The default character encoding for SiteMesh is ISO-8859-1. Also, SiteMesh assumes that the underlying servlet container encoding is also configured to ISO-8859-1.
ISO-8859-1 is generally intended for "Western European" languages. The Wikipedia contains a list of languages with complete coverage.
To support an international market, you can switch to the new standard UTF-8.
UTF-8 adoptions has been an ongoing transition. Case in point, many Operating Systems, Databases and of course Servlet Containers still default to ISO even though they fully support UTF-8.
The process of using UTF-8 may requires adjustments to one or more the following layers,
Following this tutorial it will be clearly evident if UTF-8 is working. As such, we will stop at each layer to see the results of our changes. It may be the case that the other layers already default to UTF-8.
The very first step is to create a UTF-8 page and identify if there are issues.
This page is not yet complete and being actively written.
Load page in Firefox 2.x or higher and click View, Character Encoding. The dot in the menu will indicate which encoding is being used by Firefox.
Inform the browser that the page contents are of a specific character set. You should do this anyway as a general practice.
This is done by specifying a meta tag in the HEAD element of the html page,
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8"/>
Test to see if this resolved the issue. If not continue to the next step.
Set the JSP response header to UTF-8,
<%@ page language="java" contentType="text/html; charset=UTF-8" pageEncoding="UTF-8"%>
Test. Often this resolves the issue.
Use a Custom Servlet Filter
Servlet Filter patch to SiteMesh, though I am not convinced this actually is necessary with current Tomcat (6.0.33) versions - http://blog.sidu.in/2007/05/tomcat-and-utf-8-encoded-uri-parameters.html