Accepted Paper:

Toward the ideological clarification of Japanese newspapers' imperial honorific use  


Noriko Sugimori (Kalamazoo College)

Paper short abstract:

By analyzing Japanese newspapers’ honorific simplification policy in the 1980s and 1990s, this paper aims to fortify a notion of “ideological clarification” (Kroskrity 2009). Interviews of individuals involved, newspapers’ in-house editorial policies, and newspaper unions’ materials are examined.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines Japanese newspapers' honorific simplification policy in the 1980s and 1990s. Using Kroskrity's "ideological clarification" (2009), it examines how awareness, positionality, and multiplicity of language ideologies revealed and produced shifts in ideologies and language use.

Since the late 19th century, Japanese daily newspapers have referred to the Japanese imperial family members with honorifics with the highest deference. Failing to do so often invited violent opposition from the right wing. Although the use of imperial honorifics was simplified in the postwar period, most newspapers have continued to use some honorifics. At present, many consider newspapers' use of imperial honorifics as a "prescriptive" norm. Even so, some newspapers, such as The Asahi, tried to establish an honorific simplification policy in the 1980s and 1990s. This honorific simplification policy-making has been undergoing ideological struggles, on which differences in language ideologies — the situated, partial, and interested character of conceptions and uses of language (Errington 2001) — are displayed dramatically.

Newspapers' honorific simplification policy-making is a complex process because the policy-making has revealed and produced ideologies by various parties, including newspaper editors, the Imperial Household Agency, the national policy makers on orthography and honorifics, newspaper readers, the Japan Federation of Newspaper Workers' Unions [Shimbun Roren], and the international press.

This paper aims for the "ideological clarification" of newspapers' use of imperial honorifics. To this end, this paper examines interviews of individuals who were involved in the policy, The Asahi's in-house editorial policies, and Shimbun Roren materials.

Panel P095
Exploring and theorizing the working of language and power in multilingual Japan (CLOSED - 6)