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Japan split over maiden names, foreign suffrage

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“I don’t understand the mentality of couples who marry to be together but prefer separate surnames,” said Shizuka Kamei, leader of the People’s New Party. “Do we want to see door signs showing various surnames written on them at each home?”

Typical idiot, out of touch, condescending politician. Wants to write laws based on their own personal opinions. To impose on millions of others their own view regarding completely personal matters.

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Chieko Kotani, a 48-year-old homemaker, said she opposes a foreign suffrage bill because “the Chinese might take over” disputed small islands, but supports the legal use of maiden names, which she wished had been the law when she got married 15 years ago.

I got news for you Chieko, it's only a matter of time before the Chinese take over.

One can only keep their head buried in the sand for so long, before the Chinese tide comes in and washes everything away.

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Agree with both posts gaijin. I haven't taken my husband's name because I get tired of the comments about how I am not Japanese so how can I have a Japanese family name. I also keep my name because it is MY name, I have had for many years and don't want to change it. Add in the professional issues it could cause if I ever needed references and/or people needed to see my publications and well, thanks but I will keep mine. Thankfully as a foreigner I am able to keep my name. Shame that the people of Japan don't have that choice.

As for voting, isn't the whole point of a democratic system being that is it "free" and "fair"? Seems many people don't understand this. I personally think having more foreigners involved in the government process in Japan would be very beneficial for everyone - we generally raise questions and want answers and don't care about whose daddy did what. Would certainly internationalize Japan with regards to laws and whatnot. Doubt it will happen though.

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"Despite being born in Japan, living here for decades and paying taxes, many such ethnic Koreans, known as “zainichi Korean,” chose not to take Japanese citizenship to retain their sense of ethnic identity or as a form of protest at Japan having stripped their families of their nationality after World War II.

This disqualifies them from voting."

And quite rightly so. If we start letting "some" permanent residence get to vote in Japan, then we have to let them all.

If Koreans want to vote in Japan they can get Japanese citizenship like the rest of us. I don't think a special exception should be made for them.

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I don't think it is a special exception for them. While I don't agree with many Koreans refusing to take on Japanese citizenship for pride of whatever, they pay taxes, they speak the language, they contribute to society. Why not allow them some say into the way their money is spent? I think anyone with PR status should be given a chance to vote if they want to. If Japan would deal with the idea of dual citizenship most of the people would be eligible then.

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I took my husbands name but only because my maiden name was very difficult for Japanese to pronounce - lots of "R"s and "L"s - and I got tired of repeating it 15 times every time I needed to give it!

Why is it such a problem for people to have different surnames? Is the worst thing they can come up with that people will have two names on the door???!

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Once again Japan prepares to take a giant step ... BACKWARDS!

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One solution for the PR suffrage debate: Allow dual citizenship. Why is it so hard for the Japanese governement to understand Koreans don't naturalize because they don't want to get rid of their Korean citizenship. Dual citizenship is now allowed or tolerated in most democratic countries.

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Yes, Piglet. My thoughts exactly. I don't care about suffrage. Allow dual citizenship, then I will become Japanese and have the right to vote. Japan is the only G8 country that doesn't allow dual citizenship.

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Tmarie, couldn't agree more with your points and those of the other posters, too. My wife and I kept our names without a fight. Simply registered under their family and my wife retained her name. I joined the family register and we moved on ... BUT, The problem comes when you have a child and want that child to have the foreign national's surname. In Japan, if the woman does not take the foreign surname, the child by law must take the Japanese surname. This is another way they disrespect women by stating that they must take their husband's name. As well, the legal rights of the husband become far more weakened in regard to the child. I went to court to change the name legally and won. A lot of hassle! But the judge found it funny that we had to this and simply said "why not". She honestly thought we were there for a custody battle (no joke). She said she was refreshed to see a different kind of case. Patience and common sense actually prevailed and we were willing to do this for all the right reasons.

Who really cares what name we take? It's a silly, outdated ritual. The vote however is not. The ignorance in this country gains so much momentum and gets so much press that it's hard to sway opinion. Apathy among the educated professionals and young voters is rampant and it will be hard to change any law in this country - especially those issues dealing with foreign residents.

Group cry? Hug?

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why is everyone so self absorbed that they are forgetting to look at the picture in the long-run. Say if both partners keep their names (out of selfishness), what will happen to the children? What will you call them? And all documentation in Japan does not make it easy for hyphenated surnames. Furthermore will not this issue contribute to breaking up of marriages!!

Just a thought.

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tmarie:

I personally think having more foreigners involved in the government process in Japan would be very beneficial for everyone - we generally raise questions and want answers

That's exactly why many Jp don't want foreigners involved. The Jp authorities doesn't like to be questioned.

cnc:

why is everyone so self absorbed that they are forgetting to look at the picture in the long-run. Say if both partners keep their names (out of selfishness), what will happen to the children? What will you call them? And all documentation in Japan does not make it easy for hyphenated surnames. Furthermore will not this issue contribute to breaking up of marriages!!

Do you see places like Korea, China and HK worse off than Japan? These countries certainly don't find it 'medokusai'.

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cnc.

No problems for me, I never joined ANY family register. So my wife kept her name and I kept mine.

My son has her surname in Japan(citizenship) and mine back home(again citizenship).

No problems, even if my wife had changed her name she would still be the same wife I married.

HTH.

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cnc, ignorance is bliss. Not sure what to call you. How difficult is it to change documents? Quite. But, let's step forward and educate on equality and flexibility. Selfishness? Actually it's respect for each other. What will we call children? Their first name.

Too funny.

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".... and it is always the women who put up with the burden.”

Just as a point of order, I know plenty of men who have changed their surnames to their wife's surname because the wife was an only child whereas they have siblings; there's even a rather condescending name for them, "Youshi", I think (adopted child).

Anyway, Kamei is such an idiot it baffles me.

cnc: "Say if both partners keep their names (out of selfishness), what will happen to the children?"

You don't know much of etymology, do you? It's just a name, it's not legend. As recent as 200 years ago we had no surnames -- only a reference to our jobs ("Go talk to John the Blacksmith!"), or look at family names in many South American countries or Russia. One of my Mexican friends has about 12 names in total, but officially (and you can choose!) she uses four in her passport and what not. People like you remind me of what people who were afraid of what a ball-point pen might mean to the feather industry when it came out. :)

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Furthermore will not this issue contribute to breaking up of marriages!!

CNC, could you please connect the dots for me?

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This is the same crock of liberal BS they force down your throat in US universities: all rights, no responsibilities.

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One’s last name is a key part of one’s self-identity

I can understand this notion, but what surname will the children take? Both? What happens when 2 people who have hyphenated surnames marry and have a child? Will the child have four surnames?

I respect the freedom to choose but I like the traditional way.

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'medokusai'.

sorry, spelling mistake. Should be 'mendokusai' めんどくさい, just in case bicultural starts nitpicking again.

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I don't really understand the name thing. If I get married, I plan to take my husband's last name, or he takes mine. It doesn't matter either way, as long as it's the same. I will still use my maiden name for work. It's not like it changes who I am or makes it impossible to use my original name.

As for Korean permanent residents getting the vote. I am totally against a split like that. Despite whatever may have happened in the past, today is today and if Japan gives Korean PRs the right to vote, then they owe it to EVERY PR. Just giving it to one ethnic group fits neatly under the term "discrimination."

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Bogi:

I can understand this notion, but what surname will the children take? Both? What happens when 2 people who have hyphenated surnames marry and have a child? Will the child have four surnames?

I respect the freedom to choose but I like the traditional way.

Spanish speakers aren't losing any sleep over your dilemma. Ask them what they do.

I don't think we need to worry about folks like Kamei. The advantage is that they're old and will be carted off to the nursing home soon.

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What is it with conseravative right wingers? I mean world wide there seems to be some kind of genetic defect that makes these people think they can dictate to everyone else what should and should not be done in private matters.

Why do you care what last name we choose? Why do you care about other issues like sexual orientation, choice of family structure etc... Mind your own business you busy bodies. Get a hobby or take up knitting or something because we don't want your input on this.

I have friends in the US who decided that they wanted an entirely new last name when they married. Others who decided to blend their last names. While even others kept their independent names.

Shockingly society did not collapse. The sun remains unblackened, ancestors did not come back from the dead seeking revenge and life has carried on pretty much as before.

Live and let live and mind your own business!

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"This is the same crock of liberal BS they force down your throat in US universities: all rights, no responsibilities."

Clearly a statement by someone who has never been to a US University. Just what do you base this claim on?

Look people should be free and have as much civil and legal liberty as possible. This is a radical notion call freedom and independence. But there are naturally responsibilities like paying taxes, bills, and having social responsibility which I find the liberals are far more active in helping communities in tanglible ways than their noisey right wing adversaries.

But you right wingers have no right to impose your narrow vision of the world on others. You are welcome and free to practice it yourselves, but what gives you the "right" to impose your thinking on others?

Liberals don't care if you want to adhere to old traditions. Knock yourselves out. We will even fight for your right to do so. But don't impose your thinking on those of us who have other ideas. Leave us in peace too.

But the right is incapable of this. Right wingers exist to impose upon others. And that is why the right must be resisted and pushed back.

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"I respect the freedom to choose but I like the traditional way."

So you follow the traditional way and let others follow their way. Fair enough. If the kids have four last names, that is up to the family isn't it. None of your concern. Many countries around the world have long names. Why not Japan.

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I think CNC thinks marriages will break up because if spouses have different names then they won't be emotionally attached to one another and will divorce at the drop of a hat; Plus, the children will be soooooo confused that daddy is Mr. X but Mommy is Miss Y. Oh, the horror. This opinion not coincide with all the other nations who allow these horrendous things and am I being too sarcastic? My apology to CNC.

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@CNC, Yes, I'm with "taj." Please connect the dots. How in the world does having a different family name cause more divorce? I've been with thes same women for 15 years. We have different family names and we've been together longer than my six siblings HAD been with their spouses combined and they all went the ridiculous "traditional" route and took one name.

And @CNC and @Bogi... First of all, why can't they have hyphenated names? we've been doing that in Latin America for ages. Our social problems have absolutely no connection to the use of family names. If others are confused, that's their issue. The family should decide what they want to call their children. I don't care if it confuses you. I know what my name is.

I think a very simple way to solve all of this is that everyone keeps their own family name as a default name for registering marriages. If the couple decides (on their own) that they want to have one family name that is their decision. THEN... When it comes to the children the male takes his father's family name and the female takes her mother's family name. It really is that simple.

The whole issue has always appeared to me as men wanting to label their property. Get over it and find some other way to feel like a man.

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“One’s last name is a key part of one’s self-identity,”

No, it's just what your dad's last name happened to be, and his dad's, and his dad's. There in just three generations, you've already lost seven surnames, from your mum's mum's mum, mum's dad's mum, dad's mum's dad, etc. There's nothing special abut that one surname over the others, except that it marks the Male Line. Why would a person supposedly concerned about her own identity as a female be so attached to something that symbolises male dominance?

A rose by any other name. It doesn't matter what my surname is. I'm still me.

“I don’t understand the mentality of couples who marry to be together but prefer separate surnames,” said Shizuka Kamei, leader of the People’s New Party. “Do we want to see door signs showing various surnames written on them at each home?”

I don't understand the mentality of people who claim to lead the People's Party but want to dictate to people what they should call themselves and what kind of door sign they should put up. It's no one's business how many surnames are on the door, except the people who live there.

allowing women to retain their maiden names could undermine family unity and even cause more divorces.

If the only thing holding a marriage together is the surname, then it's time to throw in the towel already.

PR suffrage - Just stop messing around and recognise the reality of dual nationality.

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tkoind2 - 'The sun remains unblackened.' lol! :-)

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Yes, I know... I wrote I've been with the same womEn for 15 years. That would not be true. I've been with the same womAn for 15 years.

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a name is just a name, not so important

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Based on Japan's national Constitution, the government cannot pick and choose between different foreign residents with PR status for granting voting rights. It must be all foreign residents with PR status or none.

I agree that the Japanese govt. should recognise dual nationality, however that is very unlikely to happen in our lifetimes. In the alternative, the govt. may extend Japanese nationality to special PR. My guess is many Korean special PR would not accept Japanese nationality, even with the voting rights.

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Ever since I was a kid, I always thought a woman having to give up and change her maiden name, her real name, was unfair and didn't make any sense. I never saw men running down to the DMV or Social Security office trying to change their names after marriage.....and you won't.

I think the law should allow women to have a choice. If they want to take their husband's name, fine. If not, that should be fine too.

Why would a woman give up her real name to take another name that technically is not hers? I think Japanese names are interesting and powerful. If I were Japanese, I wouldn't want to give up my name either. I have similar feelings to what 'movieguy' posted.....men are controlling and like to own things and people{women} as if they're property. Men should go find something else to stamp their names on.....like an envelop maybe??

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a radical agenda that would wreck Japanese family traditions and even weaken its national security

So allowing a Japanese woman to keep her maiden name after marriage to a Japanese man would wreck family traditions, but allowing a Japanese woman to keep her maiden name after marrying a foreigner does not? What exactly are they saying here? Those families don't matter, or that by marrying a foreigner she has already wrecked things? Or am I the only person who cares about trivial things like logical consistency? And if so, what am I doing in Japan?

And allowing a zainichi Korean to vote would weaken national security, but if you allow the zainichi to assume a Japanese name and identity and hide his Korean ethnicity, he can then vote without that weakening national security? Wow!

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Unfortunately, any challenge made to a new law that restricts voting rights to special foreign PR will likely fail because the Japanese judiciary is not independent and usually sides with the Japanese govt. on most issues. In this case, the Japanese govt. does not want all foreign PR to have voting rights. For voting and other rights, better to establish PR in a country that is more accepting of foreign residents.

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tkoind2's liberal regurgitation "Look people should be free and have as much civil and legal liberty as possible"--represents the same kind of drivel I and many others suffered through at US university. It is all about "you" and "your rights". Guess what, marriage is not about you and your rights, it is you asking society and the legal establishment to recognize you and your partner in an important and unique way that confers rights, obligations, and duties that have been established over hundreds if not thousands of years. Rather than anyone trying to control you, it is just the opposite, of you trying to control others who abide by, believe in and support an established and important societal institution of marriage. Last I heard noone was being forced to marry, so how can anyone construe this as being forced to change their name?

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What a one-sided article.

It is no longer an issue of Koreans being forced to live here! Every article like this seems to infer that since Zainichi people (or their ancestors, for the most part) were forced here, they ought to have the special right to maintain citizenship in another country but still have voting rights here. If they want to become Japanese citizens and enjoy voting rights, there is nothing stopping them. Nothing. The only thing stopping them is their unwillingness to renounce their loyalty to Korea, whose government-funded Mindan organization is the biggest backer of this voting rights movement, I might add. Japan is well within its rights as a sovereign nation to require loyalty from people who want to determine its future through voting.

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People like you remind me of what people who were afraid of what a ball-point pen might mean to the feather industry when it came out. :)

Hahahaha good one, have to try & remember!!

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Come on now Jpn surprise the hell out of us & the rest of the world once ina while by doing something right for a change!

Man if you cant fix the name thingy your a goner!

This shud be Jpns slogan:

JAPAN Stone COLD! Primitive!

2010 but we act like its 1810!!

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ronaldk- You run into conflicting interests there. On the one hand, you say marriage is an important societal institution. Presumably, you think it's good for people to get married, rather than say live together unmarried. But on the other hand, you tell anyone who wants to change the rules on surnames to just not get married. Is it really better for society that these people live together unmarried, rather than married with their own names?

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My last name may have been my father's name and his father's name, but it is still MY name and the name I was born with. You would never say to a man, "Why are you so attached to it? It's not YOUR name, it's just your FATHER'S name." Somehow whenever women say they like THEIR name, however, this argument gets trotted out. "But it's not your name! It's your father's!"

I call bs. The name I was born with and used all my life is MINE. And no one can take it from me. Japan needs to get with the times in so many ways, but this would be a good start.

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"Guess what, marriage is not about you and your rights." Really?!? So you have redefined marriage as solely a state grant of priviledge now? Forget love, religion, society etc...Marriage is only a state sanction with a list of obligations. What kind of neo-fascist non-sense are you selling here roladk?

Marriage is a multi-faceted funcation within society dear friend. It has a state component, but it also has other componets as well. A diverse and widely differing set of religious and ethnic considerations, rules and traditions for example. Secular and modern practices etc... So your trying to limit marriage to your somewhat outdated and limited point of view is nothing short of a transgression against the social, religious and idealist rights of other people.

Again mate, no one is forcing you to change. For all we care you can carry on thinking the world is one dimensional and flat all you wish. We will even come to your aid if someone tries to stop your thinking, because you have the right in both society and in ethics to think what you want.

What you do not have is the right to impose your narrow view of the world on other people. This is called tyranny and fascism. And it is not what free societies are all about.

See things change. Once upon a time people would have burned you at a stake for saying the world was round and not flat. At that time the state confered limitions and obligations under penalty of law to see things their way. As you are trying to do with marriage.

But the state was wrong. The world was in fact not flat and the rights, obligations and duties to uphold that it was were wrong, narrow minded and in immediate need of revision. The same holds true for marriage and last names my friend.

So rights should and eventually will be guaranteed to people to select their last names as they will. Conservatives like you will scream and holler for a while and eventually be overwhealmed by common sense thinking and the realities of a diverse and wide thinking reality. You, as some others will as well, will carry on with your thinking and the live and let live reality that is required by diverse modern societies will win in the end. It is not a liberal idea. It is a simple practical one that will win out.

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How much of a split is it? I thought that at last count earlier in the year, 40 of the 47 prefectures were against non-citizen sufferage rights...

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PR voting I will not comment as it has been flogged to death.

Now the surname that is hilarious when I got married 20 years ago my wife (ex now) was not given a choice Japanese women COULDN'T take a foreigners surname and I could not take her surname but foreign women could take their Japanese husbands surname.

Now as it seems from friends who have married more recently Japanese women have the choice to take or not to take their foreign husbands surname. (and from what my friends have told me all those who chose to take the foreign husband's name were vehemently discourage from doing it at the time of registration)

So why is choice OK for mix couple and so detrimental for "pure" Japanese?

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When you think of how the "family" is important in Japan, blood and all, I think it's natural for Japan to have it's citizens choose whichever family name (husband's or wife's) when getting married.

Now that these "families" are corrupting, I guess Japan needs to change their system to catch up with the real world...

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and the world goes round again!

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tkoind2 relax, no need to blow a gasket just cause everyone doesn't share your psuedo-progressive ideology. Anyways I can't vote in Japan and could care less if you change your name to Mrs. Howdy Doody. I have capitulated to the current marriage custom and the shoe fits fine.

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RonaldK. Capitulation is something I think conservatives are going to have to adjust to. Liberals didn't start globalization, the more conservative business world did. And it comes with consequences.

We now live in societies with many cultures, religions and ideologies integrated. People live abroad now as casually as if living in another state. Work takes us to all corners of the world where we meet and develop relationships with others from far away places.

The world really is round today and really is small today. This means that conservative thinking that tries to ignore these changes is destined to disappoint its followers. While traditions should and must be preserved, they must not limit the diverse needs of a changing society.

Name changes may fail this time. But in time, in the very near future, it will pass. Women want their own autonomy and people wish to freely define their identities as they see fit with regard to names and how marriage reflects that information. Change is inevitable, as inevitable as the sun rising tomorrow morning. So for your own "gaskets" you should prepare to capitulate more and more often on your ambitions to control the actions and beliefs of others. While at the same time you may and should preserve your own approach to these questions.

An honorable defeat in a debate that defines a changing world and a need for new ways of seeing things. Unwinnable as a conservative position. The needs of modern reality are just too powerful in this case.

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If they want to become Japanese citizens and enjoy voting rights, there is nothing stopping them. Nothing.

The name change requirement is not "nothing". For the zainichi Koreans I have known, that was their main reason for not changing to Japanese citizenship. If people are willing to do it fair enough, but I wouldn't change my name and have no problem seeing why they won't either.

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Based on most of the comments in this article, I am now totaly convinced that a large number of people in Japan have been brainwashed by their over the hill politicians. This has caused extreme paranoia and a negative outlook towards non Japanese. Granting citizenship to an individual who isnt Japanese by race doesnt mean theyll be treated properly/without bias. If equality can be achieved I think more people would consider such a move. The name issue is sillyness and bunch of old goats shouldnt be deciding an individuals name. Wow! our tax dollars are certainly hard at work. Wake up people! Tell the government what to do not the other way around.

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Well tkoind2 my gaskets are fine but I may need a lube job. I think you make some good points, but the crux of your argument seems to be the feminist mantra that "Women want their own autonomy..." Good for you. I guess society's rules and customs should be ala carte anyways, just pick the ones you like and toss out the less convenient ones for autonomy's sake.

By the way, being in Japan as long as I have, family law in particular is the most slow-moving, sclerotic dinosaur of the bunch. Good luck.

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"Ever since I was a kid, I always thought a woman having to give up and change her maiden name, her real name, was unfair and didn't make any sense. I never saw men running down to the DMV or Social Security office trying to change their names after marriage.....and you won't."

Afrosensei - As a woman I can appreciate your concern. For me the choice of taking the name of my husband, or retaining the name of my father had very little weight. I went with my husbands name. Lets not forget that - a womans family name is not her own generally, but it comes from men too.

You sometimes do hear of men taking their wives names here. I once read an article about this couple who, because the husband had taken his wifes name, had to get divorced everytime they had to fill in government documents. They had been divorced and remarried over 30 times, I believe.

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Japan is the only Group of Eight nation that requires married couples to have the same family name. Asian neighbors such as China and South Korea also allow married women to have different surnames than their husbands.

"modern" Japan lol. Let me know if Japan ever leaves the 1940s.

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Last August, the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women urged Tokyo “take immediate action to amend the Civil Code” and drop the one-surname requirement, calling the provision “discriminatory.”

geez, get with the program Japan.

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tkoind and tmarie... spot on.... On the other hand if you married Tom Cruise(Mapother) or Barack Obama... What I noticed is Japanese love a well known name. For me- its just a personal thing and to each his own. I dated a woman when I was younger who had 3 surnames. Colombian (stripper haha) and her ex was a Japanese and she had a son. Kid looked Japanese and his name was Alex Castillo Salazar Sanchez Takahashi.... lol, poor lad.

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Sorry for the direct comments, so before anyone would think to belittle me, I am actually quite sympathetic to this issue since both parties are in fact correct. Unity in family is important, but human rights are also important. I like the family register idea but it needs some flexibility. But the only way to get to a solution is to look for one, not bury it under the rug. I have many friends who upon marriage are added to the wife's family register so this is not a rare thing at all, although by percentage of population it would be.

The real issue here is that any issue of identity involves facing the issues of Zainichi and no one is either emotionally or mentally capable in the public realm to attempt it. DPJ was brave to do so and has the right law but needs to explain better for wider support. I don't think Japanese understand that birth and nationality can be different things. I wonder what they think America or Canada or any other immigrant nation is composed of? We're all teams and the world is our farm system.

If there is a solution it would be in looking at various Western styles of nationalization systems, mix and match to the need and end the impasse for once and for all. This issue was resolved a hundred years ago for us, its strange that Japan is so blind to results that have a proven positive track record.

Being born elsewhere and being Japanese should be possible, even encouraged. Even celebrated.

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If the issue of Zainichi can be resolved in a more public manner, as a form of redress of an issue whose resolution is long overdue, much how other governments in the world, my own included, have make efforts to right the wrongs of the past, then a new sense of what Japanese is would be stronger, not so shallow.

While my own country's identity of late is one of a multicultural mix, it wasn't always the case. History isn't always kind. No doubt it wasn't easy to change the mentality, the very mentality that I read in this article and have experienced while living in Japan myself. A throwback to an age beyond my years. But somehow they did it.

It took not the politicians but it was the church groups and activists who visited the politicians to plead for change of provincial laws. (Some fateful meetings with Robarts in Ontario I think) As the laws changed across the nation over time, then so did the national laws. And so did our sense of what identity was. I'd say it was only really since the 1960s that the Canada of today was born. I think for the better.

We're all just people on this globe floating around the sun, surely we can live together under whatever banner we hold dear?

Japan needs a little love, but all it wants to do is hide and prevent people from holding it dear and making it their own. The fundamental difference continues to be a strange place of the deepest irony.

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just give them the right to choose -- if they don't like to have two names in one family, that's fine. people who want to keep their maiden name, then they shoud.

One’s last name is a key part of one’s self-identity,” Sakamoto said. “It’s wrong that any of us by law have to change surnames that we’ve used all our lives, and it is always the women who put up with the burden

then don't change!!

I don’t understand the mentality of couples who marry to be together but prefer separate surnames,” said Shizuka Kamei, leader of the People’s New Party. “Do we want to see door signs showing various surnames written on them at each home?”

then don't change!! But don't tell people to do what YOU prefer! Just give them the RIGHT TO CHOOSE!

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RonaldK "Women want their own autonomy..." Good for you"

If you have followed my posts in the past you will discover that I am male and not female. Yet despite this biological difference I understand and support women in their efforts to gain equal footing in society. It is shameful that modern human society even needs to discuss this any longer. Women should have had full equality ages ago. But countries, often led by stodgy old men are too busy hanging on to the vestages of by gone eras and illusions of superiority to get this point right.

Women should have the right to decide what name they wish to use. Equally couples should have the right to select a name they wish to represent their new found family. Whether than be a blended name, her last name, his last name or a new one all together.

People need to stop medling in the affairs of others that have no consequence for them and get on with their own lives.

As for "feminist positions" more men would do better to adopt similiar sensitivities. It will make a better parent for those with girls, a better partner to the women in your life and a better citizen in support of true liberty and equal rights. So join me, you may find it a surprisingly rewarding point of view.

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OK. I have been baptized. I am Wo-man hear me roar! Now how about them voting rights?

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ronaldk. Local voting rights would be great. But unlikely anytime soon. Too much fear over the impact of our 2% presence in the population. As if 2% carries any weight.

As for your baptism. Omedetou gozaimasu. Welcome to the family.

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If they want to become Japanese citizens and enjoy voting rights, there is nothing stopping them. Nothing. The only thing stopping them is their unwillingness to renounce their loyalty to Korea, whose government-funded Mindan organization is the biggest backer of this voting rights movement, I might add. Japan is well within its rights as a sovereign nation to require loyalty from people who want to determine its future through voting.

The absence of dual citizenship is what is holding most eligible PR to apply for Japanese citizenship. How is this hard to understand? You can be loyal to two countries at the same time. Dual-citizenship isn't uncommon anymore in many countries and I don't see these countries' national threatened because of this. Many of my friends in Europe are dual-citizens and I can tell you they feel connected equally to both citizenships. The old racist Japanese establishment should understand that identity in the modern world is complex and multi-dimensional. The time of one-sided loyalty and homogenous culture is over... for the best!

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Foreigners should become citizens if they want to vote. Don't like it? Go home.

Married couples should have one single family name in order to show unity as a family unit and to avoid confusion.

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I don't understand the mentality of people who want to control what name other people want to use!! Geesh, let married couples choose. If they want her name or his name or have a hyphenated last name...this decision has no effect on anyone besides the couple and their kids. Why is this such a big deal?!

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Foreigners should become citizens if they want to vote. Don't like it? Go home.

Correct

Married couples should have one single family name in order to show unity as a family unit and to avoid confusion.

BS. YOU seem to be easily confused.

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Japan is the only east Asian country that expects {forces} women to change their names after marriage. You have to understand what a Japanese woman might feel when she looks at the countries near hers and sees other married east Asian women freely and proudly carrying their maiden names, the names THEIR family gave them, but here she is in Tokyo or Osaka about to get married and being expected to give her name up as if her name doesn't matter. If a man's name matters then a woman's name should matter too.........if that's what she wants.

If you want people in Japan to marry and increase the decreasing birthrate, then give people {women} the right to choose!!

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I have my wife's family name on my JDL and kokusai shomeisho. It will be on my Japanese passport when I trade in the blue one two years from now - and then I'll be able to vote. How many countries let tourists vote in local elections? Until one makes the commitment one is just passing through, regardless of how long the passing takes.

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Foreigners should become citizens if they want to vote. Don't like it? Go home.

That is fine as long as you apply the sane logic to all foreigners with PR status equally. Koreans and Chinese with special PR status shouldn't get the right to vote and the rest of us with PR status get left out. It's unconstitutional.

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Where I'm from, a Japanese only needs live there for 2 years to get PR and - I think - the right to vote. Lucky for some but not for others. I fully agree with the poster above who said the lack of dual nationality in Japan is stopping many PRs from adopting J nationality. I'd be glad to add Japan to my own nationality. If I could.

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Interestingly enough, I agree that separate surnames probably will increase divorce rates and confusion with multiple names on houses and such. This is simply because I have accepted that a majority of people are actually that stupid. The old man who said that is probably that stupid too. But at least, for what it is worth, he realizes some of his own stupidity.

Marriage is a totally artificial construct and one of the strings that holds the bond together is one submitting to a new surname. For the truly stupid this is highly significant. Its a form of brainwashing and indoctrination to the hokus pokus we call marriage.

My question is: So what if divorce rates go up? Divorce rates are going up everywhere but nowhere is collapsing for it. People adapt and might be better off in the end. People will adapt to houses with multiple surnames too. The biggest headache will go to the beaurocrats, and I cannot say they don't richly deserve it!

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How many countries let tourists vote in local elections? Until one makes the commitment one is just passing through, regardless of how long the passing takes.

Tourists, voting..............ahhhhh sorry not the same as when living in another country.

As for the commitment bit well you may well be willing to bend over & just TAKE IT! Some of us want more, better, in case you dont know & it certainly seems you do not, its a 2 way street.

A lot of us here have probably been here a lot longer than you have & believe it or not really like Jpn but Jpn really needs to make it more attractive if she wants more of us to sign up so to speak, this is 2010 not 1810.

Come on why dont you really tell us why yr giving up yr passport, burn too many bridges back home, tax purposes perhaps, be honest

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The Democrats have also sought to give the right to vote in local elections to 420,000 mostly Korean permanent residents in Japan and some Taiwanese. Most are descendants of wartime slave laborers who were forcibly brought to the country during the 1910-45 Japanese colonization of the Korean peninsula.

I'm constantly amazed that the western media outlets use the same phrase "war time slave laborers who were forcibly brought to the country" when in fact that "conscription worker" law for Koreans were enacted in August of 1944 and lasted only 11 months with only 245 Koreans were subjected to this law.

http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%9B%BD%E6%B0%91%E5%BE%B4%E7%94%A8%E4%BB%A4#cite_note-3

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If you want people in Japan to marry and increase the decreasing birthrate, then give people {women} the right to choose!!

If a partner (a woman in this case) chooses to not marry because she refuses to change her surname, they shouldn't be married in the first place.

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Most are descendants of wartime slave laborers who were forcibly brought >to the country during the 1910-45 Japanese colonization of the Korean >peninsula. No, they're not. Does nobody learn anything ever?

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It's a style of language that makes the use of maiden name odd. The desirable solution may be use both surnames (i.e., Takahashi-Suzuki, Ito-Yoshida), but it's very awkward especially when it's described in Kanji or Japanese character. Perhaps, the couples should be allowed to describe their names in alphabet as an option.

As for foreign suffrage rights, Japan has an apparent problem with the politics of citizenship and naturalization-- due to its inflexible system that strips foreign individuals of distinctive identity marker or cultural index. The law should grant their choices to keep their original names or add Japanese name instead of forcing them to change into Japanese names.

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Kamei is a dinosaur of Japanese politics with way too much influence.

For me, he represents in many ways all that is wrong with this country: his opinions on everything seem to be set in stone, with a strong sense of paternalism.

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Kamei is a dinosaur of Japanese politics with way too much influence.

He does himself no favours by singing in public.

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sushi:

Where I'm from, a Japanese only needs live there for 2 years to get PR and - I think - the right to vote. Lucky for some but not for others.

Which is why I would like to see my own country make it more difficult for Japanese to get PR, along with fingerprinting Japanese, Koreans and Americans (only) at the airport. My country does allow certain foreigners (not necessarily PR, I think) to vote in local elections, but I hope it doesn't include Japanese PR (though Korean PRs would be welcome). It's just not right when these sort of things are not reciprocated.

How many countries let tourists vote in local elections?

I hardly call foreigners who have lived here for decades "tourists". Otherwise, that's one hell of a visa they've got.,

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The desirable solution may be use both surnames (i.e., Takahashi-Suzuki, Ito-Yoshida),

So what happens when the offspring of Takahashi-Suzuki and Ito-Yoshida marry. Do they become Takahashi-Suzuki-Ito-Yoshida?

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Spanish speakers aren't losing any sleep over your dilemma. Ask them what they do.

Good point!

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I changed my name after marriage to my wife's name and was happy to do so.

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I don't care about voting rights for PR residents. I want dual citizenship. I will never renounce my birth citizenship for acquiring japanese citizenship. If Japan doesn't allow dual citizenship, she will harbor indefinitely a growing population of second-class citizens, which will grow more and more resentful of their xenophobic country of birth.

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Piglet

I don't care about voting rights for PR residents. I want dual citizenship. I will never renounce my birth citizenship for acquiring japanese citizenship. If Japan doesn't allow dual citizenship, she will harbor indefinitely a growing population of second-class citizens, which will grow more and more resentful of their xenophobic country of birth.

You're precisely why they don't want to give foreigners the vote, because foreigners like you want to have everything and give up nothing. Grow up and realise that if you want to vote you will have to give up your other citizenship so that in 20 or 30 years your children will have the option of dual citizenship because you've voted for parties that are pro-foreign suffrage.

Whining from outside of the system changes nothing. Become a citizen, get the right to vote and change things democratically. Otherwise shut up.

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Become a citizen, get the right to vote and change things democratically. Otherwise shut up.

In a democracy, all residents (not only citizens) have the right to express themselves. I understand though (and respect) the fact that only citizens have the right to vote. So there is no reason for me or for anybody to shut up.

You're precisely why they don't want to give foreigners the vote, because foreigners like you want to have everything and give up nothing.

Why would there be any need to give up anything? Please explain me.

There is ample evidence that people can sincerely pledge allegiance to several countries at the same time, because the modern definition of identity is much more complex than before. Homogeneity is not adapted anymore to the realities of a globalized world.

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For me the interesting part of this discussion concerns the Japanese born "foreign" residence of Japan. Calling them Japanese might not be accurate, but they are certainly not foreign if all they have known is Japanese language and culture their entire lives. How is it possible for the Japanese government to enjoy the benefits from this groups lifetime of labor and tax payments without allowing them a say? Why do so many people in Japan view change as losing something when most of the world sees it as a gain?

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As long as Japan doesn't allow dual citizenship, they should allow permanent residents to vote. I'm sure there are many foreigners who would love to be citizens, but don't because they just aren't fully willing to cut ties with their country of birth. How can you blame them? They grew up there, they have family that probably live there, etc... I'm sure more people would apply for Japanese citizenship if they just got past the isolationist ideal of single citizenship status. That, and any man or woman who has lived in the country long enough, has contributed to the economic well being of the country long enough and been a productive member of the community long enough to be granted permanent residence more than deserves the right to vote.

Even Iran allows dual citizenship. Heck, they even allow it with their "arch nemesis" the United States.

So I think the real issue is not letting foreign perm residents have the right to vote, but whether dual citizenship should be allowed. I'm sure it would be beneficial economically - something Japan really needs help with - and help with the current decline in birth and populations in general.

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Even if you do apply and get Japanese nationality, you will still have your birth one regardless of Japanese law.

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Here in Kobe, I know many foreigners born here, Indian, Chinese, Korean and even a Brit. All went to Japanese schools, all speak read and write Japanese and for all intend are Japanese, but none of them actually are. Probably Kobe City will allow foreigners with PR to vote in local elections.

Whenever people are paying income tax, they should also be allowed a vote on how its used.

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