Japan’s top court upholds law requiring married couples to have same surname

(From Japan Today)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave mixed judgments on two century-old legal provisions linked to marriage, ruling that prohibiting women from remarrying for six months is unconstitutional but forcing married couples to use the same surname is constitutional.

The rule on surname is seen as discriminatory since most couples end up using the husband's surname

The existing rule on surname is seen as discriminatory since most couples end up using the husband’s surname

The second ruling could upset women’s rights activists who view the law as discriminatory since most couples are forced to use the husband’s surname.

Lawsuits have been filed over the two Civil Code articles, with plaintiffs arguing that they violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equality and individual dignity. The Supreme Court said in its ruling that a remarriage ban on women that exceeds 100 days is “an excessive restriction” and “contravenes the Constitution.”

The decisions were handed down at the top court’s Grand Bench led by Chief Justice Itsuro Terada. The ruling said it is “reasonable to use only one surname for family members” and the practice is “well-established in Japanese society.”

The top court also said, “Any disadvantage for women who changed their surname after marriage and felt their identities were lost can be mitigated by allowing the wider use of their maiden name.”  Read More



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