Time for a change? Japan wants international media to put family names first

The Japan Times 

Foreign Minister Taro Kono plans to ask overseas media outlets to write the names of Japanese people with the family name first, as is customary in the Japanese language. If realized, the new policy would mark a major shift in the country's long-running practice for handling Japanese names in foreign languages -- which began in the 19th to early 20th centuries amid the growing influence of Western culture. At a news conference Tuesday, Kono said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's name should be written as "Abe Shinzo," in line with other Asian leaders such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Now is the right time to make the change, given that the Reiwa Era has just begun and several major events -- including next month's Group of 20 summit and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics -- are approaching, Kono said. "I plan to ask international media organizations to do this. Domestic media outlets that have English services should consider it, too," he said, citing a report released in 2000 by the education ministry's National Language Council that said it was desirable to write Japanese names with the family name first in all instances.