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Among the many changes that the ruling Democratic Party of Japan is recommending for Japan, one stands out as uniquely personal and important: letting couples choose the names they want to use after marriage. The legal requirement that spouses in Japan use the same surname has long since disappeared in most developed countries. Japan has retained this legality well past its usefulness.

The issue of easier record-keeping, many might suggest, hardly matters when computers can easily record a couple’s different surnames. As for confusing the children, if they are brought up that way, they will not have any identity crisis for that reason alone. A family makes up more than just a couple of kanji. Millions of children around the world have parents with different names without damage to their growing psyches.

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