Japanese/Chinese Surnames

I’ve heard the media referring to Wen Ho Lee as “Mr. Lee.” I had always thought that the first name you see in Japanese and Chinese names was the family name, and the last name would be the given name. Shouldn’t Wen Ho Lee be referred to as “Mr. Wen”?

When talking/writing in the native language, the surname comes first. But when talking/writing in English, it is customary to reverse the order to conform to the standards of the English language. At least that’s what is done by all the Japanese peope I know, including myself.

What scr4 said, plus Mr. Lee’s been living in the US for many years and has been a US citizen for some time, so he and his family have probably adopted the western style of naming. Most of the China/Japan-born Chinese/Japanese I knew in the US also did this, while using the asian naming style when they went home. I can say from experience that it creates a lot of confusion when you’re applying for something and half your ID is written one way and half the other.


That’s just what he said when the FBI came knocking: “Holee sh*t!”