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Japan Upholds a Century-Old Law That Requires Spouses to Take the Same Surname

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Japan’s Supreme Court upheld a law prescribing married couples to share the same last name Wednesday, but ruled a second law banning Japanese women from remarrying until six months after divorce unconstitutional.

Both laws are over a century old, dating from Japan’s Meiji era from 1868 to 1912, the Japan Times reports.

While the same-name law allows couples to pick either the wife’s or the husband’s last names, over 96% of Japanese women take their husband’s surname, reports the Japan Times. Plaintiffs in the case argued that the law amounted to gender discrimination.

The six-month ban on marriage for divorced women was initially put in place to help determine the paternity of a child born to recently divorced parents, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP). But critics argued that the law has become irrelevant due to advanced genetic testing that makes it extremely easy to determine paternity.

Japan’s Supreme Court, however, stopped short of abolishing the waiting period altogether, saying only a ban lasting more than 100 days was unconstitutional, reports AFP.

[The Japan Times]

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