Sign up ×
Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is it legal for parents to give to their child a first name with latin letters (romaji, I guess), instead of using katakana, hiragana, or kanji?

For example, if Japanese parents want to give their children the English name John, can they avoid using katakana and just use the original latin letters? Is this legal or not?

share|improve this question
Do you have a question about the Japanese language? This appears to be a question about legality (supposedly Japan), which should be posed to a lawyer. – Dono May 22 '13 at 6:13
This question is off-topic here, but would be a great question at… Please propose it there, and upvote other questions, thanks! – Nicolas Raoul May 23 '13 at 7:15
Personally, I think this question is reasonable for this site. The legal regulations of the language is one of many influences on usage. It's borderline, but I'd rather be inclusive than exclusive of fringe cases. – Questioner May 23 '13 at 8:21

1 Answer 1

up vote 23 down vote accepted

According to this page, the following types of characters are allowed in names:


So that's hiragana, katakana, extension, and repetition marks. Valid examples are given for each in the parentheses. Note also that many old forms of kanji are officially acceptable, but many of them cannot be displayed on computers and cannot be read easily.

The following character types are not permitted for use in names:


It says that roman characters, as well as non-standard kanji, Arabic and Roman numerals, and some other unusual characters (shapes, symbols etc. that aren't part of standard orthography) are not acceptable for registered names.

So there you have it. Assuming this source is to be trusted then we can conclude that Japanese names are registered with Japanese text only. Foreign names, as in the examples above, will need to be given at least a katakana equivalent.

share|improve this answer
Thanks a lot, Mr. SSB! Your answer was really comprehensively helpful. Have a nice day and a good luck :-) – Maxim May 22 '13 at 8:02
At least a long time ago (I worked for a patent office around 30 years ago), the rules for writing applicant addresses were similar, and for example if you did not writе ロンドン・ダブリュー・シー・2 it would be rejected. Meanwhile, Japanese addresses sometimes include things like 「B棟」, and this (!!) was allowed. – Brian Chandler Jun 22 at 2:22

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.