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Japan Supreme Court justices who backed same surnames got more dismissal votes

The Supreme Court is seen in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward in this Feb. 10, 2019 file photo. (Mainichi/Kazuo Motohashi)

TOKYO -- In a national review of Supreme Court justices that was conducted alongside the Oct. 31 House of Representatives election, the rate at which voters sought to dismiss justices was higher for those who ruled that a Civil Code stipulation that prevents married couples from having separate surnames was constitutional, a Mainichi Shimbun analysis showed.

    Four of the 11 justices subject to the national review found the stipulation constitutional, and calls for their dismissal were about 2 percentage points higher than those for the other seven justices. It is rare for the rate at which voters call for justices' dismissals to show up clearly around a specific issue.

    Of the 11 who were subject to review, the justices who ruled the Civil Code stipulation as "constitutional" in the Supreme Court Grand Bench ruling in June were Takuya Miyama, Michiharu Hayashi, Kazumi Okamura and Yasumasa Nagamine. The number of "no" votes calling for the judges' dismissals was highest for Hayashi at 753,151 (11.69%), followed by Miyama at 751,719 (11.67%), Nagamine at 709,385 (11.01%) and Okamura at 707,353 (10.98%). The rate at which those who said that the Civil Code stipulation was unconstitutional or those who were appointed to the Supreme Court after the ruling received "no" votes was between 9.19% and 8.31%.

    In the national review of Supreme Court justices, voters can mark an X above the justices' names for those they want dismissed. Naho Ida, 46, is the director-general of the civic organization Sentakuteki Fufu Bessei Zenkoku Chinjo Action (Optional different surname national petition action), which had called on the public through social media and other channels to write an X above the names of justices who deemed the Civil Code stipulation on the surnames of married couples constitutional. "I think the numbers signify the views of people who until now had not expressed how they felt," Ida said. "We felt that there was great interest, especially among younger generations, in the selective dual-surname system, not just in the national review of justices but also in the House of Representatives election. By expressing our views through our votes, we should be able to see change in society."

    (Japanese original by Koji Endo and Ai Kunimoto, Tokyo City News Department)

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