I am an American; if I were going to live in Japan for any amount of time and conduct business, on official documents, could/would I write my name as Americans do (first-last) or as Japanese do (last-first)?


3 Answers 3


In most of the time you're going to keep given name first, unless otherwise designated (like in some application forms). Japanese know, and expect that Western names (actually, almost everywhere outside East Asia) are expressed in this order.

However, you may see your name spelled with family name first in some documents, when they are compiled for indexing purposes (e.g. employee list). It doesn't mean you'd be addressed in that way, though. If you're asked to tell your name always from the family name, I'm sure that it's a very special practice in that industry.

  • Not that last-name first is really foreign either; even on Western documents, many times you will write your last name first, so it's actually not really different.
    – Kurausukun
    Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 13:29
  • @Kurausukun Not really. Though I've heard just a few times that Westerners together were called surname first, it only happens in very formal and ritual settings. Commented Feb 12, 2017 at 13:41

Even if you are writing your name in katakana, you would do it in the first-last order. For example, Donald Trump would write his name as ドナルド・トランプ.

  • What is the dot?
    – oxr463
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 12:31

This depends on whether you are writing it in Japanese or English, I would say. It is common even for Japanese people to do first-last when writing their names in English.

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