LDP won’t endorse bill for separate surnames

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party will not join its allies in compiling a controversial bill to allow spouses to have different surnames, amid lingering opposition within the party, LDP officials confirmed May 15.

The decision was made during a meeting of a subcommittee of an LDP study group on the revision of the Civil Law. It will be formally relayed as early as May 16 to the Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake — the LDP’s small non-Cabinet allies.

The SDP and Sakigake are expected to submit their own bill to revise the Civil Law, together with some like-minded LDP members. The SDP and Sakigake also hope to win the backing of the Democratic Party of Japan — the second largest opposition party.

Under the proposed bill, a married couple can have two different surnames in the official family register. Promoters of the bill maintain that the bill will help wives who want to keep their maiden names and who have complained about the current system. But some LDP members, especially the party’s old guards, oppose such a change, insisting that having two different surnames will ruin family unity and thus indirectly lead to divorces or the collapse of families.