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Does the child take the father’s last name in Japan?


In Japan, like most countries, there is a traditional practice of passing on the family name to future generations. However, unlike in many Western countries where a child typically receives the father’s last name, Japan has a unique system for naming children that varies depending on several factors. In this article, we will explore whether or not the child takes the father’s last name in Japan and what factors influence this decision.

History of Japanese Naming Conventions

The Japanese naming convention has changed over time, with different systems in place during various periods of history. While early naming conventions were based on social status and occupation, today’s system is more focused on family names and lineage. Understanding the history of Japanese naming conventions can help explain why children may or may not take their father’s last name.

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The Importance of Family Names in Japan

In Japan, family names hold great importance as they are seen as a representation of one’s heritage and identity. The family name is often considered more important than one’s given name, and it is common practice for married couples to adopt one partner’s family name to create a unified family identity. This cultural value plays a significant role in how children are named in Japan.

Matrilineal vs. Patrilineal Naming Systems

Japan has both matrilineal and patrilineal naming systems, meaning that children can take either their mother’s or father’s last name. The decision usually depends on various factors such as personal preference, cultural norms, and legal requirements. In some cases, families may choose to use a combination of both parents’ last names or create an entirely new one.

Legal Requirements for Naming Children in Japan

While there is no law mandating which parent’s last name a child should take in Japan, there are legal requirements that must be followed when registering a child’s name. For example, the child’s last name must match that of one of their parents or be a combination of both parents’ surnames. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines and other penalties.

Changing One’s Name in Japan

In some cases, individuals may choose to change their name in Japan for personal or professional reasons. However, this process can be quite challenging as there are strict regulations governing the changing of one’s name. For example, one must have a valid reason for changing their name and undergo a lengthy application process that includes background checks and approval from local authorities.

International Marriages and Naming Conventions

In recent years, international marriages have become more common in Japan, leading to new challenges regarding naming conventions for children. In cases where one parent is from another country with different naming conventions, couples may need to navigate complex legal procedures to register their child’s name correctly.

Gender and Naming Conventions in Japan

While it is common for children to take their father’s last name in many cultures, this tradition does not always apply in Japan. In some cases, daughters may take their mother’s last name instead of their father’s last name. This practice is becoming more common as women in Japan seek greater equality and independence.

Cultural Attitudes Towards Naming Children in Japan

Cultural attitudes towards naming children vary across Japan depending on regional customs and individual beliefs. Some families place great value on carrying on their family name while others prioritize choosing a unique or meaningful name for their child. Understanding these cultural attitudes can provide insight into why children may take their father’s last name or not.

Exceptions to Traditional Naming Conventions

While traditional naming conventions are still prevalent in Japan, there are exceptions to these practices. For example, some parents may choose to give their child a different surname from either parent as a way of expressing creativity or individuality. Additionally, same-sex couples who have children through adoption or surrogacy may choose to give their child both parents’ last names.

The Future of Japanese Naming Conventions

As Japanese society continues to evolve and change, so too will its naming conventions. While traditional practices still hold significant cultural value, younger generations are increasingly embracing more progressive views when it comes to naming children. It remains to be seen how these changes will shape the future of Japanese naming conventions.


In conclusion, whether or not children take their father’s last name in Japan depends on various factors such as personal preference, legal requirements, and cultural attitudes towards family names. While traditional practices still hold great significance in Japanese society, younger generations are challenging these norms and embracing new ideas about naming conventions. As such, it will be interesting to see how these changes shape the future of Japanese culture and identity.

Do Japanese take their fathers name?

In Japan, the family name, also known as ‘myouji’ or ‘ue no namae,’ is passed down from the father and shared among siblings. It is always listed before the given name, also known as ‘shita no namae,’ which is chosen at birth as an individual’s personal identifier.

Does the woman take the man’s last name in Japan?

Japanese law prohibits married couples from having different surnames, requiring them to select only one. The man’s surname is chosen by approximately 96 percent of couples, as same-sex marriage is not recognized in Japan.

Do children take their mother’s last name in Japan?

As a general rule, the Japanese family registry is patriarchal and inheritance is passed down through the husband’s family. After marriage, wives are listed in their husband’s family registry, and children are also listed there. However, there may be some exceptions to this rule.

Can a baby take the father’s last name?

The last name of a child on their birth certificate can come from the mother’s or father’s surname at the time of birth, or a combination of both parents’ names in any order with or without a hyphen.

Whose last name does the baby get in Japan?

According to the Family Registration Law in Japan, when a person is born, the notification of birth must include the complete names of both the mother and father. If the person is a Japanese national, their family register must also include the complete names of their biological parents.

Can you have 2 last names in Japan?

According to Article 750 of Japan’s Civil Code, when a couple gets married, they must have the same family name. This usually means that one spouse, usually the woman, is required to change theirs. However, in the case of international marriages, different surnames are permitted. This law was recently discussed as a topic of debate in Japan.

Impact of Naming Conventions on Japanese Society

The naming conventions in Japan have a significant impact on society as they reflect cultural values and beliefs. The practice of passing on family names to future generations reinforces the importance of family ties and lineage. However, this tradition can also perpetuate gender inequality and restrict individuality. As younger generations challenge these norms, it will be interesting to see how naming conventions evolve and shape Japanese society in the future.

The Role of Government in Shaping Naming Conventions

The Japanese government plays a role in shaping naming conventions through legal requirements and regulations. While there is no law mandating which parent’s last name a child should take, the government’s regulations on registering names can influence parents’ decisions. Additionally, the government’s stance on same-sex marriage and adoption can impact whether or not same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples when it comes to naming their children.

Cultural Differences in Naming Conventions Across Asia

Naming conventions vary across Asia, with different countries having unique traditions and practices. In China, for example, children typically take their father’s last name, while in Korea, children may take either their father’s or mother’s last name depending on the family’s preference. Understanding these cultural differences can provide insight into the ways that naming conventions reflect broader cultural values and beliefs.

The Globalization of Naming Conventions

With increased globalization and multiculturalism, naming conventions are becoming more diverse and complex. Individuals from different cultural backgrounds may choose to blend their naming traditions or adopt new practices altogether. This trend highlights the importance of understanding cultural differences and respecting individual choices when it comes to naming children.

The Significance of Given Names in Japan

While family names hold great importance in Japan, given names are also meaningful and carefully chosen. Given names often have specific meanings or associations that reflect parents’ hopes and wishes for their child, such as strength or intelligence. Understanding the significance of given names can provide insight into how parents choose to express their love and hopes for their children.

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