Are there good Japanese equivalents for controversial ("Trump is a controversial figure") and controversy ("The high school's new admission policy caused a huge controversy among both parents and students.")? I see words like 問題, 議論, and 論争 in the dictionary but I'm not sure they capture the English meaning and nuance.

  • I don't know that I could write a proper answer, but how about 炎上する used attributively? Jun 29, 2023 at 5:35
  • 1
    @KarlKnechtel That's actually a good one, it's just that 炎上 is relatively slang-ish, and isn't exactly "controversial". Something controversial would have people on both sides, but something 炎上 might be so bad that everyone is criticizing. It's more like "getting in trouble" than "striking up controversy". But I can see how it could be used in some contexts.
    – dvx2718
    Jun 29, 2023 at 14:33

1 Answer 1


I'd suggest 物議を醸す as a relative clause, as in トランプは物議を醸す政治家 (Trump is a controversial political figure).

物議を醸す is an established saying, literally meaning "to brew controversy"

問題 simply means a problem, like a problem with car or a problem on a test, and has nothing to do with controversy.

議論 is simply discussion, no overtone on the discussion being "controversial". It can be a friendly 議論.

論争, or alternatively 争論, means an argument, aka a heated discussion where people argue over an issue.

All these three words are nouns, and cannot be used directly as adjectives. If you say 論争な事情 people will like be confused what do you mean.

Other than the idiomatic 物議を醸す, you can, however, say 論争を引き起こす, like 論争を引き起こすニュース, literally "News that brings up argument", aka "controversial news"

  • 1
    It might help to add 物議 is rarely (if ever) used predicatively like 〜は物議だ. It's almost always used as an object of some verb like 醸す, 呼ぶ, etc. By the way, 問題 is more adjective-like than the other nouns.
    – aguijonazo
    Jun 29, 2023 at 6:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .