Japan: one of the few countries in the world where married couples must have the same surname

With Japan consistently appearing in the lowest ranks for gender equality in industrialised nations, the adoption of Prime Minister Abe’s recent bill to promote the role of women in the workplace has been a welcome development in what remains a traditionally patriarchal society.

What the headlines fail to mention, however, are the archaic laws entrenched in the country’s Civil Code that continue to hold women back, including same surname requirements upon marriage, and differences in the minimum marriageable age and re-marriage prohibition period for both sexes.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has again called for a revision of Japan’s current laws, slamming the country for being one of the few industrialised nations where it remains illegal for married couples to have different surnames.

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