I'm preparing a sales presentation; it contains some company data and I want to indicate that the entire presentation is confidential. In English, this would likely be accomplished by stamping the corner with "confidential".

What's the best word to use in Japanese for a similar meaning? I've seen this somewhere in my old company, but I forgot... here are the candidates I know of, but the one I think I've seen before isn't there, I'm having trouble finding something where I say "aha that's it".

  • 内緒 (ないしょ) -- more used as in "private", like a small secret between a few people
  • 秘密 (ひみつ -- "secret", but not sure if this is the appropriate word
  • 機密 (きみつ)-- don't understand how this is different than 秘密
  • 親展 (しんてん) -- you see this on envelopes of letters, but that's about it

2 Answers 2


There is a special symbol printed/stamped on secret documents, which is in red color with the character circled. They look like this. Because of this symbol, secrets are usually abbreviated as マル秘{ひ}. Some Japanese font encodings even have this as one of their characters.

For corporate documents, I think the most orthodox word is 社{しゃ}外{がい}秘{ひ} 'to be kept secret from company outsiders', for which stamps also exist.

  • 3
    The マル秘 symbol also exists in Unicode as U+3299. Oct 21, 2011 at 3:59
  • @TsuyoshiIto Thanks, I wasn't sure how popular it was. I worried that it might be a 外字, but seems no need of worry.
    – user458
    Oct 21, 2011 at 4:41
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    Here is the character: ㊙ Depending on browser font settings, it may not appear, but if you see the character described, then you can copy and paste it. :)
    – Questioner
    Oct 21, 2011 at 7:57
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    @sawa: By the way, I edited your answer because "to be kept secret outside the company" the company would mean that everyone outside the company knows the secret, but that the people inside the company don't know it. Which would be a very strange document for a company to have ;). The more correct way to express it in English would be "kept secret within the company" (inside it is known, outside it is not). Which is interesting, because now that I look at the kanji and consider your translation, 秘{ひ} would seem to imply "keep secret from others", not just "secret".
    – Questioner
    Oct 24, 2011 at 1:01
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    @sawa: Agreed - since 外 appears in the original Japanese, the focus should be on who the secret is kept from. I think "to be kept secret from company outsiders" is maybe the best. If you agree that it is suitable, then I'll leave it to you to edit. Or, if you think it's still not right for some reason, let me know.
    – Questioner
    Oct 24, 2011 at 2:29

Generally in Japanese you write 「XXX取扱」to indicate you request special or sensitive handling of the materials in question.

There are some variations you could use. Here are a couple I know / looked up with approximate English equivalents.

  1. 秘密情報取扱 (ひみつじょうほうとりあつかい) - [Handle as] secret or private information
  2. 機密情報取扱 (きみつじょうほうとりあつかい) - [Handle as] confidential information
  3. 厳密情報取扱 (げんみつじょうほうとりあつかい) - [Handle as] strictly confidential information

Avoid these ones though, unless you're in the military or government:

  1. 最高秘密情報 (さいこうひみつじょうほう) - top secret information
  2. 極秘情報 (ごくひじょうほう) - classified information

There are many others that would be more appropriate to use in an email, a letter or a report such as:

  1. 内申 (ないしん) - confidential (internal/unofficial) report
  2. 秘録 (ひろく) - confidential record
  • You may say ...扱い, but ...取(り)扱(い) sounds awkward. I have never heard of a word 厳密情報.
    – user458
    Oct 24, 2011 at 23:28

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