Kyūjitai, literally "old character forms" (Kyūjitai: 舊字體 or 旧字体), are the traditional forms of kanji, Chinese written characters used in Japanese. Their simplified counterparts are shinjitai (新字体), "new character forms". Some of the simplified characters arose centuries ago and were in everyday use in both China and Japan, but they were considered inelegant, even uncouth. After World War II, simplified character forms were made official in both these countries. However in Japan fewer and less drastic simplifications were made: e.g. "electric" is still written as 電 in Japan, as it is also written in Hong Kong, Macao, South Korea and Taiwan, which continue to use traditional Chinese characters, but has been simplified to 电 in mainland China. Prior to the promulgation of the Tōyō kanji list in 1946, kyūjitai were known as seiji (正字; meaning "proper/correct characters") or seijitai (正字體). Even after kyūjitai were officially marked for discontinuation with the promulgation of the Tōyō kanji list, they were used in print frequently into the 1950s due to logistical delays in changing over typesetting equipment. Kyūjitai continue in use to the present day because when the Japanese government adopted the simplified forms, it did not ban the traditional forms. Thus traditional forms are used when an author wishes to use traditional forms and the publisher consents.
Unlike in the People's Republic of China, where all personal names were simplified as part of the character simplification reform carried out in the 1950s, the Japanese reform only applied to a subset of the characters in use (the Toyo Kanji) and excluded characters used in proper names. Therefore kyūjitai are still used in personal names in Japan today (see Jinmeiyo kanji). In modern Japanese, kyūjitai that appear in the official spelling of proper names are sometimes replaced with the modern shinjitai form.
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