12.23.2009

Mayumi Heene's name in katakana instead of kanji

The Japanese woman who is going to jail for using her son in a balloon hoax is still a Japanese citizen, but instead of the Japanese press using kanji for her name (as either 真由美 or 真弓), they're using katakana (マユミ). In a CNN/Yahoo article they say:
虚偽通報の罪に問われた妻の マユミ 被告は禁固20日を言い渡されたが、子供たちの面倒を見るためにとの配慮で、リチャード被告が刑期を終えた後の服役となる。
And in an article from the Mainichi newspaper they say:
夫のリチャード・ヒーニー被告(48)を禁固90日(うち60日間は日中に建設労働)、妻の マユミ 被告(45)を禁固20日とした。
This is significant because katakana usually represents foreign names, words, and concepts. But she's not a foreigner. She hasn't become an American citizen, and there was actually a possibility that they were going to deport her. But from the Japanese media's perspective, her name is foreign. Is that because she's lived in the US for years and is married to an American? Or did the crime make her even more distant in their eyes? I'd be curious to know why these news outlets spelled her name that way.

2 comments:

happyfriday13 said...

Japanese parents can use kanji, hiragana, or katakana for their kids' names, and in the 90s it became more common to use either hiragana or katakana. It's still not common, but I've met a couple of Japanese people whose legal names were in katakana. That's one possible explanation.

- lumpy

mj said...

Long time no see! Thanks for the info--I didn't know that it became popular recently, but Mayumi Heene is in her 40's, so I think it's a media thing.