On May 6, 2007, at 12:16 AM, Harry Kakueki wrote:

> Can you view Japanese documents on the internet with an English OS
> without special settings or is it garbled text?
> This may seem like a silly question but I have always used a Japanese
> OS so I do not know.
>
> Is it just about the browser? Or is this a thing of the past?
>
> Harry
>
> --  
> http://www.kakueki.com/ruby/list.html
> A Look into Japanese Ruby List in English
>
Generally, these days the answer is yes. All modern OS's that are  
widely used use Unicode natively. Windows XP and Vista, OS X and  
Ubuntu all ship with multiple languages supported. They're all  
basically language agnostic. Meaning you can switch system languages  
as well as browser encodings. Switching the system language may  
require logging out/in again or rebooting, depending on the OS.  
Japanese is included, including fonts in the standard installations.
The main problem is that browsers do not always catch the encoding.  
UTF-8 should be used on all web sites from now on, but many Japanese  
sites still encode their content as Shift-JIS or EUC. So it's really  
usually the content authors. In theory Shift-JIS should show up fine  
if the browser's default encoding is set to UTF-8 but often it is  
necessary to manually try different encodings.
One problem is that various fonts may not implement some of the  
standard Unicode characters included in the range for Japanese in  
Unicode. Also, various browser plugins, such as Flash generally don't  
play well with Unicode.
Some sites are also built with older more obscure or platform  
specific encodings and 'mojibake' is often all you can get.
Some sites built by individuals using WYSIWYG applications may even  
end up with pages containing multiple, conflicting encodings.
It's getting there, but the word on Unicode isn't completely out  
there, and not only in Japan. Many application developers world wide  
still do not make the effort or even realize they can.
One more point of contention is that different mobile phones in japan  
also often use different encodings still, thus perpetuating some of  
the trouble. e-mail client apps also are often troublesome with badly  
formed xml/xhtml or non-unicode encodings.
Supporting broad amounts of Unicode does have a little more overhead  
than the old encodings, but not much.
If you go with UTF-8 for web sites, regardless of the language, you  
should be visible to most modern viewers.
see
http://www.unicode.org
for more on it.
or the w3c's site.