoten, the publisher, admitted the inaccuracy, saying the explanation of the term was “insufficient.”

“We are aware of online comments saying the definition is wrong. … We are currently discussing a way to deal with the issue, such as making a correction,” an Iwanami spokesperson told The Japan Times on Wednesday.

The Kojien dictionary has been a household reference since it was first published in 1955. Media outlets and other organizations often use it as the final say on a word’s meaning. “LGBT” was among some 10,000 new entries made into the latest edition.

Mameta Endo, a transgender man in Tokyo, who pointed out the error on his blog on Sunday, said the mistake by the authoritative dictionary reflects the reality of Japanese society, where many are still uninformed on issues related to sexual minorities.

“It’s a pity really. … Kojien is used by many people to look up the meaning of words,” said Endo. “I hope (the publisher) will make a correction,”

“More people today recognize the term ‘LGBT,’ and I’m happy about it. But sadly, many don’t understand it correctly. I guess we still have a long way to go,” he said.

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