Foreign Minister Taro Kono has indicated that his ministry would consider breaking with its tradition of reversing Japanese names in English and some other foreign languages.
Kono, who is fluent in English, cited the example Friday of Chinese and Korean names that are used in the same order regardless of language, citing Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
“The prime minister is Shinzo Abe (not Abe Shinzo as in Japanese) and I’m Taro Kono (not Kono Taro). We need to think about whether Japan should follow the Japanese” name order, Kono told reporters.
Kono, who often prefers communicating in English with his counterparts during official talks, did not give further details. It is customary for Japanese people to put their given names before surnames when they use foreign languages.
“It’s natural to discuss whether (such a change) should be made, including whether it should be in time for the Emperor’s accession ceremony (in October) or the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics” in 2020, Kono said.
Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30 — the first living Japanese monarch to do so in about two centuries — and Crown Prince Naruhito will succeed him the following day.