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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 June 13 - 19  > Couple with different last names sues government for damage caused by imposition of same surname
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2018 June 13 - 19 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Couple with different last names sues government for damage caused by imposition of same surname

June 19, 2018

A Japanese couple who got married in the United States filed with the Tokyo District Court a lawsuit against the Japanese government on June 18, demanding that the government confirm that the couple with different last names are legally married and compensate them for damages caused by the refusal to register their marriage in Japan.

The plaintiffs are filmmaker Soda Kazuhiro and his partner Kashiwagi Kiyoko, who is a film director. They live in the state of New York and got married in 1997 under the state marriage law.

The plaintiffs’ counsel said, “In Japan, couples using different surnames are unable to register their marriage and obtain the marriage certificate. For a Japanese couple who are legally wedded overseas but decide not to have the same last name, to obtain a court ruling is the only way to verify officially that they are married. This is a serious flaw in Japan’s Family Register Act.”

At a press conference after the filing, Soda said, “When we got married more than 20 years ago, I believed that a selective dual-surname system would soon be established. We just want to maintain our birth names.”

Lawsuits calling on the government to introduce a selective separate surname system have been filed one after another across Japan this year. In January, for example, four people, including a software company CEO, brought their cases to the Tokyo District Court.

Past related articles:
> 4 couples with different last names seek court recognition that same-surname rule is unconstitutional [March 15, 2018]
> Calling for more gender equality, bill to revise Civil Code jointly submitted by 4 opposition parties [May 13, 2016]
> Science Council of Japan calls for introduction of separate surname system [December 5, 2015]

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