Name of our PM

December 21, 2006 12:00 AM

Do you know the name of the Prime Minister of Japan?

If you say it is Shinzo Abe, you are wrong.

His name is Abe Shinzo. Abe is the family name, and Shinzo is his given name. In the Japanese language the family name comes first and then the given name. There are no middle names.

So you should call him Abe Shinzo-san. We should introduce him Mr. Abe Shinzo. Even the Japanese government document in English, however, often says Mr. Shinzo Abe; we must learn to call our names correctly.

Well, my name is KONO Taro. I will write the family names in capital letters to clarify.

By the way, there are two KONOs in the House. The other KONO is KONO Yohei, the Speaker of the House, former Deputy PM and Foreign Minister, the only President of the LDP who has never become PM and my father. There are four Taros in the House: ASO Taro, Foreign Minister; NAKAYAMA Taro, former Foreign Minister; KIMURA Taro, former Senior Vice Minister of Defense Agency; and myself.

Our Parliament is often called the Diet in English. I do not know why.

Some years ago when I attended a US-Japan conference in Washington, DC, I heard a senior Member of our Parliament introduced himself-My name is XXX, the former Minister of XXX. And I am still on diet. He meant to say he is still a Member of the Parliament.

Another Member was asked if the Diet was still standing when he came back to Japan. He answered-How do you know? Yes, my doctor told me to lose some more kilos.

The Parliament is called Kokkai in Japanese.