Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Woman forced to use her husband's surname at work


A court in Japan has ruled that a woman must change her surname at work because she is married.

The teacher, who has requested anonymity, was told her employer's demand that she use her husband's surname was "rational" by three male judges in Tokyo, The Guardian reports.

The woman, who is in her 30s, launched a lawsuit against Nihon University Daisangakuen, in a bid to be able to use the name she was born with in a professional capacity.

Having worked at schools affiliated to the university for 13 years, she argued that her surname was already well known to colleagues, pupils, parents and to a wider audience through her published academic research.

But her case and claim for £9,500 (1.2 million yen) in damages was dismissed. In their reasoning, the judges cited a newspaper poll of 1,000 female workers that found more than 70% used their husband’s name at work.

woman in japan

The ruling a is a blow for gender equality in Japan

They acknowledged that though more women were choosing to not change their surnames after they married, the practice is “not deeply rooted in society”.

"I do not want to separate my name and my personal accomplishments, such as writing reference books and giving lectures before marriage,” the teacher said after the ruling.

The decision “destroys a workplace environment that allows people who had to change their surnames to work without undue worries,” she added.

It's the latest challenge to Japan's male-dominated culture. Last year five women lost a high-profile case against the 19th century law that states married couples must share the same surname - which in 96% of cases is that of the man.

One of the women who launched the challenge, Kaori Oguni, said: “By losing your surname…you’re being made light of, you’re not respected…It’s as if part of your self vanishes.”



Baby names inspired by feminist icons


“Breaking free from heartbreak: why I chose to change my name”


“Please let's stop judging women who change their surnames”


The new sanitary towel advert finally showing RED period blood

Because what runs down your leg in the shower ain’t blue

by Amy Swales
18 Oct 2017

“France banning wolf-whistling is a good start – but it’s not enough”

We can’t kid ourselves that this kind of gesture will change women’s lives.

by Moya Crockett
18 Oct 2017

We really need to talk about what happened on Bake Off

We’re going to need a moment to process this

by Amy Swales
18 Oct 2017

Get free tickets to see Call Me By Your Name

17 Oct 2017

“In defence of birthdays: why we should celebrate each and every year”

Writer Kate Townshend on why birthday parties shouldn’t be sacrificed on the altar of adulthood

17 Oct 2017

Life can be ‘torturous’ for a sex addict, according to an expert

“It sounds like fun... that couldn’t be further from the truth”

by Susan Devaney
17 Oct 2017

Why you should wear red if you want to succeed

From ancient history to modern catwalks, why are we all so obsessed with red?

by Alexandra Jones
17 Oct 2017

These are the world’s best and worst major cities to live as a woman

London makes the list – and it’s not all bad news for the capital

by Moya Crockett
17 Oct 2017

Your Starbucks Halloween Frappuccino fix is here and it’s fangtastic

Sink your teeth into this

by Megan Murray
17 Oct 2017

This Princess Bride revelation will make you see the film in a new way

It’s been 30 years since it hit the big screen

by Susan Devaney
17 Oct 2017