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Most Japanese people write their first name first in English, even though writing their family name first is the correct way in Japanese. I think Japanese people should write their names in the same order in English as in Japanese.

Ever since grade school, we have been taught to write our first name first in English. This style is said to have been established as a result of Europeanism in the Meiji Era. But why should we change one of our most important identities? Chinese people write their family name first in English.

In 2000, the Japanese Language Council said the diversity of language and culture should be protected, and that in general it is better to write one’s name in the preserved tradition of one’s home country. In Japanese passports, the family name is written first, and some scholars write their names that way on paper.

Yet, seven years after the council announced its view, the style of writing one’s name in English is still not agreed; it remains a personal decision. Because of increasing globalization, this problem should not be left unresolved. Use of two styles is confusing. The government should institutionalize the family-name-first style and strive to make every country aware of it.

takashi mikami

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