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Japan Supreme Court rules Married Couples must Adopt one Surname

1 min read

Greeva Garg –

The Supreme Court of Japan, while dismissing a challenge by three couples, ruled that laws stipulating Japanese couples to choose one family name are Constitutional.

A bench of fifteen Judges at the Japanese Supreme Court rejected a petition from three Tokyo couples, who requested that they be allowed to keep their own surnames even after they get married.

The couples had argued that the provisions were discriminatory and against equality under the law and freedom of marriage, which are guaranteed by the constitution. 

The Supreme Court upheld the Judgement from 2015 and observed that, “We found no points that should be changed from the decision in 2015, even as it takes into account the changes in the society and awareness of people.”

The decision to affirm a 2015 Supreme Court ruling was a major disappointment for rights activists who say the laws violate the constitution’s guarantee of gender equality since women almost always sacrifice their surnames.

The three couples challenged the provisions of the 1898 Civil Code and the Family Registration Law after the Local Government refused to accept their marriage registrations in 2018 due to their separate surnames.

The three couples, all in common-law relationships, had appealed to the Supreme Court after the Tokyo Family Court and its Tachikawa branch dismissed their requests to legally marry while keeping their separate surnames in 2019. The Tokyo High Court turned down its appeals in 2020.