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Married couples in Japan must use the same surname. (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)

Old school

Japanese teacher ordered by court to use her married name at work

October 13, 2016

In a blow to equal rights in Japan, a school teacher has been ordered by a court to use her married name at work. The ruling at Tokyo district court came less than a year after the supreme court ruled married couples must use the same surname — which, in 96 percent of cases, means that of the husband.

The teacher, an employee who has worked with the junior and senior high schools associated with Nihon University Daisangakuen, filed a lawsuit after the school refused to allow her to use her birth name in professional interactions with pupils and parents. The three male judges presiding over the case said the practice “has yet to take root in society.”

The woman, in her 30s, said the ruling “destroys workplace environments that allow people who had to change their surnames [through marriage] to continue working without having to worry unnecessarily.”

Her lawyers argued their client was widely known by her maiden name among teachers, pupils and parents, and accused the school’s management of “power harassment” by addressing her only by her married name.

The law upheld by the court dates back to the Meiji era (1868-1912), when marriages were generally regarded as unions between families, not individuals.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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