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.© Japan Today