In a full-page spread on March 2, 1979, the Los Angeles Times introduced its readers to Pinyin, a Chinese romanization system it said was changing the "familiar map of China." In the new system "Canton becomes Guangzhou and Tientsin becomes Tianjin." Most importantly, the newspaper would now refer to the country's capital as Beijing, not Peking. Now, Japan wants its turn.
As the country marked the dawn of the Reiwa Era last year with the coronation of Emperor Naruhito, its foreign ministry felt it was an opportune time to request that the names of Japanese officials be written differently. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's name, for example, would become Abe Shinzo, with his family name coming before his given name — just as the international media prints the names of Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.