4 Japanese Laws That Need To Be Changed For Women

Laws That Need to be Changed For Women in Japan

There are some Japanese laws that need to be changed for women because it has been a little too long since women have been suffering.

There are a lot of laws that have been created and modified for women in Japan but still that are some Japanese laws that need to be changed for women. 

Be it Japan or anywhere in the world, women have always suffered some era or the other. Though a lot of things have changed and movements like feminism have made it better but there are still a lot of loopholes in the system.

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There are four laws I’ve highlighted below that seriously need to be amended so that Japan can become a place where people of all genders can live peacefully- not just an illusion but in reality. 

What are the Japanese Laws That Need To Be Changed For Women?

Some Japanese Laws That Need To Be Changed For Women are Spouses are supposed to share the same surname (1896), A Child Conceived by a Married Women is Assumed to Be of the Husband’s as Well (1896), The Age of Consent is Only 13 in Japan (1907) and Superficial Conditions for Regulating Sex Crimes (2017).

Japan is often popular and at the more front when discussing about women’s rights around the globe. According to the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report, Japan stood at the 110th position out of 149 countries in 2018. 

The cases of Chikan in Japan, happening to women in the metro and subways are also scary and lead to sexual violences against women. Most of the times these cases aren’t recorded or taken. lightly.

The position seems pathetic for the country because Japan is so advanced otherwise and something as mere as rights holds the country back.

The women in Japan agree to the lack of state legislation. Voice Up Japan organisation, #KuToo movement (like the #metoo movement worldwide), people like Shiori Ito (a Japanese journalist and filmmaker) are raising their voice for the rights and juctice for the Japanese women.

The Tokyo’s Medical University scandal where poor treatment of victims related to sexual violence in the 2019 Human Rights Watch report on Japan made it really bad and crippled the name of the country. 

Although it’s small, the voices are impactful. Let’s look at the legislation that is holding modern women back to further throw light on the Japanese laws that need to be changed for women. 

Without further interruptions, let’s straight away move to the Japanese laws that need to be changed for women to lead a life full of equality and gender-free judgements.

Japanese Laws That Need To Be Changed For Women

Spouses are Supposed to Share the Same Surname (1896)

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Japanese Civil Court’s Article 370 says that spouses must share the same surnames after marriage. This is actually practised not only in Japan but most of the Asian countries.

There is no mention in the Japanese laws about who should adopt who’s surname in the books of law so there should be a freedom on choosing the surnames for themselves after marriage. The law is supposed to be gender neutral.

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If this can work in western countries, why is it an issue in Japan? After all, it depends on people who should they be identified as.

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96% of Japanese women have changed their surname into their husband’s surname according to This is because of the patriarchal Japanese society.

This case was brought to the Japanese case in 2015 and 2018. According to that, there was a cause of distress and inconvenience that was caused by being forced to change into their husband’s surname. 

A petition was brought to court by a man who changed his surname into his wife’s and said that this law was discriminatory according to the 1947 Family Register Act. 

People who have different foreign nationalities when marrying a Japanese are allowed to have different surnames then why not the Japanese? This question is asked a lot of times but sadly, always left unanswered.

This is extremely unfair on Japanese females and is one of the Japanese laws that need to be changed for women.

Sadly, the court had upheld it both times. Now, it’s up to the Japanese couples to decide who will sacrifice a part of their identity if they want to legally register their marriage. 

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It’s quite simple- the law shouldn’t force anyone to share surnames, it should be upto them to decide.

A 2018 Cabinet Poll Office disclosed that 42.2% of respondents were aged 18 and supported the allowance of married couples to keep their own (same) names. 

Only 29.3% of the respondents disagree with changing this law- this tells us that the public seems to agree to the idea of choosing the surnames by themselves.

It will definitely change if another case walks to the court with large public support. After all, everyone needs freedom. This is one of the laws that need to be changed for women immediately.

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A Child Conceived by a Married Women is Considered to Be of the Husband’s as Well (1896)

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Any child born out of a married woman in Japan is considered to be of her husbands as well. Also, any child born after 300 days of divorce is also considered to be of the former husband. 

This law is extremely weird because there is definitely a problem which is why the separation is happening and if the child belongs to the same father, everything is just back to square one.

The Article 772 of the Japanese Civil Code was established long ago, way before paternity/DNA tests existed. It remains in effect till today. The times are changing then why not the law?

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Let’s consider a situation where a young woman runs away from an abusive husband who has raped her, meets someone new and gets pregnant through him.

Legally, the child would belong to her ex-husband who was abusive as the baby is born within a period of 300 days and the actual father would have no role to play according the law.

So, essentially till 10 months, women are not allowed to start a family with a new partner just because they had left their ex abusive husband. This feels like a punishment for something the women weren’t even responsible for.

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Moreover, any man can track down his former wife because of the public records by using shussho todoke. Isn’t this a violation of privacy? It’d have still been fine if the wives could do the same but unfortunately, there’s no such thing.

For similar reasons, a woman running away from her ex-husband might decide not to register the birth of her child at all. 

But then again, these not registering means no enjoyment of the perks of government like health insurance, passport. The mother is faced with a dilemmic scenario in this situation and often have no option.

According to Koseki 2019, the Japanese family registration system, it’s difficult to believe that Japanese women and children belong to a patriarchal society. This is one of the worst Japanese laws that need to be changed for women.

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To provide a solution to this law, the family registration system should be updated in order to reflect the Japanese Constitution.

 Children should be allowed to get registered in the name of their biological parents or even their own names. This would at least mean that they’ll be able to enjoy government perks.

There was a similar system in South Korea that was replaced in 2007 with a registry system based on individuals- so you see, it’s not impossible! This is one of the Japanese laws that need to be changed for women.

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The Age of Consent is Only 13 in Japan (1907)

Japanese laws that need to be changed for women
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At 13, most of the children do not know so many sensational topics and are unaware of other people’s intentions towards them.

In Japan, child pornography law was created in 2015 and child abuse material was criminalised in 2014 which means that all these years children were subjected to mishaps and endangerment.

There still remain controversial issues regarding these that involve minors but is it even controversial when it’s a basic right? Article 176 of Japan’s Penal Code says that it’s an offence for any person to engage in sexual activities with anyone aged less than 13 years.

This is one of the Japanese laws that need to be changed for women for a better society.

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The statement itself is a problem- the age of consent in Japan is 13 years. Compared to other countries where the minimum age of consent is 18, this is quite low.

At 18, people tend to develop a sense of the outside world whereas at 13, children are extremely innocent and gullible.

There are only 3 countries that have a lower age of consent than Japan and they are: Nigeria, the Philippines and Angola which makes it worse for Japan as it is way ahead of these countries in other terms.

Because of the common fertilisation of girls, this is really a big issue. JK (joshi kosei or “school girl”) offer maids or hostess cafes that feature minors a lot and most of them feed into the fantasy.

Most of them get pregnant at a very young age which is bad for their health.

But what’s even worse? Japan has no specific rules of anti-trafficking where they feature these JK services. JK recruiters are rude, hostile and scout girls to do services and pay nothing to them, almost treating them like sex slaves.

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This is one of the worst Japanese laws that need to be changed for women as it promotes child prostitution.

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Content laws need to be amended and be made of a little higher age. This is because it’s very essential to grow maturity-wise, physically as well as emotionally. Anti-trafficking rules should be made and followed strictly.

While some girls definitely mature faster than others, even then 13 years is too less made a sex slave or even involve in other activities like pornography.

One should grow up and fully understand their own identity sexually, mentally or physically to understand and involve in such practices with their own consent. At the age of 13, most of the children are still maturing and innocent. 

Superficial Conditions for Regulating Sex Crimes (2017)

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It was a much needed change in the Japanese law system as the country has changed its legal stance for the first time in 2017. The country has updated that included longer minimum sentences for criminals. 

It also included an expanded definition of rape, abuse etc. which can mean that the victim card can be claimed by the males too.

Article 177 of the Penal Code states that the perpetrator must have used physical force or have threatened the victim, and there must be evidence of such in order to verify the assault.

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The assaulted victims might be really terrified that the attackers might get angry and make them more violent which can harm them.

But in most cases, the victims don’t fight back because the attackers are familiar to them, sometimes their family members. You never know who is a creep anymore.

The recent case is an example, where a man used to rape his own daughter from when she was 13 till 19 because it was unclear to the court whether she was “incapable of resisting”, quite obviously she was but it wasn’t clear to the law.

He was acquitted, however, he admitted to the court he got violent every time she resisted. 

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The court needs to understand, both psychological as well as physical factors that come into play when sexual assault happens.

Superficial assessments to judge the assault would only increase complexities and confusions and never result in a solution that goes a long way.

Victim-blaming should be stopped and rather people should start believing when someone says they’ve been attacked. When someone is not believed about their traumatic experiences, it often leads to them being mentally upset and self-harming.

This is one of the Japanese laws that need to be changed for women in order to stop sexual violence against women.

Equality for All!

I hope this list of Japanese laws that need to be changed for women helped you to understand the plight of women in Japan.

Hope we raise awareness and grow up as individuals who help society become better! These Japanese laws that need to be changed for women when amended will bring equality.

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