Japanese LDP lawmakers set to tackle surname debate

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Former Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada

Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers have launched a group aiming for a change in the law that would allow married couples to use different surnames, but another LDP parliamentary group that is expected to be against such a change will be established on April 1.

Led by former Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, the group in favor of giving married spouses the option of having different surnames held its inaugural meeting on Thursday.

Among the group’s other representatives are former LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida, LDP Executive Acting Secretary General Seiko Noda and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura.

The group’s prospectus states that the current law, which does not allow married couples to use separate surnames, is “an infringement of freedom and an affront to the dignity of the individual.”

On April 1, a group headed by former Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone will be formed, aiming to expand the unofficial use of original family names. The group’s prospectus states that inconveniences and disadvantages must be eliminated as soon as possible by increasing the use of original surnames.

Although it has not stated its position on permitting spouses to have different surnames, the group has attracted the likes of former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi and former National Public Safety Commission Chairperson Eriko Yamatani, who are known to be against the move.

With an LDP working team scheduled to hold its first meeting to study the introduction of such a system on April 2, the debate between LDP lawmakers in favor of separate surnames and those against is likely to intensify.