In a break from the long tradition of adopting the Western name order in Roman script, the government Friday decided to put surnames first when writing Japanese names in official documents.

"In a globalized world, it has become increasingly important to be aware of the diversity of languages that humans possess. It's better to follow the Japanese tradition when writing Japanese names in the Roman alphabet," education minister Masahiko Shibayama said at a news conference.

Shibayama proposed the idea and won approval from his fellow Cabinet ministers at a meeting Friday.