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Legal implications of name change 2007/7/23 22:35
Hi JF family,

Yesterday me (foreigner) and my japanese fiance submitted our marriage registration papers at local ward office. :-) We are so happy indeed. There is 1 question though we are still thinking and not sure at the moment. Is it legally required to change her last name to mine? I guess it involves plenty of paperwork for her if her last name is to be changed to mine. So I am also not so keen on having her last name changed. I have stayed in japan for 7 years now and plan to stay longer for atleast 10 years from now. Are there any legal implications on me if she maintains her last name and we both are married? I also heard that if she maintains her japanese last name, when we have a kid (in future) the kid needs to register at a japanese school using her last name (and not mine because her last name is not changed)

May I ask for advice from my JF senpai's how they addressed this crucial question? Personally I do not mind at all if she keeps her last name. I am mainly concerned from kid's perspective ; whose last would be used within japan and outside japan?

Domo Arigato Gozaimashita.

by Happygolucky  

... 2007/7/24 09:18
No, in case of international marriages, a name change is not necessary.

In case of Japanese couples, either name has to be chosen.
by Uji rate this post as useful

RE:Legal implications of name change 2007/7/24 22:10

Thanks for your advice. How about our kid? If she does not change her last name then under whose name kid's name would be registered? Mine or Hers?

I have same question when the kid has to go to a school in US? (We might be relocated to US) Whose last name would be legally accepted?

by Happygolucky rate this post as useful

... 2007/7/24 22:17
Congratulations! :)

In our case (me = Japanese woman, with non-Japanese spouse), I kept my Japanese family name. My husband appears in my "koseki" in the "Remarks" column (koseki is basically a register for Japanese nationals only). Your Japanese wife does not have to change her family name. We have no kids, so I'm not sure about the children's names, but it should not be any problem at all.

If we had kids, I would report their birth to the Japanese authorities, and they would be entered in my "koseki"; there their first names with *my* family name would appear, because as far as the "koseki" is concerned, they are Japanese.
I suppose you will report your child's birth to your country's embassy in Japan or with your home country's authorities, right? Or if your whole family moves back to your home country, you would register your children under your family name there? That way your children can use both family names I would say.

Just for reference, WITHOUT changing my family name, for convenience, on my Japanese passport I have my husband's family name mentioned in parenthesis. It is not meant to be a hyphenated double family name or anything; this helps when we travel together to his home country; they can tell at a glance we are married, where it matters. So it looks like: Hanako Suzuki (Smith).
by AK rate this post as useful

RE:Legal implications of name change 2007/7/24 23:31
Dear AK,

Thank you so much for best wishes. I am very glad to read your response. It is a great relief for both of us. However I did not understand the passport change part. In my case, my wife is japanese and her passport is issued in Japan. Are you saying I can have an entry written in her passport (one of several pages within) staing I am married to her. Same way I also need to update my passport stating she is married to me?
by Happygolucky rate this post as useful

Same 2007/7/25 02:27
My wife has also my name mentioned in her passport between brackets and my name is mentioned in her koseki under the 'additional section' (just below the family dog ^_^) and not as the name of the husband as that was not possible as the law didn't take international marriages into account. ^_^;;
I only know of one mixed couple where the Japanese wife went through the trouble of changing her name on her koseki to her foreign husband's name but it was a lot of trouble and she only did it because her husband expected her to without any particular reason.
by Kappa rate this post as useful

Name of spouse in passport 2007/7/25 02:31
There is no requirement to list the name of the spouse in your passport, it is optional and you can only do it after your marriage when you renew your passport. In my case I needed to show the City Hall my translated and certified wedding certificated. If you marry in Japan, make sure you bring back your wedding certificate with the proper certifications.
by Kappa rate this post as useful

RE:Legal implications of name change 2007/7/25 09:26
Kappa, AK, Uji,

Thanks a million for your comments. I might think not to change her last name too. It has started to make no sense to me to have her go through the pain of changing her last name in passport and all other docs.

Domo Arigato.

by Happygolucky rate this post as useful

Pros and cons 2007/7/25 11:15

It has started to make no sense to me to have her go through the pain of changing her last name in passport and all other docs.

Well, you need to balance the one-time minor inconvenience of your wife changing personal documents against a lifetime of people wondering whether you are actually married or the father of your child.

by Dave in Saitama rate this post as useful

Inconvienance? 2007/8/1 13:41
Its actually not that difficult. It takes a few minutes at your local ward office.
by BB rate this post as useful

... 2007/8/1 15:25
BB, two things here:

- About the Japanese spouse reporting the name change, it may be just a few minutes if you report it *promptly* after reporting the marriage, but after a certain period, it involves court procedures.

- I think the "inconvenience" here refers not to the "reporting" procedures, but the inconvenience of the wife changing he name as it appears on her: passport, post office record, every bank account, postal account, credit card(s), driver's lincense, every kind of membership type of documents, possibly get a new "hanko" stamp, etc., etc.

Dave in Saitama,

- Now that more couples are co-habs, or married couples who *use* different surnames in their everyday life (though their legal names might be the same), I don't think it's really a lifetime of "people wondering whether you are actually married or the father of your child." To me (Japanese woman married to a non-Japanese, keeping my family name), the pain of not being able to live with my own full name, or the pain of having every document changed, is greater. It's up to the individuals I'd say :)
by AK rate this post as useful

RE:Legal implications of name change 2007/8/1 22:11
Dear AK,

Although we are planning for name change (her family name to mine), we had many debates over it & I recall she mentioned exactly same reasons as you did.

Are you a japanese woman married to a non-japanese spouse? I am asking because I am surprised to find similarity your perspective and my fiance's. Pls dont mind my question.
by HappyGoLucky rate this post as useful

... 2007/8/1 22:38

Yes, I am a Japanese woman married to a non-Japanese spouse :)
I suppose in our case, we got married outside Japan (where it was normal that the wife kept her surname as well, so the question never was came up), and reported our marriage far far later to the Japanese authorities, we sort of "ended up" with two surnames, which is fine by us.
Years earlier, before we'd gotten married, my husband used to say "if a couple is married, it will be one family name!" But particularly because we don't have (and never planned to have) children, that practical aspect with children's names never came up, and it has been fine all these years with separate surnames :) I love being married to my husband, but also appreciate me being able to keep my full name. Each couple to their own I guess :)
by AK (Japanese woman) rate this post as useful

RE:Legal implications of name change 2007/8/2 07:33
Dear AK,

In your case the matter looks straightforward since you do not plan to have kids. In our case we both like to have a kid. Personally I do not mind at all if she keeps her last name after marriage. I am only concerned with family law in japan. According to the family law if she does not change her last name our kid would automatically get her last name (again I am fine by that too). There is no provision of join custody in the family law practiced in japan. So if we get a divorce (god forbid) then I (father of kid) loses legal right to even see my kid immediately after divorce. Filing a divorce with mutual consent merely requires submitting a paper application to ward office and thats it. To me that also means when I put down my paper application I wont be able to see my kid again (although she would be ok for me to see). In other countries there is provision of joint custody for children borne after marriage. As much as I love my fiance (irrespective of anything else) I dont like family law in japan. I believe it affects every male in japan who is married to a japanese spouse (the male can be japanese or non-japanese for that matter)

I wish the family law in japan gets revised soon. :-(
by HappyGoLucky rate this post as useful

... 2007/8/2 09:11
Ummm, then that sounds like a completely different concern; the family law of course applies to all J to J marriage as well, and it's *traditionally* been the husband's surname that's chosen by the couple. So it's not really the surname issue I guess. Um, I do have a lot of compliants about the law itself, but that is another matter. Personally I'd say don't worry about "god forbid" thing as you've just gotten married! :)
by AK rate this post as useful

hanko 2007/8/2 12:12
Can't one use a thumbprint instead of hanko for documents?
by BB rate this post as useful

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