We are legion. We are Sato.

It’s already common knowledge that “Sato” is the most common last name in Japan, so much so that we often have to point out that a person named “Sato” in one of our stories is not the same as our own star reporter affectionately known as “Mr. Sato.”

▼ Mr. Sato

Now, a study by professor Hiroshi Yoshida of Tohoku University’s Center for Research on Aging, Economy, and Society has determined that, if left unchecked, everyone in Japan will be named “Sato” by 2531.

This prediction was made by looking at the growth of people named “Sato” over the years and then projecting it to the ultimate conclusion. The Tohoku region also happens to be home to the largest concentration of people with the family name “Sato” and could be ground zero for this potential Satocalypse, should it occur.

Of course, this is just a straight projection and any number of incidents will alter it as time goes on. Yoshida came up with this study as a part of the Think Name Project, which is working to persuade the government to allow spouses to retain their own family names. He found that if married men and women are allowed to retain their names, the Satocalypse will be pushed back to the year 3310.

Post-Satopalyptic marauders, circa 3310

This is based on a survey of adults of whom only 39.3 percent responded that it was important for a married couple to share the same last name. Currently, under Japanese law married couples are not allowed to have different last names, but if this freedom were added, the current doomsday year of 2531 would only see 7.96 percent of the Japanese population become Sato-fied. And if current depopulation trends continue there will only be 22 Japanese people left in 3310, when they’ll all be named “Sato.”

It should be noted that this projection is only if the government acts now to allow couples to have distinct names. Every year of delay is another that the Satos grow stronger until a critical Sato mass occurs and it becomes too late to reverse the damage to name diversity.

Sure, as more and more people are named “Sato” there will be some social backlash, with other names being seen as cooler. On the other hand, as most foreigners living in Japan and even Japanese people with uncommon names can attest, so many normally simple tasks can become a real pain in the butt when your name doesn’t conform to social standards.

▼ I’ve been called “Michael” so often now, I’m starting to think “Sato” wouldn’t be so bad…

Like most pressing issues facing the world these days, the Satocalypse seems inevitable, but the important point to remember is that even seemingly unimportant changes can have surprisingly large impacts on the future. Even our own Mr. Sato is doing his part and opted to take his wife’s last name, becoming Mr. Yamashina (山科).

However, that’s not to say we need to actively reduce the number of Satos currently in Japan. With actor Ryuta Sato and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Eisaku Sato but a few examples, Satos have shown time and time again that they are among the country’s best and brightest. Rather, we should practice sustainable Satofication to ensure a future where our dry-cleaning isn’t constantly mixed up.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun, Hachima Kiko
Images ©SoraNews24
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