politics

Bill to remove Civil Code clause on out-of-wedlock children's inheritance likely to be passed

12 Comments

A panel of the ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP) has approved a bill to remove a Civil Code clause stating a that child born to unmarried parents is only entitled to half the inheritance of a child born to married parents.

The LDP panel decision follows a Supreme Court ruling in September that the clause is unconstitutional. The bill is expected to be enacted by the Diet during the current session that ends on Dec 6.

Japan's current inheritance laws, introduced over 100 years ago, have been a topic of much debate over recent years. The September ruling was the first time a clause has been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Following a recommendation from the United Nations that Japan redress the discriminatory treatment of children, the Justice Ministry in 2010 again drafted legislation to revise the Civil Code. However, that revision failed to reach the Supreme Court. But the Japanese Supreme Court‘s Grand Bench reviewed the constitutionality of the Civil Code and found the clause to be unconstitutional.

The Grand Bench, typically comprising all 15 Supreme Court justices, is usually convened for cases in which changes legislation and contentious interpretations of Japan's Constitution are likely to arise.

The Supreme Court said that its decision reflected the fact that society's opinions about the nature of wedlock and families are changing, resulting in increased calls for equality of inheritance.

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12 Comments
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I hope the Supreme Court is really acting due to social opinions in Japan and not because of the UN.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Overdue but welcome.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well over due, this might not be a Middle Ages society in the future

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I hope the Supreme Court is really acting due to social opinions in Japan and not because of the UN

We all hope so, but to be honest I think every society was probably the same at some point in its history. But we all had to start somewhere, and with Japan ... better late than never.

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recommendation from the United Nations that Japan redress the discriminatory treatment of children,

More "gaiatsu"? Next can they address child custody and access in the courts?

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Just in time for my niece's half-uncle to be able to make a claim on a dying man's meagre fortune.

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A big step, but they still have a long way to go. Next they need to address the rights of children after divorce. Joint custody, visitation, child support and property settlements all need to be formalized instead of being left to the judgement of a scorned she-devil.

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Just in time for my niece's half-uncle

She is not concerned by that law.

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@Cos - how the hell do you know?? She most certainly will be affected by it.

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a bill to remove a Civil Code clause stating a that child born to unmarried parents is only entitled to half the inheritance of a child born to married parents.

This change does not affect a child who was born between a man and his ex-wife before divorce, because the child was born between a married couple at birth. The child has equal share as the child born between the man and his present wife.

Also, this change does not affect children of a man who has never legally married, since all the children are born to unmarried couples and have equal share.

This change affects a child who is born between a man who is married and has a family and a woman who is not his wife. If the man gets divorce and remarries with the mother of the extramarital child, due to article 789 of Civil Code, the child is deemed to have born to a married couple. So, the change would affect only in case the man keeps his old marriage.

Maria, is that her case?

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As I understand it, the biggest difference in Japanese inheritance law, compared to most countries, is that the transfer of wealth to children and spouse is obligatory: it can not be overridden by a will or estate. Specifically, 50% to spouse and rest divided equally among children.

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CraigHicksNov. 10, 2013 - 12:24PM JST

A will overrides the distribution ratios in the Civil Code in Japan, too.

Actually, that was the reason the Supreme Court was of the opinion that the law that a child out of wed lock be given half as much as a child in the wed lock is not unconstitutional. A will does not have to treat every heir equally. If the decedent was unhappy with the distribution ratios in the Civil Code, he could have made his will. If there was no will and the statutory ratio was applied, the decedent must have agreed to the statutory ratios. So, the law is not unconstitutional.

Not any more.

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