夫婦別姓も選べる社会へ!訴訟 Lawsuit for a Society Where Couples Can Take Separate Surnames!

#ジェンダー・セクシュアリティ #Gender/Sexuality

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現行法上、カップルが婚姻するには、一方が他方の名字に変更しなければなりません。実際は、結婚する女性の約95%が男性の名字に変更しており、名字の変更を望まない人は、アイデンティティの喪失など様々な不利益を被っています。結婚しようとすると、一方が名字を諦めるか、さもなければ結婚自体を諦めるかという過酷な二者択一を迫られるのです。私たちはこの現状に終止符を打ち、夫婦が別姓も選べる社会の実現を目指します。 Japanese laws require one of the partner to change their surname to the other partner upon marriage, predominantly ending up with women adopting men’s surname. This imposes disadvantages, such as identity loss, on those wishing to keep their surnames. Couples face a tough choice: either sacrifice the surname or forego the legal marriage. We strive to end this situation and advocate for a society where couples can take separate surnames.

 はじめに 

みなさんは、パートナーと結婚後の名字について話し合ったこと、自分が将来結婚するときに名字を変えるか相手に変えてもらうかの選択をしなければならないことを考えたことはありますか。

現在の法律は、結婚するカップルに対し、例外なく一方が他方の名字に変更するよう求め、夫婦が同じ名字を名乗ることを強制しています(夫婦同姓制度)。

夫婦同姓制度の下では、カップルの双方がそれまでの名字を維持したまま結婚することはできません。もし結婚を希望するのであれば一方が名字を変えるしかなく、そのままの名字を名乗ることを希望するのであれば法律婚そのものを諦めるしかない過酷な選択を迫られています。

しかし、名字を変えるとさまざまな不利益があります。


① アイデンティティの喪失

名前は、個人の人格と深く結びついていますが、結婚に伴って名前の一部である名字を変更することで以前の名前で呼ばれることが減り、これまでの自分がなくなっていくように感じる人もいます。

② キャリアの断絶

人は社会生活を送る中で、自分の名前に結びついて仕事上のキャリアや社会からの信頼や信用、人間関係を築いていきます。けれども、名字を変えることで、これまで築き上げてきたキャリアや信頼、人間関係が、結婚後の自分から切り離されてしまうこともあります。

③ 通称使用 / 併記の手続きの負担と公的効果の不十分さ

名字の変更に伴い、公的機関や金融機関で変更手続きを無数に強いられる負担もあります。その負担は法律で一律のものではなく、所属する機関によって違いがあります。

旧姓の通称使用や併記が認められても、不利益はなくなりません。

公的機関など戸籍上の名字の使用を求められるところも少なくなく、場面により結婚前と後の名字を使わなければならなくなります。



上記のような不利益が存在する中、現在結婚するカップルの約95%は、夫の名字を選択しています。

カップル双方が名前を変えることを望まない場合、話し合いは極めて困難であり、また、「妻は夫の家に入る」という考えが未だ根強い中、特に女性が話し合いの中で感じるプレッシャーは甚大です。

このような不利益が圧倒的に女性に偏っている現状は、女性の活躍が社会でますます進んでいる中で女性にとっての重い足枷となっており、経団連からも女性活躍を推進するための最優先課題として選択的夫婦別姓の導入の検討が要望されています。

結婚後も双方が結婚前の名字を名乗り続けられる選択肢(選択的夫婦別姓)があれば、カップルが結婚後の名前をめぐって葛藤する必要はなくなります。

最高裁大法廷はこれまでに2回、国会で決めるべきことであるなどとして夫婦同姓制度は合憲だと判断していますが、今度こそ選択的夫婦別姓を実現するべく、12名が原告として立ち上がり第3次訴訟を提起することにしました。



▲第3次訴訟、原告と弁護団が東京地裁に入廷する様子


 原告が立ち上がった経緯 

原告 内山由香里さん 


法律婚により25年ほど通称使用を続けてきました。望まない改姓により、自分の存在を公的に証明する運転免許証、健康保険証、パスポート等の姓を変更せざるを得なくなり、さらには銀行口座や保険などまで芋づる式に戸籍姓になっていきました。結局、通称は肝心なところで使えず、むしろ自分が使いたい生来の名前が本当の名前ではないことを日常的に痛感させられ、不快感や喪失感を突き付けられてきました。

私は便宜上、同じ相手との結婚と離婚を3回経験し3回とも改姓していますが、改姓しない側は日常も周りとの関係も1ミリも変わらないので、改姓した側の不利益が想像できない。これが不均衡でなくて何なのでしょうか。

何も変わらないまま30年以上が過ぎてしまいました。子どもたちの世代が同じ理不尽に直面することに我慢ができなくて、勇気を出して声を上げることにしました。



原告  黒川とう子さん・根津充さん

現在の夫と出会い、パートナーとして一緒に暮らしていきたいものの、長年共に生きてきた名前を失いたくなく、またそのような思いを相手にもさせたくなく、事実婚の選択を提案しました。夫は私の考えを聞くうち、仮に男性側が姓を変えることを事実上強制されるような社会であったならと想像し、同氏制に疑問を持つようになりました。夫は姓が同じであることと家族の一体感や仲の良さとは全く関係がないことを実感もしており、ふたりで事実婚を選択しました。

17年近く事実婚を続け、子供も育ててきましたが、共同で住宅ローンを組める金融機関がほとんどない、父親に子供の親権が当然にない、何かあった時に互いが互いの法定相続人になれない、医療機関で手術等の同意ができるかどうかわからないなど、正式な夫婦と認められないことでいざという時にどうなるか分からない不安を常に感じています。


原告 上田めぐみさん

選択的夫婦別姓が話題になり、法改正の機運が高まった1990年代前半、私は中学生でした。「どうして結婚すると女性ばかり姓を変えるのだろう」と共感し、「私も変えたくない」と思い始めました。自分が大人になる頃には法律は変わっているだろう、と信じていたのにもう30年以上が経過。2013年に結婚式を挙げた私も当事者になりました。

2015年、第1次訴訟の最高裁判決の日は、出張先のアフリカで合憲判決のニュースをネットで知り、あまりのショックに半年ほど耳鳴りと目まいが止まりませんでした。

「もう待っていられない、自分が動かなければ」と思い、第2次訴訟では、別姓訴訟を支える会事務局を担当しました。しかし、第2次訴訟でも違憲判断は得られず「今度こそ歴史を変えたい」という思いで立ち上がりました。国内外で自分の姓を選べず困っている、多くの人たちの想いを背負って闘います。


▲(左から)原告の根津充さん、黒川とう子さん、小池幸夫さん、上田めぐみさん、新田久美さん



▲原告の佐藤万奈さん、西 清孝さん


 裁判の争点 

 原告らが求めるもの 

⑴ 地位確認:夫婦双方の結婚前の名字を維持したまま結婚し得る地位にあることの確認

⑵ 違法確認:(⑴が認められない場合の予備的請求)国が、法律を改正しないことにより、原告らが夫婦双方の婚姻前の氏を維持したまま婚姻することを認めないことは違法であることの確認

⑶ 国家賠償請求:国が、法律を改正しないことによって、原告らが夫婦双方の結婚前の名字を維持したまま結婚することを認められなかったことにより、原告らに生じた損害の賠償


 法的な根拠 

1. 憲法違反

別姓という例外を許さない夫婦同姓制度は、憲法13条・憲法24条1項に違反すると同時に、個人の尊厳と両性の本質的平等に立脚した立法を求める憲法24条2項にも違反しています。

名前と結びついている個人のアイデンティティや社会的な認識という利益は、個人の尊厳の基盤を成すものであり、人格的生存に不可欠な利益を保障する憲法13条で保障されています。

また、憲法24条1項は、結婚をすることについての自由かつ平等な意思決定を保障しているといえます。

第24条1項 婚姻は、両性の合意のみに基いて成立し、夫婦が同等の権利を有することを基本として、相互の協力により、維持されなければならない。

しかし、夫婦同氏制度は、結婚前の名字を名乗り続けることを希望する者に対し、名字を諦めて結婚するか、結婚を諦めて名字を維持するかの二者択一を迫り、憲法で保障される権利を制約しています。

このような権利を制約するためには、結婚に夫婦が別々の名字を名乗るという例外を許さないことに必要性と合理性がなくてはいけませんが、それらも以下のように認められません。

⑴ 結婚の本質との無関係さ

結婚の本質は「両性が永続的な精神的及び肉体的結合を目的として真摯な意思をもつて共同生活を営むこと」にありますが、名字が一緒であってもなくてもこの意思には関係がなく、合理性がありません。

⑵ 旧姓 / 通称使用の不十分さ

近時、改姓の不利益を緩和するために、旧姓を通称として使用できる場面が広がってきています。例えば、2019年11月には住民票・マイナンバーカードの旧姓併記が可能になり、2021年4月には旅券の旧姓併記の要件が緩和されました。

しかし、公的証明書の記載事項について、戸籍上の姓と通称に違いがあるために手続きが煩雑になったり、旧姓併記ができたとしても海外で認められなかったりする場合があります。混乱が生じる度に、結婚に伴って改姓したというプライバシーを開示して説明しなければいけません。

このように、通称使用には様々な限界と弊害があります。通称使用によって改姓の不利益が解消されることはありません。

(3) 社会的状況や意識の変化

男女ともに晩婚化が進み、また女性の社会進出が進む中で、結婚前の名前で築いた実績や信用は大きくなり、名前を維持する必要性が高くなっています。

また、選択的夫婦別姓に対する調査では、若年層の87%が賛成。中でも女性若年層の賛成は91%という結果が出ています。2024年1月には、経団連が選択的夫婦別姓制度の導入を政府に求めるに至っています。

このほかに、最高裁は夫婦同姓制度を合憲とする理由として、家族の呼称を一つに定めることに一定の意義があること、夫婦別姓の場合には子の名字の定めや戸籍の記載方法などについて議論の余地があることなどを挙げていますが、それは夫婦別姓という選択肢を一切認めないことの理由にはなりません。


2. 国際条約違反

⑴女性差別撤廃条約違反

女性差別撤廃委員会は、1994年に一般勧告21を採択し、婚姻前の名字を変更するよう強制することは、女性の「自己の姓を選択する権利」の否定であると明言しています。

⑵自由権規約違反

自由権規約委員会は、1990年に一般的意見19を採択し、「自己の婚姻前の姓の使用を保持する権利又は平等の基礎において新しい姓の選択に参加する権利」の保障を掲げています。

また、2000年には一般的意見28を採択し、これらの権利に関して性別の違いに基づく差別が起きないことを確実にしなければならないとしました。

さらに、女性差別撤廃委員会は2003年と2009年と2016年の3度にわたって、また、自由権規約委員会は2022年に、日本政府に対し、夫婦同姓制度が差別的であるとして是正を求める勧告を行っています。


 これまでの経緯 

1991年の法制審議会において、夫婦同姓制を含む婚姻制度等の見直し審議が行われ、1996年には「夫婦は、婚姻の際に定めるところに従い、夫若しくは妻の氏を称し、又は各自の婚姻前の氏を称するものとする。」との規定を含む民法改正の要綱案が答申されました。

しかし、要綱案は与党の法務部会の了承を得られず、国会提出に至らなかった過去があります。

これまでも最高裁は2度大法廷を開いて審理しましたが、立法府の判断に委ねるとの判断がなされ、要綱案答申から約30年が経過した現在に至ってもなお、選択的夫婦別姓制度の導入はなされていません。


第1次選択的夫婦別姓訴訟

2011年、選択的夫婦別姓の実現を目指して、最初の訴訟を提起しました。

第1次訴訟では、事実婚カップルや法律婚で改姓した女性が原告となり、国家賠償請求訴訟では、民法750条の憲法13条違反、憲法14条1項違反、憲法24条違反、女性差別撤廃条約違反を主張しました。

2015年の最高裁大法廷判決では合憲とされましたが、15名中5名の裁判官(うち3名が女性)が、夫婦同姓の強制は違憲であるとの意見を述べました。


▲最高裁大法廷判決の報告会で


第2次選択的夫婦別姓訴訟

第2次訴訟では、複数の事実婚カップルやニューヨーク州で別姓のまま婚姻した日本人同士のカップルが原告となり、①別姓婚姻届の受理を求める家事審判、②立法不作為に基づく国家賠償請求訴訟、③海外での別姓婚の婚姻関係の公証を受けうる地位の確認請求訴訟を提起しました。

①について、2021年に最高裁によって再び大法廷で審理が行われ、合憲判断がなされたものの、15名中4名の裁判官(うち1名が女性)が違憲意見を述べました。


▲第2次訴訟・広島地裁での弁論期日に


 担当弁護士のメッセージ 

第1次・第2次訴訟では残念ながら合憲判断となりましたが、合計10名もの最高裁判事が夫婦同姓制度は違憲であると述べ、学界でも違憲との見解が多数説となるなど、得たものも多くありました。

法制度はすべての人が幸せになるために存在するもので、憲法は人権を侵害するような法制度を許容してはいません。

これを最後の訴訟とすべく全力で臨みますので、ご支援の程どうぞ宜しくお願い致します。

弁護団長 寺原真希子


 弁護団の紹介 


寺原 真希子(弁護士法人東京表参道法律会計事務所)
三浦 徹也 (あさひ法律事務所)
野口 敏彦 (弁護士法人龍馬 あおやま事務所)
井桁 大介 (宮村・井桁法律事務所)
大谷 秀美 (広尾パーク法律事務所)
折井  純 (美竹やさか法律事務所)
亀石 倫子 (法律事務所エクラうめだ)
川尻 恵理子(ハロー法律事務所)
川見 未華 (樫の木総合法律事務所)
橘高 真佐美(大谷&パートナーズ法律事務所)
木村 いずみ(北新居・青木法律事務所)
榊原 富士子(千川通り法律事務所)
塩生 朋子 (四谷共同法律事務所)
芹澤 眞澄 (新宿西口法律事務所)
竹下 博將 (弁護士法人つくし)
棚橋 桂介 (弁護士法人フロンティア法律事務所)
谷口 太規 (弁護士法人東京パブリック法律事務所)
寺林 智栄 (NTS総合弁護士法人 札幌事務所)
早坂 由起子(千川通り法律事務所)
久道 瑛未 (早稲田リーガルコモンズ法律事務所)
渕上 陽子 (美竹やさか法律事務所)
松田 亘平 (美竹やさか法律事務所)
溝田 紘子 (東京弁護士会所属) 
山崎  新 (アイリス法律事務所)
山田 暁子 (みなみ大通法律事務所)

※弁護団員の自己紹介は、別姓訴訟を支える会のホームページをご覧ください。
https://bessei.net/lawyers/


 資金の使途 

  • 訴訟費用:印紙代・コピー代などの実費費用

  • 学者に依頼する意見書費用:憲法学者や民法学者、行政法学者等の専門家に意見書を執筆していただくことを予定しています

  • リサーチ費用:選択的夫婦別姓に関する世論調査や氏に関する海外法制の調査など、多数の文献の取寄せや翻訳作業などを伴うリサーチの実施を予定しています

  • 弁護団、原告などの交通費:係属裁判所の遠方に住む原告や弁護団員が出頭する際の交通費や、専門家の方などに裁判所にお越しいただく際の交通費を寄付金から支出する予定です

  • イベント開催・広報費用:この裁判に関するイベントや広報費用にも寄付金を用いたいと考えています

  • 弁護士費用等:上記各費用を支出後、もし残高がありましたら、弁護団員の着手金、成功報酬、出張日当、別姓訴訟を支える会のみなさんの人件費等に活用したいと考えています


 おわりに 

選択的夫婦別姓は、これまで述べてきたように、カップルが同一の名字を名乗る選択肢の他に、カップル双方が結婚前の名字を名乗り続けるという選択肢を設ける、というものです。

同一の名字を名乗りたいカップルは、選択的夫婦別姓の下においても、従前どおり同じ名字とすることができます。

選択的夫婦別姓は、結婚前の名前を名乗り続けたいカップルの希望を実現する一方で、社会に大きな不利益を生じさせません。選択的夫婦別姓が実現すれば、社会全体の幸福が増進するといえるでしょう。

最高裁大法廷は、2015年と2021年の2度にわたって、夫婦同姓を強制する制度は合憲であると判断しました。合憲判断を覆すには高いハードルがありますが、憲法学説の変化や社会の意識の変化などを具体的に立証していけば、必ず違憲判断を獲得できると考えています。

そのためにはみなさまの力強い応援が必要です。

寄付や期日の傍聴、SNSでの拡散など、一人一人のアクションが大きな力になります。

選択的夫婦別姓の実現に向けて尽力してまいりますので、ご支援のほどよろしくお願いいたします。


▲第3次訴訟、東京地裁での提訴後に撮影したもの

Introduction

Have you ever had a discussion with your partner about what your married name will be, and have you considered the choice you will have to make when you get married in the future: either change your name or ask your partner to change it for you?

Current law requires couples, without exception, that one spouse change their surname to the other spouse and forces married couples to have the same surname (same surname married couple system).

Under the same-surname married couple system, couples cannot get married while keeping their previous surnames. If one of them wants to get married, they have no choice but to change their surname, and if they want to keep their current surname, they are forced to make the difficult decision of giving up on legal marriage altogether.

However, changing your surname has many disadvantages.


1) Loss of identity

Names are deeply connected to an individual's personality, but when they change their surname, which is part of their name, upon marriage, some people feel as if they are losing a part of their old self as they are called less often by their previous name.

② Career break

In our social lives, people build their careers, trust and credibility in society, and relationships with their names. However, changing your surname can mean that you are separated from the career, trust, and relationships you have built up after marriage.

3) The burden of procedures for using common names/registering both names and their insufficient public effect

Changing your surname also comes with the burden of having to go through countless change procedures at public institutions and financial institutions. These burdens are not uniform by law, but vary depending on the institution you belong to.

Even if the use of maiden names or the use of both names is permitted, the disadvantages will not disappear.

There are many public institutions and other places where people are required to use their legal surname, and there are situations where they have to use both their married and new surnames.



Despite the disadvantages mentioned above, approximately 95% of couples who marry today choose to take the husband's surname.

When both partners do not want to change their name, discussions are extremely difficult, and with the idea that a wife should stay in her husband's home still deeply rooted, women in particular feel a great deal of pressure during discussions.

The current situation in which these disadvantages are overwhelmingly skewed towards women is a heavy hindrance to women at a time when women are becoming increasingly active in society, and the Japan Business Federation has called for consideration of the introduction of optional separate surnames for married couples as a top priority for promoting women's participation in the workforce.

If there was a system allowing both parties to continue using their maiden names after marriage (selective separate surnames for married couples), couples would no longer have to struggle over their married names.

The Supreme Court Grand Bench has twice ruled that the system of same surnames for married couples is constitutional, stating that it is something that should be decided by the Diet. However, this time 12 people have stepped up as plaintiffs and decided to file a third lawsuit in an effort to finally realize the option of separate surnames for married couples.



▲The third lawsuit: Plaintiffs and their lawyers entering the Tokyo District Court


How the plaintiffs came to power

Plaintiff Yukari Uchiyama


I have been using my nickname for about 25 years due to my legal marriage. However, due to the unwanted name change, I was forced to change my surname on all official documents that prove my existence, such as my driver's license, health insurance card, and passport, and my legal surname continued to be used on my bank account, insurance, etc. In the end, I was unable to use my nickname in important places, and instead, I was made to painfully aware on a daily basis that the birth name I wanted to use was not my real name, which caused me discomfort and a sense of loss.

For convenience, I have been married and divorced three times with the same partner and changed my name all three times, but for those who do not change their name, their daily lives and relationships with others do not change at all, so I cannot imagine the disadvantage that those who do change their name are facing. What else can this be but an imbalance?

More than 30 years have passed without any change. I could not bear to see my children's generation facing the same injustice, so I mustered up the courage to speak out.


Plaintiffs: Touko Kurokawa and Mitsuru Nezu

I met my current husband and wanted to live together as a partner, but I didn't want to lose the name we'd lived with for so many years, and I didn't want him to have to go through the same thing, so I suggested we choose common-law marriage. As my husband listened to my thoughts, he began to imagine what it would be like in a society where men were practically forced to change their surnames, and he began to have doubts about the same-surname system. He also realized that having the same surname has absolutely no connection to family unity or closeness, so we chose common-law marriage.

We have been in a common-law marriage for nearly 17 years and have raised a child together, but we are constantly anxious about what will happen if an emergency occurs because we are not officially recognized as a married couple. There are very few financial institutions that will allow us to take out a joint mortgage, the father naturally does not have custody of the child, we cannot become each other's legal heirs if something were to happen, and we are not sure whether we will be able to consent to surgery and other procedures at medical institutions.


Plaintiff Megumi Ueda

I was a junior high school student in the early 1990s, when optional separate surnames for married couples became a hot topic and momentum for legal reform was building. I sympathized with the idea that only women have to change their surnames when they get married, and began to think, "I don't want to change my surname either." I believed that the law would have changed by the time I became an adult, but more than 30 years have passed. I became a party to this when I got married in 2013.

In 2015, on the day of the Supreme Court's ruling on the first lawsuit, I was on a business trip to Africa and saw the news of the constitutional ruling online. I was so shocked that I suffered from ringing in my ears and dizziness that continued for about six months.

"I can't wait any longer, I have to take action," I thought, and in the second lawsuit, I took charge of the secretariat for the Association for Supporting the Separate Surname Lawsuit. However, the second lawsuit also failed to be found unconstitutional, so I stepped up with the desire to "change history this time." I will fight, carrying the hopes of the many people both at home and abroad who are in trouble because they cannot choose their own surname.


(From left) Plaintiffs Mitsuru Nezu, Touko Kurokawa, Yukio Koike, Megumi Ueda, and Kumi Nitta



▲Plaintiffs Mana Sato and Kiyotaka Nishi


Issues at issue

What the plaintiffs are seeking

(1) Status confirmation : Confirmation that both spouses are in a position to marry while maintaining their pre-marriage surnames

(2) Confirmation of illegality : (Preliminary claim in case (1) is not granted) Confirmation that it is illegal for the government to not amend the law and therefore not allow the plaintiffs to marry while keeping their pre-marital surnames

3) Claim for State Compensation : Compensation for damages suffered by the plaintiffs as a result of the state failing to amend the law and thereby denying them the right to marry while keeping both spouses’ maiden names.


Legal basis

1. Unconstitutional

A system of married couples having the same surname, which does not allow for the exception of having different surnames, violates Article 13 and Article 24, paragraph 1 of the Constitution, as well as Article 24, paragraph 2, which calls for legislation based on the dignity of the individual and the essential equality of the sexes.

The interests of personal identity and social recognition associated with a name form the basis of individual dignity and are guaranteed by Article 13 of the Constitution, which guarantees the interests essential to the existence of the personal person.

Furthermore, Article 24, paragraph 1 of the Constitution can be said to guarantee free and equal decision-making regarding marriage.

Article 24, Paragraph 1. Marriage shall be based only on the mutual consent of both sexes and shall be maintained through mutual cooperation with the equal rights of husband and wife as a basis.

However, the system of single surnames for married couples forces those who wish to keep their maiden name to choose between giving up their surname and getting married, or giving up marriage and keeping their surname, thereby restricting a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

In order to restrict such rights, there must be a necessity and rationality in not allowing the exception of married couples having different surnames, but this is also not recognized as follows.

1) Irrelevance to the essence of marriage

The essence of marriage is "two people of the sexes living together with a sincere intention for the purpose of a permanent mental and physical union," but whether or not they have the same surname is irrelevant to this intention and is irrational.

⑵Insufficient use of maiden names/nicknames

Recently, in order to mitigate the disadvantages of changing one's name, the number of situations in which one can use one's maiden name as a common name has been increasing. For example, in November 2019, it became possible to list one's maiden name on one's resident registration card and My Number card, and in April 2021, the requirements for listing one's maiden name on a passport were relaxed.

However, when it comes to the details to be recorded on official documents, the procedures can be complicated because there is a difference between the surname on the family register and the common name, and even if you are able to list your maiden name, it may not be recognized overseas. Every time confusion occurs, you have to disclose and explain the private fact that you changed your name upon marriage.

As such, the use of a common name has various limitations and drawbacks. Using a common name does not eliminate the disadvantages of changing your surname.

(3) Changes in social conditions and attitudes

As both men and women are getting married later in life and more women are entering the workforce, the achievements and trust built up under one's married name become more important, making it increasingly necessary to keep one's name.

In addition, a survey on optional separate surnames for married couples showed that 87% of young people were in favor of it. Among them, 91% of young women were in favor. In January 2024, the Japan Business Federation called on the government to introduce a system of optional separate surnames for married couples.

In addition, the Supreme Court has cited as reasons why a system of married couples having the same surname is constitutional that there is a certain significance in deciding on one name for a family, and that in the case of married couples having different surnames, there is room for discussion regarding the determination of children's surnames and the way in which they are recorded in the family register, etc., but this is not a reason to completely reject the option of married couples having different surnames.


2. Violation of International Treaties

(1) Violation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, in its 1994 General Recommendation 21, stated that forcing a woman to change her maiden name is a denial of her "right to choose her own surname."

⑵ Violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

In 1990, the Human Rights Committee adopted General Comment No. 19, which states that every person should have the right to retain the use of their maiden surname or to participate on an equal basis in the selection of a new surname.

In 2000, the UN adopted General Comment 28, which stated that it is necessary to ensure that there is no discrimination on the basis of sex with regard to these rights.

Furthermore, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has recommended to the Japanese government three times, in 2003, 2009, and 2016, and the Human Rights Committee has recommended in 2022 that the Japanese government correct the same-surname system for married couples, stating that it is discriminatory.


The story so far

In 1991, the Legislative Council reviewed and deliberated the marriage system, including the requirement that married couples have the same surname, and in 1996 submitted a draft outline of a revision to the Civil Code, which included the provision that "Married couples shall take the surname of the husband or wife, or the surname of each spouse before marriage, as determined at the time of marriage."

However, the draft outline did not receive approval from the ruling party's Legal Affairs Committee and was not submitted to the Diet.

The Supreme Court has held two Grand Bench hearings on the matter, but has decided to leave it to the legislature to decide, and even now, some 30 years after the outline was submitted, the optional system of separate surnames for married couples has still not been introduced.


The first selective separate surnames lawsuit

In 2011, we filed our first lawsuit, aiming to realize the option of separate surnames for married couples.

In the first lawsuit, common-law couples and women who had changed their surnames in legal marriages were plaintiffs, and in the lawsuit seeking state compensation, they claimed that Article 750 of the Civil Code violated Article 13 of the Constitution, Article 14, paragraph 1, and Article 24 of the Constitution, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Although a Supreme Court Grand Bench ruling in 2015 ruled that it was constitutional, five of the 15 judges (three of whom were women) expressed the opinion that forcing married couples to have the same surname is unconstitutional.


At a briefing on the Supreme Court Grand Bench decision


The second selective separate surnames lawsuit

In the second lawsuit, several common-law couples and a Japanese couple who had married in New York State while maintaining different surnames were plaintiffs, and they filed 1) a domestic relations ruling seeking acceptance of their separate surname marriage registration, 2) a lawsuit seeking compensation from the state based on legislative inaction, and 3) a lawsuit seeking confirmation of their status to have their marriage relationship notarized for their separate surname marriage overseas.

Regarding ①, the Supreme Court re-examined the matter in a Grand Bench hearing in 2021 and ruled it constitutional, but four out of the 15 judges (one of whom was a woman) expressed the opinion that it was unconstitutional.


▲The second lawsuit was heard at the Hiroshima District Court.


Message from the lawyer in charge

Unfortunately, the first and second lawsuits were ruled constitutional, but there were many gains, such as a total of 10 Supreme Court Justices stating that the system of same surnames for married couples is unconstitutional, and the majority opinion in academic circles that it is unconstitutional.

The legal system exists to ensure the happiness of all people, and the Constitution does not tolerate a legal system that violates human rights.

We will do everything in our power to ensure that this is our final lawsuit, so we appreciate your support.

Head of defense team: Makiko Terahara


Introducing the Lawyers


Makiko Terahara (Tokyo Omotesando Legal and Accounting Office)
Tetsuya Miura (Asahi Law Office)
Toshihiko Noguchi (Ryoma Aoyama Law Office)
Daisuke Igeta (Miyamura & Igeta Law Office)
Hidemi Otani (Hiroo Park Law Office)
Jun Orii (Mitake Yasaka Law Office)
Michiko Kameishi (Eclat Umeda Law Office)
Eriko Kawajiri (Hello Law Office)
Mika Kawami (Kashinoki General Law Office)
Masami Tachibana (Otani & Partners Law Office)
Izumi Kimura (Kitaarai & Aoki Law Office)
Fujiko Sakakibara (Senkawa Street Law Office)
Tomoko Shio (Yotsuya Joint Law Office)
Masumi Serizawa (Shinjuku West Exit Law Office)
Hiromasa Takeshita (Tsukushi Law Firm)
Keisuke Tanahashi (Frontier Law Offices)
Taniguchi, Taiki (Tokyo Public Law Office)
Chie Terabayashi (NTS Associates, Sapporo Office)
Yukiko Hayasaka (Senkawa Street Law Office)
Eimi Hisamichi (Waseda Legal Commons Law Office)
Yoko Fuchigami (Mitake Yasaka Law Office)
Kohei Matsuda (Mitake Yasaka Law Office)
Hiroko Mizota (Tokyo Bar Association)
Arata Yamazaki (Iris Law Office)
Akiko Yamada (Minami Odori Law Office)

*For introductions of the legal team members, please see the website of the Association Supporting Separate Surname Lawsuits.
https://bessei.net/lawyers/


Use of funds

  • Litigation costs : Actual costs such as stamp duty and copying fees

  • Cost of written opinions requested from scholars : We plan to have experts such as constitutional law scholars, civil law scholars, and administrative law scholars write written opinions.

  • Research costs : We plan to conduct research that will involve ordering and translating a large number of documents, such as a public opinion survey on optional separate surnames for married couples and a study of foreign laws regarding surnames.

  • Travel expenses for legal team, plaintiffs, etc .: Donations will be used to cover travel expenses for plaintiffs and legal team members who live far from the court when they appear in court, as well as travel expenses for experts to come to the court.

  • Event hosting and PR costs : We would like to use donations to hold events and cover PR costs related to this trial.

  • Attorney's fees, etc .: If there is any money remaining after paying the above expenses, we would like to use it for the attorneys' retainer fees, success fees, travel allowances, and personnel costs for the group supporting the separate surname lawsuit.


in conclusion

As we have discussed so far, optional separate surnames for married couples means that in addition to the option of couples taking the same surname, both partners have the option of continuing to use their pre-married surnames.

Couples who wish to have the same surname will be able to do so as before, even under the optional separate surnames system.

Selective separate surnames for married couples would realize the wishes of couples who wish to continue using their maiden names, while not causing any major disadvantages to society. If selective separate surnames for married couples were realized, it could be said that the happiness of society as a whole would increase.

The Supreme Court Grand Bench has ruled twice, in 2015 and 2021, that the system of forcing married couples to have the same surname is constitutional. There is a high hurdle to overturning a constitutional ruling, but I believe that if we can concretely prove changes in constitutional theory and changes in societal attitudes, we will definitely be able to obtain a ruling that the law is unconstitutional.

To achieve this, we need your strong support.

Each individual's actions, such as donating, attending hearings, and spreading the word on social media, will make a big difference.

We will continue to work hard to realize the option of separate surnames for married couples, so we appreciate your support.


▲Photo taken after the third lawsuit was filed in the Tokyo District Court

第3次選択的夫婦別姓訴訟弁護団

第3次選択的夫婦別姓訴訟弁護団

選択的夫婦別姓の実現を目指して、2011年(1次)と2018年(2次)に裁判を提起してきました。夫婦同姓を強制する制度は違憲であるとの判断を今度こそ勝ち取るべく、弁護団一丸となって尽力します。

<連絡先>
〒100-8385
東京都千代田区丸の内2-1-1丸の内マイプラザ13階
あさひ法律事務所
弁護士 三浦 徹也(弁護団事務局長)
電話:03-5219-0002 FAX:03-5219-2221

Legal Counsel Team of the Third Lawsuit for a Selective Separate Surnames System for Married Couples

We filed lawsuits in 2011 and 2018 for the purpose of achieving a system where married couples have the option of taking separate surnames in Japan. We believe a law that requires couples to take the same surname upon marriage should be ruled unconstitutional, and we will do our utmost to win the lawsuit.

<Contact information>
〒100-8385
Asahi Law Office
Tokyo, Chiyoda City, Marunouchi, 2 Chome−1−1
Marunouchi Mai Plaza, 13F
Attorney-at-Law Tetsuya Miura (Executive Secretary of the Legal Counsel Team)
Phone: 03-5219-0002
Fax: 03-5219-2221

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