Japanese Court Announces Decision on Archaic Marriage Laws


Marriage laws from Meiji Era (1868-1912) prohibiting divorcees to remarry within six months and prohibiting married women from retaining their maiden names were determined by the Japanese Supreme Court on Dec. 12, 2016. According to The Japan Times, plaintiffs brought discrimination suits against the archaic laws.

in the first ruling, the court announced it was unconstitutional to require a divorced woman to wait six months before remarrying after divorce. The law was originally put into place to determine the “legal paternity of children” who might be born after a marriage was dissolved through divorce.

The complainants filed suit due to the law being outdated. The technology that exists today such as early pregnancy tests and DNA testing changed the need for such a law to remain in effect.

In the second ruling, the court decided that requiring a married couple to have the same surname was constitutional. The public had mixed opinions about the legality of the law. The Liberal Democratic Party stated the family unit would be lessened if the law were to change.

In 1985, Japan ratified the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and by the early 1990s, a debate over changing the Meiji Era laws had come to the surface by those who sought changes.

By Cathy Milne

The Japan Times: Japan’s top court upholds same-name rule for married couples, overturns remarriage moratorium for women
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