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For wheezy, please make sure to use {{{im-config}}}.

(Japanese) Wiki links

Japanese Environment

I hereby describe methods to set up a Japanese environment under Debian etch for your reference. (This should give good reference to other non-European languages.)

Each command is not explained here in detail. Please refer to the manpages.

<!> In order to set up and use not only Japanese environment but also multilingual environment smoothly, please select the locale with UTF-8 encoding.

Required packages for Japanese environment

Following lists required packages for Japanese environment. (For other languages, refer to the language task contents.)

  • Input method for Japanese
    • Packages to introduce when scim system is deployed. (I use this)
      • im-config
      • ibus and its family of packages: auto-installed packages for ibus-mozc is good choice
      • relogin to X
      • set up ibus via its GUI configuratiourto use mozc
  • Japanese fonts
    • fonts-ipafont
    • fonts-vlgothic
  • Japanese messages
    • manpages-ja
    • manpages-ja-dev
    • openoffice.org-help-ja
    • openoffice.org-l10n-ja
    • iceweasel-l10n-ja
      • (firefox-locale-ja is old and should be removed)
    • kde-i18n-ja (required only when KDE is deployed)
  • Japanese documentations
    • doc-linux-ja-text
    • doc-linux-ja-html
  • Japanese related tools
    • lv
    • nkf
    • jfbterm

<!>  Read /usr/share/doc/ibus/README.Debian.gz in detail for input method.

<!>  Read ?FontsProprietaryJapaneseFonts for more font hints

What is locale

The locale is used for LANG environment variable to define language environment. It has a structure of xx_YY.ZZZZ and has following meanings:


language codes


country codes 



The language region of Japan is ja_JP but if it is used alone it is treated as tradional ja_JP.eucJP . The language region of US (the best supported) is en_US but if it is used alone it is treated as tradional en_US.ISO8859-1.

For example, the encoding system often used for Japanese are:


recent standard, multilingual compatibility


old UNIX standard, only for Japanese


old Microsoft standard, only for Japanese


standard for Japanese e-mail, use only 7 bit code, only for Japanese


old standard for western European languages, ASCII+accented characters, 8 bit code


US standard, 7 bit code Simply set LANG=C

These encodings are well thought out to keep them compatible within ASCII code ranges.

If you accidentally haven't created the ja_JP.UTF-8 locale, please execute the following to enable Japanese UTF-8 environment.

$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales

Each program behaves differently depending on the set up of language related environment variables.

Here, you have to pay attention to the fact that some program uses PAM (pluggable Authentification Module) and the environment variable set by PAM has priority.

Both /etc/environment and /etc/defaults/locale files define


when Japanese is selected during the etch installation process under etch (as of December 2006).

Working with key programs

emacs situation

  • emacs is quite smart and copes well with many encoding systems. So please pay extra attention to it.
  • emacs has its own unique Japanese input infrastructure (egg etc.) which does not rely on external programs such as X nor FEP.
  • If you wish to input without going through XIM, set XMODIFIERS value to "none" while starting emacs. From shell, execute as:

$ XMODIFIERS=none emacs

In order to adjust Debian menu, place customized configuration in /etc/menu following the method described in /usr/share/doc/menu/html.

vim situation

  • vim is also quite smart and copes well with many encoding syatems. So please pay extra attention to it and basically try to use vim under UTF-8. No special input method configuration needed. Please refer to "Method to edit non-UTF-8 encoded text files under UTF-8 vim" (English) (Japanese)


Recently IBus has become the most widely used input framework - it's probably the best choice for Japanese input in Debian

There are two Japanese IBus engines: ibus-anthy and ibus-mozc. ibus-mozc is a client of another input project, sponsored by Google? ibus-anthy is more mature? The Ubuntu language-support-input-ja package depends on ibus-anthy - ibus-anthy is probably what you want,

For wheezy, please make sure to use im-config.

$ sudo aptitude -DR install ibus-anthy

The Ubuntu language-support-fonts-ja package depends on ttf-takao-gothic and ttf-takao-mincho,

$ sudo aptitude -DR install ttf-takao