KOBE – Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, said Tuesday it has stopped asking on birth registration forms whether a baby was born out of wedlock, the first city in Japan to do so.
However, the new form is optional: It doesn’t replace an existing form with “legitimate” and “illegitimate” categories.
“We believe a society more tolerant of diversity would be better to live in,” Akashi Mayor Fusaho Izumi said. “We made this decision in response to a Supreme Court ruling and other factors.”
The top court said in a ruling last Thursday that it isn’t essential that a birth registration state whether the child is legitimate or not, contravening a Census Registration Law provision.
Akashi’s measure “is an undertaking that comes ahead of the law’s revision,” said Kazuyuki Sugawara, 48, a care worker in Tokyo who has been seeking to eliminate discrimination against children born out of wedlock. “I am encouraged.”
Sugawara was one of the plaintiffs in the case that drew Thursday’s top court ruling.
Noriko Mizuno, a law professor at Tohoku University, described the birth registration issue as misconceived. “Even if the birth registration item is removed, you can tell a person is born legitimate or out of wedlock if you look at the census registration,” she said.
The Justice Ministry said Akashi’s new form is the first in Japan that does not include the “legitimate” child section.