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'Don't get married!' Legislator heckled for backing separate surnames for spouses in Japan

The Diet Building is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi/Junichi Sasaki)

TOKYO -- Democratic Party for the People leader Yuichiro Tamaki was heckled by a female legislator after he voiced support for separate surnames for married spouses at a plenary session of the House of Representatives on Jan. 22.

During an interpellation session for party leaders, Tamaki introduced a case involving a man in his 20s whose girlfriend told him she couldn't marry him because she would have to change her surname. Under Article 750 of Japan's Civil Code, a husband and wife must adopt either the surname of the husband or wife at the time of marriage. After Tamaki pointed out that the single surname system was an obstacle to getting married, a female legislator yelled out, "Don't get married, then!"

Tamaki disclosed to reporters that the heckling came from a female Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) legislator. "I was shocked," he said. "I thought once more it's no wonder that the birth rate has been declining when the government has been left in the hands of an LDP like this."

(Japanese original by Itsuo Tokubo, Political News Department)

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