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The standpoint for judging marital surname choice: with clarifying the axis of confrontation

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  • Law
  • Linguistics


The purpose of this paper is to clarity the axis of confrontation regarding the freedom of marital surname choice and to seek for the standpoint for justifying the freedom. From analyzing the discourses on the discussion of allowing marital couples to choose separate surnames (Fuufu-bessei) and my interview research for couples with separate surnames, I attempt to show the axis of confrontation and to examine the validity of legislation of this right. We can largely identify the different and opposite positions as four types: (A) those who insist that marital couples should have the same surnames, (B) those who support the legislation of the right for choosing separate marital surnames, (C) those who criticize the present family register (koseki) and support an ideal society based on the individuals, and (D) those who criticize the family resister but also require the legislation of the right for marital surname choice. With this classification, this study suggests the follows. Firstly, we can not take history or tradition as the grounds for the argument. Secondly, we should not regard the freedom for choosing separate surnames in the same light as requirement for equality of sexes, feminist ideals or individualism. In effect, some feminists or individualists continue to criticize the legislation of the right for choosing separate surnames. This study also suggests that the freedom of marital surname choice should be required in terms of not individualism but 'individual freedom'.

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