Japan faces a future where everyone might share the same surname

By 2531 all Japanese citizens could be called "Sato-san" if the law requiring spouses to take the same surname does not change

In a study by Hiroshi Yoshida, a professor of economics at Tohoku University, a bold prediction has been made: by the year 2531, all Japanese citizens could potentially share the same surname unless changes are made to the country’s marriage law, which currently mandates that spouses must adopt a single shared surname.

A uniform surname future

Yoshida’s study brings to light the consequences of persisting with Japan’s unique surname policy for married couples. The projection that every Japanese person could be called “Sato-san” by 2531 is based on several assumptions aimed at raising public awareness about the potential impact of maintaining the current system on Japanese surnames.

The widespread adoption of the surname “Sato” could complicate personal identification and undermine individual dignity. It also risks erasing familial and regional heritage, highlighting the profound implications of the existing policy.

It’s the only country in the world that requires spouses to use the same surname

Currently, couples in Japan must decide which surname to share at the time of their marriage, with 95% of women changing their surname. However, the study suggests that if the Japanese government were to allow married couples to use separate surnames, the scenario could unfold differently.

An alternative, based on a survey by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, suggests that if 39.3% of respondents preferred to share a surname while retaining the option to keep separate ones, only 7.96% of the Japanese population would be named “Sato” by 2531.

Advocacy groups pushing for a change in the marital surname law hope this projection strengthens their campaign for the legal option to choose one’s surname. Yet, conservative members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party argue that altering the law could undermine family unity and cause confusion for children.

Despite the government allowing maiden names to appear alongside married names on passports, driver’s licenses, and residency certificates, Japan remains the sole country worldwide mandating spouses to use the same surname.

Fonte: Sato_estimation_yoshida_hiroshi.pdf

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