National / Politics

Reform promotion panel to propose expanded use of original surnames for nursery teachers and care workers

JIJI

A government panel plans to include in a set of recommendations a proposal calling for nursery teachers and others to be allowed to continue using their original surnames at work after marriage.

The Regulatory Reform Promotion Council is discussing expanding the range of professions involving national vocational qualifications in which people are allowed to continue using their original surnames after marriage.

The recommendations are part of measures aimed at empowering women set to be compiled as early as May, in line with 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 currently allowed for nursery teachers and care workers. Many in these professions are women, and have to change their registered names after marriage.

Satsuki Katayama, minister for regulatory reform and minister for women’s empowerment, has indicated she is willing 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 influence discussions on introducing a system that would allow married couples to use their original names after marriage, pundits said.

Conservatives supporters of the Abe administration tend to oppose the dual-surname system, claiming it could lead to the collapse of what they see as Japan’s traditional family system.

If nursery teachers and care workers are allowed to keep using their original surnames after marriage, 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 the regulatory reform panel, which is headed by Hiroko Ota, professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.