Re: Japan opposes any proposals with “UNICODE is the only

From: Mark Davis (
Date: Thu Apr 27 2000 - 00:14:17 EDT

There is a lot of misinformation out about Unicode with Japanese, even today (unfortunately, sometimes standards people are the longest holdouts). Interestingly, millions of Japanese are using Unicode without even being conscious of it; as long as their characters are supported they don't much care what the internal character codes are.

You should look at a The Unicode Standard, Version 3.0, Section 5.11 for general information on language, plus the subsection on Han Unification. There are some bullets of information on that may be useful, but they are not formed into a cohesive argument.


Gunther Schadow wrote:

> Hi,
> I need some people to help me out with an issue that Japanese people
> took with Unicode. I need to learn more about the use of Unicode in
> Japan. To give you some background:
> - I'm working with an international health care information and
> communication standard (Health Level Seven). We are an ANSI accredited
> SDO and an international organization with affiliates on all continents,
> including Japan.
> - I'm also watching activities of the recently formed ISO TC215 on
> healthcare standards.
> - The representative from Japan, leader of both HL7 Japan and the
> ISO TC215 delegation made a presentation that included the following
> statement at the end:
> Japan opposes any proposals with “UNICODE is the only way”.
> and I may add to this:
> But if Unicode can not be the only way, the whole purpose of
> the Unicode is defeated.
> I'm using this harsh statement to catch the attention of some
> knowledgeable Unicode people to help me understand and hopefully
> resolve this issue.
> The presentation I have seen puts quite some effort into the argument
> why the CJK unified character set is not sufficient. As it stands I trust
> the argumentation. I know from experience that computer standards
> developed for the general market tend to ignore really tricky real world
> issues that exist. These issues become obvious in healthcare, because
> healthcare deals with people first and computers later.
> To give you at least some substance: the argument was made that the
> Unicode CJK characters are insufficient to faithfully write people's
> names, since the various traditions and character reforms in China,
> Korea, and Japan have produced differences that, while they may be
> unimportant in usual writing, are important in name writing. Example
> is Korean nationals living in Japan.
> This has alerted me very much. Here are some more quotations that I
> throw in to tease you that this is an important matter requiring
> Unicode's attention.
> "Original UNICODE dream is gone."
> "ASCII characters are compatible ASCII, ASCII users can say
> “we are universal, because we use UNICODE,” in the demerit of
> ideographic users."
> As I am a believer in the Unicode "dream" I want this to be resolved.
> If there are any problems they must not be ignored. Much effort has
> gone into Unicode and it would be a waste if we can not use it!
> I could imagine the humanities in Japan having trouble with Unicode
> as well, since the difference in writing may be meaningful to them
> too.
> Please do not use these catch statements as an oportunity to flame
> or start a big discussion here. What I need is some people, preferrably
> Unicode "insiders", and preferrably Japanese, or with good contact to
> Japan, to give me some background and the Unicode point of view and
> deployment of Unicode in Japan in non-healthcare areas, and who are
> willing to help resolve this issue. The people who brought this up have
> my utmost respect (and so has the people who made the Unicode.) I need
> really good answers.
> I want international health care standards to go with Unicode, please
> help!
> regards
> -Gunther

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