2021年7月号 B項


2021年7月号 B項

Business: English Skills


The top court on Wednesday again ruled that legal provisions forcing married couples to use the same surname are constitutional, upholding a Supreme Court judgment from 2015.

The latest decision on a more than century-old provision based on the Civil Code and the family register law dismissed requests filed by three couples in 2018 to keep their separate surnames after local governments refused to accept their marriage registrations.


Japan is the only country in the world known to have a law forcing married couples to share a surname, according to the Justice Ministry. The United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has also recommended that Japan change the system.

Article 750 of the Civil Code stipulates “a husband and wife shall adopt the surname of the husband or wife in accordance with that which is decided at the time of marriage.” The provision applies only to Japanese couples as foreigners married under the country’s system are able to keep their family names.

Critics say the provision originating from the 1898 Civil Code reflects the traditional concept of marriage as an arrangement involving families rather than individuals. Usually, a woman left her family to become part of her husband’s family.

As of 2015, 96% of married couples in Japan used the husband’s surname, according to government data.

The family register law stipulates a couple must determine a shared surname to have their marriage registration accepted.

The 2015 top court ruling said the practice of using the same surname was “well-established in society” and there is no gender inequality in the system. But among 15 justices, five, including all three women, said prohibiting separate surnames was unconstitutional, citing the disadvantages involved in changing a name.

The court acknowledged individuals who change their surnames, in most cases women, could “feel their identities lost” and face other disadvantages in terms of social credibility, but said people are not forbidden to go by their maiden names in the current system.

Many companies and public offices in Japan now allow female employees to retain their maiden names at work. The government has been slowly expanding the scope of official documents used for identification that show maiden names in addition to registered surnames.

The 2015 ruling also said the same surname issue is a matter that should be discussed in parliament, rather than seeking a judicial settlement.

Discussions in parliament, however, have not progressed much as members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are sharply divided over the issue.

Conservatives who seek to maintain traditional values are opposed to allowing couples to choose separate surnames, arguing the move may have an impact on family unity as well as children. Both those against and in favor of the change have formed groups to push the discussions further.

But the party’s working group set up earlier this year to seek common ground gave up last week on drafting a specific proposal ahead of a House of Representatives election to be held later this year.


A Kyodo News survey conducted in March and April showed a total of 60% of respondents in Japan said married couples should be able to have separate surnames, while 38% said they are against the idea.

(出典:Japan’s top court says forcing couples to share surname is constitutional – The Japan Times 2021/6/23


The United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women 国連女性差別撤廃委員会

provision (名詞) 規定、条項

Civil Code (名詞) 民法典、民法

constitutional (形容詞) 合憲な

stipulate (動詞) 規定する、明記する

maiden name (名詞) 旧姓

parliament (名詞) 議会


As of 2015, 96% of married couples in Japan used the husband’s surname, according to government data.

As of”は一見意味が想像しにくいですが、日付や時間等を表す際にとても便利な表現です。日常会話やビジネス会話で頻繁に使用される表現ですので、この機会に使い方を例文と共に確認したいと思います。

  • As of 日付「~付けで」

例)As of June 30, I retired from work. 6月末日付けで退職した。

  • 「~の時点で」

例)As of October, the number of traffic accidents is higher than last year. 10月の時点で交通事故件数は昨年を上回った。

  • 「~から」

例)Train fee will become higher as of April 1. 電車の運賃が4月1日から高くなる。

  • As of now 「今現在」「現在のところ」「これまでで」

例)As of now, no one has come to this shop. 今現在で誰も来店していない。

  • As of today 「今日現在」「今日の時点で」

例)As of today, we have not received an email from him. 今日の時点で彼からのメールをまだ受信していない。

  • As of yet 「これまでのところ」

例)I haven’t decided when I go to graduate school or get a job as of yet. 私は今のところまだ大学院に進学するか就職するか決められていない。

  • As of late 「最近」「現在」

例)As of late, I go to the gym to lose weight. 最近は減量のためにジムに通っている。


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