FOREIGN NEWS

You Can’t Have Separate Surnames – Japan Top Court Tells Married Couples

Three couples in Japan on Wednesday, lost their bid to keep separate surnames as a top court in the country ruled against their request, local media have said.

According to reports, the couples had in 2018, submitted marriage registration documents with different surnames for wives and husbands.

However, the documents were rejected by the municipal governments, Mainichi Shimbun newspaper was quoted to have said.

In a reaction to the rejection, the plaintiffs put forward an argument, saying that requiring married couples to choose a single name “is against equality under the law and freedom of marriage, which are guaranteed by the constitution.”

The ruling is in line with a 2015 Supreme Court decision that also found the law constitutional but urged lawmakers to discuss a bill addressing growing calls on the issue.

Calls to allow separate surnames have been growing in recent years. The couples argued that the “reason for the 2015 verdict are no longer valid given changes in society, ” Jiji Press said.

Supreme Court officials could not immediately confirm details of Wednesday’s verdict, which was widely reported by local media.

Under existing legislation, couples can choose to adopt either the husband or wives surname when they marry. But in practice, the vast majority of couples opt for the husband’s name.

The surname rule has been in place since the late 19th century as part of a family system gathering members under one head of household, usually a male.

Several supporters opined that having a single family name is important to promote family ties and consider efforts to change the rules, an attack on traditional values.

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