Japan is planning to revise its romanization rules for the first time in about 70 years to bring the official language transliteration system in line with everyday usage, according to government officials.

The country will switch to the Hepburn rules from the current Kunrei-shiki rules, meaning, for example, the official spelling of the central Japan prefecture of Aichi will replace Aiti. Similarly, the famous Tokyo shopping district known worldwide as Shibuya will be changed in its official presentation from Sibuya.

Chart shows the different spellings of romanized Japanese place names using the Kunrei-shiki (L) and Hepburn (R) rules. (Kyodo)

The Hepburn system, which better reflects English pronunciations, has long been predominantly used in society as well as in officialdom, including on passports and road signs, despite the Cabinet deciding in 1954 that the Kunrei-shiki rules would be used in principle.

Still, the country's elementary school curriculum guidelines call for teaching third-year students romanization of Japanese based on the decades-old state designation.

Amid concern the divide between official rules and common usage is causing confusion, a subcommittee of the Council for Cultural Affairs deemed it necessary to consider the revision to improve communication.

To revise the Cabinet announcement that enshrined the Kunrei-shiki system, the education minister will need to consult with the council over the change.