Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Japan-related articles/Name order

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I basically agree with RadicalBender's proposal, but it looks verbose. And I take a different approach. I want to make my proposal more general.

I once proposed that all Japanese names follow the Japanese convention, but it met stronger oppositions than I expected. Now I give up keeping consistency in title because there is no consistency in the current English convention. Instead, I suggest showing the Japanese order as "pronunciation guide" next to Japanese characters in parentheses:

'''conventional English order''' (Japanese characters Japanese order)


  • Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (柿本 人麻呂 Kakinomoto no Hitomaro)
  • Otomo no Yakamochi (大伴 家持 Ōtomo no Yakamochi)
  • Junichiro Koizumi (小泉 純一郎 Koizumi Jun'ichirō)

This rule can be applied to non-personal names:

  • Sanyo Main Line (山陽本線 San'yō honsen)
  • Kanagawa Prefecture (神奈川県 Kanagawa-ken)

I am a native Japanese speaker and I don't know what kind of information English-speaking readers expect to Wikipedia. The distinction of vowel length is essential in Japanese but due to the difference of phonetic structure, it is often ignored in English. I also think that it needs to disambiguate syllable boundary (eg. じゅんいちろう or じゅにちろう).

I want to put such information within parentheses because

  1. I fear some users cannot see or input these special characters.
  2. Google distuiguishes o and ō etc.

I think it is annoying to link to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (Japanese) or Japanese name. Decorating family names is enough. --Nanshu 03:02, 2 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I hate to beat a dead horse, but seeing how I'm entering the conversation late I wanted to throw my two cents in. I am in the SN-GN camp for the following reasons:

  • Consistency within Wikipedia: I started contributing to Wikipedia just a few months ago and the first thing I noticed was the complete lack of consistency in this area. Although the written "rules" encourage SN-GN for historical figures and GN-SN for modrern, in practice a look at Wikipedia would indicate that usage is split about 50/50. Not only would consistency be visually appealing but it would make alphabetized categorization a possibility (as of now alphabetical lists are confusing given the mix of SN/GN order)
  • Consistency with original Japanese names: although the counter-argument is that this is the English Wikipedia and the Japanese original doesn't matter, it seems that as an encyclopedia the goal would be to make data as close to the original as possible. It would also clear up confusion such as the example mentioned above as to whether Azuma Kiyohiko is SN-GN or GN-SN if the titles are consistent.
  • Impossible to know what is "common usage": According to the naming conventions at present: "If the name is not widely known and used by English speakers, then stick to the Japanese order." Let's be honest here, I'd be shocked if more than a handful of English speakers without a specific interest in Japan could name the prime minister of Japan, let alone more than half a dozen names on the "List of famous Japanese people". Other than Yoko Ono / Ono Yoko is there a Japanese person whose name seen listed SN-GN would confuse the majority of English speakers? There is talk of using Google search statistics as "proof" of common usage, but to me this seems a bit unscientific. I was working on the articles for Higuchi Ichiyo and Kuroda Iou the other day (two "modern" people) and I wouldn't have a clue whether SN-GN or GN-SN is common usage for these relatively obscure people. For me it's SN-GN so that's what I stuck to (and I think it's this kind of thinking that has led to the 50-50 split in SN/GN order).

To me the SN-GN order seems to be the best choice: it's consistent, it's practical, and it's consistent with the Japanese original. In the end, it's the consistency that appeals most to me. One of the joys of Wikipedia is that thanks to that "redirect" option, whether you type "Yoko Ono" or "Ono Yoko", you end up at the same page.

CES 07:08, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

My conclusion regarding this issue is that we, wikipedia contributors, cannot correct the world. Wikipedia is certainly not only place in which the name order is inconsistent. There is no right solution for this problem, but some workable one. Personally I concur with your reasoning and support SN-GN order. But it won't work, sadly. Wikipedia simply has a naming convention: "use the commonest name", so if we had had straight SN-GN convention, it would be inconsistent with the naming principle of wikipedia. In other words, it is not just an option we could choose.
Anyhow, please do not hesitate to discuss this. More inputs should help at least and we am desperate to have a consistent clear convention as soon as possible. -- Taku 08:55, Aug 4, 2004 (UTC)
Recently, I have come to think that the common name principle of wikipedia itself is actually not workable, as nicely illustrated by the name order debate in Japanese articles. -- Taku 08:58, Aug 4, 2004 (UTC)
A few more thoughts:
  • In my opinion, Japanese names deserve a unique place in the "common name" debate. I think the common name standard is mainly handy for nicknames or pennames ... that's why the article is "Bill Clinton" and not "William Jefferson Clinton", or "George Orwell" instead of "Eric Arthur Blair". But in the case of name order, a look at the List of Japanese people will show how confusion can arise (and ironically Yoko Ono is listed "Ono Yoko" ... not my doing!) For purposes of alphabetizing lists a set standard would do wonders.
  • Yoko Ono seems to be a main sticking point ... I don't suppose Yoko Ono has become an American citizen has she? If so, calling her "Yoko Ono" wouldn't be a problem since she would then be better categorized as a Japanese-American rather than Japanese.
  • I think the most important thing to remember is that creating a standard (be it GN-SN, SN-GN, or whatever) shouldn't be seen as an attempt to correct the world ... just to set an encyclopedic standard. Considering how in most articles the subject will be referred to by SN only: "Koizumi did X" "When Murakami was Y" etc., pretty much the only place it matters is in the title. Personally I'd rather go all GN-SN for the sake of consistency and convenience within Wikipedia rather than the uneasy compromise we have now (but don't get me wrong, I think SN-GN is the way to go!) Rather than debate what's "right" and what's "wrong" let's decide what would be best for Wikipedia. Setting a firm standard would allow for consistency and would hopefully clear up confusion that exists at present. CES 23:55, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

But the question is then which one is the best. One would be GN-SN for any of names since this is an English edition, so name orders in English writing should be used. But we cannot name an article Hideyoshi Toyotomi or worse, Hitomaro no Kakinomoto, which is just incorrect. SN-GN? While I agree that it would be more workable, still, we would certainly have a fight with those citing that a SN-GN name for some particular figure is not the commonest name in English writing. I know we need to be more constructive than this. But I concede that the current rule is the best we can do. -- Taku 23:06, Aug 5, 2004 (UTC)

Let me describe my vision. It seems fool-proof to me, but I'm probably wrong =)

  • I think we should go 100% SN-GN for the reasons I've mentioned above.
  • Remember: we're just talking about the title here. So for people who are clearly known GN-SN in the west, say Hideki Matsui, we have:

(Title) Matsui Hideki

(Article) Matsui Hideki (born XX-YY-19ZZ), commonly known as Hideki Matsui, is ...

Questionable cases such as Kurosawa, Koizumi, etc. are nicely settled this way too. Historical figures and obscure people (people where SN-GN is overwhelmingly common) don't need the "also known as" line. It gives consistency but also flexibility.

  • Personally, within the article I think the Meiji/common usage guidelines we have are fine. As long as there's consistency I could care less if people go GN-SN or SN-GN because then the debate is limited to the single article. It's like the British English/American English issue ... we're not here to tell people how to spell (or which way to say the names of their favorite Japanese people!) ... trying to set a standard would be a futile effort.
  • Lists can have a disclaimer of some sort like there is on list of Japanese authors: Authors are listed by the native order of Japanese names, family name followed by given name to ensure consistency even though some authors are known for their western-ordered name.

Lists can now be "cleaned up", making them easier to use (take a look at the list of Japanese people: List_of_Japanese_people that switches between SN-GN and GN-SN. Compare that with a list of some authors that is easy to use: List_of_Japanese_authors:T)

That's my vision ... feel free to pick it apart =) CES 00:44, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Names, again[edit]

Sigh. This whole Japanese name thing seems like it's never going to be resolved. I've been looking around at some encyclopaedias, online and hard copies, and have noticed that it's quite common to list people's names, all people's names, as Family name, [comma] Given name. This would solve most of our naming issues here. Article titles would be FN, GN with redirect pages for both name orders. Personally, as a student of both Japanese language and literature, I find it extremely irritating seeing names given as Haruki Murakami. Thoughts? Exploding Boy 18:48, Sep 14, 2004 (UTC)

I sure don't know. Your proposed LN comma GN format is an easy standard to follow for titles, that's for sure. With redirects, we can at least make sure that both orders get the reader to the article (as you said). Within the article, that's another matter. As with the problem of macrons, we face the matter of names that are widely recognized in English in the GN, FN order, others that are not, lots of borderline cases, baseball players who go by one name... it's a mess. One thing is sure, we can put the name in Japanese in parentheses in the first line, and if the order is different, note it in parentheses, as in the article you cited: "Haruki Murakami (村上春樹 Murakami Haruki ... ." Then at least the information is present in the article... Fg2 20:52, Sep 14, 2004 (UTC)
I don't like the surname comma givenname approach. On en.wikipedia, anglo names are givenname surname (natural order), so it isn't consistent with that--if it were, I'd say this is a good idea--and it isn't consistent with Japanese usage. Wikipedia seems to use the name as normally spoken. Which is a problem with Japanese (or any culture that reverses this order), since there's the name as it's spoken in Japanese, and the name as it's spoken in English, and often the two don't agree. The best rule I've encountered is to use SN GN for pre-meiji people, and GN SN for post-meiji; considering what a rotten rule that is, it says a lot about the sorry state of this little corner of Japanalia. Speaking for myself personally, hearing Japanese names as GN SN is not irritating or jarring, except when I'm accustomed to hearing it the other way. I've heard/read "Haruki Murakami" any number of times, but I've never, ever heard or read "Nobunaga Oda" (until now). adamrice 21:28, 14 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I love the idea of having all names be given as Smith, Jane (and Suzuki, Jun -- either way). Unfortunately implementing that involves getting the rest of Wikipedia to switch -- and, Wikipedia not being paper, there seems little reason to do so. Otherwise... well, I get the feeling we'll be having more people irritated by GN SN than confused by SN GN. --Aponar Kestrel (talk) 00:19, 2004 Sep 15 (UTC)
It seems as if most, if not almost all of the Chinese and Korean names in reverse order are those who immigrate to other countries (for instance, Mao Zedong is known in Chinese order even in English), but Japanese people can be referred to in both orders.
If wikipedia used a FN, GN convention, that would be great. Since the convention is for GN SN, I think (as I have expressed in he past), that we should use the ~Meiji split. Personally, as a huge fan of his books and a resident of Japan (whatever that's worth), I see no problem writing "Haruki Murakami". Given that that's also the order he and his publisher have chosen for his books published in English, it seems quite natural to me. I suppose I might see things differently, though, if I had been exposed to him in Japanese first. -- Tlotoxl 15:29, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)

In the English language, general, historical figures (e.g. Sei Shonagon) are referred to in Japanese order, while contemporary figures (Junichiro Koizumi) are referred to in English order. This is illustrated well in the U.S. version of Hikaru no Go - Modern-day characters like Hikaru Shindo are referred to in English order while Fujiwara-no-Sai and real people from pre-Meiji era (Murasaki Shikibu, Sei Shonagon) are referred to in Japanese order. WhisperToMe 03:30, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Anyone have thoughts on the ideas I came up with last month? (see above) Never had any feedback. In a nutshell, my proposal was: always SN-GN for titles, case-by-case (with bias towards the Meiji split) for references within the article: thus Yoko Ono is Yoko Ono, Oda Nobunaga is Oda Nobunaga, and arguments over people like Murakami are relegated to an article-by-article basis instead of an unsolvable, wiki-wide debate. CES 03:53, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)

... which of course translates to "We have ten thousand arguments across the wiki instead of just one right here." And then naming debates would end up getting dragged here, like (mea culpa) the Sailor Moon one did. Honestly, I don't think we'd be losing anything by using strictly SN-GN across the board -- not even commonality. (Or, rather, what little we'd lose in commonality, we'd gain in not having individual naming debate headaches.) In fact, I don't think we should apply 'most common name' to name orderings: Yoko Ono is a wildly unusual case, and deserves to be explicitly noted as such, but I doubt there are thirty other people out there worth breaking consistency over. Perhaps Ryosuke Cohen or Yasuhiro Nightow. --Aponar Kestrel (talk) 16:32, 2004 Sep 15 (UTC)
I don't think Yoko Ono is any different from Kobo Abe, Junji Ito, Akira Kurosawa, Haruki Murakami or any number of other Japanese artists who are known in the west. I thought that Wikipedia's policy about using the "most common name" was pretty fundamental - is it not? Is it time to start thinking about moving Mt. Fuji to Fujisan? -- Tlotoxl 16:47, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I said name ordering. If it'll make you feel better we can move it to Fuji Mountain. --Aponar Kestrel (talk) 02:18, 2004 Sep 16 (UTC)
Hey, since it's also called Fugaku (富岳), the choices should be Fu Mtn. and Fu Pk. (Yes, I'm joking!) Fg2 04:05, Sep 16, 2004 (UTC)

I feel that is a good solution. Osamu Tezuka appears to be in the "can't-really-tell" category, so if someone wants to, he or she can mess with that one if one wants to. WhisperToMe 04:03, 15 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I think ideally all names would be given as FN comma GN. I'll start a discussion somewhere... but where... Exploding Boy 15:30, Sep 15, 2004 (UTC)
Way too annoying a change. I don't want an article about Reagan, Ronald. Wikipedia is not paper, we don't have to be in alphabetical order, and that is the only logical reason to do things in such a fashion. Stick with names in order, and make redirects. --Golbez 16:19, Sep 15, 2004 (UTC)
Seconded, much as I like the idea in principle. --Aponar Kestrel (talk) 16:32, 2004 Sep 15 (UTC)
Thirded: a good compromise should not leave everyone dissatisfied. Conformity isn't nearly as important as we're making it out to be here. The Meiji cutoff seems to be good enough to me. - Sekicho 17:47, Sep 15, 2004 (UTC)

Naming orders for figures said not to be widely known in the English-speaking world[edit]

I don't 100% agree with the phrase "If the name is not widely known and used by English speakers, then stick to the Japanese order."

In some cases like the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway article, the names of the figures aren't widely known in general as the perpetrators of the attack, but they are BEST known under the English-order convention of the names. CNN (Not including AsiaWeek), the English-language Mainichi Shimbun, Google, and Crime Library, which do talk about not-so-well-known AUM figures, prefer English order. In other words, this is what the English-language newspapers do, and these people have appeared on the news. Also, it should be done to be consistent with other AUM articles, which use English order for every name.

But in cases where no English-language news media reports on such people, and English-order is most common only by coincidence, THEN one should stick to Japanese order. WhisperToMe 00:46, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Less than 300 hits for any of them, if I remember correctly. Unless there's a good chance that someone might actually be confused by it — which I can't at all see happening in this instance — I don't see the point in reversing them. Also, why should news media in particular be different from any other usage? This kind of amendment to the policy just looks like more work for the writers and editors. --Aponar Kestrel (talk) 03:24, 2004 Sep 27 (UTC)
I'm gonna go through each of them to see what google ranks they have:
  • Ikuo Hayashi (the guy that may get his own article) gets 325 for '"Ikuo Hayashi" -Akiko -wikipedia', 299 for '"Ikuo Hayashi" Tokyo -wikipedia', 266 for '"Ikuo Hayashi" Aum -WIKIPEDIA', 22 for '"Hayashi Ikuo" -wikipedia Tokyo'
  • Tomomitsu Niimi gets 211 for '"Tomomitsu Niimi" -wikipedia', 10 for '"Niimi Tomomitsu" -wikipedia -freeglossary'
  • Ken'ichi Hirose gets 157 for '"Kenichi Hirose" -wikipedia -ilo', <6 or 5 for "Hirose Kenichi" due to so many irrelevant hits
  • Toru Toyoda gets 171 for '"Toru Toyoda" -wikipedia -explanation-guide', about 5 relevant hits for "Toyoda Toru"
  • Katsuya Takahashi gets 60 for '"Katsuya Takahashi" -wikipedia -Yu-Gi-Oh!', 1 relevant hit for "Takahashi Katsuya"
  • Masato Yokoyama gets 168 for '"Masato Yokoyama" -wikipedia -forums1', 3 relevant hits for "Yokoyama Masato"
  • Kiyotaka Tonozaki gets 16 for '"Kiyotaka Tonozaki" -wikisearch -wikipedia -freeglossary'
  • Yasuo Hayashi gets 219 for '"Yasuo Hayashi" -electron -baseball -arts -stoneware -wikipedia -mobygames -atlas', >100 for "Hayashi Yasuo" (so many irrelevant hits...)

All in all, only one query of Ikuo Hayashi breaks 300.

WhisperToMe 03:32, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)

The reason news media is different is because English-speakers see the naming orders and they get to know the person by how his or her name is ordered. In terms of Japanese names, it can be confusing if someone hears about the execution of Shoko Asahara's deputies on TV, and then turns around and sees the names in another order on Wikipedia.

On the "List of people" article set, I saw that a person got confused by the Japanese naming order to the point where he listed "Onoda Hiroo" under "H" while his name in the article was in Japanese order. (Since, I switched the title to "Hiroo Onoda" and moved him to the proper place in the list of people) WhisperToMe 04:22, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)

ALL of this ridiculous back and forth-ing would be solved by simply creating a template and including it at the top of any article with Japanese names -- something along the lines of "all Japanese names in this article are given in the Japanese order...etc, etc." Right now the (non) policy just serves to create confusion. I fail to see the point of having some people's Japanese names in one order and some in another. Since Japanese order is FN GN, that's what we should use. Exploding Boy 15:55, Sep 27, 2004 (UTC)
To be fair, I personally agree with your proposal: I think it would cut down greatly on hair-pulling, both one's own and each others'. However, although personally I don't have a problem with setting forth an explicit policy and then breaking it in one (or possibly two) instances, I've gathered that some people do in fact have issues with such a thing. --Aponar Kestrel (talk) 17:21, 2004 Sep 28 (UTC)

Believe it or not, I have seen that in school textbooks. This happens when people from modern times (i.e. Junichiro Koizumi) and people from the antiquity (i.e. Murasaki Shikibu) are both mentioned in one body of text. I'm not so sure why this practice is like this. WhisperToMe 23:31, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)

That's probably primarily because history texts in Texas spend a total of 20 pages on Japan (including the Japan-relevant portions of World War II), and 200 pages on the Republic of Texas. --Aponar Kestrel (talk) 17:21, 2004 Sep 28 (UTC)
At least in my area, "Texas History" is considered a separate subject from U.S. History and World History. WhisperToMe 22:11, 28 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I do agree with a template, and I do think that one or another naming order should be chosen. WhisperToMe 23:39, 27 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Maybe 15 years ago, NHK surveyed US teenagers to find out how much they knew about Japan. One of the questions asked people to name one Japanese person. The top five answers: Mao Tse-tung, Bruce Lee, Confucius, Shogun and Samurai. We've come a long way since then! Fg2 10:04, Sep 29, 2004 (UTC)
Now you'd probably get Pikachu, Jackie Chan, Suchin Pak, Ichiro, and "the guys from Most Extreme Elimination Challenge." 2 out of 5 ain't bad... Sekicho 21:02, Sep 29, 2004 (UTC)
"The guys from MXC" includes Beat Takeshi, though, and anything that improves his exposure must be a good thing. :) --Golbez 21:30, Sep 29, 2004 (UTC)
Sustained. Sekicho

One important step I think we can agree on[edit]

I know I'm coming in on the tail end of this, but... There is one idea that has gotten lost in the back-and-forth, and I really think it's something we ought to agree on - and I predict it's probably something we easily can agree on - and it's something which I think will really help clear up a lot of confusion:

I really like the suggestion (given by, among others, Nanshu at the top of this page) that after the title (bolded as usual), we should start the article with (in paren's) the kanji, always followed by the romanisation (with full macrons and all bells and whistles), in proper Japanese order, SN-GN. (And if you don't know the kanji, just leave it out, but always put the romanisation in.)

Firt, that will clue everyone as to what the "correct" (Japanese) order is. Also, this way, all articles will unambiguously give the correct name in a 'Pedia-wide standard way. Moreover, we usually leave the macrons out of article titles anyway, because most users don't know how to type them, or know that they are important, but I think we need to have them somewhere.

Can we start by agreeing to always do that, while we continue to wrestle with the best way to title the articles?

Noel (talk) 14:48, 2 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Well, at least I disagree. In many articles about history, the order is obvious. Saying Tokugawa Something (kanji; Tokugawa Something; 1510-1520) sounds too cluttering and is actually redundant. Needless to say, this doesn't address the problem what order we should use for obscure figures. Also, it is debatable if clarifing the name order is more imporant than anything else like who he is. I really hate I am being criticizing those options for being problematic, especially while I don't know an alternative. I just but want to make sure we are aware of problems.
I think we are on the right track: seeking a common ground. I have created this page to consolidate discussion. We are getting some options, including yours. In my opinion, the meiji division is a step we can take, but I know of some strong objections as well.
I guess we should start some voting process just to determine who is what side (or that's what this page is all about). -- Taku 17:19, Nov 2, 2004 (UTC)
The point you raise is easy to accomodate; make the following change to my suggestion: If the article name (and the matching bold name at the start of the article) is the canonical Japanese order (SN-GN) (e.g. because that's the common order in English language works), and there are no macrons, etc, in the romaji, then we simply leave out the romaji after the kanji. That should meet your point (don't make it long and repetitive), while meeting my goals (always allows people a fixed simple rule to follow to find out what it is in Japanse order; and provide a set place for the full romaji with macrons, etc). Noel (talk) 17:40, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I like the idea: clarify things only when needed. As you probably noticed, I have setup a place to put those kind of pros and cons in the main page. I put some more problems I can think of also, like might be confusing to readers. The voting results should tell us if we can agree on this. -- Taku 01:29, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)
Great! Also, I suspect that if everyone agrees on this, it will make it easier to come to agreement on the name order issue (because there will be less "extra" issues to deal with then). Noel (talk) 02:16, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I agree. Decreasing redundant information is always a good thing. [[User:JoshG|Josh | Talk]] 02:30, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)
I agree with the abbreviation of proper romanization. That's also good with fictional characters since the companies that translate anime and manga in English rarely use standard romanization when porting over character names. WhisperToMe 23:28, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Naming order, again[edit]

There's already this page Wikipedia:Manual of Style for Japan-related articles/Naming order for voting on some of the issues, but I find it very hard to follow the votes on the different issues. Instead of being formatted User XXX, Issue 1,2,& 3, then User YYY..., It should have been Issue #1, Yes Votes / Not Votes, then Issue #2.... gK 08:02, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I deliberately did not address the issue in this proposal of what I thought we should do about name order in article titles, because that was a much more difficult problem (there is no really good, obvious, simple answer). I'd like to try and get everyone to agree with this (completely separate) proposal first. Noel (talk) 17:40, 5 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Just my 2 cents. In any case, it should be clearly shown which is a GN, and which is a SN - because many people won't know which is which only looking at Japanese name. If we have English order for known persons and Japanese order for not known persons, without any explanation, the reader sure will be confused (after all, how we recognize known or not known?). Therefore, there should be one consistent standard - or at least, the matter of GN and SN should be explained in each article. Maybe something like this: Haruki Murakami (Japanese language: kanji, Murakami Haruki)?

I like an idea of a template, because many people don't even know, that Japanese names have different order originally (and the goal of Wikipedia is to let them know about it). (I am myself accustomed to Japanese names in GN-SN order only, and I think, that English Wikipedia could use this order just for sake of article naming consistency). Pibwl 11:47, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

In the case of 99.9% of modern figures, I agree with you (in other words, only use SN-GN for modern figures if they are truly well known in that order) - But in the case of historical figures and some people like Natsume Soseki, that wouldn't work out. WhisperToMe 15:41, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)


Noel: I apparently did not make it very clear. Your new vote system repeats the major problem that I had with the old vote listing. It makes it impossible to easily see how many votes there are for the different choices. That is the reason that I originally put my vote below each of my choices. What is wrong with that? gK 02:36, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Oh, sorry, I thought it made it harder to review the options, but you have a good point. I'll put it back the way it was. Noel (talk) 02:46, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
That was my bad. I should make it more clear about how to vote. I am surprised how people are excited about this. I reworked the layout a bit but it doesn't feel nice yet, feel free to make further edit. -- Taku 03:12, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

Also, we should move the old votes to some other sub-page too, no? Noel (talk) 03:10, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

True, I didn't think the new vote gets this lengthy. At least within a time-frame of a day! -- Taku 03:12, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

Is it okay to vote for more than one option? I noticed that at least one person has, so far. [[User:JoshG|Josh | Talk]] 03:15, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

Well, I found it very confusing, because two of the ones they voted for are very different from each other! I think it's OK to indicate that you are OK with several different options, but it would be nice to have some text to give some more detail - e.g. "either this one or that one is OK with me, but I prefer this one", or something like that. Noel (talk) 03:20, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I don't know really. I mean, who has authority about the voting procedure? me? I understand it's confusing but I also understand many people feel ambivalent or there is little difference between options, so hard to take a side. -- Taku 03:32, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)
It's precisely because people may feel ambivalent that I suggested people add a little text if they don't have a simple choice, so we can better understand exactly what they are happy with. As to authority, either there will be rough consensus (in which case, we all are the authority), or there will be no consensus, in which case we won't need an authority because there will be no policy! :-) Noel (talk) 04:10, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)


If some articles are going to be in SN-GN and others in GN-SN, then readers must be able to tell them apart. I prefer just tossing out "use common names" and keeping it all consistent so there's less confusion. Capitalizaton seems to be the standard way of indicating surnames, as is done in the CIA World Factbook, Esperanto Wikipedia, and elsewhere so I support using that (within the article) over underlining. I also think linking every article to Japanese name is very bad form. When people see a superscript, they expect a short footnote, not a lengthy article. They're not interested in all there is about Japanese names to figure out which is the surname and which is the given name. --Jiang 03:31, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It may be true that the superscript links to a rather intimidating article, although remember that a reader only actually needs to read the first sentence of Japanese name to find out that the surname is first. Even so, I think it would probably be better to link the superscript to an actual footnote that has a short explanation. It could even be a template. [[User:JoshG|Josh | Talk]] 03:55, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

Using all capital letters to indicate the last name for Japanese names is not that common in the English language, although it can be found occasionally. It is a convention that is much more common in other languages. The other objection that I've seen raised to using all capitals for the last name is that it shouts a person's last name, when for many historical figures they are primarily known by the first name or pen name. I do think that the idea of having the link go to a footnote in the same article is a workable idea. gK 04:06, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Rather than linking to a footnote in the current article, or to the long full article, how about linking to a short page which briefly explains about how Japanese name order is inverted, and what the Wikipedia standard is for order, etc (e.g where in the article it always has SN-GN order), and has a link to the full, longer, article? About the caps - and also the underline - I don't know - I wonder if people will automatically understand what it means. If they have to click somewhere to find it explained, we're no better off... Noel (talk) 04:18, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
That will do. Perhaps a "Japanese naming ordeR" page will work. WhisperToMe 04:31, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It sounds fine to me, although I think the page should be in the Wikipedia namespace. [[User:JoshG|Josh | Talk]] 04:50, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

I don't think that works because we aren't supposed to 1) link to the wikipedia namespace from the main namespace and 2) be self-referential. It just breaks links if wikipedia is to be somehow published in the future or if someone is reading this from a clone.

People will eventually get it if we underline, italicize, or capitalize often enough. Having some people not get it is better than leaving no note (as is done now) or leaving a note that is in bad style and will have to be eventually reverted. We can't satisfy everyone but we can hit most people in the process. As for historical figures being referred to using their given names, we can make this clear by use in the article, or add "known simply as ___" to the first line. --Jiang 04:58, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I really can't believe this debate is still ongoing. A simple note at the beginning of every appropriate article (Japanese names in this article are given in the traditional order, with family name first and given name second) would take care of ALL of these problems. Exploding Boy 16:49, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

A simple note at the beginning of every appropriate article will be overly obtrusive and hideous. We only need to tell people these things once and for most people, once is already too much since, with the proper formatting, they will figure out on themselves. --Jiang 17:41, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Nonsense. A short, one-sentence note is neither "obtrusive" (I believe you mean intrusive) nor "hideous," and would solve all these debates, which have been ongoing for months and must fill pages of text by now, once and for all. Exploding Boy 20:11, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)
I agree. A little template could solve this easily. Will it be a bit repetitive for people already know what the order is? Yes, but we are writing for the general reader who has no idea what standard we use. Articles should be as clear as possible for everyone, including them. If this were a paper encyclopedia, we could just put a little note in the introduction or something, but alas, wiki is not paper. [[User:JoshG|Josh | Talk]] 22:30, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)
I think what Jiang is getting is that information about the name order is often redundant. The problem is that we are writing about some important person and we don't want to clutter the article with information which is not particularly about that person like the name order as it is probably not what most of readers are looking for. For example, it may be important to know how to pronounce Java (it's a programming language) but we don't spend too much space about it. Likewise, many Americans don't know how to pronounce a name Ieyasu from my experience. But we don't usually put too much emphasis on how to pronounce it in the beginning of the article. The complete information about the person's name could easily occupy several lines.
Put in another way, there is limitation for encyclopedia. There would be almost impossible to understand shogunate and domain system without what is shogan and han and imperial court in Kyoto. But we don't write about the system in the way even those can understand. In mathematics, if you don't know about elementary algebra, there is no way to understand group theory (so I suppose).
I am not taking either side, but questioning over how much emphasis ought to be put. I think the name order notice should be very short, if there is at all, not necessarily minimal. The potential clutterness of the notice could easily outweight its necessity and the notice can undermine the usefulness of the article itself because it can be quite distracting.
Finally, I don't like to debate over what doesn't exists yet. We should write some notice first to see how it feels in the article. Without doing so, the discussion is moot. (Boy, I can't write a short comment!) -- Taku 22:57, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)
That's true, the notice would need to be short to avoid being distracting to readers. I would lean towards one sentence at most, maybe two if absolutely necessary. It would probably be best to not write such a notice just yet, though. We should wait until we finish voting on what standard we are going to use, since the content of the notice will depend on that. [[User:JoshG|Josh | Talk]] 01:15, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)

Japanese names in this article are given in the traditional order, with family name first and given name second -- what could be shorter, more compact and more complete? We could even link to Japanese name or to naming order, Japanese or similar. I think it's the perfect (perhaps the only) solution. It would eliminate all this debate, and would also end the confusion of the way things are set up now, with, for example, "Banana Yoshimoto (よしもと ばなな, Yoshimoto Banana) the pen name of Mahoko Yoshimoto (吉本 真秀子 Yoshimoto Mahoko), a Japanese author.... " Exploding Boy 01:45, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)

It is by no means perfect as it takes up precious space and almost always unsolicited. Yes, obtrusive is the correct description, as is intrusive. Where is the precedent for such a note? Should we go to Indian articles and post Indians have no surnames? Or to take it to the extreme, every Anglo article stating that surnames come behind given names? It is not the perfect and not the only solution as many others are currently on the table. It is obviously not a compromise solution given the problems it causes. This is an encyclopedia, not a textbook. Certain things must be assumed. --Jiang 02:19, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
actually, obtrusive is the better description in this situtation. obtrusive = Undesirably noticeable; intrusive = Tending to intrude (especially upon privacy) gK 04:37, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Again, nonsense. A single, short sentence that provides valuable information is neither obtrusive nor intrusive, and claiming that it "takes up precious space" is hyperbolic in the extreme. What are these alleged "problems" such a note would cause? And why do we have to do the same thing in Japanese-related articles that we do on Indian-related articles? Exploding Boy 17:09, Nov 9, 2004 (UTC)

In the cases where the article starts "GN SN (Japanese: {kanji} SN GN) 1" it will be obvious to the naive reader (i.e. someone who knows nothing about Japan - which is a lot of our readers) that something odd is going on, because the name is given in two different orders, and they are likely to click on the link to find out what is going on. So in those cases we don't need the sentence, I think.
How to clue in the naive users without adding an explicit sentence, in articles on people whose article is under the SN GN order, I don't have a good idea right away... Noel (talk) 23:56, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Yelling nonsense is not convincing and will persuade no one. The problem is that for most the information will not be valuable. It is redundant, and especially across many articles, becomes a nuisance. Who wants to read the same damn note a bunch of times? Even putting it once is overly didactic and makes it seem we're trying to cater to a bunch of ignorant hicks. Do not insult the intellegence of your reader. Anything that is a nuisance takes up space, no matter how much space it takes up.
I ask again, where is the precendence? To turn it around, why don't we specify the SN-GN order for all articles since they have to be in one order or the other? Why be so Anglo-centric? We don't have to do the same thing for both Indian and Japanese- related articles, but your proposition/logic would apply to both, even more so to the Indian articles because people expect a surname to exist more than they expect it to appear after the given name. --Jiang 20:02, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Well, the reason to be Anglo-centric is that this is the English-language Wikipedia. And I suspect we have a lot of readers who know nothing of Japan, and who do need to be told about the name order. Noel (talk) 23:56, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Because the English language convention is to mention Japanese people in both orders - modern people err towards Western order while historical people err towards Japanese order. Wikipedia is meant to have some "-centrism" in terms of English language usage. WhisperToMe 22:29, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I think it's a lot uglier -- obtrusive, if you will -- to have the types of messes illustrated in the C&P from the Yoshimoto Banana article. It's far simpler to have a simple note, and people who read a lot of Japanese-related articles will simply get used to seeing it and ignore it after a while. It's not didactic and it's not suggesting that people are stupid; after all, (a) a lot of people don't know that Japanese names are in the reverse order of English ones, and (b) people unfamiliar with Japanese names may not know which name is a given name and which a surname (I frequently have that problem with Chinese names, despite knowing that they are usually given in SN-GN order).

As for making all names SN-GN, I suggested that already and was shot down.

Exploding Boy 21:34, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)

Kanji necessary?[edit]

Probably a stupid question but... what's the point of putting in the kanji/kana after a Japanese name? Couldn't people interested in the native "spelling" click the link to the related japanese article and find out that way? Mdchachi|Talk 18:00, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Maybe, but only if there is such an article, there is an interlanguage link to it, and that person can read Japanese. There are many people who would not fit those criteria, so the kanji are necessary. [[User:JoshG|Josh | Talk]] 18:42, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)
if a person can't read Japanese (or recognize enough of it to identify a person's name) then why do you feel the kanji is necessary for such people? Can these sorts of people somehow make use of the kanji there in parenthesis? Mdchachi|Talk 18:51, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)
The reason to include the kanji is the same reason that the French wording for the Eiffel Tower (le tour Eiffel) is included in that article. Even if people cannot read them, native renderings are helpful information because they show what a word is actually like, rather than some sort of anglicized version. If I look up the English Channel, I would find it interesting that it is called "La Manche" (meaning "The Sleeve") in French. Also, see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (use English). [[User:JoshG|Josh | Talk]] 22:02, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)
Adding native text to article is important way to disambiguate transliteration differences. When used in title terms of an article, it serves a very important function to researcher who need to consult other native sources either by themselves or via translators who know nothing about variations in transliteration and spellings. The inter-language links of articles are good only for on-line version of Wikipedia. I have heard about wikipedia article being used in printed material. For printed article, the links to the other wikipedia do not help. I agree with you that native text should be used with discretion. However, title terms with foreign origin definitely needs the native text for reasons stated above. Kowloonese 23:27, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Not every name that sounds the same is written the same way, so even someone who knows Japanese wouldn't necessarily know. Exploding Boy 21:34, Nov 10, 2004 (UTC)

I realize that. I'm talking about the 99.9% of the readers for whom the Japanese is simply clutter (or a pretty design they might tattoo on their arm). It seems to me that the remaining 0.1% could simply go look at the Japanese article if they wanted. Josh, thanks for the link to the naming conventions. Although it doesn't explain the why, it does tell me that that is the standard so there's no point in pursuing this discussion. Mdchachi|Talk 14:45, 11 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I will give you one example where I've found having the kanji in a Wikipedia article useful. I wanted to look through the internet to see if I could find a drawing or gravesite for Karai Senryū. Doing an English-language search proved useless, so I then copied the kanji from the Wikipedia article for senryu into Google. Through that search, I found this drawing: [1]. I could have still gotten the correct kanji by going to Japanese Wikipedia article, but having it in the English-language Wikipedia was convenient (and takes very little room). [[User:GK|gK ¿?]] 04:53, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Cultural bias[edit]

After seeing the cultural bias thingie way back in the Wikipedia discussion for naming order for Jap. names, Wikipedia IS "culturally biased" in the sense that it favors Anglophone conventions. E.G. the Middle East is an Anglophone term. Hungarian names are also switched in English (yup, they use FN GN) WhisperToMe 06:23, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I thought the exact same thing when I saw that (well, except for the Hungarian part). Just because English is used throughout the world now doesn't mean it can be separated from its roots. Though I suppose if the majority of the English wiki editors become, say, Chinese people we might see some changes in convention. Also that poster was incorrect about changing the FN-SN name order in English causing offense. That's not true for Japanese at least. Mdchachi|Talk 20:11, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yes, Japan is more westernized than nearby China, Korea, and Vietnam. Therefore many Japanese aren't afraid to write their name in Western order in Roman characters.

However, in English, FN-GN is always used for Chinese and Korean names. WhisperToMe 23:38, 8 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Speaking of which, many Japanese themselves reverse the names when putting names in Roman characters. For instance, the Shaman King action figure boxes and the TV Tokyo Prince of Tennis sites put names in Western order.

WhisperToMe 05:23, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)

More evidence that there is a trend to write Japanese names in English order when in Roman Characters in Japan:

Eiichiro Oda's name is in Western order. WhisperToMe 04:22, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I feel the need to point out again that all of Japan is not reducible to manga. Exploding Boy 16:52, Dec 10, 2004 (UTC)
But in the case of the second, that's the artist's name (in other words, a real person). WhisperToMe 23:00, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Doing a google search to see if "Koizumi Junichiro" or "Junichiro Koizumi" was more common on "Japanese" pages and/or pages from Japan:

A lot of these pages are actually English pages, but on Japanese websites. WhisperToMe 23:06, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

So what? Exploding Boy 17:31, Dec 15, 2004 (UTC)

In other words, when written in Roman characters, naming order is a personal preference. In other words, this is why English newspapers in Japan use Western order (At least Japan Daily News and Mainichi Shimbun...) - They are not restricted into using Japanese order like how Chinese names are always written in Chinese order. Unlike Chinese, not all Japanese have a preference over their naming order when their name is written in roman characters and/or when they are mentioned outside of Japan. WhisperToMe 19:38, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Again, what does this have to do with Wikipedia? Exploding Boy 20:17, Dec 15, 2004 (UTC)

It has to do with the naming dispute above. One person's argument on why names should always be SN-GN is so they wouldn't offend people. If the Japanese themselves are putting their own names in GN-SN when writing in Roman characters, then apparently the majority of Japanese people doesn't mind having their names written in the "opposite" order in Roman character. WhisperToMe 20:24, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

No, that's not a reasonable conlusion at all. And in fact, many Japanese people are themselves confused about name order. In Japan people frequently mix up foreign names, calling people Mr. John instead of Mr. Smith, or Smith instead of John (that is to say, they mistake the given name for the family name and vice versa). When speaking Japanese, a Japanese is highly unlikely to give his or her name in GN-SN order. When speaking English many Japanese people don't give their given name at all (as in "I am Tanaka") or they give their name in the Japanese order ("I am Tanaka Kenji"). Japanese people who have experience abroad or dealing with Western people will sometimes give their name in GN-SN order, though they're less likely to do so with someone whom they know to be aware of the Japanese custom.

But all that's irrelevant. What matters here is what our policy in the context of articles in Wikipedia is going to be, and our policy should be SN-GN exlusively, except in cases where people are best known by GN-SN (such as Yoko Ono). It's just more encyclopaedic and more academic, as any Japanese scholar will tell you. Look at Edogawa Ranpo: his name isn't listed in GN-SN order at all in the article, for the very good reason that doing so would ruin the pun. Which reminds me, that redirect needs to be removed... Exploding Boy 20:56, Dec 15, 2004 (UTC)

That's because Edogawa Rampo is best known in THAT order in English (like Natsume Soseki and all of the historical figures) - I'm not saying ALL names should be in the same order.

Japanese people speak their names in SN-GN, and write their names in Japanese characters SN-GN. However, Wikipedia is written, not spoken - and this Wikipedia is meant to cater to the English-speaking tongue. That's why we should stick to English conventions, but in each article of a Japanese person the name in Japanese order would be shown in standard Hepburn, regardless of the order in English (which is the convention right now). I think another reason why Encyclopedias like Britannica like using SN-GN is because it's good for indexing purposes. But Wikipedia is not paper, so that incentive is gone here.

Personally, if there was a way to make a "balloon" explaining naming order, that would allow for any order to "work" on Wikipedia. WhisperToMe 21:44, 15 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Time to resurrect this discussion[edit]

It's been over a year since this was discussed on this page. Here's what I propose (which is pretty much the same as has already been proposed):

  • For pre-Meiji names, we stick with the SN-GN order that's already generally accepted.
  • For Meiji and forward (1886—present), we use GN-SN. Period. If they are more well known by SN-GN, a redirect for that should be used as well, and the article should note the multiple ways the name appears.
  • Redirects for the opposite of the above two methods should always be employed whenever a new article is created.

This is a little bit off from the standard Wikipedia policy, but I really doubt that policy was written with non-Western names in mind. I think as long redirects are used, this will make things much more clear and easy to use. This policy needs to be decided to get rid of the ambiguity that's been floating around for quite a while now. --nihon 01:52, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Agreed! SN-GN for pre-Meiji births, GN-SN for after Meiji births. Use redirects in all cases!--Kaishin 20:36, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I think I was the one who proposed that compromise in hopes of getting a concrete, applicable guideline. That doesn't mean it's my first choice. I advocate SN-GN for all Japanese people, regardless of birth date. But I can live with the Meiji divide. I heartily agree with redirects. --Fg2 (forgot to sign yesterday)
BTW, I don't think I invented the compromise, but just suggested it for a vote. Fg2 00:51, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I agree completely with what this last person said. Though I like to use Surname-Givenname for all Japanese, I can live with a compromise. However, I would still like to point out the confusion that may arise concerning figures who lived through (or were born during) the Meiji era. LordAmeth 13:41, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
...or confusion in articles about history, literature, etc. that handle people on both sides of the Meiji divide. I'm in the same camp ... I like SN-GN for all people, but for the sake of putting this topic to rest, I would live with a compromise. If nothing else, because I think the resistance to SN-GN for more popularly known figures (Koizumi, Yoko Ono, etc.) would be even more fierce than the Hiroshima, Hiroshima vs. Hiroshima debates we had a while back. Is there really anything new to talk about here, or should we just go to a vote? CES 14:54, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I agree with the proposal, and I would actually prefer it to a rule of SN-GN for all Japanese, since by and large the Japanese themselves now often tend to write Japanese names GN-SN when using Roman characters. (For example, I have a number of game manuals here that are written entirely in Japanese, with romaji given for the characters' names. The romanised forms are exclusively GN-SN, even where directly below a SN-GN kanji form.)
    I hear what the above posters are saying about the confusion that might arise near the borderline, though I'm not sure how problematic it would be in practice. It need only really be specified that the need for consistency within any one article should overrule the guideline, and then let the authors decide for individual cases - in other words, handle it just the same way we handle the problem of the many dialects of English that articles are written in. — Haeleth Talk 16:52, 28 January 2006 (UTC)
  • I like the idea too WhisperToMe 20:45, 28 January 2006 (UTC)

I think we should leave it open to discussion until Friday, February 3, and then I'll set up the vote. I want to make sure there's enough time for plenty of people to express their views. --nihon 06:45, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

  • I suggest a little more time, e.g. another week. This page doesn't seem to be closely watched, and some of the regulars aren't in the discussion yet. It was a good move to publicize it on the MoS talk page, and it's a little surprising that more people haven't participated. I'll add it to the Portal, although I'm not sure how many people read it. Fg2 20:42, 29 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Yeah, just caught wind of it now. I'm personally for things as they are: FN-GN for pre-Meiji, GN-FN for post.--み使い Mitsukai 04:16, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
  • As I understand it, that's not how they are now. Presently, it's FN-GN for pre-Meiji, unspecified for post. Fg2 06:59, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Yes, that's how I understand it, too. --nihon 09:01, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
I'm with GN-FN for modern figures since it seems to be the most popular usage here at the moment so less work would need to be done and, as stated, is often used by the Japanese themselves when writing their names and character names in Romaji (e.g. from my own collection and from memory Keiji Gotoh's Kinetic Girls artbook gives his name in GN-FN order on the cover, the same for all three Gimík members' names on the covers of the DVDs and Continuity Files for Kiddy Grade and Uta Kata, and Megumi Kadonosono even signs her name as "Megumi K". As I recently stated in a Bleach article, the PSP game not only gives names in western order on the character selection screens, they are spoken in that order too. To pick two websites addreses from memory, Ken Akamatsu and Keiji Gotoh have their names in western order in their copyright notices). Whatever the choice, the most important thing is consistency. Shiroi Hane 13:51, 30 January 2006 (UTC)
From what my understanding was of reading the last argument, the following applied (I copied this from the last debate), but I don't remember who said it:

"It has been official Monbusho (Ministry of Education etc) policy to write Japanese names in English as given-name family-name order since Meiji times. All the English language media uses GN-FN order, all the newspapers, the offical broadcaster NHK and all radio stations."

The poster also stated:"I believe it has changed recently to make this optional but the number of people doing this is low (eg Utada Hikaru). In my opinion this just makes it confusing. Korean and Chinese names are usually kept in their traditional order but if they become citizens of English speaking nations they have to change. My name gets swapped around in Japanese, surname, firstname middlename and I don't complain, when in Rome..."
At the time, I had figured that since it was official Ministry of Education policy, that ended the argument right then and there, and what I mentioned above was what was decided. I guess I was wrong on that. In any case, I still think that post-Meiji should be GN-FN; I have no problem with the way pre-Meiji names are.--み使い Mitsukai 13:52, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

So, at this point, it seems everyone is in basic agreement with what I proposed at the top of the section. Please let me know if I'm misinterpreting anyone. Per Fg2, I think leaving the discussion open until Sunday evening is fine, in order to allow people plenty of time for discussion and idea pushing. (^_^) --nihon 02:03, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Name order MOS:JP clarification vote[edit]

Currently, the section appears as follows:

For naming the title of an article about a historical figure, use the traditional Japanese order

(The general consensus is that people born before the first year of Meiji (1868) are considered historical figures.) For example:

Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康, January 30, 1543June 1, 1616) was the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate

For the title for modern figures, there is not yet an agreement on the name order. In general, use the form of a person's name that is most widely known and used by English speakers. For example:

Junichiro Koizumi (小泉 純一郎 Koizumi Jun'ichirō, born January 8, 1942) is a Japanese politician

If a person is not known well, the best thing you can do is to ask other contributors who have been working on the similar field. For example, it seems common to use the Japanese order for those engaged in traditional activities like Go players.

See also Wikipedia:Manual of Style for Japan-related articles/Naming order for more about this issue, as we are more or less periodically discussing this issue. See also Japanese name#Japanese names in English for the general information.

Whichever order you choose, please add a redirect page to cover the alternate usage.

It is proposed that the Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Japan-related articles)#People's names be modified as follows:

For an article about a historical figure (a person born before the first year of Meiji (1868)), always use the traditional Japanese order of family name + given name. For example:
Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康, January 30, 1543June 1, 1616) was the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate

For an article about a modern figure (a person born from the first year of Meiji (1868) onward), always use the Western order of given name + family name, in accordance with official Monbusho policy. For example:

Junichiro Koizumi (小泉 純一郎 Koizumi Jun'ichirō, born January 8, 1942) is a Japanese politician

If they are more well known by family name + given name, a redirect for that should be used as well, and the article should note the multiple ways the name is used.

In all cases, a redirect for the opposite format should always be employed in order to cover alternate usages.


Please vote by placing the following in the appropriate section below.


The voting is open through Sunday, February 12, 2006. Thanks for taking the time to participate in making Wikipedia better! --nihon 06:59, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

Voting has ended. The record below remains so that interested parties can view it.


  • --nihon 06:59, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
  • --み使い Mitsukai 13:52, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
  • --CES 22:27, 6 February 2006 (UTC) I think the implementation will have its rough spots, but this compromise is long overdue
  • -Jefu 22:54, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
  • --Rewster 18:31, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
  • --Shiroi Hane 16:41, 8 February 2006 (UTC) - current guidelines are too vague.
  • --LordAmeth 02:49, 9 February 2006 (UTC)
  • Amcaja 12:45, 9 February 2006 (UTC)
Voting has ended.


  • --Pmsyyz 14:42, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
  • -- although I can live with the Meiji Divide if necessary. Even if it passes, we should remove the bit about Mombusho, which has no authority over English Wikipedia. Even if it's an argument when trying to develop consensus it doesn't belong in a policy or MoS. And we probably don't need the "always" for either part. Fg2 00:35, 9 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes, the Monbusho doesn't have any authority over any Wikipedia, but they represent the official Japanese government stance on teh matter, which is something we should definitely take into consideration. --nihon 01:17, 9 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes, it could convince some people and influence their vote, but it does not belong in the Mos (even if the name-order proposal wins).
We should, however, keep it around as a reference point, IMHO, regardless or not the name order proposal wins.--み使い Mitsukai 03:13, 9 February 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. That's a good example of what discussion pages are for. Fg2 03:39, 9 February 2006 (UTC)
Voting has ended.


  • m:Polls are evil. Voting is only useful to determine public opinion in a very casual manner. You shouldn't use votes to determine policy.   freshgavin TALK    07:26, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
On the contrary, votes need to be used to determine policy, because that's the only way to have policy not be unilateral. Just because someone is stated as being in-charge of the policy or the WikiProject, or the whole Wikipedia, it doesn't mean they're right. Of course, I certainly agree that public opinion, i.e. the majority opinion, isn't always correct, but this is the best we can do. LordAmeth 02:49, 9 February 2006 (UTC)
Votes and polls are strongly discouraged by Wikifoundation for determining policy, and in fact, they aren't used for that purpose. Check out the histories of the Wiki logos and various design projects in the past (not the current main page project mind you, which is out of control) and you'll see that the "votes" that were given had little to no effect on the final result. I just don't like the way he's worded this, he shouldn't be trying to imply some sort of formality with this opinion poll and instead should push for consensus.   freshgavin TALK    00:47, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

Discuss Let's discuss this instead.

  • This does not appear to be an opinion-finding poll, and thus is out-of-process (I love that word! You can abuse it so nicely ;-) ). Please apply a consensus finding method, be it negotiation, discussion, or etc. Kim Bruning 23:25, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
No offense, but let's not discuss this. The page above is filled with lots and lots of discussion, but ends up with the situation going nowhere, stifling itself into a huge bureaucratic mess that goes endlessly in a mobius of continued discussion. I'm up for voting, negotiation, whatever, but "discussion" is getting us nowhere and I really don't see that it would improve the situation.--み使い Mitsukai 23:45, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Agreed ... we've been "discussing" this for how many years now? CES 00:05, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes, even though I haven't been here for years, I have read through everything I can find, and it seems that it's time to vote on this. It's already been discussed to death. We need to come up with a clear statement, put it into the MOS:JP, and go with it. Not doing so causes more problems than doing it will cause. --nihon 01:21, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
Hmm, well in that case a structured poll is what is needed, which in practice just means you actually put an opinion when you sign under an option. Otherwise the form is already similar to what is here. (a structured poll allows you to "break out" of the form easily, should that still prove to be nescesary:-). Other than that, have fun! Kim Bruning 01:30, 7 February 2006 (UTC)


Based on the discussion here and in archived discussions, it appears there is a consensus as there are no overwhelming reasons presented to not make the change. The poll was to make it easier to see the various opinions, rather than having to sort through years of discussions on the topic (which I have done, and the discussion usually ends up about the same as this one has). I have made the changes described above, though I did remove the Monbusho reference per the comments from Fg2, above. --nihon 21:58, 13 February 2006 (UTC)