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My understanding is that a subtitle is expressed with the symbol in Japanese like this:

Main Title ~ Subtitle
Main Title ~Subtitle~

I am not sure about whether there is supposed to be a space on either side of the ~ symbol, or whether the symbol should be on both sides or one side. Is there a clear mentioning of this usage?

In other languages I know, colon : is used for this purpose, and it looks very peculiar of Japanese to use this symbol for this purpose. Is this only in Japanese? How did the usage arise?

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Just because the same symbol is used two different ways doesn't mean one of them is wrong! –  Zhen Lin May 27 '12 at 8:21
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@ZhenLin How is that related to my question? –  sawa May 27 '12 at 8:30
    
I view both usages of the tilde as normal and correct - to the extent that I regard spaces on both sides wrong if the tilde is being used in pairs. –  Zhen Lin May 27 '12 at 8:40
    
This usage is mentioned in Wikipedia. Is this what you want? –  Tsuyoshi Ito May 27 '12 at 16:24
    
The Wikipedia explanation is not clear enough. I don't know whether that is the case or not. I meant something like: Ya Ya〜あの時代を忘れない (サザンオールスターズ). I am also interested in the origin of it. –  sawa May 27 '12 at 16:29
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

I am not sure about whether there is supposed to be a space on either side of the ~ symbol, or whether the symbol should be on both sides or one side. Is there a clear mentioning of this usage?

It depends on the style guide. However, most style guides I have found recommend putting the symbol with no spaces on either just the front or both sides.

In other languages I know, colon : is used for this purpose, and it looks very peculiar of Japanese to use this symbol for this purpose. Is this only in Japanese? How did the usage arise?

It probably is only used in Japanese (however, I cannot vouch for all languages). I believe what you are seeing is the corrupt form of the 2倍ダッシ(ダッシュ). I think that the symbol should not be used in more formal writing. As for the origin, the 国語審議会 is responsible for deciding the usage of punctuation in Japan (or at least the basis for all punctuation). Please refer to くぎり符号の使ひ方 from 1946 for the origin of the 2倍ダッシュ which was called ナカセン.

Some quotes:

  • 2倍ダッシュは,副題の前後につける.また,文章中に割り込むかたちで注釈を入れるときに丸カッコ(  )の代わりに用いてもよい.ただし,―(全角ダッシュ1つ)のかたちでは使用しない.(reference).

  • 書名にサブタイトルがあるときは,タイトルとサブタイトルのあいだは,――(2倍ダッシュ)でつなぐ.(reference).

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