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Opinion

Japan's reordering of name format highlights global power shift

Shinzo Abe will become ABE Shinzo in official English texts as of Jan 1 2020

| Japan
No longer doing things just to be convenient to Westerners.   © Reuters

In Japan these days it seems that conservatives want to change things and progressives want to cling to the status quo. An apparently minor, but highly symbolic, example is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government's proposal to change the order of Japanese names when written in the Latin or Western alphabet.

From the early years of the Meiji period, in the 1870s, Japanese people have identified themselves to foreigners in the common Western style of given name followed by family name. In native Japanese, however, the order is always family name followed by given name.

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