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Properly addressed

Dear Sir
H ere are some tips for you to understand why Japanese names

written and addressed in reverse order when in a foreign language and how they

should be properly used.

This letter is written in response to your

article in the March 11-24 edition about Japanese backpackers which had some

names incorrectly ordered.

First of all, please understand that names of

Japanese (the majority) are written and addressed in 'surname-given name'


However, when in foreign countries, Japanese customarily reverse

their names and employ 'given name-surname' order like in most western names. In

this way foreigners can easily correctly address Japanese people they meet.

Foreigners should not think this is the proper way to order Japanese names.

Take Yasushi Akashi for example. On no occasion, in Japan, do we call

him this way but he has to be Akasi Yasushi. Neither Mao Tze Tung is Tze Tung

Mao, nor Pol Pot is Pot Pol. Ever heard someone say Kennedy F. John? It sounds

very funny.

Historically, it is believed that Japanese scholars and

intelligentsia have done good work to introduce Western cultures into Japan

since the Meiji Restoration period. But at the same time, some of them were

blindly flattered with the 'Western style' and advocated people should change

the order of their names to conform to the given name-surname order, adding to

the confusion.

To date, through the experience of economic growth during

the post WWII era, Japan has followed the footsteps of the West, with a priority

to be recognized in the 'international' community. Nothing is wrong with it. But

the 'legend' dies hard. Reversing name order doesn't mean 'internationalism' but

probably 'opportunism' in a sense.

To avoid confusing usage of name

order, I make some suggestions below. (Example: Yasushi Akashi)

  1. Give it in the correct order as it is used in Japan. - Akashi


  2. To make it clear, the surname should be written in capital letters while the

    given name in small letters. - AKASHI Yasushi

WATAHIKI Masao, Phnom Penh, Researcher

PS: The article titled

'Japan backpackers flood in' (March 11-24) has a good example of such misuse.

The name of one out of three boys 'Yasutaka Ito' is written in a reversed order

while the other two are correct.

I suggest the media check each person's

name and it might be a good idea to ask them why they reverse their name


I definitely hope you'd carry out these suggestions in your




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