Marital Surname System in Japan - the Fufubessei Issue and the Disparate Impact of Civil Code Article 750 and Family Registry Law

Gay Satsuma's picture
November 2, 2022
Hawaii, United States
Subject Fields: 
Japanese History / Studies, Law and Legal History, Women's & Gender History / Studies, East Asian History / Studies, Asian History / Studies

Lecture Title: Marital Surname System in Japan - the Fufubessei Issue and the Disparate Impact of Civil Code Article 750 and Family Registry Law

By: Ms. Reiko Kato, Independent Scholar, William S. Richardson School of Law, J.D. 2016, UH-Mānoa

Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022

12 noon to 1:30 pm (Hawaii Standard Time), via Zoom webinar

Fufubessei or "selective marital surname" has reemerged in media headlines. Japan appears to be the only country in the world that holds onto the unitary surname system, under which 96% of wives relinquish their birth surnames. At the grassroots level, liberal lawyers and feminist activists have been advocating for the introduction of a system that allows a married couple to choose whether they select one family name or retain their own surnames. Some activists took the matter to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, which has been pressuring the Japanese government.  This paper presents that the current Japanese law pertaining to a marital surname produces a disparate treatment of part of the population, despite the law facially providing individual freedom of choice and gender equality as stipulated in the Japanese constitution.  This paper approaches this issue with both social and legal backgrounds. 

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Dr. Gay Satsuma, Associate Director, Center for Japanese Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

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