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American Journal of Medical Genetics 83:212 (1999)
Letter to the Editor
Reply to Letter to the Editor by
Schrander-Stumpel—“What’s in a Name?”
To the Editor:
We read with interest, and unease, the letter by Dr.
Schrander-Stumpel [1998] on the importance of using
terminology that is least offensive to the patients and
families involved, and took notice that for this reason
Dr. Schrander-Stumpel and others in Europe and the
USA do not use the term Kabuki “make-up” syndrome
but say Kabuki (or Niikawa-Kuroki) syndrome. The
comment called to mind our debate during the preparation and revision of the manuscript that reported the
syndrome [Niikawa et al., 1981]. We initially used the
term “Kabuki actor syndrome,” but changed to “Kabuki
make-up syndrome” in the published version, because
the latter is more to the point and because it is less
offensive to the Kabuki actors. Kabuki is a traditional
Japanese drama, which is very much alive today. We
discussed but quickly discarded “Kabuki syndrome” because the term Kabuki indicates the drama form itself,
not the make-up of its actors.
We were chagrined to learn that the term Kabuki
“make-up” syndrome is offensive to the patients and
*Correspondence to: Tadashi Kajii, M.D., Kuboyama-cho 1-9-3311, Hachioji 192-0023, Japan.
Received 29 October 1998; Accepted 1 December 1998
© 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
families involved, and that Kabuki has joined the rank
of Japanese words adopted into English but distorted
through the process. In return, we would like to pose a
question: Is the term “Kabuki syndrome” not offensive
to the people engaged in Kabuki?
Niikawa N, Matsuura N, Fukushima Y, Ohsawa T, Kajii T. 1981. Kabuki
make-up syndrome: a syndrome of mental retardation, unusual facies,
large and protruding ears and postnatal growth deficiency. J Pediatr
Schrander-Stumpel CTRM. 1998. What’s in a name? Am J Med Genet
Tadashi Kajii*
Emeritus Professor
Yamaguchi University School of Medicine
Ube, Japan
Norio Niikawa
Department of Human Genetics
Nagasaki University School Medicine
Nagasaki, Japan
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