Starting in 2024, a new law amendment will require Japanese citizens to register the pronunciation of their name on their family registry records, known as Koseki.
Japanese names present significant challenges:
- Pronunciation is unique to the individual.
- Matching the romaji name to its Japanese counterpart is often tricky.
This can create confusion in communication, but learning the cultural and linguistic specifics can help navigate these obstacles.
Identification is impossible without the Japanese notation of a Japanese individual, except for a few exceptions. It is essential to remember that a Japanese character written in the Romaji alphabet is comparable to the initials of an alphabetical character.
Name in Japanese Notation Is Untranslatable from Romanized Name.
As bilingual PI, we frequently face the challenge of deciphering and transcribing Japanese names, which can be a source of great anxiety. It’s unlikely that a non-Japanese client seeking a people search or background check will be familiar with the subject’s name notation.
The Japanese notation of a subject’s name is crucial when researching individuals in Japan. However, this fact may not be commonly known to those outside Japan.
Clients outside Japan often communicate their Japanese names using Google Translate, which generates Japanese characters from the Romaji alphabet. However, they may need to realize that countless combinations of Japanese characters can be created from Romaji Alphabet. This kind of name information can be useless and may even hinder our research.
Pronunciation of Japanese Names
Deciphering them without contacting the individual is often challenging without a sidenote of pronunciation for Japanese names. This can confuse people unfamiliar with the Japanese language and even native Japanese speakers.
Moreover, a centralized registration system in Japan should have the capability of capturing the Romaji Alphabet for the correct pronunciation of Japanese names, which is yet to be integrated. Fortunately, this challenge is expected to be resolved by modifying the Family Registration Law in 2024.
Hotbed of Credit Card Fraud
Official Japanese identity registration documents only note Japanese names in the Japanese notation (Kanji). Passports allow registration of pronunciation (Romaji Alphabet notation) based on self-report, but only passport holders can show their names in Romaji Alphabet (pronunciation).
From now on, having a different health insurance card using different name pronunciations (in the Romaji Alphabet) is possible by reissuing them with a different pronunciation. Since the official government registry doesn’t record their Romaji Alphabet (pronunciation), it is possible to change their pronunciation at will.
Credit card companies now use the alphabetical names of credit card holders, allowing an individual to obtain multiple cards with different Romanized names by utilizing the above-mentioned health insurance card subterfuge.
Compulsory Registration of Name Pronunciation
The “Revised Family Registration Law” will come into effect in 2024. As a result, “Pronunciation (katakana, etc.) of the name” will be added to the family register as stipulated in Article 13 of the Family Registration Law.
This will restrict the use of “Kira Kira” names. Concerning the examination of the permissibility of the use of kana in the name and its relation to the name, a provision has been established in the Family Registration Law to the effect that “the reading of the kana must be generally accepted as the reading of the characters used as the name.”
All citizens must notify the pronunciation of their names in Katakana notation within one year of enforcing the revised Family Registration Law. Or your name pronunciation is forcibly registered under the pronunciation guessed by the local government.
For example, the name “小山 力” can be read in the following eight combinations.
- 小山 力
- Koyama, Riki
- Koyama, Chikara
- Koyama, Tsuyoshi
- Koyama, Tsuyoshi
- Oyama, Rikii
- Oyama, Chikara
- Oyama, Takeshi
- Oyama, Rsuyoshi
If a year passes without a report of the pronunciation, the local government may decide to register the name as “Koyama, Riki.”
Kira Kira Names
“Kira Kira” name refers to a naming style that uses many unique characters and text readings to create a glamorous and memorable impression.
Compared to common Japanese names, KiraKira names are usually made up of katakana, English letters, numbers, symbols, etc., or have special readings. This makes the name stand out and differentiates it from others.
However, kira kira names are names that do not even give a hint of how to read them from the Japanese notation, causing problems with identification.
The Japanese character of Japanese names was not known to others, and the Japanese notation was not known from romaji names, increasing the difficulty of research received from non-Japanese clients.
In addition, the system of official documents and credit cards in which only the Japanese notation of the name is registered made the system a breeding ground for fraud.
The revised Family Registration Law will mandatorily register reading kana for names and set restrictions on “Kira Kira” names. All citizens are required to register their names in reading kana notation within one year of the enforcement of the law.