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Justice Minister Keiko Chiba is so eager to revise the Civil Law that the government is likely to submit a related bill to the Diet next year. One of the changes proposed will be to allow all people to retain their existing surnames after getting married, if they so choose. At present, following the principle introduced in 1898, either the man or the woman must adopt the other’s surname upon getting married.

Ms. Chiba’s move is based on a proposal made in 1996 by the Justice Ministry’s Legislative Council. It proposed allowing a man and a woman, when they marry, to either each keep their own surname or follow the single-surname policy. A married couple with different surnames would choose one to be given as a surname to their children. The Democratic Party of Japan has in the past submitted bills to the Diet proposing that a couple with separate surnames be able to decide on the surname of each child at birth.

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