What’s in a name? Everything.

If you think you have something to complain about, listen what’s happening in Japan.  The highest court in Japan ruled that married women must use their husband’s married name and never be recognized by their birth name.  The story, published in the times, is very sad to read in 2015.

According to the article, the ruling came as a huge disappointment to Japanese women who wanted to keep using their maiden names after marriage.  The article reported that some married couples have chosen not to register their marriages — opting instead to stay in common-law relationships with fewer legal protections — in order to keep separate surnames.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Kyoto Tsukamoto was quoted as saying:  “My name is Kyoto Tsukamoto, but I can’t live or die as Kyoko Tsukamoto”.   This is because there is a lack of official recognition for her preferred name in government records and other official contexts.  She opted to use her husband’s name so that her three (3) children would not be considered born out of wedlock, which is seriously frowned upon and shunned in Japan.  The stigma would have been worse for her children, she thought, than losing the use of her birth name.

The decision was rendered by ten of the court’s 15 justices.  They ruled that the ban, first imposed in 1898, was consistent with constitutional protections for gender equality.  The parties have to choose which surname to use – there is no mandatory requirement that you use the husbands name – but apparently 95% of the practice is to take the name of the husband.

If you have questions about what rights you have in your divorce or custody matter, contact one of our attorneys.


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