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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 March 7 - 13  > On International Women’s Day, Japanese women rally to demand selective separate surname system
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2018 March 7 - 13 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

On International Women’s Day, Japanese women rally to demand selective separate surname system

March 8&9, 2018
On March 8, in celebration of International Women’s Day, various events were held in Japan. In Tokyo, a rally calling for the introduction of a selective separate surname system took place in the Lower House members’ office building with 150 people, including cross-party lawmakers, participating.

The rally was co-hosted by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and the mNet-Information Network for Amending the Civil Code, a civil organization working to amend the Civil Code for gender equality.

Professor of Law at Ritsumeikan University Ninomiya Shuhei gave a lecture and referred to the results of a survey on the selective use of separate surname which the government released in February. In the survey, 42.5% of the respondents were in “support” of the dual surname system, far exceeding the 29.3% in “opposition”. Ninomiya said, “The Abe administration expressed its reluctance to support the introduction of the system by arguing that the pros and cons to the introduction of the system are comparable. However, such an argument is no longer an excuse to turn its back on this matter.”

Japanese Communist Party Chair Shii Kazuo together with JCP Upper House members, Nihi Sohei and Kira Yoshiko, and JCP Lower House members, Hatano Kimie and Fujino Yasuhumi, attended the gathering.

Shii spoke on behalf of the JCP and conveyed the party’s commitment to realizing the elective dual-surname system.

Shii pointed out that “individual dignity” and “gender equality”, both guaranteed under the Constitution, are featured in the separate surname issue. Shii noted that Article 16 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women proclaims that the right to choose a family name should be ensured. Shii said, “The JCP will work hard to remove clauses discriminating against women from the Civil Code.”

Together with Shii, representatives of other political parties delivered solidarity speeches. They were: Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Edano Yukio; Social Democratic Party vice chair Fukushima Mizuho; Okinawa Whirlwind leader Itokazu Keiko. Dietmembers of the Democratic Party, the Party of Hope, and the Komei Party also gave speeches.

Later on the same day, the International Women’s Day central rally was held in Tokyo and adopted a resolution calling for the elimination of gender inequalities, such as in the pay gap. JCP Kira spoke as a guest.

Along with the central rally, the Women’s March Tokyo 2018 was carried out in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward. Braving the rain, marchers appealed to pedestrians by chanting, “No to sexual harassment and power harassment!” “Need more women in public office!”


On the previous day, holding a banner that read, “Build more day nurseries! Improve public nursing-care services!”, union activists of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren) Women’s Section gathered near the Diet building to demand government measures that help women workers balance their work and family responsibilities.

Past related articles:
> Japan lags behind international community in gender equality [March 6, 2018]
> Calling for more gender equality, bill to revise Civil Code jointly submitted by 4 opposition parties [May 13, 2016]
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