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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 April 4 - 10  > A step forward for amendment to Civil Code needs to be made in the Current Diet session
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2007 April 4 - 10 [POLITICS]
editorial 

A step forward for amendment to Civil Code needs to be made in the Current Diet session

April 5, 2007
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Japanese Civil Code provides that a child born to a woman only after 200 days of her marriage be recognized as fathered by her present husband, and that a child born within 300 days of her divorce be recognized as fathered by her ex-husband.

With an increase in divorces and remarriages, this system has become increasingly problematic, since a municipal office accepts the application for birth registration as a child of the ex-husband if the baby was born within 300 days of the woman’s divorce, despite the fact that the baby is by her present husband.

A court judgment is required for the child to be registered as a child of the remarried couple. In 2005, over 3,000 cases were reportedly filed with family courts calling for such judgment or mediation.

However, since the agreement of the ex-husband is required for such a judgment, if the ex-husband’s whereabouts are unknown or the woman fled from the ex-husband’s violence, she cannot apply for a judgment and the child will be left unregistered.

The government is to blame for neglecting to redress this problem for such a long time.

Legal professionals have proposed some changes. One idea is to improve the application of the law by accepting the birth registration application attached with a doctor’s certificate officially proving that the child is of the present husband. The government must immediately adopt this measure.

It is also necessary to amend the Civil Code. The provision banning women from remarrying for six months after divorce should be revised.

The Japanese Communist Party is of the opinion that the period in which women cannot remarry be abolished in the future in the light of equality between men and women, because the father of a child can be scientifically proved. Many countries have either no such a regulation or have already abolished it.

The JCP has submitted to every session of the Diet jointly with other opposition parties, a bill to amend the Civil Code that includes shortening the period to 100 days from 300 days based on agreed points.

Separately from this bill, the JCP and other opposition parties are also discussing about the submission of a bill solely to shorten the period.

This problem fundamentally arises from the fact that the Civil Code retains unreasonable provisions carried over from the prewar civil law.

Eleven years have passed since the Legislative Council of the Justice Ministry published a report on the outline of an amendment to the Civil Code concerning marriages and divorces. The government and the ruling parties, however, have ignored the demands of the public.

The report proposed shortening of the period of ban on remarriages, use of separate surnames by choice between husband and wife, distribution of property following divorce, an end to discrimination against illegitimate children in inheritances, and a revision of the minimum age to marry.

These points reflect the world trend and Japanese women’s movements calling for equality between men and women and guarantee for children’s rights under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Liberal Democratic Party, however, has been opposed to the proposal even in defiance of the recommendations of the United Nations under the pretext that such a reform will lead to a collapse of the traditional family system. The Komei Party has supported the LDP position.

In order to defend human rights, secure equality of both sexes, and establish children’s rights, the JCP will make efforts to advance the cause in the current Diet session aiming at achieving the long-awaited revision of the Civil Code.
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