Fewer back amending law to let spouses keep separate surnames: poll


Slightly more Japanese oppose allowing married couples to use separate family names than those who support the move, a Cabinet Office survey showed.

The poll, conducted in December and released Saturday, also highlighted a generation gap, with supporters outnumbering opponents among people in their 50s or younger while the scales tip the other way for those in their 60s or older.

The survey found 36.4 percent were opposed to permitting a married couple to use separate surnames by revising the Civil Code, up 1.4 percentage point from the previous poll in 2006. Those in favor of a legal amendment came to 35.5 percent, down 1.1 point.

The Cabinet Office canvassed 5,000 adults, of whom 60.8 percent provided valid replies.

The number of women in their 20s supporting separate surnames rose 6.9 points to 53.3 percent and that of women in their 30s jumped 7.9 points to 48.1 percent.

The survey also showed that 59.8 percent of the respondents, up 3.8 points, felt a system of separate surnames would not affect the sense of family unity.

  • Guest

    Fair is fair. If a man can keep his family name (it doesn’t always happen that way, though) then a woman can too. Having separate rules for people is what leads to abuse, because one (or the other) starts to believe that they are entitled to enforce the rules

  • Philip Brasor

    I wonder how many respondents actually understood the question. It seems whenever this issue comes up the authorities frame it in terms of whether or not married couples *must* use separate surnames, rather than having the *option* to use separate surnames. It all comes down to a person’s right to own their name. That’s all.

  • Roy Warner

    It would be lovely for Japan to enter the 20th century regarding family law, seeing as we are now well into the 21st. Japan’s constitution supposedly guarantees equality in marriage so the law that denies women, married or single, the right to whatever name they like should be invalid.

  • itoshima2012

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. People in that age bracket are extremely genderbiased when making their decisions. Luckily in the younger group things loom bright but the fact that Japan has a very fast ageing society means nothing good. The older ones are the people that most of the time make use of their right to vote so policies in Japan are more and more backwards, hostile to women ecc. As a father of a 5 year old daughter I experience this backwardness every day, for example even at so called progressive nurseries they still teach the kids that boys and girls have different “rules” and different “destinies” – I’m always so shocked! This is so stupid since what Japan would especially need is a very agressiv push for gender equality because with a shrinking workforce there’s only one way out and that’s to get more women into work, highly paid work, not some part-time work. But the “dark forces” in Japan are strong and as for me, I’ll try to help my daughter study abroad because Japan is just not responsive to a changing world and will fall more and more back. This is very sad because Japan is a very good country to live but the fact that the older people are voting more and more for reactionary policies will ultimately mean the end of this country as we’ve known it…

  • Adam H

    I find this article a bit ironic as current Japanese law appears to make it more easier to keep your own name than change it. Are there any penalties to keeping your own name instead of changing it?

    I’ve just been married, and my wife wants to take my surname which is fine by me. However, she has to request the name change within 6 months or it becomes immensely difficult and we would have to go through the family court (I’m English and she’s Japanese).

    Personally, I think it should be up to the individuals concerned, although I can understand people worrying about a potential lack of cohesiveness in family structure.

  • blimp

    Japan should get rid of the “koseki” system all together. It creates so many problems, the above being one of them.

  • Doug Zimmerman

    These numbers seem designed to obfuscate. If 36.4 percent were opposed and 35.5 percent were in favour, then a further 28.8 don’t care, meaning 64.3 percent of people are not opposed. If 59.8 percent of respondents also feel it’s not going to affect family unity, and it will win plaudits for Japan among governments, academics and human rights organisations across the world, how can not doing this possibly be justified? Who does restricting this basic human right to one’s own name benefit? How does it help?

    But then, if you look at the numbers, 71.9 percent overall had an opinion one way or the other, yet only 60.8 percent of respondents produced ‘valid replies’. How does this therefore have any validity at all? What constitutes a valid reply?