The evaluation and discourse surrounding new Japanese names
48 , 2015-03-21
Recently, Japanese names given to children are said to be undergoing dramatic change, particularlyin the ways that they use kanji, making them difficult to read. Criticism of such names—often calledDQN neemu （‘stupid/ill-educated names’） or kirakira neemu （‘glittery names’）—has been generallynegative, focusing on a perceived ignorance of parents for using kanji‘ inappropriately’ and their lackof consideration for those who must read them. However, by looking at how such names are talkedabout in the media and their emergence as a phenomenon, I show that such criticism may not beentirely fair, particularly in that it has primarily been made not by parents or children involved in thegiving of such names, but by third parties lacking a full vision of the naming process. In addition, criticismof new names has generally lacked appropriate consideration of history and processes of change,in the sense that it tends to be based on faulty considerations of（ 1） previous naming practices and（2） how such changes will affect the name-landscapes, so to speak, of the future. Instead, I suggestthat new names may be seen as part of the larger discourse on youth problems, thus locating thesense of crisis often expressed within their criticism within a larger framework of socialization andsocial change.