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LDP candidate Kishida favors debate toward separate surnames for Japanese couples

Fumio Kishida (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Fumio Kishida, a candidate in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) election to decide its next leader and likely Japan's next prime minister, said during a Sept. 15 TV interview that he supports discussions toward allowing married Japanese couples to choose between unified single surnames and separate last names.

    Kishida, the 64-year-old head of the Kishida faction and a former LDP Policy Research Council chairperson, told a BS-TBS show there "should be debate with an aim to introducing" the system. At present, Japanese couples are required to share the same surname upon marrying. He continued, "There are people for whom this is necessary, and who are in distress, so we must debate it." Kishida added, "It must be accepted by society as a whole. An atmosphere in which the people share the same perception is also essential."

    His candidacy is hoping for support in the party election campaign -- set to kick off on Sept. 17 with voting on Sept. 29 -- from the 96-strong Hosoda faction, over which former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wields influence. But Abe is known to be cautious about introducing the post-marriage selective surname system.

    The TV show's host asserted that Kishida's policies are being pulled along by Abe, but Kishida responded, "That's not correct. I have put forward economic policies to raise income, so which part of my platform is cozying up (to Abe)?"

    (Japanese original by Hiroshi Odanaka, Political News Department)

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