I was going through my word list again, when I saw 声明 which was translated to "declaration, proclamation." This reminded me of a more commonly appearing word, 宣言, thanks to articles related to 緊急事態. I looked up the difference between the two here and it appears that it has something to do with the reach/scope/coverage and the objective of the declaration:

  • 「声明」はかなり広い範囲の人に向かって事情を明らかにするためのものであり、
  • 「宣言」は狭い範囲でもよいが、意思・方針などを明らかにするものである。

Since the 緊急事態 was implemented throughout the entire Japan (かなり広い範囲), and 事態 is somehow synonymous with 事情, shouldn't 声明 be a more sensible choice? Or am I missing something (e.g., 声明 is a bit outdated)

2 Answers 2


声明 always requires some media (usually mass media, at least a blog or SNS). It is for formally and publicly expressing an organization's expert opinion, objection, policy, standpoint or explanation regarding a specific issue. It's basically like "We want everyone to know that we think this way", and it is usually not legally binding. A typical 声明 is like this, this or this.

On the other hand, 宣言 can be big or small. A small 宣言 can happen within a family (e.g., 夫は私に明日からダイエットをすると宣言した). A 宣言 is more like "We will do this" or "We did this", and it works like a promise or an order. A big 宣言 issued by a government (e.g., 緊急事態宣言) can have a legal force just like other government orders.


Here is the kanji meanings in Chinese, I hope it helps

声: voice 明: clear

宣:declare, this kanji is a pictogram of a king's palace


声明 means you want to explain or tell something to others

宣言:very formal,carefully worded,sometimes it is an order from goverment

  • Thank you, it's always interesting how to see how each kanji is interpreted especially from a Chinese language POV. And yeah, it's my first time knowing that "宣" is a pictogram of the king's palace (I think Heisig used a different thing for that), so thanks!
    – rebuuilt
    Jun 11, 2020 at 3:43

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