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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 March 14 - 20  > 4 couples with different last names seek court recognition that same-surname rule is unconstitutional
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2018 March 14 - 20 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

4 couples with different last names seek court recognition that same-surname rule is unconstitutional

March 15, 2018
Four couples with different surnames living in Tokyo and Hiroshima recently entered a legal battle demanding a court judgement ruling that the current law forcing married couples to use the same surname is in violation of the Constitution.

Of the four couples, three live in Tokyo and one in Hiroshima. Claiming that their municipalities’ refusal to register their marriages due to the use of different last names is unconstitutional, the four on March 14 filed with family courts in Tokyo and Hiroshima, respectively, their petitions for adjudication to have municipal governments accept their applications for marriage registration.

The couples in their petition insist that under Japan’s Civil Code which obliges married couples to use the same surname, couples who want to use separate last names are not recognized as married couples by law and cannot enjoy the same benefits as married couples with same surnames. They argued that such discrimination and inconvenience run counter to the Constitution which ensures people’s right to equality before the law under Article 14 as well as people’s right to freedom in marriage under Article 24. The four couples also pointed out that Japan’s same-surname rule goes against the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

A female petitioner, who works as a part-time worker, said that as she kept her maiden name after marriage, she is ineligible for spousal tax breaks.

In Tokyo, after filing the petition, the petitioners, their lawyers, and supporters held a rally in the Upper House members’ office building.

Lawmakers from political parties, including the Japanese Communist Party, attended the rally. JCP Dietmembers Kira Yoshiko, Nihi Sohei, and Hatano Kimie delivered speeches in solidarity.

Past related articles:
> On International Women’s Day, Japanese women rally to demand selective separate surname system [March 8&9, 2018]
> Calling for more gender equality, bill to revise Civil Code jointly submitted by 4 opposition parties [May 13, 2016]
> JCP Nihi pushes for Diet debate on bill to allow dual-surname system [July 10, 2015]
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