Jim Breen is an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Japanese Studies Centre at Monash University, Australia. Prior to his retirement he was a professor in the Information Technology Faculty at Monash. In the 1990s Jim established open-source projects for compiling electronic dictionary databases, including the Kanjidic kanji dictionary and the JMdict Japanese-Multilingual Dictionary, which are used by many websites and apps. During 2000 and 2001 he was a visiting professor at the Research Institute for the Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (ILCAA) in the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. He holds the degrees of BSc (mathematics, computer science), MBA and PhD (computational linguistics) from The University of Melbourne, and also completed a Japanese major at Swinburne University.

A Tale of Two Kanji (or Perhaps Only One Kanji)

Once upon a time there was a kanji, 頰, meaning "cheek." It was a venerable kanji with an ancestry going back thousands of years. It wasn't that commonly used, but it was happy with its place in life.

But a few people in China and Japan were not entirely happy with 頰. They were The Simplifiers, and they thought 頰 was a little overweight. It could well do with a few fewer... READ MORE

Telling Persimmons from Wood Shavings

Can you tell 柿 and 杮 apart? Most Japanese people can't. In fact for a long time the people in the Japanese Standards Association, which looks after computer character standards, thought just one of these kanji would suffice.

The first kanji, 柿, is read as かき and means “persimmon.” Made up of 木, 亠, and 巾, it has nine strokes. This character is not terribly common... READ MORE

A Rabbit or Rolling Over in Bed?

As editor of the Kanjidic, an electronic kanji dictionary used by countless web systems, dictionary programs, and apps, I regularly receive emails suggesting corrections and enhancements. Since the meanings and readings of kanji are fairly static, you may wonder why there would be changes at all. Well, the Kanjidic was... READ MORE

Kanji and the Computer

The first computer character set standard to include kanji emerged in 1978, and a lot has happened since then. Jim Breen began using Japanese text in computers in the 1980s, when even basic Japanese-capable text editors were almost unknown in the West. "Kanji and the Computer" tells the story of the twists and... READ MORE