Japan should do what it wants with respect to the order of people’s names, but to help others, if the family name is to be shown first, perhaps it could be followed by a comma? We have a similar issue in the U.S. when sometimes listings show the family name first and sometimes they show the given name first. If the reader isn’t familiar with the names, say if they’re foreign, they don’t know which is which. To distinguish, there is no comma when the given name is first and there is a comma when the family name is first.
I like listening to Misaki Iwasa, but not being familiar with the names it took me a while to figure out which was which, because where I live they were shown in print both ways. They both sounded like family names to my untrained ears. If someone had printed her name as “Iwasa, Misaki” I would have known.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.