the Hidden Realities of Computer Industry in Japan Japanese

Kanji is "Made by the foreigner"


A part of the biggest problem is Japanese Kanji when you try to deal Japanese on the computer. The general word processor has more than 6,300 Japanese characters. Therefore, some people have a think that it is already enough. Especially, many computer engineers think so.

However, Kanji can not be described in many sectors on the current computers unfortunately. First of all, there are big problems, such as the name of person, place and company. It can not be covered those proper nouns in detail by the extent of 6,300 characters. If there is not exact character, it has to be replaced by another appropriate one. And so to be computerization on the paperwork of the cutcherry, there is a movement among every proper nouns attempt to be changed to the appropriate character. That is absurd.

Some people are thinking about this problem is only for a type of exceedingly difficult books, Chinese classics, or Buddhist scripture, but far from it! It is also happened by the text book of any elementary schools in Japan. For instance, when type "Ougai Mori", a Kanji character, "Ou" is converted by the abbreviation on the word processor. The printed book, the name of the great author is printed by the abbreviation, hardly exists.

In addition, when typed manuscript by the word processor is given to the editorial department, it does not deal with phototypography which is currently used by printing. Thus although the printed characters are converted by some simplified Kanji letters on the word processor, these are changed to orthographies automatically. Also, phototypography is different every printing office. More properly, it is different every printing press.

Among all books, pocketbook has the largest circulation in Japan, and it has a big seller in the long run. Even though it is low gear, a ratio is very high. It is supposed to be became increasingly computerization because there are only characters on it. Nevertheless, it does not progressive more than anything else. Pocketbook is unequal to a how-to book that the content is understandable through the abbreviation characters. It is the world that it dwells on the form of Kanji. Each Kanji has its own meaning. If the abbreviation characters are used on pocketbooks, the style is spoiled by the characters.

Again the problem is also appeared when the notes of video games or gaming manual are created. There is no way Kanji can not be converted with exact characters, so the manuscript is written by hand, and the characters are replaced to phototypography on the printing press. Incidentally, approximately 10,000 Kanji characters are available on CTS [computer typesetting system]. Now almost printed book is run on CTS, and vulgate book will be covered by it.

In the 1790s, computers could not deal with Kanji. The most important subject of research was that the character was displayed or printed. The use of Kanji had rapidly infiltrated since the late 1980s. The 1990s was a popular word processor age. And now, every author justly writes their manuscript on word processor. The hand writing is ignored by any editorial departments except very influential author.

Kanji has become as popular as other letters, but who is making Kanji characters? Everybody could guess that it is made by Japanese computer specialists. The fact gradually becomes to be questions. Kanji is mainly used in China, Taiwan, and Japan. Those characters are very similar to each other, but those are characterized by each country, and it can not mix each other. However, internationalization is invading for Kanji.

Although Chinese character and Taiwan character have been acknowledged, Government of Japan has been taken no measures against the internationalization. There is atmosphere which is likely to get pressure from the expansion of the West that Japan should also use these character on computers in the future.

Not standard, the character manufacturer who offers Kanji on computers actually uses in Japan is not Japanese manufacturer, and it becomes to be foreign manufacturer. However the United States may precede by software, if everyone thinks that Japanese character is only made by Japanese computer specialist, it has already been awful situation.

Research for use of computer of Japanese character in general should be made by Sigma project essentially, but almost nothing does, and no result. Not apply only to Sigma project, in Japan country, it is nothing that researcher investigates Japanese character from especially Kanji side and about the practical application. Presently, the most sophisticated about research of Japanese Kanji is the typography company in the United State. "Understanding Japanese Information Processing" (the reference no.14) is written by the employee in the company is very wonderful. In only theory, a person more detailed than the author is also in Japan, but no one seems to investigate in effect and expand it into the book. It is admirable that explains by using freely Kanji which can not use in Japan so far. What are Kanji specialists in Japan doing?

Kanji is different from alphabet basically. Alphabet is no more than approximately 100 letters which include Capital letters, lower-case letters and attaching diacritics to letters. However, Kanji is hazy how many characters there are. Also, number of strokes in a character is different every Japanese dictionary which is giving the meaning of characters as they are used in Japanese. When it comes to a radical of Japanese character, it is absolutely fearful mess. It may be typical of oriental that everything is chaotic, but nothing will be made if the recognition about Kanji does not be clear. It still has a long way to use the dictionary on computers.

Advanced use of a computer which is included some letters such as multimedia, internet, electric dictionary, electronic library and so forth, is going to be progressive, but there is no examination about the Kanji letters of an important point. Now, an interested researcher is thinking about that it is bad, so the research is progressive by only him.

People, who are actually doing practical business on computers, still have dissatisfaction it is about Kanji. Because computers refuse Kanji that they want to input.

The religion-related book called the Buddhist Scripture and sacred book is the hidden best seller. It is only matter of time that is forced to make these books by the use of computer. How does the Kanji letter of the Buddhist Scripture and a sacred book really change then? Also how does a posthumous Buddhist name change?

The opinion announcement of the Internet about Kanji letter use by computer etc. is prosperous on a number, and people will gather if an open session is held. However, an argument is very many beside the point. There is only much technical talk of a computer and the person who actually made the book or edited the dictionary hardly appears. A Kanji letter cannot almost be bypassed in electronic processing of all documents. Now, there are many people who have only random knowledge. Also, a government is forcibly about to change that even the Kanji which has been used for a while in Japan is going to be changed to Kanji designated for everyday use in computers.

25 billion yen of Sigma project was lost absolutely perfect, but if the same 25 billion yen is used for research and development of the Kanji letter which can be used by computer after this, it never will not become useless. Even so, the "Electronic Library" project of the National Diet Library currently undertaken without understanding anything is much unenlightened. It is doubtful whether they have any academic ability about a compulsory education end, not to mention a college graduate.


Copyright 1996, 1999 Hirofumi Fujiwara. Translated by C.Y.
No reproduction or republication without written permission.

the Hidden Realities of Computer Industry in Japan Japanese