Surnames and Gender in Japan: Women’s Challenges in Seeking Own Identity


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Strongly influenced by the previous Meiji Civil Code that shaped people’s perceptions about the traditional Japanese family, postwar Japanese society has not fully guaranteed gender equality, and whether to legally allow the dual-surname system is one of the major legal and political debates in Japanese society. To understand the tension between the traditional Japanese family emphasized in the previous Meiji Civil Code and gender equality emphasized in the current Japanese law, this study explored the surname system in Japan by reviewing historical trends, recent surveys, political debates, and comparing with other nations. This study illustrated that the surname was not attached to the family lineage and membership as today in the past, and symbolic significance of the surname has changed through the course of Japanese history.

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