Taro Kono, the country’s foreign minister, said he would ask overseas media outlets to identify the leader with his family name, “Abe”, first.
“I plan to ask international media organisations to do this. Domestic media outlets that have English services should consider it, too,” he said.
Japanese names are customarily written with the family name first and the given name second.
But in English they are written in the reverse, a practice which began in the 19th century and later became the norm.
Abe Shinzo served as prime minister from 2006 to 2007 and then returned to office in 2012.
His name has typically been spelled “Shinzo Abe“ internationally, despite the Japanese government producing a report in 2000 which concluded that Japanese names should be written with the family name first in all instances.
Masahiko Shibayama, Japan’s education minister, said his department would encourage all government bodies to use family names first.
But Yoshihide Suga, the country’s chief cabinet secretary, was more cautious about the change.
“There are a lot of factors we have to consider, including convention,” he said.