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HOME  > Past issues  > 2015 April 15 - 21  > Momentum for dual-surname system is growing
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2015 April 15 - 21 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Momentum for dual-surname system is growing

April 20, 2015
As the Supreme Court is expected to give a decision soon regarding whether to recognize the right of a married couple to use separate surnames, people are watching how political parties are dealing with this issue.

Japan’s Civil Code requires a couple to use the same family name after they get married. Some citizens filed a lawsuit in 2011 against the central government, claiming that this provision violates the Japanese Constitution and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which advocate individual dignity.

The Japanese Communist Party has consistently pushed for the introduction of a system that allows married couples to use different surnames. The JCP announced in 1997 an outline of a proposal to revise the Civil Code, calling on other political parties to cooperate on a revision.

In March this year, JCP member of the House of Representatives Hatano Kimie urged the administration to submit to the Diet an amendment to the law before the top court hands down a decision. Justice Minister Kamikawa Yoko just replied that she will carefully observe the course of the court case.

Only two political parties, the JCP and the Social Democratic Party, had promised in the 2014 general election campaign to work for the legalization of the selective system. However, some changes have come since the Supreme Court began hearing the case in February.

Noda Seiko, former chair of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council, sent a solidarity message on April 2 to a citizens’ assembly calling for revision of the civil law. Yamaguchi Natsuo, leader of the Komei Party, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, recently said that the issue should be discussed in the Diet prior to a highest court judgment. Meanwhile, the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan is considering introducing a measure to amend the act.

Past related article:
> Only JCP and SDP support separate surnames for married couples [December 10, 2014]
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