• The Associated Press

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The Tokyo District Court court has dismissed a couple’s appeal of the government’s refusal to register their marriage unless they observe a law that effectively forces women to change their surnames when they marry.

The court ruled that the couple’s demand is a domestic inquiry that should go to a family court, their lawyers said Friday. The court did not rule on the legality of the government’s decision.

Emie Kayama and her partner, Tsuguo Watanabe, are part of a bigger lawsuit seeking government compensation for upholding the 19th-century law. The main lawsuit is still pending.

In the lawsuit filed Feb. 14, the couple and three women allege the law on surnames violates the constitutional right to equality and a fundamental right to keep one’s name. They are seeking a total of ¥6 million in damages from the government for their distress.

The plaintiffs planned to appeal Thursday’s ruling.

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