Why Can’t I keep my Surname? The Fairness and Welfare of the Japanese Legal System

Makiko Omura

This study examines the welfare and fairness implications of Japan’s current policy on marriage surnames versus the proposed revised family law, which would enable husbands and wives to retain their premarital surnames. The study compares welfare in these two legal states, with a married couple’s welfare dependent on marriage-surname choice. It reviews the external preferences of anti-revisionists by the fairness criteria of impersonality or extended sympathy. Utilizing web-based survey data, the study conducts nonparametric rank analysis and parametric analysis of willingness to pay (WTP) for surname retention and legal support. Moreover, it conducts a structural equation analysis via a multiple indicators multiple causes (MIMIC) model, incorporating surname attachment and fairness as latent variables. The study shows that the revised law can increase welfare and that external disutility of the legal revision is invalid on fairness grounds.

To view the full text of this article or book review, please see our instruction on accessing the publisher's website.