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Court rejects damages suit over same-surname after marriage rule

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Hilarious that Japanese people can't keep their respective surnames after marriage but foreigners can't.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Guess I've been breaking the law for 30 years. I (non-Japanese) and my wife (Japanese) have legally been using our own surnames. My kids use their mother's surname as it is easier for them do live in Japan being recolonized as a Japanese not foreigner. Sad but true.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

This was completely predictable. And, to be honest, as much as this law / code is so backward thinking, there really isn't much legal basis for a judge ruling against it.

The "beauty" of it for the conservative Japanese stuck in the 19th century is that they can argue that the code does not discriminate against women, because the code doesn't stipulate that the couple must adopt / use the man's last name. And, indeed, there are cases where a man will marry into a well-off family and will assume the family name of the wife.

So, the argument that the law is discriminatory can be dismissed, although, of course, it absolutely is discriminatory because of the societal pressures for a woman to adopt the man's last name.

In the end, as with many issues brought before the courts involving family law, the only real answer is thoroughly revising the archaic family law that is largely a relic from the Meiji era.

Guess I've been breaking the law for 30 years. I (non-Japanese) and my wife (Japanese) have legally been using our own surnames.

Not at all. You, as a foreigner, basically have no standing under Japanese family law and are basically irrelevant when it comes to the family register. You have no family register. Your wife does. She can choose to change her name to your name or not. You and your details are merely information that are recorded in her register. She and you are doing nothing illegal.

My kids use their mother's surname as it is easier for them do live in Japan being recolonized as a Japanese not foreigner. Sad but true.

Not really any of my business, but I was wondering. Do your kids use your wife's surname exclusively on all legal documents, including on a non-Japanese passport, assuming they have one?

6 ( +7 / -1 )

It only applies to Japanese. My ex-wife was adamant that she would keep her surname and the kids would use her surname. It was much easier for her in the divorce. Hmmm?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

It only applies to Japanese. My ex-wife was adamant that she would keep her surname and the kids would use her surname. It was much easier for her in the divorce. Hmmm?

My amazing wife insisted on changing her surname and that our children, if we had any, would have my surname. We didn't even argue about it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It only applies to Japanese. My ex-wife was adamant that she would keep her surname and the kids would use her surname. It was much easier for her in the divorce. Hmmm?

Looking back, it’s all too easy to recognize, but That’s exactly what my ex wife did. “It’s too difficult to change my name!” Wah wah wah

.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Whatever the judges say about this I don't believe it. Seems to me they are just a pack of trolls who get off on causing other's grief with blatantly unfair decisions.

The article is as clear as mud, but it seems its not really the woman with the problem but her kids who simply want to keep their original surname despite their mother's remarriage.

Well screw the government. People need to learn to just ignore things like this and use the name they wish to use except when dealing with the government trolls. The government is there to work for us, not for us to obey as slaves.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Looking back, it’s all too easy to recognize, but That’s exactly what my ex wife did. “It’s too difficult to change my name!” Wah wah wah

I was fortunate enough growing up and in my adult years to have seen instance after instance of Japanese spouses taking advantage of Japan's legal system to screw their non-Japanese partners, particularly when kids were involved.

And to have seen the brutal reality of this system for couples where both spouses were Japanese.

So, when it came time to consider marriage, I did my best to make sure that my future spouse was everything she claimed to be. And she was and is, thankfully!! An amazing woman who I love more today than the day I married her.

With that said, the Japanese family law / civil code is broken, in its entirety!! And that is because it is still stuck in the 1800s!! Family registers, stamps / seals, the inadmissibility of DNA when determining paternity, no joint custody, and this stupid single surname requirement.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I wonder if they don't try again using a legal argument attached to the "My number" system. As this number is used for taxation and legal options with government services and part of marriage is the reconfiguration of being taxed and legal recognition , you could argue that a name based registry as obsolete as there is now a system which has been introduced based on numbers. The government can just record that Number A and Number B are civilly linked with Number C and Number D under the joint care of Numbers A and B.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A number of posters mention last name issues for children of international marriages.

As a non-Japanese guy, there is a genuine argument for swallowing your pride over keeping your family name going and giving your children your wife's Japanese surname.

While in certain circumstances (assumed) English ability and international experience are advantageous, if you think that two resumes, one with a katakana surname and one with a kanji surname , get treated exactly the same in all lines of work and all places of business, you are not paying attention mate.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Not at all. You, as a foreigner, basically have no standing under Japanese family law and are basically irrelevant when it comes to the family register. You have no family register. Your wife does. She can choose to change her name to your name or not. You and your details are merely information that are recorded in her register. She and you are doing nothing illegal.

Exactly.

You always will be an outsider. They won‘t accept you in „their system“ ( / world) as a foreigner.

btw when I wanted to change my last name my japanese husband said „You can‘t do that. You‘re not japanese.“

He really believed I wasn‘t allowed or privileged enough to use his japanese surname as a foreigner. I was really astonished by his strong opinion...

Laws and beliefs are still mostly medieval...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan will always be stuck in their dinosaur ways. SMH

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So if 2 Foreigners Marry in Japan are they also subject to this Law ?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

my Japanese wife kept her family name when we got married, then as the years went by she decided to change it to mine, it made it much easier for the kids and family register paperwork etc for her to use my name, my kids now have a Japanese first names and foreign last name. My oldest is the leader of his grade in elementary school does all the speeches , hes proud thats hes both Japanese and gaijin and that his gaijin name is proudly displayed for all to hear and see at his school. Nobody dare calls him non Japanese

3 ( +4 / -1 )

mmwkdwToday  12:48 pm JST

“So if 2 Foreigners Marry in Japan are they also subject to this Law ?”

The law doesn’t apply to foreigners at all. The Japanese government does not have the authority to force someone who isn’t a Japanese citizen to change their name.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Interesting that some of the foreign makes posting here seem to simultaneously think Japan is behind the times but also think their wives should take their (the husband’s) surname.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

since1981Today  07:34 am JST

“Guess I've been breaking the law for 30 years”

As pointed out above you can’t break a law that doesn’t apply to you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My J-wife and I married and lived in London so when we arrived here her name was still her original family name and could have left it at that, if she wanted. She wanted the name change and had to apply to the family court for the change.

So it's not a case of "One ring to rule them all!"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Interesting that some of the foreign makes posting here seem to simultaneously think Japan is behind the times but also think their wives should take their (the husband’s) surname.

Interesting but predictable.

Names are so passé in this era of rampant capitalism and dehumanization. We should all adopt a numeric system when it comes to appellations.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Ridiculous. No one should be forced to change their name.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Names are so passé in this era of rampant capitalism and dehumanization. We should all adopt a numeric system when it comes to appellations.

Just to let you know, I've already laid claim to the designations '42' and '7 of 9.'

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Just to let you know, I've already laid claim to the designations '42' and '7 of 9.'

I call "46 amd2."

2 ( +2 / -0 )

*and

0 ( +0 / -0 )

my Japanese wife kept her family name when we got married, then as the years went by she decided to change it to mine, it made it much easier for the kids and family register paperwork etc for her to use my name, my kids now have a Japanese first names and foreign last name

Did she change it before or after you had kids? I'm in the "wife refused to change name" boat and wondering if its too late. Would prefer for the kids to have the same name on both passports in the future.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Did she change it before or after you had kids? I'm in the "wife refused to change name" boat and wondering if its too late. Would prefer for the kids to have the same name on both passports in the future.

Fair quesion, though I would caution trying to apply exceptions to the Japanese rule to your situation.

A lot of us that are married to Japanese women were sure we were the exceptions to the "rules" only to find out we are just another statistic. That said, everyone is an individual so it may be possible to carve out your own exception to the rule and for your wife to follow her own rules.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"The children want to change their family name to their mother's previous surname but have been prevented"

Sure they do. I'm willing to bet here thats its the mother wanting her child's last name changed, especially since she wants to remarry. Things will be quite strange if she nor her new husband share the same last name as her children. I wouldn't be surprised if she is already cutting and cancelling those child/father visitation appointments.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

When I was growing up, my wise Japanese mother put my English surname in parenthesis behind me Japanese surname. This helped link my two passports together and smooth over the differences when issues arose as we moved to and from Japan

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When I was growing up, my wise Japanese mother put my English surname in parenthesis behind me Japanese surname. This helped link my two passports together and smooth over the differences when issues arose as we moved to and from Japan

I don't think your mother could have done it any other way. It's like middle names used to be in a parenthetical in Japanese passports because thstvwascthe only way allowed to include a middle name.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My wonder is if it is illegal for my ex-wife who remarried and is still telling people that her last name is mine not her actual new husband's surname.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My wonder is if it is illegal for my ex-wife who remarried and is still telling people that her last name is mine not her actual new husband's surname.

It would only be illegal if she is doing so for fraudulent purposes or when she is required to provide her actual surname.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oh well, the lawyer and doesn't know. Of course he does. The kids from her previous marriage get their own koseki with their last name listed (her first hubby). She and her new hubby get a new koseki with his last name listed. He knows that, he just found the reason to make a case for his career purposes.

The same goes about foreign fathers who want their Japanese-hafu kids to have their foreign father's name. Your wifey shall create a separate koseki for the kid, even for a 1-day baby it could be done. The baby is alone on that koseki with his/her foreign father's last name listed, Your J-wife keeps her own koseki with her Japanese last name. The kid has both parents listed on his/her koseki. Keep in mind that it Is a rare procedure and some shiyakusho workers might not know the details, or pretend though. Just as your J-wife, who might indeed not know the stuff, or bs-ing her foreign hubby to keep her Japanese last name for their kids.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think that if your wife keeps her family name, your kids automatically will get her name. There's no choice. This means that your kids will have this name in their foreign passports. Something to think about if you care about names.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Oops I skipped shiratori informative post. That's why my kids have their mother's name...ignorance!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Interesting that some of the foreign makes posting here seem to simultaneously think Japan is behind the times but also think their wives should take their (the husband’s) surname.

Actually, those two aren't as contradictory as they may seem. For many of us who were in Japan long before we got married, we are well aware of the shortcomings of Japanese family law when it comes to marriages / divorces, especially with children involved and, in the case of children, particularly where it is a Japanese / non-Japanese couple. I think most of us who are non-Japanese men would love for our Japanese wife to want to legally take on our surname, but probably would have no major issue with it if she didn't. Except for the whole follow-on implication as it relates to having children. And all aspects of Japanese family law as it relates to the children.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Joey, keep in mind that a foreign father cannot file for a separate koseki for his kids on his own. You are nothing for koseki tohon system. Only a Japanese mother, your wife, can file for this procedure. The separate koseki with a foreign last name for the kids can be done at any time until kids are legally kids. If your wife is not cooperative, the rest you know. There is an easier way out: if your wife takes her foreign hubby's last name, then the kids will be on her koseki (no separate one needed) with the last name of their foreign father. But I personally know only one Japanese wife who took her foreign husband's last name, now she and their kids are Pfeifer-in-katakana on her koseki tohon.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the country's law forcing married couples to use the same surname

Me and my wife have kept our own names. All legal. Somethings off here

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thanks shiratori, I think my wife was also misinformed. We married young (25years ago and still going strong) and I didn't want to hinder her job prospects by having a foreign family name (I still don't care about sharing the same name) . I was just shocked (due to my own ignorance) to see them having a Japanese name on their Dutch passport. Where were you when I needed you? :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Me and my wife have kept our own names. All legal. Somethings off here

This was answered in any number of comments above.

I was just shocked (due to my own ignorance) to see them having a Japanese name on their Dutch passport. 

They make you use the Japanese name? My kids have my surname (and a middle name) for their American passport and the wife's surname for their Japanese one. I'd prefer for them all to be the same though, so one doesn't differ from the airline ticket name.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Some part of feminism complicated this but there should be time limit to keep what surname you would like to keep. 5 years, 10 years etc, So that it'd be easier for their children what they want to keep.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Love my wife! She proudly brandishes the last name. Our last name carries great prestige. She said she would rather have my last name, so there was no argument about that.

As long as there is choice, it should always be an option.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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