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2 Japanese to sue gov't for same-surname rule after marriage

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At Heathrow, a female staff asked who was my daughter and why we didn't have the same surname.Daughter and I had to wait out of the line,where other question marks were, while she went and called up Japan at 12am to verify who we were and freak my missus out too.I was p.o.'d.

Your annoyance is understandable, but really, it's good on their part that they are being diligent ensuring that children are traveling with both parents' permission.

In the future, you may want to get your wife to write a letter of consent when you travel alone with your daughter. I do it every time I travel alone with my son. I get her to write out consent, and sign it, then I copy her passport with her signature on it for comparison. I also get her to include her own number, as well as the name, phone number and address of any place(s) we'll be staying on the trip.

The ironic thing is even getting my wife to write all that, I've never actually had to produce the letter. But I'd rather have it and not need it, over being in a situation like yours and not having it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My wife and I before we married, decided on her keeping her last name.My reasoning is that in hospitals,city halls and the like,nosy people might want to get up in our business if they heard she married a foreigner.

3 years ago I went to England with just my daughter.She has my wife's surname.At Heathrow, a female staff asked who was my daughter and why we didn't have the same surname.Daughter and I had to wait out of the line,where other question marks were, while she went and called up Japan at 12am to verify who we were and freak my missus out too.I was p.o.'d.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Suffer, by marrying a ‘non Japanese ‘[sic]?

So why and how to they suffer any more or less than other Japanese women?

Go ask your wife Charles. (I'm assuming you are married to a Japanese, Hence your indignation)

I think Yubaru already answered the question above for you.

. There was a time here not all that long ago, that Japanese spouses of foreigners were in fact discriminated against just because of taking their spouses name.

They were refused housing, considered unqualified to work, or because their spouse was a foreigner, somehow different and considered not able to fit in with the rest of the collective.

In addition to that, MY wife was frequently asked intrusive questions during interviews regarding her background because she used the surname Rustom. We were not allowed to register our marriage in a branch office like the rest of the Japanese, but had to go to the main office. I could go on if you like...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Aly: ‘Japanese women who suffer tremendously due to their choice of marrying a non Japanese.’

Suffer, by marrying a ‘non Japanese ‘[sic]?

So why and how to they suffer any more or less than other Japanese women?

I am surprised no one else picked up this tidbit of racism.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Please take a look at that link, scroll down the page and take a look at the two entries circled in red. The one at the top is the Japanese spouse, the one at the bottom is the foreign spouse.

Exactly; the Japanese spouse is included under 戸籍に記録されている者(Persons registered in this koseki), together with family details (parents) while the non-Japanese is in a footnote under 身分事項(Matters relating to status). The birthdate given there is that of the owner of the koseki, i.e. Tokyo Miyako, who got her own koseki when she married her American Harry Potter in Heisei 20.

Compare that with a koseki where both spouses are Japanese;

http://www.city.fukuoka.lg.jp/shimin/kusei/life/kosekidennsannka.html (scroll down a bit)

In the new computerised version, each spouse is entered under 戸籍に記録されている者, with their respective family details; in the old version, the 夫 and 妻 are included side-by-side. Mr cleo's document has entries for him and our son (daughter having been erased on marriage), while I'm but a note above his entry.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This ant hill certainly got bigger on these posts lol.  I just go with my view: the Japanese will do what the Japanese will do.  It gets very annoying seeing all the lecturing from "modern country" foreigners whining how archaic Japanese laws are.  If you are one of those people, why are you still living in Japan??? If you can't accept the laws, culture and the way of life in Japan and instead try to shame the Japanese to change then I think you should vacate the premises and go live in a "modern country".

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Don't have a tohon of my own, not being Japanese an'all, but on Mr. cleo's tohon I'm mentioned in a footnote stating my name and the time and place our marriage was officially registered; I'm not 'registered as the spouse' as in, my name is next to his. It isn't.

http://www.sakura-ilo.com/mokuteki/marriage3Koseki.html

Please take a look at that link, scroll down the page and take a look at the two entries circled in red. The one at the top is the Japanese spouse, the one at the bottom is the foreign spouse.

That is NOT a notation, that is an actual registration as the foreigner as the legal spouse of the Japanese citizen.

There is an older version of the koseki tohon, but the one in the link is the one currently used.

If there is a divorce between the couple there will be a notation to the left stating that the person has been removed from the tohon, but their name will still appear.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yup, I'm just a footnote on Mr Luddite's tohon, too.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Go get a copy of your tohon, you a re not "noted" you are registered as the spouse.

Don't have a tohon of my own, not being Japanese an'all, but on Mr. cleo's tohon I'm mentioned in a footnote stating my name and the time and place our marriage was officially registered; I'm not 'registered as the spouse' as in, my name is next to his. It isn't.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@toshiko , not setai. Shotai.

They are talking about Head of household or 世帯主 setai nushi,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

 but I think foreigners married to a Japanese are "noted" on their spouse's koseki, but are not "registered" on it.

Go get a copy of your tohon, you are not "noted" you are registered as the spouse.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Before feudal era was over, non samurai did not have family name. So, Meiji Gov't, decided everyone should have a family name. That was the beginning of family name in Japan. Japan did not copy other country's system. That is why they call their family name first. Takayoshi Kido ordered the first pm Hirofumi Ito.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There are many antiquated laws in Japan. It takes a lawsuit to change. Some are funny. Do you people know there are two moral lows since 1947? They are ignored but they exist.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not sure why Japan adopted the European custom of changing the bride's name. Korea inherited the Family Registry system from Japan but kept the Korean custom of the bride retaining her surname. As Alf would say "No problem."

0 ( +1 / -1 )

foreigners who are married to a Japanese citizen are registered UNDER the spouses name and are on THEIR tohon.

@Yubaru, perhaps I'm nitpicking, and also I may be out of touch with recent laws, but I think foreigners married to a Japanese are "noted" on their spouse's koseki, but are not "registered" on it. This is what gives a Japanese spouse (usually wife) the ability to use their husband's name. This happened after the 1985 law change. Before that, a Japanese woman couldn't "officially" use her foreign husband's name.

all those who think the case is silly and a waste of time still haven't told me why it's OK to force a person to change their name

I don't think it's a waste of time. But an argument could perhaps be made for forcing a family name after marriage. If you decide to marry, aren't you creating a family? And if you have children, isn't it nice for them to know their family name? But perhaps we should allow the creation of a completely new family name at the time of marriage. (Hmm, perhaps we could start a whole new industry of "family naming advisors".)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Lucky if you can make your family registration new. People whose family registration began more than 300 years before Meiji Ishin, is stuck within that ancient registration. Like Toshiko's fourth daughter, etc.

@yubaru, not setai. Shotai.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

My Japanese spouse isn’t upset by this news at all and can’t understand why any others would feel “spat upon” or be upset by this at all.

Your wife's lack of empathy is sad.

Anyway, all those who think the case is silly and a waste of time still haven't told me why it's OK to force a person to change their name.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Where are they quoting any foreigners? I don’t see any such quotations in this article.

They are quoting a so-called right that foreigners and spouses of foreigners have that they don’t. I didn’t mean that they were quoting something a Foreigner said. Forgive me if it came out that way

And I really don’t think this needs to be about the “whole picture”.

Well we are going to have to agree to disagree. If you’re going to quote conditions that are somehow favorable to foreigners you have to address the other side of the equation Which is that foreigners and their spouses suffer tremendous amounts of discrimination in Japan. So for these people to say “oh we want the same rights as foreigners and their spouses do because after all why do they have this and we don’t” is pretty offensive.

They are merely pointing out that being able to use separate surnames, if desired, is a right enjoyed by foreigners and the Japanese married to them, and they wish that to be available to couples composed of two Japanese. *

Well, we’ve pointed out that voting is a right enjoyed by the Japanese which we don’t have, and we wish that to be available to us. Is anyone listening? I don’t think so. *

My Japanese spouse isn’t upset by this news at all and can’t understand why any others would feel “spat upon” or be upset by this at all.

I applaud the fact that your spouse is very understanding. But what I found very offensive was the fact that they were quoting a right at our spouses have without addressing all the other baggage that comes with it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“But if they want to quote foreigners and their rights they have to look a little more closely at the whole picture”

Where are they quoting any foreigners? I don’t see any such quotations in this article. And I really don’t think this needs to be about the “whole picture”. They are merely pointing out that being able to use separate surnames, if desired, is a right enjoyed by foreigners and the Japanese married to them, and they wish that to be available to couples composed of two Japanese.

“it is a spit in the face of spouses of foreigners, mainly Japanese women who suffer tremendously due to their choice of marrying a non Japanese.”

My Japanese spouse isn’t upset by this news at all and can’t understand why any others would feel “spat upon” or be upset by this at all.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I didn't change my name, it would've meant changing my passport, drivers license, credit card, gaijin card, bank account, remittance account and pension plan. I work so taking time off to do those things would be a major pain. Also I imagine I would've needed to let my phone and internet provider know of the name change. Changing your name IS a big deal.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@pacint. I'm a foreigner and the head of the household on the Family Register. Also separate surnames.

Again the head of household, or setai-nushi, is with the local municipality and not on the koseki tohon. The koseki tohon is a totally different document. The tohon, is registered with the "honseki" address of the person registered, and no foreigner has a "honseki" in Japan unless they have naturalized. Also the "honseki" is many times different from the current address, gen-jushou, of the person registered.

Yes, you can have separate surnames on the setai-nushi, but that has nothing to do with the registry.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My apologies, there should be a comma between the "No" and "foreigners",

It should read "No, foreigners who are married to a Japanese citizen are registered UNDER the spouses name.....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Simple reason is that the 'Family Registry' allows only one name, of course it could be changed and all other documents that rely on it. As women and children need to be registered in the Head of House's registry.

Before you start making blanket statements like this you really should do a little more checking. Because you are wrong here when it comes to Japanese spouses who marry foreigners. Typically speaking a foreigner will have their name entered UNDER their spouses, so in effect there are TWO separate names on the single tohon.

You also confuse the municipal registration with the koseki tohon. The head of household has nothing to do with registering a childs birth.

ALSO..this next statement is 100% false!

The reason why it differs is because foreigners are on a different registry, we can't be in the Japanese one as it only allows Japanese citizens to become heads of households. So yes discrimination can be beneficial at times.

No foreigners who are married to a Japanese citizen are registered UNDER the spouses name and are on THEIR tohon. Foreigners DO NOT have their own registry, as the koseki tohon is used as identification of nationality.

Again you are confusing the jumin hyo, with the koseki tohon. The two are totally different.

After the abolition of the "gaijin" card and change over to the residency card, from that point foreigners who live here were able to get their own, individual, jumin hyo.

Foreigners, again, can not get, and do not have their own family registry, or koseki tohon, unless they naturalize and become citizens.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

They are certain to lose, as the supreme court always puts the Meiji civil code ahead of the constitution. I sometimes wonder if supreme court judges have even read the constitution.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This really is no surprise in a country where a roughly 100-year old rule over-rules any DNA evidence as to who is or isn't the biological father of a child.

When it comes to surnames, the Chinese and Koreans seem to have more respect for an individual's name.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

For the hassle involved with this case, 2.2 million yen is hardly a fortune, so the gold digging accusations are unrealistic if not ridiculous.

Families in real life come in all shapes and sizes that change with the times. The Japanese family register tries to shoehorn every relationship and every family into a single model from way back when. No government, and especially not a government promoting marriage in the face of a falling population, should force people to change their name.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

When we got married Mrs Swiss took my surname and is noted as head of household on the Koseki as such. 30 years on however she is still forced to use her maiden name at work. It's been a constant irritation.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@pacint. I'm a foreigner and the head of the household on the Family Register. Also separate surnames.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The reason why it differs is because foreigners are on a different registry, we can't be in the Japanese one as it only allows Japanese citizens to become heads of households.

So yes discrimination can be beneficial at times.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The reference is only to the surname issue, not life in general.

Doesn’t matter. The idea that the Japanese are complaining about about something the foreigners or the spouses of foreigners have is ridiculous anyway you look at it and it is a spit in the face of spouses of foreigners, mainly Japanese women who suffer tremendously due to their choice of marrying a non Japanese.

And I do consider the ability to use different surnames a clear advantage for those (such as myself) who desire to. I believe one reason Japan cannot require “international” couplse to use one surname is that they have no authority to force a name change on a foreign national. It has long been my desire that married Japanese who desire to use separate surnames also have that freedom.

Of course it should be. But if they want to quote foreigners and their rights they have to look a little more closely at the whole picture

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Simple reason is that the 'Family Registry' allows only one name, of course it could be changed and all other documents that rely on it.

As women and children need to be registered in the Head of House's registry.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Many modern countries in the world have changed this requirement. It is time now for Japan to do so as I have not heard any good reasons for doing so. The court needs to give the reason why they don't want to change the law.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I fail to see what the big deal is - apart from someone wanting money.

-12 ( +2 / -14 )

No one forced them to get married and register their marriage with the gov't. If you want to play the game then be prepared to play by all the rules.

Really now, are you Japanese by chance? Japan has some of the most archaic laws on the books, many still dating back to the Meiji Era. Status-quo?

Laws serve a purpose, but there are times when they need to be changed, and this is one of them.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

No one should be forced to change their name.

No one forced them to get married and register their marriage with the gov't. If you want to play the game then be prepared to play by all the rules.

-13 ( +4 / -17 )

No one should be forced to change their name.

12 ( +16 / -4 )

i can understand being fond of your maiden name, but claiming psychological stress from making the change seems like a stretch. Also, I feel bad for the husband when she claims she won’t have a child as she doesn’t want the child to have to use the father’s name.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Aly Rustom,

”If you think that marrying a foreigner is somehow advantageous in Japan you need to get your head checked girl.”

The reference is only to the surname issue, not life in general. And I do consider the ability to use different surnames a clear advantage for those (such as myself) who desire to. I believe one reason Japan cannot require “international” couplse to use one surname is that they have no authority to force a name change on a foreign national. It has long been my desire that married Japanese who desire to use separate surnames also have that freedom.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As @Aly says. It is hard being a foreigner here. I'm surprised, this is probably the only law that we can benefit from.

There is no benefit to foreigners really, it's the Japanese spouse that benefits. There was a time here not all that long ago, that Japanese spouses of foreigners were in fact discriminated against just because of taking their spouses name.

They were refused housing, considered unqualified to work, or because their spouse was a foreigner, somehow different and considered not able to fit in with the rest of the collective.

In effect it's a very discriminatory law.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

As @Aly says. It is hard being a foreigner here. I'm surprised, this is probably the only law that we can benefit from.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

 "Their disadvantage is obvious compared with Japanese marrying a foreigner."

If you think that marrying a foreigner is somehow advantageous in Japan you need to get your head checked girl.

Or talk to those that have. I can assure you, it is no walk in the park

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Some people should have their most rights restricted.

-15 ( +2 / -17 )

While people can choose whether to use the same surname as their spouse when a marriage takes place between Japanese and a foreign national, the family register law does not stipulate such freedom for a marriage between Japanese. Divorcees can also choose whether to keep using the same surname regardless of their nationality.

This initially was put into law due to potential discrimination against a Japanese spouse taking a foreign name and living in Japan.

But times have changed, and this couple has a valid argument, in my opinion, (well the stress part, I dont know), they should be able to have the same right

10 ( +12 / -2 )

It's funny how money cures psychological damage so easily...

4 ( +15 / -11 )

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