The Supreme Court has decided to have its Grand Bench hand down judgments on whether two controversial provisions in the Civil Code are constitutional. One provision is requirement that a married couple must adopt the original surname of either the husband or the wife, and the other is a ban on women remarrying for six months after they divorce.

Cases are usually sent to the Grand Bench — composed of the top courts' 15 justices — when a question of constitutionality or a change of a judicial precedent has to be dealt with. The two provisions have long been criticized as constituting sexual discrimination or running counter to equality under the law as guaranteed by the Constitution. The Supreme Court should hand down convincing decisions by fully taking into account societal changes concerning marriage today.

In one case, five men and women from Tokyo, Toyama and Kyoto have asked for a total of ¥6 million in state restitution over the same-surname requirement for a married couple, saying that the rule violates the Constitution's guarantee of equality between the two sexes and the dignity of individuals. The Tokyo High Court upheld the constitutionality of the rule, as did the Tokyo District Court. The lower court had accepted, though, that one's full name is among one's personal rights.