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Why a Japanese man proudly took his wife's last name

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By Mai Yoshikawa

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But the wife took her father’s name so in reality the man took his wife’s father’s name...

11 ( +19 / -8 )

But the wife took her father’s name

Really? What was her name before that?

-6 ( +13 / -19 )

Bravo!!

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Husband taking wife's surname in Japan is not as rare as one make it out to be.

About 4 percent of Japanese husbands take wife's surname. This happens when the wife's family doesn't have a son and the husband wishes to carry on wife's bloodline.

Similar example is Abe Shinzo's brother Kishi Nobuo, who was adopted by Abe's mother's brother to carry on Kishi family's bloodline.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

Good for this man. Male mental health wouldn't be so at risk if more men were like him, showing that you don't have to live your life against your beliefs, in a way that damages you, or limit yourself because the previous generations decided that was the way things were done.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

I was onboard until the quote that stated gender-specific pronouns are harmful discrimination.

15 ( +22 / -7 )

Stranger land....The wife didn't take her mother's name. So in reality Mr Right on just followed the patriarchy

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

Makes some good points. It’s not about gender it’s about social judgment. If you are not hurting anyone why the fuss.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

The wife didn't take her mother's name.

As far as I can tell, she never took on anyone's name. The story does not say she ever had another name.

So I'm not sure why you keep going on about taking someone else's name, when all she has is her own name. At least, according to the article.

-14 ( +3 / -17 )

Stunning and brave

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Japanese men take their wife's name all the time. It keeps the name from dying out when there are no more males with the name.

6 ( +11 / -5 )

PharaohChromiumToday 08:26 am JST

Stunning and brave

I think Mr. Matsuo-Post would point out that one doesn't have to be macho in order to be a man. He would also likely say he is neither stunning nor brave, as it doesn't cost him anything, including social capital, to treat women as equals.

A good lesson to learn.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Nothing to be proud of, just an attention-seeking ploy.

True pride and honor is in doing something and not bragging about it.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

I’m sorry but this just goes too far for me. I’m all about women’s rights and equality, but a man taking his partner’s surname is hardly brave or deeply meaningful. Nowadays everything is discriminatory, and it’s at a point where we have to walk on egg shells regarding completely trivial matters. Give me a break.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

I find it odd that this is allowed (fair enough in my mind) yet a woman cannot keep her maiden name when she marries. Both examples require changes on the family register.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

"Often I will challenge him about whether his choices are authentic, or if he's just trying to make sure that he is being feminist. Like when he deliberately gets something that is pink instead of blue for our son," she says.

I like this. Critical thinking must be applied to everything, including feminism. Many people don't seem to understand that the first rule of feminism is being authentic to one's self. For some, that might mean being typically feminine or typically masculine - these identities should not be outright rejected only because they adhere to gender norms. What's important is that you interrogate your choices to make sure they are authentically yours, and not something that was thrust upon you by society.

Men can be feminine or masculine; women can be masculine or feminine; and both can be anything in between. It's not a dichotomy.

A woman can wear pink while running a Fortune 500 company; and a man can cook his wife dinner and then go out later to play tackle football. Why the hell not?

1 ( +8 / -7 )

A woman can wear pink while running a Fortune 500 company; and a man can cook his wife dinner and then go out later to play tackle football. Why the hell not?

Thus there is absolutely nothing wrong with a beer drinking Nascar watching guy who refuses to cook and says he won't marry a woman unless she stays in the kitchen, puts on preddy makeup in the morning and serves his beer.

That's his choice and his identity and if his wife agrees to that lifestyle because it's her authentic choice than there is absolutely nothing wrong with their choices.

Agreed?

6 ( +11 / -5 )

If me and my girl get married, we'll both keep our own surnames.

That's what my parents did as well. It's about as equal as you can get IMO.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

@Blitzwing

we'll both keep our own surnames.

This is only possible if you don't intend to acquire a Japanese citizenship and stay on as a foreign resident of Japan.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

It's nothing new and I have a couple of friends and even one boss who have taken their respective wiffe's family name. In anime culture, we also have Sazae-san as a prime example, so people don't really find it strange here in Japan.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

I think Mr. Matsuo-Post would point out that one doesn't have to be macho in order to be a man. He would also likely say he is neither stunning nor brave, as it doesn't cost him anything, including social capital, to treat women as equals.

So nice that he's got you to speak his mind for him.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Samit Basu

@Blitzwing

we'll both keep our own surnames.

This is only possible if you don't intend to acquire a Japanese citizenship and stay on as a foreign resident of Japan.

That is not entirely true and it's quite a common myth. Your name must be only doable in 常用漢字 or 人名用漢字. Not sure if it's possible in Kana currently, because I've been through this more than 20 years ago. It's way easier now in this matter.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Burning BushToday  08:41 am JST

Nothing to be proud of, just an attention-seeking ploy.

Quite so. Maybe because of this?

Eventually, his activity logs turned into a self-published book titled "I Took Her Name," which was released in December.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I adopted my wife's family name when we got married. And she got mine. But. . .we got married in Brazil before coming to Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I don't think they're allowed book tours in Mother Russia.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

we'll both keep our own surnames.

This is only possible if you don't intend to acquire a Japanese citizenship and stay on as a foreign resident of Japan.

That is not entirely true and it's quite a common myth. Your name must be only doable in 常用漢字 or 人名用漢字. Not sure if it's possible in Kana currently

I'm not clear on what you are referring to with "that" and "it". Keeping one's own surnames? Keeping one's own surnames and also remaining as a foreign resident in Japan? Something else?

-11 ( +0 / -11 )

I think the bigger point is not him taking his wife's surname, but the fact that Japanese couples must have the same name which is ridiculous, but then again we're talking about a lowly-ranked country when it comes to gender equality. As I said the other day, Japan is in between UAE and Kuwait, or some similar countries. This really is embarrassing and Japan sticks out like a sore thumb compared to other G7 countries. When there is a need for women-only train carriages, you know there's a big problem. It doesn't fix the problem, which is why Taiwan abandoned them pretty quickly.

For surnames, you can't pin the blame on Korea or the Sinosphere since women there keep their surname - and they don't suffer from it.

Japan would be such a better place if there were more thoughtful men like Shu. But then again, he's travelled a lot and has had a much wider experience of life.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Taking the wife’s name is not a big deal in Japan. It’s often done for inheritance reasons etc. This article attempts to conflate it with an act of male feminist defiance.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

But the wife took her father’s name so in reality the man took his wife’s father’s name...

How do you know she took her father’s name? My dad and his siblings all had his mum’s surname. Anyway, it’s irrelevant where the surname comes from, no one should be forced to change their name if they do not want to. I loathe double barrelled names. Just keep your own name or choose a name and stick with it.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"For example, the (necessity for) women-only train cars, the pornography in convenience stores, gender-specific pronouns, fuzoku (sex service), and so on. Gender discrimination is everywhere. This discrimination harms us all," he said.

Gender specific pronouns is a type of gender discrimination. Let me get this straight. So by calling a man "he/him" or a woman "she/her"... I am discriminating.

o.m.g. Patriarchal oppression!!

Yah, sorry. I can't simp-athize with this Shu Matsuo Post person.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

The fact that this is news tells you everything you need to know about Japan. But I think this practice is not so uncommon...Incidentally, my son is named with my Japanese wife's surname because otherwise he would have been lumped with an awful katakana approximation of my name and allows Japanese and it marks him out strait away as a gaikokujin...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If you are a Japanese male-female couple getting married, there are no in-between options like hyphenating your last names, keeping your family name as your middle name or combining both of your last names into a new name.

As long as I know, a new family name created for a couple is technically possible and legal, yet it may take more time for approval upon koseki-registration.

Despite the option for men to take their wife's surname, 96 percent of Japanese women assume their husband's name.

This is arising and recent trend in Japan's modern history. It used to be very common that the man changed his family name through adoption or marriage to enter and succeed the host house or business. The current rule doesn't necessarily reflect Japan's traditional naming conventions. Ironically it was made in late 19 century, modelled after French civil codes while the present-day Europe is more flexible on naming conventions.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Got myself to read more but

Like when he deliberately gets something that is pink instead of blue for our son," she says

Poor kid. They are going to confuse him (sheem?). When the kid starts getting bullied in school they will start pointing fingers everywhere except where they should be rightly pointing, at themselves.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Really? What was her name before that?

Aka-chan, probably.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Burning BushToday 09:10 am JST

Thus there is absolutely nothing wrong with a beer drinking Nascar watching guy who refuses to cook and says he won't marry a woman unless she stays in the kitchen, puts on preddy makeup in the morning and serves his beer.

That's his choice and his identity and if his wife agrees to that lifestyle because it's her authentic choice than there is absolutely nothing wrong with their choices.

Agreed?

I would ask this man whether he had interrogated himself on his choices and why he made them - if it was a conscious choice, or if he is only following the culture and the examples of the men he sees around him.

I would ask him if he had considered why he only thinks he shouldn't cook, why he believes his wife should wear makeup, and why he believes his wife ought to serve him.

If this man has not really thought very hard about this, then upon consideration he would understand how deeply unequal his relationship with his wife is, and come to the conclusion that he is behaving very badly and very selfishly.

On the other hand, if he has thought about this carefully, and consciously made these decisions knowing they are selfish, then we can only conclude his sexist opinions and unethical behavior is his choice.

As for whether or not this is "okay": it is clearly not "okay" when you consider that it is unlikely he confines this unethical behavoior and sexism to his own household, and treats other women who have not, unlike his wife, consented to being treated in this way, then it is very much not okay.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

GarthgoyleToday 12:13 pm JST

Poor kid. They are going to confuse him (sheem?). When the kid starts getting bullied in school they will start pointing fingers everywhere except where they should be rightly pointing, at themselves.

So instead of pushing back at the narrow-mindedness of the people making judgements based on outdated gender stereotypes and teaching the child resilliance in the face of peer presussre to conform to them, the parents should just roll over and blame themselves for not adhering to said outdated gender stereotypes.

Is that what you are saying? Because that sort of defeats the entire purpose, doesn't it.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Just the fact, that this made such news and the fact that it receives such heated discussion and flamewars means, that there is really a problem

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Nice responses Girl in Tokyo. It has given me lots to think about!!!

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

I would say that this man has struck an even bigger blow for international and non-Japanese couples. If his wife were Japanese, surnamed Tanaka, and he became Shuhei Tanaka, updating his documents and business cards would be no big deal; not just wives, but Japanese adoptees do it all the time. But I guarantee you that eyebrows were raised when he said his family name was Matsuo Post 松尾ポスト, which paradoxically would have been easier for his wife.

I look forward to seeing more hybrid kanji-katakana names in public life as more people follow Mr. Matsuo Post!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sometimes you have to take the fish out of the water to enable it to see...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Shu says heterosexual men must begin to acknowledge the privileges they enjoy.

This is the only reason why men would go against gender equality and justice. Men don't want to relinquish the privileges they have from this highly unequal society.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

@Garthgoyle

When the kid starts getting bullied in school

When someone is being bullied, the blame is on the bully and his/her parents.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

why should we expect a woman to lose her identity in favor of a man's?

A name is not an identity.

When I married and took my husband's name, I didn't lose my identity, I added another aspect to it.

Really? What was her name before that?

Before she was born, she didn't have a name (though her parents may have decided what her given name was going to be, it wasn't official until it was registered). And it's a pretty safe bet that her name was made up of the given name decided by her parents, and her surname which was almost certainly her father's surname. So Mr. Kipling is right, Shuhei added her father's family name to his own father's family name.

 it’s irrelevant where the surname comes from, no one should be forced to change their name if they do not want to

Yes. And by the same token, a person, male or female, who willingly accepts their spouse's name as their own shouldn't be feminista-shamed on account of their choice.

gender-specific pronouns are harmful discrimination

Yeah, what's all that about?

when he deliberately gets something that is pink instead of blue for our son

Yeah, poor kid. The world is more than pink and blue. Red and yellow and orange and purple and green....

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Thank you Cleo, as always the voice of plain common sense.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Before she was born, she didn't have a name (though her parents may have decided what her given name was going to be, it wasn't official until it was registered). And it's a pretty safe bet that her name was made up of the given name decided by her parents, and her surname which was almost certainly her father's surname. So Mr. Kipling is right

Let's review what Mr. Kipling said:

But the wife took her father’s name so in reality the man took his wife’s father’s name...

The wife didn't take the father's name. It was given to her.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

The wife didn't take the father's name. It was given to her.

Semantics. Bottom line, Shuhei took Tina's father's family name.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As for whether or not this is "okay": it is clearly not "okay" 

I thought you said that feminism allows every person to choice to define their own roles.

Why is it not okay if people chose a gender role that you disagree with.

Seems like you want to force gender roles on people and set rules as to what gender roles they can choose for themselves.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Semantics. Bottom line, Shuhei took Tina's father's family name.

It's not semantics, we were talking about different things. I was commenting on the first half of his sentence, you were commenting on the latter. The wife didn't take her fathers name (as I said). The husband took the wife's father's name (which I never commented on).

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

A name is not an identity.

I agree, but the rather outspoken proponents of identity politics would like to have a word with you...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Good for them.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

For surnames, you can't pin the blame on Korea or the Sinosphere since women there keep their surname - and they don't suffer from it.

That doesn't necessarily mean that China or Korea are more progressive. In those cultures, the vertical relation based on ancestral bloodline, particularly paternal side lineage is more important than unity of married/mating individuals. Reflecting that, the family name is single, lifetime, assigned only to "member" individuals within. People are very discouraged if not banned from changing it at one's free will or through marriage or adoption. In other words, they have to keep their surnames after marriage.

At issue is the offspring for the couple of separate surnames. A large majority or nearly 90% of them still use father's surname (in Korea in 2008 data). Women used to be prohibited from sharing inheritance even graveyard with their husbands. Women tend to be excluded from husband side "family affairs" in this regard though reforms have been called for, some made more recently.

In Japan, unity based on* ie* or "house" seems to be more stressed while bloodline or paternal lineage succession matter little. Women as well as men are tolerant of changing their original surname, even more than once alongside critical life events (marriage, adoption, or entry into/exit from a house). They are even free to create a new family name; no wonder Japanese holds one of the largest number of family names or variants around the worlds. However, the current law limits some of flexbility used to be practiced. I thus think that reform is needed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I took my wife's surname when I naturalized. The law is gender blind on this point.

I filed a 通称 (known as) form with my employers saying "My legal name is now ... but I want to continue to use my birth name."

Japanese law allows you to use a 通称 even to stand for election. Both men and women do.

I only use my registered name in three contexts: passport, taxes, insurance.

Everywhere else I use my birth name. (I was never a maiden and never will be a maiden.)

Many local government websites have a page, often in English, on how to register and use a name other than your legal name.

Here is an example (in Japanese) from the Shibuya Ward office. Japanese women who marry foreign nationals and take their husband's surname use the 通称 system to retain their Japanese name for daily use.

https://shibuya-faq.dga.jp/faq_detail.html?category=&page=1&id=3516

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

So instead of pushing back at the narrow-mindedness of the people making judgements based on outdated gender stereotypes...

Lol. No. They're not pushing back or standing against outdated stereotypes. They are creating more stereotypes.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I offered to take my wifes Japanese surname just because I thought it might be easier for her and the kids to have a Japanese family name but she wasn't having any of it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Burning BushFeb. 16 01:30 pm JST

I thought you said that feminism allows every person to choice to define their own roles.

Yes. And they are. Which I said. What you asked, however, was whether it is okay for a man to treat his wife badly, which is where a line is drawn between gender roles and outright abuse.

Why is it not okay if people chose a gender role that you disagree with.

Abuse is not a gender role.

Seems like you want to force gender roles on people and set rules as to what gender roles they can choose for themselves.

Again, abuse is not a gender role.

As an aside, you really aren't interested in a fair discussion. You attacked my post with a plan to "trap" me, and would have disagree with me no matter what I said. You're being obtuse purely out of spite - I know that you know judgements of right and wrong can be made objectively based on moral precepts, like kindness, fairness, equality, and empathy. I also know that you realize abuse is not a gender role. You are much smarter than you are pretending to be.

Why you feel you always have to fight with me I do not know; but it's tiresome. I would suggest that you actually listen honestly to what I have to say instead only of thinking of me as your nemesis.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Samit BasuFeb. 16 09:35 am JST

@Blitzwing

This is only possible if you don't intend to acquire a Japanese citizenship and stay on as a foreign resident of Japan.

We're both non-Japanese and neither of us are planning to change to Japanese citizenship :)

Also, not sure why my comment got so many downvotes. Curious.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have a co-worker that took his Japanese wife's family name, mainly because his name "Jones" was just too common. He is getting a divorce though, and I think he has decided to keep his Japanese ex's family name.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would suggest that you actually listen honestly to what I have to say instead only of thinking of me as your nemesis.

Of course you would suggest that. If you had your way, you would make it mandatory.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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