In 1994, The founding Hirokazu Tanaka known as “Semi-Leader” stumbled upon news about a baseball prodigy also called Hirokazu Tanaka – and felt “thunderous joy” at a name he had previously considered mundane. He began scouring the nation for his namesakes, founding the “Hirokazu Tanaka campaign”, a blossoming network that once even released a jokey song celebrating their strange friendship.

In 2010, He held the “Hirokazu Tanaka campaign national convention” in Tokyo. 33 Hirokazu Tanakas gathered at the event site. The event director suggested to him that they might be able to set a Guinness World Record, and he emailed Guinness World Records in London. He received the following reply.

Dear Mr Hirokazu Tanaka, 

Thank you for your enquiry regarding your intention to attempt the record for ‘Largest same name gathering (first and last names)’. 

The current record (current as at the date of this letter) is: 
Minimum requirement: 50 

He noticed that a new record category had been created and tried the following year. The “Hirokazu Tanaka campaign national convention 2011” gathered 71 Hirokazu Tanakas, and he was confident of achieving the Guinness World Record by following the record guidelines and applying for the record with 67 people.

First Guinness Challenge at “Hirokazu Tanaka campaign national convention 2011”

But on February 4, 2011 he received an e mail from London.

Dear Mr Hirokazu Tanaka, 

Thank you for sending us the details of your recent record attempt for ‘The most people with the samename gathered ‘. We are afraid to say that we are unable to accept this as a Guinness World Record. 

Sadly, since your claim has arrived an attempt has come to our attention that has beaten the previous record we quoted to you. Unfortunately, this was not confirmed until after you had made your attempt. We can only give out details of fully assessed records, as there is often speculation due to attempts that have gone ahead without consulting us or our guidelines and therefore cannot be accredited by us. Sadly, this is the nature of record breaking and we can only hope you understand the difficulty of these situations. 

For your information, the current world record is: 
The largest same first and last name gathering took place on 20 September 2005 when 164 Martha Stewarts gathered on the set of the TV show ‘Martha!’ in New York, USA. 

He established a Tanaka Hirokazu Association of the General Association on February 4, 2014, for the Guinness World Record attempt. The second attempt at the “Hirokazu Tanaka campaign national convention 2017” ended with a record of 87 Hirokazu Tanakas due to the typhoon.

The third challenge scheduled for 2020 was postponed due to the pandemic, and the “Hirokazu Tanaka campaign national convention 2022” event finally set a Guinness World Record of 178 Hirokazu Tanakas.

Hirokazu Tanakas from all walks of life came together for the record attempt, including a three-year-old toddler, an 80-year-old and even one who flew in from Hanoi.(AFP)

Hirokazu Tanaka campaign national convention 2022 in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on Oct. 29, 2022. 

“I never expected we would achieve such a ridiculous record,” he said with a chuckle, adding that the Tanakas had “set an example of silliness”.

“Semi-Leader” Hirokazu Tanaka

However, the world’s number one position lasted only 98 days.

256 Milica Jovanovics gathered at a shopping center in Belgrade, Serbia, setting a new guinness record of “The largest gathering of people with the same first and last names”.

Belgrade in Feb. 4, 2023

He was disappointed by the news, but rather happy that their efforts had spread around the world.
In the article about the new record in Serbia, he read the following comment from one of 256 Milica Jovanovics.

This is a unique opportunity in a lifetime. Not everybody has an opportunity to set the new world record and Milica Jovanovic is often considered a very common name and surname, but from today it will be very special.

He was excited to find others who felt the same excitement as we did, as far away as the Balkans. Before Hirokazu Tanakas’ record challenge, he had advocated that the “Hirokazu Tanaka campaign” was the peace initiative that would unite hearts in the same, at a time when society is threatened by fragmentation. So he contacted Mr. Robert Coban, the organizer of the new record setting in Serbia, and they had a meeting on Zoom.

Mr. Robert Coban, owner of Color Media Communications

He congratulated Robert and 256 Milica Jovanovics and expressed his wishes to develop the friendship between Japan and Serbia. He also proposed the creation of the International Same Name Association.

Zoom meeting on Feb.20, 2023

Japan is the only country to have experienced the atomic bombings and cherishes its Peace Constitution, while Serbia is a country that has suffered from conflict for many years.

They empathized and together agreed to launch ISNA as co-founders.
On February 24, 2023, the day the war between Russia and Ukraine began a year earlier, ISNA was established.

United by the same name.

Note: Some text quoted from reporter @TomohiroOsaki(AFP)