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Japan’s top court rules dual surname ban constitutional

  • March 24, 2022
  • , Jiji Press , 2:27 pm.
  • English Press

Tokyo, March 24 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s Supreme Court has upheld lower courts’ rulings that law provisions banning married couples from using different surnames are constitutional.

In the verdict issued Tuesday, the top court’s Third Petty Bench rejected appeals filed by de facto married couples in two separate lawsuits. They claimed that the provisions in the Civil Code and the family registration law are unconstitutional and demanded damages payments by the Japanese government.

All five justices dismissed the damages claims while two of the five–Eriko Watanabe and Katsuya Uga–noted that the provisions are unconstitutional. The Grand Bench of the Supreme Court ruled in 2015 and 2021 that the provisions are constitutional.

Watanabe said it is clear that the provisions restrict freedom of marriage guaranteed by the Constitution.

Referring to an opinion poll showing that over a majority of respondents aged under 40 supported dual surnames, she said, “It is necessary to ensure that the restrictions in the name of maintaining the family system do not weigh on young generations.” Meanwhile, she did not acknowledge the Japanese parliament’s failure to take legislative action over the dual surname issue.

In the lawsuits, the Tachikawa branch of Tokyo District Court and Hiroshima District Court ruled that the Civil Code and family registration law provisions do not amount to discrimination banned by the Constitution. The rulings were upheld by Tokyo High Court and Hiroshima High Court.

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