The world’s media is reporting what seemed impossible to report in the West just yesterday. A Japanese leader, Shinzo Abe, stands up to the mighty USA and asks the West to be named correctly: Abe Shinzo.
In East-Asia, the surname precedes the given name.
BBC reported it. CNN reported it. The Japan Times (New York Times incorporated) reported it. Whether the kind request is granted to Japan remains to be seen.
For the West as the former colonial rulers in East-Asia, much is at stake. Controlling the names is controlling thought.
The West is best, and so the East-Asian names, from China over Korea to Japan, had to be reversed to adjust to the global Western world order.
Few exemption existed, for example for famous Chinese people, like the artist Ai Weiwei or writer Lu Xun. But not for common Japanese people and not for their current prime minister Shinzo Abe, correctly: Abe Shinzo.
Reversing given names and surnames is awkward. Naming is crucial to all human beings and one’s personal identity. It happens at birth, mostly, and it dictates who we are. If a foreign powers suddenly gives you all new names… that does matter aesthetically as well as psychologically.
But I could be wrong, and the West is best for all eternity. What do you think? Should we call Abe Shinzo by his correct name? Don’t be shy and leave a comment!