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Tokyo court rejects claim by couples seeking marriage with separate surnames

Plaintiffs and others prepare to enter the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court in the capital's suburban city of Tachikawa on the morning of Nov. 14, 2019. (Mainichi/Tatsuya Fujii)

TOKYO -- A court here on Nov. 14 rejected a claim filed by six men and women who argued that Japan's law forcing married Japanese couples to use the same surname is unconstitutional.

In its ruling, the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court dismissed the plaintiffs' claim that a provision in the Civil Code stipulating a single surname for a husband and wife was a violation of the Japanese Constitution.

The six plaintiffs had been unable to register their marriages as they submitted notifications with separate surnames. They are accordingly in common-law marriages.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs had argued that because their marriage notifications had been rejected, they had been unable to receive the legal rights and benefits granted to legally married couples, or social approval as married couples. They argued that the inability to have their marriages registered because they wanted separate surnames constituted discrimination based on their beliefs and thus violated Article 14 of the Constitution, which bans discrimination on the grounds of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.

(Japanese original by Kotaro Adachi, Tama General Bureau, and Kenji Tatsumi, City News Department)

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