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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 March 20 - 26  > Tokyo court drops claim of plaintiffs seeking dual surnames
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2019 March 20 - 26 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Tokyo court drops claim of plaintiffs seeking dual surnames

March 26, 2019

The Tokyo District Court on March 25 dismissed a lawsuit filed by four plaintiffs who claimed that the absence of a system allowing dual surnames is unconstitutional, seeking state compensation.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, the plaintiffs, including Aono Yoshihisa, 47, the chief of a well-known software developer, will appeal to a higher court.

The Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that Article 750 of the Civil Code requiring married couples to share the same family names is constitutional. Therefore, the plaintiffs in the latest lawsuit focused their claim on the Family Registration Law.

Under this law, when Japanese marry or divorce foreigners or when Japanese divorce Japanese, they can choose the same or different surnames. However, the plaintiffs pointed out that the law, when it comes to Japanese married couples, does not give an option of maintaining separate surnames, claiming that this flaw in the law violates Article 14 of the Constitution which stipulates, "All of the people are equal under the law," as well as Article 24 which states, "[L]aws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity," in marriage and the family.

The district court, however, recognized the existing family register system as constitutional by stating, "As long as the regulations of Article 750 of the Civil Code are constitutional, the Family Registration Law is not unconstitutional."

An advisory panel to the Justice Minister in 1996 proposed that the Civil Code be revised to introduce a selective dual-surname system. Due to opposition from the Liberal Democratic Party, no discussion has taken place in the Diet.

After the district court decision, Aono held a press conference and said, "A separate surname system for married couples is increasingly gaining public support in Japan. I hope the backward-looking LDP politicians will be ousted from power in the upcoming April and July elections."

Past related articles:
> Public support for dual surnames reaches record high, but Justice Ministry neglects to mention [October 11, 2018]
> JCP Vice Chair Hiroi criticizes top court ruling disapproving dual-surname system [December 17, 2015]
> Japan’s top court rejects elimination of discriminatory civil code provisions against women [December 17, 2015]
> Choice of name is fundamental for all people to be respected as individuals [December 17, 2015]

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