もんぶしょう【文部省】


■ 文部省 was a Japanese government ministry that existed from 1871 until the government reorganization of 2001, when it became the 文部科学省(もんぶかがくしょう).

□ Perhaps the only interesting thing about this ministry was its English name. According to the ministry itself in 2000, the official name was "Ministry of Education, Science, Sports and Culture," though it also used "Monbusho" (the spelling "Mombusho" is also common). In English-language documents published by the 外務省(がいむしょう) "Ministry of Foreign Affairs," however, 文部省's official English name was given as just "Ministry of Education." According to news reports, this difference of opinion was due to turf wars over which part of the Japanese government was in charge of cultural exchanges with foreign countries. The photographs below show that the disagreement extended even to signs in subway stations near the ministries.

The English name of the new 文部科学省 is said to be "Ministry of Education, Science and Technology," but bemused ministry watchers are keeping their eyes peeled for further revisions.

◇ The following photographs documenting the fierce struggle over the English name of 文部省 were taken by 惣坊均(そうぼう・ひとし) on July 29, 2000.

The headquarters of 文部省 is clear about its English name.

At 虎ノ門駅(とらのもんえき), the subway station nearest 文部省's headquarters, the ministry's long English name appears. (The tape shows where "Sports" was added to the name in the 1980s or 1990s.)

However, at 霞が関駅(かすみがせきえき), the subway station nearest the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the signs point only to the "Ministry of Education."

Even at Toranomon Station, which is closer to 文部省, there are indications of a struggle. On this sign, it seems that the "Science, Sports and Culture" was covered with tape, and then the tape was partially removed.

This sign, also at Toranomon, seems to have been a total victory for the invading forces of 外務省.


This entry was created by 惣坊均 and Tom Gally.


Created 2000-08-19.


jeKai Index Home