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Taking advantage of a new exception to the law that defines a child born within 300 days of a divorce as the former husband’s, 20 women across the nation applied Monday to register their children under their current husbands’ names.

The Justice Ministry rule that went into effect Monday allows birth registrations “as exceptions” for newborns if a medical certificate is presented to prove the pregnancy began after divorce.

A woman from Sumida Ward, Tokyo, applied to register her 4-month-old son under her current husband’s name. The woman gave birth to the boy prematurely in late December on the 292nd day after her divorce.

The 38-year-old woman’s current husband had officially recognized the baby as born to him through the mediation of a family court. The woman said she waited until Monday to make the application with the Sumida Ward Office because the name of her divorced husband would have remained in the family registry if she had applied before the ministry notice took effect.

At least two other women in Tokyo — a 36-year-old in Adachi Ward and a 32-year-old in Shinjuku Ward — also presented applications for their children with their respective municipal governments.

According to the Justice Ministry, 20 women filed such applications in 13 prefectures.

Without a birth certificate, a baby cannot be entered in the family registry or registered as a resident. Such registration is necessary to obtain official documents such as passports.

The notice does not apply if a woman becomes pregnant by another man before she divorces her husband. The new rule is expected to help only about 10 percent of the children affected by the 300-day provision.

Also Monday, a group of Civil Code scholars submitted a petition to Justice Minister Jinen Nagase urging that the exception likewise be applied to babies born before a formal divorce, in cases where the mother and her husband have effectively separated.

A project team of the governing coalition had mulled revising the Civil Code provision altogether to expand the scope to cover predivorce pregnancy based on DNA certification.

The move has met opposition from some ruling party lawmakers, notably Justice Minister Nagase. Nagase said last month such legislation would “pose major problems” and “it is necessary to consider the obligation to remain chaste as well as sexual morality.”

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