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”


“Why I opted out of reconstruction after my double mastectomy”

Breast cancer survivor Jeanne Paul says many don’t understand her choice

by Amy Swales
21 Aug 2017

Carpool Karaoke gets a Game of Thrones makeover

The Starks are in town

by Amy Swales
21 Aug 2017

How the solar eclipse could completely transform your life

An astrologer tells us how to tap into the ‘magical powers’ of tonight’s eclipse

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

Lidl is selling £3.33 bottles of prosecco – but there’s a catch

Bring on the bubbles

by Megan Murray
21 Aug 2017

Singer stops concert to expertly shame man for sexual assault

“It is not your f**king body and you do not f**king grab at someone!”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
21 Aug 2017

Why that Game of Thrones infertility storyline is so very important

This article contains spoilers, obviously

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

“I’m child-free, not childless – why the difference matters”

One writer on how our language shames women who choose not to procreate

21 Aug 2017

High school boys support female students against sexist dress code

And this is how it’s done

by Megan Murray
21 Aug 2017

Why people are posting cat photos in response to the Barcelona attacks

There’s a reason behind the influx of felines online

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Aug 2017

The deadly secret hidden within that creepy Game of Thrones hug

Spoilers are coming…

by Kayleigh Dray
18 Aug 2017