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Will Japanese women be able to keep their maiden names after marriage?

59 Comments
By Mari Yamaguchi

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59 Comments
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A big business lobby versus the conservative family! When it comes to money in their pockets, most conservatives are willing to give up on long-held values.

4 ( +13 / -9 )

A powerful Japanese business lobby is calling on the government to allow married couples to keep dual surnames,

Survey that being answered by public approved for female empress

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220223/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

.

However we all know, where bottleneck exist.

https://www.dw.com/en/could-japan-allow-a-woman-to-be-emperor/a-68928047

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/10/29/japan/politics/japan-new-imperial-succession-team/

.

Any change in Japan, will need long discussion in order to happen where the rest of the world already move real fast.

-13 ( +7 / -20 )

The short answer, no.

It would break families apart and the very core of Japanese culture if they were allowed to keep their family name... according to the dinosaurs in power.

-13 ( +12 / -25 )

Will Japanese women be able to keep their maiden names after marriage?

I hope not.

-20 ( +9 / -29 )

Will Japanese women be able to keep their maiden names after marriage?

I hope not.

I'm pretty sure you are not a Japanese woman, so your opinion here is moot.

11 ( +22 / -11 )

If the men in Japan says NO, the women cannot do anything about it.

This is a mans country.

Not a women's country.

Unfortunately...

-9 ( +10 / -19 )

The fact that “such law only exists in Japan” doesn’t automatically make it wrong or something that needs to be revised.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

It seems to me that a married couple with different surnames should be all right. All of my wives (ahem, quite a few) kept their surnames. That took care of driver's licenses, school and other references, work names, and all the other things to go through for a name change. If women are put off of marriage by the name change, change the law. Why not? It's actually easier than to go through all the rigamarole involved. A culture change, yes, which is hard to implement for some, but also a practical practice.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

A powerful Japanese business lobby is calling on the government to allow married couples to keep dual surnames...

Why not just mention the Keiranden in the first sentence? Is it be because it's a dirty word and they're basically a branch of the LDP in sheep's clothing?

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

hyphenated kanji? Yeah if the it aint broke don't fix it

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

Double barrel surnames can cause a problem for hankos.

-8 ( +7 / -15 )

It's built into the language. They are no longer maidens. Hence their legally mandated use of their married name. Culture and tradition exist for a reason.

-12 ( +4 / -16 )

The family registry system needs changes to allow married women to keep their surnames.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

What’s the purpose of marriage? First thing to do should be a review if marriage is really needed these days, or not. There is no need for last name change if 2 people living together. People shouldn’t marry for the purpose of getting money, or sharing wealth of one side. In Japan, marriage is not necessary.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

It's built into the language. 

What rule of the Japanese language is this? without it the claim is baseless.

They are no longer maidens

Neither are a lot of single people, according to you everybody should change names as soon as they enter a relationship, that makes no sense.

Hence their legally mandated use of their married name. 

Since the fight is to change the law that means this argument is defeated by default. When the law no longer mandates a married name then the problem ceases to exist.

Culture and tradition exist for a reason.

The problem is that many times the reason is not relevant anymore (if ever), so this "peer pressure from the previous generations" can cease to exist without any problem. When you are unable to properly explain that supposed reason, it becomes clear it is not as valid as you want to believe.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

All the silly comments and opposition to separate surnames are hilarious!

Japan is the only country of the G7 and the developed countries!

Of course we get:

Meiyouwenti

Today 07:58 am JST

The fact that “such law only exists in Japan” doesn’t automatically make it wrong or something that needs to be revised.

Bruce Pennyworth

Today 08:09 am JST

hyphenated kanji? Yeah if the it aint broke don't fix

Well look at the birth rate and marriage rate!

Obviously something IS broken!

Japan also has the lowest birth rate of the G7, so perhaps it is time to try something new?

My home province of Quebec in Canada has changed surnames since 1981 and it eliminated a lot of government hassle, government and busines costs by no longer needing to change things like passports, healthcare cards, driver's license, etc...

The hypocrisy is the same "conservatives" that don't want change are often the same that complain about taxes, well less government "paperwork" will save taxes!

The other hypocrisy is that the Japanese government has no problem with Japanese keeping their birth name when they marry a foreigner, strange how that is!

-6 ( +7 / -13 )

Japan put a guy who had 27 kids out of wedlock on the new 10,000 yen banknote (Eiichi Shibuzawa).

https://asia.nikkei.com/Life-Arts/Life/Japan-s-new-bank-note-celebrates-maverick-venture-capital-pioneer

I'm sure it can handle a married woman not having her husband's surname (or vice versa).

8 ( +10 / -2 )

First World problems...

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

My younger newly married colleagues are happily flaunting around their new surname.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Here comes the hyphen.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

So what happens to the kids with two last name, then why they marry?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The rights gap between men and women in Japan is among the world’s largest with Japan ranking 125th in a 146-nation survey by the World Economic Forum for 2023.

What a useless plug of a feminist agenda. The survey measures economy, health, education, and political participation to determine equality. Women are completely equal to men when it comes to health and education but still lag in '' economic participation '' and ''political participation''.

While I agree that more qualified women should be involved in political positions of power, ''low economic participation'' is such a strawman because women are the only ones who can give birth, and they tend to take time off work to stay home and take care of the children, so no Sh't they are going to have lower economic participation.

Not to mention that women in Japan (and around the world) often choose lower-paying jobs out of their OWN FREE WILL. Stop with the narrative that all women in Japan are beat down and oppressed.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference) will strongly disagree, and the debate will either be protracted or quashed. But it will return, because of Keidanren's stance and because there is a loophole that creates a double-standard which the government can't do anything about - in a marriage between a Japanese national and a foreigner the two parties can maintain their own surnames. (Why, then, can two citizens not do the same?)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

 in a marriage between a Japanese national and a foreigner the two parties can maintain their own surnames. (Why, then, can two citizens not do the same?)

When a Japanese person marries a foreigner, they have no family register. Instead, their name is added to the family register of their Japanese spouse.

When two Japanese citizens marry each other, they come from different family registers but must choose one to be registered under – either the husband's or the wife's.

That is the problem and where changes are needed.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Western names normally have a first, middle and surname whereas in Japan just a first and last name. When we got married why wide adopted to use her family name as a middle name and my name as a surname.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

wallace

Today 10:33 am JST

in a marriage between a Japanese national and a foreigner the two parties can maintain their own surnames. (Why, then, can two citizens not do the same?)

> When a Japanese person marries a foreigner, they have no family register. Instead, their name is added to the family register of their Japanese spouse.

> When two Japanese citizens marry each other, they come from different family registers but must choose one to be registered under – either the husband's or the wife's.

> That is the problem and where changes are needed

Except they already do accept 2 different names in the cases of "well established" professional women, so the registry thing is just an excuse!

My Doctor has 2 clinics and married at over 50 and she was given permission to keep her name due to her reputation and being well established under her birth name!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

My surname is three kanji characters. The Hanko is tight to get them on. How would they get another three on for double surnames? Surnames can be one, two, or three kanji characters.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

""A powerful Japanese business lobby is calling on the government to allow married couples to keep dual surnames, saying the lack of freedom to do so hinders women’s advancement and has even become a business risk.""

Yes Sir, but give it another 30 more years like everything else.

The government needs to consider the matter first for about 5 years, then it will create a body to evaluate and make recommendations for about 10 years, then the Parliament will debate it for 5 years, then it gets a vote which will take another 5 years, then it may become a law after 5 more years.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

My Doctor has 2 clinics and married at over 50 and she was given permission to keep her name due to her reputation and being well established under her birth name!

How does that work out with her family register? Does she have a separate register from her husband?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

My Doctor has 2 clinics and married at over 50 and she was given permission to keep her name due to her reputation and being well established under her birth name!

Did her husband change his name or keep his family name?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It seems like the conservatives in LDP are increasingly at odds with the values of the general public on many social issues.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

""On Monday, when asked about the proposal, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi of the governing party said the public had varied opinions on the matter and that careful discussion was needed.""

""careful discussion was needed""

Yup, take your time Sir, no need to rush it till you are voted out of office.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

With Keidanren pushing, it's likely to move forward past the dinosaurs in LDP. The biggest principle Conservatives hold dear is the profit motive. They've got a real yen for it. (sorry)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

wallace

How does that work out with her family register? Does she have a separate register from her husband?

We have a single juminhyo, if that's what you mean. They are able to easily do it for my wife and I, and the thousands (tens of thousands?) of other foreign and mixed couples who choose separate surnames. So, it should be no problem to extend it to J couples, as well.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A catchy and useless rhetorical question "Will Japanese women be able to keep their maiden names after marriage?" More gotcha games "Many in the party support traditional gender roles and a paternalistic family system, arguing that allowing the dual-surname option would destroy family unity." Why is this even an issue why not let a man and a woman lead their lives in peace and harmony without interference.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

garypen

wallace

How does that work out with her family register? Does she have a separate register from her husband?

We have a single juminhyo, if that's what you mean. They are able to easily do it for my wife and I, and the thousands (tens of thousands?) of other foreign and mixed couples who choose separate surnames. So, it should be no problem to extend it to J couples, as well.

I wasn't talking about Japanese nationals married to foreigners.

Antiquesaving posted about his woman doctor being given "permission" to keep her family name. A conflict then with their Koseki. I assume his doctor and husband are Japanese.

The current Koseki law requires one per family. That would need to change.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

garypen

A Juminhyo is just proof of registering with your local authority and proof of address. Your Japanese wife has her family Koseki.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Antiquesavings is right - there are circumstances where one is allowed to change their name legally to a name that they have established as a brand. I have no ideal how that works on the Koseki if they are married, but it is a part of the system that does exist.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My surname is three kanji characters. The Hanko is tight to get them on. How would they get another three on for double surnames? Surnames can be one, two, or three kanji characters.

Another reason hanko should just be made optional / abolished as a requirement. Rest of the world is somehow able to function with only signatures just fine.

With Keidanren pushing, it's likely to move forward past the dinosaurs in LDP. The biggest principle Conservatives hold dear is the profit motive. They've got a real yen for it. (sorry)

Right on.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Strangerland

Antiquesavings is right - there are circumstances where one is allowed to change their name legally to a name that they have established as a brand. I have no ideal how that works on the Koseki if they are married, but it is a part of the system that does exist

I don’t disagree with Antiquesaving. I was trying to understand what happens with the Koseki.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Another reason hanko should just be made optional / abolished as a requirement. Rest of the world is somehow able to function with only signatures just fine.

Signatures are written with alphabet characters and each one unique. Kanji names are written in block kanji characters which is why a hanky is required.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

wallace

Today 10:54 am JST

My Doctor has 2 clinics and married at over 50 and she was given permission to keep her name due to her reputation and being well established under her birth name!

> Did her husband change his name or keep his family name

He kept his name, he was my cardiac surgeon serious cardiac surgeon in the hospital I was treated and is the one that introduced me to my primary care doctor/cardiologist (his wife).

Both were older, well established in their practices and changing names would be "detrimental" to their careers! These are the conditions set by the government in order to be able to retain both birth names!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

antiquesaving

you give no explanation about their Koseki. Only one per family. So How does that work with the Koseki?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

wallace

Today 01:13 pm JST

I don’t disagree with Antiquesaving. I was trying to understand what happens with the Koseki.

I don't know exactly but I imagine a lot like it does with international marriages!

My children have their mothers surname but my Australian friend, his wife didn't change her name to his name but the children on the koseki have his surname not his Japanese wife's name and it is official!

I know Japanese couples that have children from previous marriages and a single koseki with all the children on that one koseki but they have different surnames.

So obviously somethings can be accommodated for.

But I will admit I don't know the exact process.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

antiquesaving

after some reading I think I know but not 100% sure. In the cases of like your woman doctor, her and her husband share the same Koseki, same family name. But in her professional life as a doctor she can use her maiden name.

You cannot have different surnames on a Koseki.

”However, in 2021, three cases went to the Supreme Court and, consistently, the tribunal ruled that obliging people to use the same surname after marriage was, in fact, constitutional. In almost 50 years, we have not seen any progress on the issue of accepting separate surnames.” Japan Times

0 ( +3 / -3 )

wallace

Today 10:48 am JST

My surname is three kanji characters. The Hanko is tight to get them on. How would they get another three on for double surnames? Surnames can be one, two, or three kanji characters.

My personal Hanko is in romaji with 6 letters, my friends is in katakana with 5 characters, my small business Hanko not much bigger than my personal Hanko has my full business name and more on it!

So I don't see a Hanko being a problem and anyway, the government is trying to move people and businesses away from Hankos.

My son recently opened a new bank account in a different bank and no Hanko required, to be exact they said they no longer want people to use Hanko!

So Hanko are becoming a thing of the past like in the rest of the world a century or two ago and hopefully so will this archaic idea of needing to change names.

Personally anything reducing cost to the tax payer is a great idea!

Divorce rates are 35% now and under the system all the cost of changing ID, driver's license etc..are free (AKA paid by the tax payer) at divorce the one that changed their name has the right to return to their birth name at no cost for everything from passport, driver's license, koseki, even credit cards and that cost is transfered to the rest of us in one way or another, so why not save money and eliminate these cost and confusion.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

antiquesaving

I have no problems using a hanko. My registered name for all official sources like banks are in my kanji name that is also registered with my local authority as is my hanko. There is no costs involved.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

wallace

Today 01:51 pm JST

antiquesaving

> after some reading I think I know but not 100% sure. In the cases of like your woman doctor, her and her husband share the same Koseki, same family name. But in her professional life as a doctor she can use her maiden name.

> You cannot have different surnames on a Koseki.

I don't want to get into an argument, but there is a loophole, and a few years ago during the supreme court case this was pointed out.

How it works is a but of a "flip of the coin" only professionals like doctor's lawyers etc... can apply for an exemption and most are refused!

As I remember from the article the bar is set at a insanely high level in order to get this exemption.

Most cases were doctors a few lawyers and a judge!

According to my doctor's the surnames they use are their official names on their government paperwork, passport driver's license etc..

It was a long conversation because they found it interesting my wife hadn't changed her name and asked if she had to go through the "exemption" process!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

wallace

Today 02:03 pm JST

antiquesaving

> I have no problems using a hanko. My registered name for all official sources like banks are in my kanji name that is also registered with my local authority as is my hanko. There is no costs involved

I said eliminating not fully eliminated!

You may have missed the news

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/09/business/corporate-business/personal-seals-lose-ground-big-japanese-banks-stop-using-1800s-technology/#:~:text=The%20mega%2Dbank%20has%20started,banking%20on%20their%20own%20devices.

https://www.asahi.com/sp/ajw/articles/13781455#:~:text=Taro%20Kono%20announced%20on%20Oct,they%20could%20abolish%20the%20mandate.

The JT articles from 2020 are no longer available

https://japantoday.com/category/national/signed-sealed-delivered-japan-to-all-but-scrap-centuries-old-custom-of-stamping-paperwork?comment-order=latest

Resona no longer requires Hanko they actually prefer that we not use it.

Others are doing the same

https://www.google.co.jp/amp/s/www.bnnbloomberg.ca/japanese-banks-will-finally-stop-using-a-piece-of-1800s-technology-1.1226301.amp.html?espv=1

Article 2019 and as it points out the goal is to change everything by 2024, we are now 2024!

Times are a changing!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Antiquesaving

still does not explain one married Japanese couple one family Koseki one family name.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Antiquesaving

yes, times are changing. All my banking is online and no more bankbooks. I can't remember the last time I visited a branch office.

But still no changes with Japanese women keeping their maiden names.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Experts say such law only exists in Japan and have even accused it of putting women off marriage in a country already suffering dwindling nuptials.

”Experts” here mean nihilistic university professors and anti-family activists.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

already facing growing calls to allow more diversity in family values and marriage. 

In other words, calls to eviscerate family and marriage of its normative content. This is part of the sexual revolution, a failing social experiment that continues to chop at the roots of civilization.

A marriage is one woman and one man becoming one for one lifetime. Dual names does not help the stability and financial security of this social structure that optimizes the chances of very happy, healthy, and productive citizens.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

A marriage is one woman and one man becoming one for one lifetime.

Millions of gay marriages world-wide prove you wrong. Yours is a very incorrect definition of marriage. Maybe in the middle ages it was more accurate.

And since that little nugget was entirely wrong, the rest of your post falls apart as extremist religious gibberish.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

It seems that the lady from Australia got upset with the girl for using her father’s family name. People shouldn’t judge other countries for their customs.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

still does not explain one married Japanese couple one family Koseki one family name

I'm a little out of touch on Koseki handling, but I understand information of the spouse added to the Koseki would include the previous family name. I can understand there might be situations where a person can continue to use their previous family name on official documents. (Not sure what appears on the tohon and shohon versions of the koseki.)

I have the opposite experience of maintaining names after marriage. I married my Japanese wife before various changes in 1985. Her "formal" name was her pre-marriage name. But she "informally" used my surname in everyday situations. When she was in hospital for the birth of our daughter, she was known by my surname. But her health insurance card used her "formal" family name. She was worried if there would be problems when handling the health insurance at the hospital when my name was used for her registration at the hospital and her formal name was on the health insurance card. She asked me to go to the local ward office to get her name changed on the health insurance card. I doubted whether that was possible, but I went anyway, and explained to the guy at the desk the situation. He looked at me strangely (my Japanese wasn't too good) and said "So you want to change the family name on the card from hers to yours?" Then he simply picked up a pencil, scored out my wife's surname, and wrote in mine. (This was in the Sumiyoshi ward office in Osaka - a very friendly place.)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The change in surname signifies unity. Whose name is going to be for the kids

Keep it simple as it works. Why get married if there is no unity.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Just goes to show Japan is not a free country.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

An example of antique saving is that even after a woman who has changed her surname after marriage can continue to use her maiden name as her "common name" (social gender) in order to ensure the identity of her professional life.

From the opinions so far, there doesn't seem to be any clear merit to married couples having different surnames.

In Japan, there are very few women who don't get married because they want to have different surnames, so it's not a problem.

Rather than being a problem of civil law, more than 90% of people choose their male gender.

If less than 10% of people choose their female gender, then all they need to do is change their mindset to choose their female gender.

Currently, that is a cultural custom in Japan, so the problem is not with the law but with mindset.

Should we look overseas?

The United States has not ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

69% of Americans are the same sex.

In France, more than 80% of women use their husband's surname as their common name (social gender).

In China, married couples have different surnames, but if they change to the same sex, it is a violation of the other person's rights and is illegal.

Is Article 9 the only law in Japan? It goes against the rest of the world, so let's change it now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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