Trends Female Adda
1 year ago
Imagine if a Law FORCED You to Take Your Husband’s Last Name

It’s a question a lot of women mull over when they get married: Should you change your last name or stick with what you’ve got? Unfortunately, women in Japan don’t have that luxury. According to a Japanese law that dates back to 1896, spouses must have the same last name to legally register their marriage. (The law doesn’t say whose last name they have to use, but 96 percent of women take their husband’s name, The Guardian reports.)

Now, five women are calling B.S. on the whole practice and are suing the Japanese government over it. The women say the law is unconstitutional and violates the civil rights of married couples. They’re also asking for financial compensation.

“By losing your surname...you’re being made light of, you’re not respected. ... It’s as if part of your self vanishes,” Kaori Oguni, one of the five women involved in the lawsuit, told The Guardian.

Conservatives are pushing hard against it. Among their arguments: Allowing couples to keep their own last names could damage family ties and threaten society. (Seriously.)

Forget being good people and loving each other; “names are the best way to bind families,” constitutional scholar Masaomi Takanori said on NHK public television. “Allowing different surnames risks destroying social stability, the maintenance of public order, and the basis for social welfare.”

In that case, the U.S. is on the brink of total destruction: Results from a Google Consumer Survey released earlier this year found that about 20 percent of recently married American women keep their maiden name, while another 10 percent choose some other option, like hyphenating the two last names.

Some Japanese couples thumb their nose at the whole thing and just don’t register their marriage so they can keep their last names. But that can create legal issues with parental and inheritance rights, so it’s not ideal.

A lot of working women in Japan do a compromise: They keep using their maiden name at work and their married, legal last name for everything else—but that's not a great solution for them either. 

A decision is due from Japan’s supreme court on Dec. 16. Two previous courts have already ruled against the women.

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