Recently, parents trying to name an extraordinary one for their child are increasing.
What are extraordinary names? It is a little difficult to explain. But most of Japanese can distinguish an extraordinary first name from a traditional one. For example, “Ichiro” is a quite traditional name. “Ichiro” or “Taro” is usually named for the first son of the family. For a girl, “-ko”, such as “Hanako” or “Makiko” is the most traditional naming. Thus, Mr. Ichiro Suzuki, Ms. Makiko Tanaka, and Mr. Junichiro Koizumi are quite common names in Japan. (By the way, “Suzuki”, “Tanaka” and “Koizumi” are all common family names in Japan.)
On the other hand, extraordinary names, so called “Kira-Kira name” (twinkling name), are very varied, e.g. “Mars”, “Lion”, or “Cecil”. They have some common characteristics. First, they are easy to read in English. So they sound odd in Japanese. Second, we hardly imagine the pronunciation after watching the letter (Kanji).
To be confusing, the parents can decide the reading of the name whatever they want in Japanese legislation. It was known to some people in the past. After some journalists introduced this fact publicly, Kira-Kira names have risen since 1990s.
In 1990s, there was another case about naming. A father named his son “Akuma”. It means “Devil”. As the civil official did not permit the allegation of the naming because of its eccentricity, the father sued to familial court. This case caused wide discussion about naming. Actually, the official made a mistake about the process of naming. However whether naming a wicked one is accepted or not was rather focused. Finally, the father changed the letter of the name, but the reading remained as “Akuma”.
Japan is one of the most liberal for naming I think. In France, the regulation of naming had been relaxed since 1993. I heard that, the government had to make a strict rule because a lot of parents began to name their children strange names after the French Revolution,. Perhaps Japan is 300 years behind France.