Top court poised to rule on family laws

Updated: 2015-12-15 08:02

By Agence France-Presse in Tokyo(China Daily)

  Comments() Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Japan's top court will rule this week on two 19th-century family laws that critics say are sexist and out of touch.

The Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on the legality of a six-month ban on women remarrying after divorce and on another law that requires spouses to have the same surname.

The highly anticipated decision is scheduled to be announced on Wednesday.

The court will decide whether to uphold, amend or strike down the controversial legislation, which dates to a starkly different social era.

The six-month remarriage ban is linked to complex rules over the timing of a child's birth after divorce. The rules were designed to determine whether a child belonged to an ex-husband or the new spouse's family, in an era before DNA testing.

The surname rule is a throwback to Japan's feudal family system, in which all women and children came under the control of the head of the household-traditionally a man.

"Even if the feudal family system is long gone, many people still have the image of a woman marrying into the husband's household," said Waseda University law professor Masayuki Tanamura.

That system was abolished in 1948 as part of reforms pushed by the post-World War II US occupation, but Japan's civil code retained the two articles that will go before the court this week.

Activists say the laws are a continued reflection of the country's male-dominated society more than a century after they took effect.

Some Western countries have had similar laws. France, for example, abolished in 2004 a requirement that women wait 300 days before remarrying.

Many Japanese women want the common surname rule to be scrapped in favor of choice, as in most advanced nations, although 96 percent of females take their husband's name.

A survey by the Nikkei business daily this year showed that 77 percent of workingwomen support the idea.

(China Daily 12/15/2015 page1)