A Japanese couple who kept their own surnames when they got married in the United States were told by a Tokyo ward office Monday that their marriage could not be registered using the two different names.

Kiyoko Kashiwagi, a movie producer, and Kazuhiro Soda, a film director, were challenging the law that forces married Japanese couples to share a surname, having previously tried to register their marriage with the Chiyoda Ward office in 2018.

The couple, who both hail from the western Japan prefecture of Okayama, wed under separate surnames in December 1997 in New York, where they were residing.