Let's discuss keeping your last name

This week’s featured article


A government panel plans to include in a set of recommendations to be compiled as early as May a proposal that calls for allowing nursery teachers and others to keep using their original surnames at work after marriage.

The regulatory reform promotion council is discussing expanding the range of people with national vocational qualifications who are allowed to use their original surnames after marriage, as part of measures to empower women, a policy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Among holders of national vocational qualifications, lawyers and certified public accountants are allowed to continue using their original surnames.

But license registration under original surnames is not allowed for nursery teachers and care workers. These people, of which many are women, thus have to change their registered names after marriage.

Satsuki Katayama, minister for regulatory reform and minister for women’s empowerment, has shown her willingness to review the current restrictions in a bid to create a workplace environment friendly to women.

In the meantime, the envisaged expansion of the use of original surnames may affect discussions on introducing a system that would let married couples use their original names after marriage, pundits said.

Conservatives, the main supporters of the Abe administration, are negative about the dual-surname system, claiming it could lead to the collapse of Japan’s traditional family system.

If nursery teachers and care workers are allowed to keep using their original surnames after marriage, the momentum for promoting discussions on the dual-surname system may weaken further, sources familiar with the situation said.

“Expanding the use of original surnames is like a double-edged sword,” said a member of regulatory reform council, which is headed by Hiroko Ota, professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies

Published in The Japan Times on April 22.

Warm up

Have a one-minute chat about names.


Collect words related to marriage, e.g., couple, wedding, family

New words

1) compile: gather information from other places, e.g., “I compiled a list of vacation spots from various blogs.”

2) vocational: relating to an occupation, e.g., “I’m looking for vocational guidance.”

3) qualification: a pass of a course that gives you a status to do something or be recognized as a professional, e.g., “I passed my lifeguard qualification so we should be safe swimming at the beach.”

Guess the headline

Japanese reform promotion panel to propose expanded use of o_ _ _ _ _ _ _ s_ _ _ _ _ _ _


1) Who are the people that will be affected with this proposal?

2) Who can currently use their original surnames even after the marriage?

3) What would be the concern with this change?

Let’s discuss the article

1) What do you think about this change?

2) What do you think about the dual-surname system?

3) What do you think is needed with the matter of surnames after marriage?





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