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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: News and Current Events in Japan, Season 1 - Lesson 21, The Selective Surname System for Married Couples
In Japan, people need to make a decision about changing their names after marriage.
In this lesson, we'll learn about this fact.

Lesson focus

In Japan, using the "same married couple’s surname system" is stipulated by Article 750 of the Civil Code.
Married men and women must take either partner's surname, but it is left up to them to decide whose surname to choose.
However, women change their family name in most cases. Changing surnames brings up many inconvenient points in social life. Various name-change procedures are troublesome; even in the workplace, the impact of changing one's name may be significant depending on their duties.
Therefore, for women who change their surnames after marriage, the feeling of unfairness is not wiped out because of the “same married couple’s surname system.” This being contrary to "equality under the law" as stipulated by the Constitution, the unconstitutionality of the same surname system was disputed in court.
In December of 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that this provision is "constitutional," because people have been given choices.
On the other hand, the court does not reject the "selective married couple's surname system" which allows couples to choose whether to use the same surname or two different ones, and it states that it should be discussed by the Diet.
Currently, in order to counteract the disadvantage of the same surname system, the use of one's original surname in the workplace has been accepted by some companies and government agencies.
Although the number of women who use their original surname is increasing, it is often not permitted when dealing with legal documents from an administrative perspective. Therefore, we can say that there isn't a real solution to the problem yet.
Furthermore, in the basic plan for the Fourth Gender Equality Decision, which was decided by the Cabinet in December 2015, although the selective married couple's surname system had been introduced, the discussion was left open in the end.
As for the selective surname system for married couples, there are many people, mainly the elderly, who are against it, because it goes against the traditional view of family. And the Ministry of Justice also takes the position that it requires national debate.
Many women seek legal amendments to the selective surname system for married couples, but the reality is that revisions to the law are still far off.


Those are the key facts about the name-change system in Japan.
If you want to find the related Japanese keywords, make sure to check out the lesson notes.
Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening everyone, and keep listening for more of the most talked about news stories in Japan!