Perry De Havilland has a few choice words to say about this little situation:
Japan aims to change the way Japanese names are written in English by putting the family name first, the same way they are written in Japanese, in a triumph for conservatives keen to preserve traditional ways in a fast-changing world. Education Minister Masahiko Shibayama proposed the change to Cabinet ministers on Friday and the government will now study how to implement it, the top government spokesman said […] Foreign Minister Taro Kono raised the suggestion in May saying foreign media should write the prime minister’s name in the traditional way – Abe Shinzo.
And Perry’s response:
Shinzo Abe can fuck right off, because that is not correct when using English. Follow your own heathen customs when using Japanese, old chap, but no government gets to decide how English is used, that sort of bullshit only happens in France and Japan.
Perry and I have had our issues in the past because I’m conservative and he’s a librarian, but on this topic we are 100% in accord.
Why do we write Chinese names family name first, then given name (Mao Ze-Dong, Chiang Kai-Shek) but Japanese names the opposite (Isoroku Yamamoto)? I like to think it is just one of those inconsistencies that makes English so delightful.
What is wrong with being a librarian? I like books 🙂
We do the same with Korean names. Kim Jong Un is the son of Kim Jong Il who was the son of Kim Il Sung. Kim is the family name, obviously.
Sometimes Koreans who emigrate to the US or other Western countries reverse the order of their names but not always.
I swear there are people out there who spend their time scanning the intertoobz just looking for shit to get angry about. Don’t be like that. “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
I think the anger is more of the “they can’t make us do that if we don’t want to” persuasion.
Like ours, for example, when the feminisiticals and intersexualists demand that we use “xe”, xir” or “Ms”.
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