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Court rejects damages suit over same-surname-after-marriage rule

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Works with foreigners though.

I cannot get a family credit card because my wife doesn’t have the same surname.

Still in the 19th century on this one...

8 ( +10 / -2 )

saying it treats men and women equally and that the use of a single surname by members of the same family is established practice in Japanese society.

How does it treat men and women equally when the woman has to change her name. That’s just absurd!

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Yep. Doesn't work that way for foreigners. When my wife and I got married and she wanted my last name, the courts here rejected it. I found that strange. However, they did approve allowing her to join both names together.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@Do the hustle,

The woman does not have to change her name if the husband changes his to hers, so men and women are treated equally.

-1 ( +10 / -11 )

I cannot get a family credit card because my wife doesn’t have the same surname.

Japan does not have "joint" credit cards anyway, so having a different surname would not have mattered.

Just as Japan does not have joint bank accounts either.

You want a credit card for your wife, she has to apply for her own, you want one for you, the same thing.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Names are difficult in the modern world of database entry. My wife attempted to make her maiden name, her middle name and carry my surname. Nope, what she got was maiden name with my surname added (misspelled) to the end. Now she has a two name last name with no spaces. Her passport has ( ) around her married. Cray, cray...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Japan is following the American's by litigating over trivialities

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

In China they have used different surnames for husband and wife from time immemorial. Maybe the plaintiffs should go live in China.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

What happens when a female foreigner marries a Japanese male?

Can't say what happens now, but what happened yonks ago when we got married was that the local authority gave us a souvenir 'marriage certificate' that had no legal standing at all. I translated it into English and sent it off to the British Embassy in Tokyo (I think - it was a long time ago. I don't think I had to send it to the UK, but the memory is a bit fuzzy) with some more official documentation to have our marriage registered in Somerset House.

They (the embassy or whoever it was) took the souvenir certificate as evidence of my new status and on the strength of it changed the name on my passport from my maiden name to my married name.

I then took my new married passport to the ward office and they altered my name on my visa and alien registration card to match my passport.

Ever since then I've had an official Japanese surname, recognised both in the UK and in Japan.

What's in a name? An English rose by any other name.....

I've never understood the fuss about surnames. You either have your Dad's name, or your husband's name. I can think of roughly 9876 more important things to get hot under the collar about.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Japan does not have "joint" credit cards anyway.......You want a credit card for your wife, she has to apply for her own, you want one for you, the same thing.

The first credit card I ever had (still the one I use most) was a family card, piggybacking on my husband's card. It has my name on it and requires my signature or pin, but the bill gets sent to him and is paid out of his account.

Since then I've acquired a few credit cards in my own name, linked to my own account.

Joint or separate, both are possible.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Japan is following the American's by litigating over trivialities

I don't think this is a triviality and even if it were, Japanese cases like this are always for minimal damages. In the West, the US in particular, the big aim is punitive damages, like the lady who spilled McDonalds coffee on herself.

Japanese pursue these cases for the principle, to right a wrong. Not for an easy handout.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Changing the law is what your representatives in parliament are for, the courts can only rule on the law as it stands and the question placed before them which in this case they did, the law as it stands is not intrinsically unfair. If cultural norms and administrative arrangements mitigate against its operating in the way it should that is an entirely different question.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My ex had a bank card for my account in her name. After she stole ¥12,000,000 I got smart and had my pay put into a private account.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The woman does not have to change her name if the husband changes his to hers, so men and women are treated equally.

On paper the Civil Code provision is gender neutral like that. But in practice, in 96% of marriages in Japan the woman is the one who changes her name, so there is a huge imbalance in its effect.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Cleo, “I've never understood the fuss about surnames. You either have your Dad's name, or your husband's name.”

In the US it is possible to petition the court to change ones name. I know a few women who were granted permission to change to surnames of their choosing that are neither from their father nor their spouse. It might not be important to you but it was to them.

It is my hope that someday the Japanese law will change so that people can use the surname they are comfortable with, whether for professional or personal reasons. I don’t believe the government should have the right to dictate that all members of a family must use the same surname.

Yubaru, “Japan does not have "joint" credit cards anyway, so having a different surname would not have mattered.”

The word “joint” is not used but many people have a “family” card tied to the credit card of a spouse or parent. There’s usually a space on the initial application form to apply for a card for a family member. Memory a bit fuzzy but I think a wealthy woman once told me she got a family card for her elderly mother so she could pay for whatever the mother needed or had a whim for.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yubaru

Japan does not have "joint" credit cards anyway, so having a different surname would not have mattered.

Just as Japan does not have joint bank accounts either.

You want a credit card for your wife, she has to apply for her own, you want one for you, the same thing.

Totally, completely, absolutely, 100% incorrect.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What happens when a female foreigner marries a Japanese male?

For Americans it's the same process as if you were to change your name after marriage anyway. We took our marriage certificate and translation to a social security office (we were married in Japan but moved to the US about a year later). Once that was updated, I was able to change it on my driver's license, passport, etc.

The only frustrating this was that each agency required different levels of "proof" of my marriage. Even between DMVs - one said my certificate and marriage weren't enough (even despite being accept by the social security office), while another in the next town had no issue with it all.

And funnily enough, after all the work to change my name and living with my husband's name for the past 12 years, I'm applying for dual citizenship in Italy, where women don't change their name after marriage, and I will have to officially go by my maiden name there. Can't win!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"use of a single surname by members of the same family is established practice in Japanese society."

Yes, Your Honors, but that wasn't the question.  It was whether it's "legal" or not.  J justice is often based on them whim of the judge(s), not purely a legal basis.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

On paper the Civil Code provision is gender neutral like that. But in practice, in 96% of marriages in Japan the woman is the one who changes her name, so there is a huge imbalance in its effect.

That’s choice of couples though. They are not required to have the woman take the man’s name - as the option to do the reverse exists.

I personally prefer the idea of having the same last name - I feel that it strengthens the feeling of family. I’m biased though as my wife took my last name. But now we share that name with our children so there are four of us as a unit.

My opinion is cultural though; Portuguese (or maybe Spanish?) people take both the last names of their parents as the default.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

For a foreigner to change their name to a Japanese national would require some procedures back home

That is a common fallacy; believing the government word is the end all be all. No Zichi, for purposes of the family you can change your name however you want. Whatever is on the pencil pusher's documents is whatever. They don't matter. Its just formality. My first marriage I changed my last name to my wife's and its sad she blew the marriage by not being a wife to me, but I was completely serious and anything unrelated to pencil pushing bureaucrats featured her last name and that was my last name as far as anyone who actually mattered was concerned. Our kids would have used that last name. These government types only get to rule us if we let them. Don't. Its they who need to adjust to us and not the other way around.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

When we married my wife was not allowed to take my surname even if she wanted to as I was not Japanese. (At the time, women marrying foreigner could change their names and get a spouse visa too! There were no spouse visas for men)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I cannot get a family credit card because my wife doesn’t have the same surname.

Try a different bank. Before I naturalized and took my wife’s surname, we had a joint credit card with different names. They called once to verify that’s what we wanted. I said yes. The application sailed through.

> How does it treat men and women equally when the woman has to change her name. That’s just absurd!

She doesn’t have to change her name. He can change his. I did. It’s not uncommon in Japan. The law is gender blind.

Japan does not have "joint" credit cards anyway, so having a different surname would not have mattered. Just as Japan does not have joint bank accounts either.

Don’t know what you mean. My wife and I each have a cash card for the same account and a credit card for the same account. Before I took her surname, the cards had different surnames.

On paper the Civil Code provision is gender neutral like that. But in practice, in 96% of marriages in Japan the woman is the one who changes her name, so there is a huge imbalance in its effect.

In the US more than 90% of women take their husbands surname.

Missing from this article and the comments here is any mention of the Japanese 通称 (tsusho) system.

When I naturalized I took my wife’s surname but I continued to use my birth name (as a male I consider the term maiden name sexist). To do this I filed a standard one page A4 form that basically says “My legal name is X but I want to be known a Y.”

Most local government websites have a page that explains how you can register a tsusho. Some have explanations in English.

Under Japanese law you can even stand for election under your tsusho rather than your legal name. Both men and women do it.

While I personally do not oppose legal provision for separate surnames, I think it is a vastly overblown issue. Five years after taking my wife’s surname, I’m still using my European birth name everywhere except with the tax authorities and cases where I use my medical insurance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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