change to international year system up to public: Taiwan official

Late last month Taiwan’s premier came out in favor of switching from the ROC dating system (under which this is the year 95, just like in North Korea, though for different reasons) to the international system (2006). (See Taiwan premier backs adoption of common years and Taiwan’s Y1C problem.) Now a Cabinet spokesman has said the resolution of the issue is up to public opinion.

The ruling Democratic Progressive Party is reaping some of the troubles it set up for itself by pushing for Tongyong Pinyin. It’s going to have a harder time arguing for the need for internationalization after its opposition to Hanyu Pinyin, the international system for the romanization of Mandarin. On the other hand, KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou has some problems of his own. He has voiced opposition to the change, even though one of his favorite words at least used to be “internationalization.” It certainly was when he announced that Taipei, of which he serves as mayor, would use Hanyu Pinyin.

For a good idea how bad the China Post (published in Taiwan) is, have a look at its biased, sloppy coverage of this. This is also a good reflection of how bad many of the local Mandarin-language newspapers are, because this piece is not original to the China Post but, like most of that newspaper’s content, is a translation.

Few people are opposed to the change, if it does not entail another huge wasteful government spending.

For one thing, all the banknotes bearing the Republic of China calendar have to be destroyed and new ones issued.

At least NT$1 billion has to be spent to change all the ID cards the government is requiring to change until the end of this year.

“Why not forget about it?” asked the observers in a unanimous consensus.


Old banknotes can be grandfathered in. They’ll eventually be removed from circulation anyway. ID cards also need to be replaced from time to time; this year’s replacement of cards is the first in about 15 years. Most officials agree this is far too long; thus, the next replacement won’t be so far off. And as for what the government uses on its own internal documents — that’s a very different matter than what is used to give product-expiration dates or set banking software.

In Japan, to what extent is the imperial dating system used?


2 thoughts on “change to international year system up to public: Taiwan official

  1. Late, but speaking as a foreigner and therefore someone who definitely notices… it’s not used that much in everyday life, at least when talking to young people, but you definitely need to know (or not be embarrassed to ask) what year it currently is and what year you were born in, in order to interact with Japanese bureaucracy. (Although, that said, you could probably get away with filling out the forms international (European) style and hope for the best.)

    I don’t know to what extent it gets used within official (IT and other) systems, though — this may all be just interface design, for the benefit of older Japanese residents who for whatever reason prefer the old system.

  2. Hm, I’d say the Imperial system is used quite a bit… I have here a book in Japanese (by a non-Japanese, even) published 1996 which uses Imperial dates for all it’s publishing history and bibliography entries.

    They’re almost never spoken but they lend a comfy, scholarly, feel to a printed page. I’d say they’re used more than Roman numerals are in English.

    Also as Matt says they are part of the Japanese bureaucratic system. Knowing the Japanese they’d probably be OK with it if you just scrawled ‘2007’ across the right bit of the paper. But then it would lack that comfy olde worlde feel.

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