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Over 7% of voters seek recall of justices opposed to dual surnames

  • November 3, 2021
  • , The Asahi Shimbun , 7:21 p.m.
  • English Press

By Abe Shunsuke, staff writer


Millions of voters called for the removal of four Supreme Court justices whose opinions have effectively prevented married couples from taking separate surnames.


The review of the Supreme Court justices was held on Oct. 31, the same day as the Lower House election.


Calls to recall the four justices were stronger in urban areas and appear to have been fueled by movements on social media by civic groups seeking the introduction of a selective dual-surname system.


In the review process of the 11 Supreme Court justices, each voter can cast a recall ballot. If the recall votes exceed half of the total, the justices will be removed from their posts.


The recall rates exceeded 7 percent for Takuya Miyama, 67, Michiharu Hayashi, 64, Kazumi Okamura, 63, and Yasumasa Nagamine, 67.


They each received 4.15 million to 4.49 million recall votes.


The four justices in June ruled that a civil law provision that forces married couples to register under one surname was “constitutional.”


A tally by The Asahi Shimbun found the recall rates for the four justices topped 8 percent in Tokyo and eight other prefectures with populations of 5 million or more.


In the capital, the recall rate for the four exceeded 10 percent, with the highest ratio, 11.70 percent, aimed at Hayashi.


“After the June ruling that the single-surname system for married couples is constitutional, messages seeking their recall spread on Twitter and other social media, saying things like, ‘Let’s change our justice system with our own hands,’” said Naho Ida, 46, secretary-general of a group demanding a selective dual-surname system.


“The recall action might have been created by that movement.”


She said she hopes the four justices take seriously the opinions of the voters.


“The justices should be surprised at their review results and look back on the cause,” Ida said. “I hope they will become guardians to protect minority rights.”

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