• Kyodo

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The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan on Monday vowed to give couples the option of keeping their surnames separate after marriage, among other reform proposals, ahead of the general election this autumn.

Announcing a set of policies the party — Japan’s main opposition force — will implement if it gains power, CDP leader Yukio Edano said it seeks to realize a society without discrimination.

Other policies include introducing a law to protect the rights of sexual minorities, helping women subjected to domestic violence and a ban on discrimination based on gender, nationality and disability. The party also plans to review the country’s immigration system.

The announcement of the policies comes as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election on Sept. 29 for picking Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s successor takes center stage.

“The LDP is dominated by adamant opposition (to such changes). Whoever becomes its president, it cannot realize them. We must accomplish a change of power,” said Edano.

Japan is the only country in the world known to have a law forcing married couples to share a surname, according to the Justice Ministry. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has recommended that Japan change the system.

Last week, the CDP released its first set of pledges, including working on a supplementary budget totaling ¥30 trillion ($273 billion) for assisting those hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, the CDP and three other opposition groups — the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and Reiwa Shinsengumi — have agreed on a set of joint pledges, including giving couples the option of keeping separate surnames after marriage, as they try to build cooperation ahead of the election.

The election will be held in the coming months, as the House of Representatives members’ terms expire Oct. 21.

The CDP’s pledges also included lowering the consumption tax rate, achieving a zero-carbon society without nuclear energy, raising the minimum wage and opposing amendment of the Constitution.

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