Name Debate Back in The Spotlight: This Week in Osaka June 7th to 14th 2024

Each week, here at, we bring you a selection of some of the top stories about Osaka making the local and national news here in Japan. Sometimes it’s serious, sometimes it’s funny, but it’s always direct to you, from Osaka.

Here’s a look at some of the stories hitting the headlines in Osaka this week.

Name Change Rules Come Under Fresh Scrutiny

Getting married in Japan is a complicated business, with plenty of paperwork.

Osaka’s business leaders joined with their counterparts in Tokyo this week to push for change. The object of their ire, the law demanding that married couples adopt the same surname. Japan’s top business lobby, Keidanren, says the situation has now become “a business risk”. Surveys in Osaka and indeed nationwide conducted over the past several years all show the same change. A vast majority of the general public, often as much as two thirds, consistently expressed discontent with the current law. Keidanren’s own research found that 95% of their own members want the law to be changed.

The only hold-outs in this entire debate are the government themselves. The subject of females keeping their maiden names has come up numerous times in recent debates. Both human rights activists and the business lobby continue to press for change.  

Current Name Conventions “Outdated, Inflexible and Bad for Business”

Leading women in the Japanese business community meet Japan’s former PM, the late Shinzo Abe.

In addition to the dissatisfaction of their own members, Keidanren also highlighted the fact that the current name rules are bad for Japan’s international image.

The most recent edition of the international gender equality survey, makes for grim reading for Japan. Out of the 145 countries the World Economic Forum surveyed as part of its research, Japan ranked an embarrassing 118th for gender equality in the workplace.

The name debate has reached a point now where even some conservatives within the ruling LDP party question the wisdom of maintaining the status quo.

The common argument in favor of retaining the current law, which dates from 1898 is “the preservation of the family unit.” More right-leaning members of the LDP argue that allowing separate surnames would “destroy family unity”. However, they seldom, if ever produce any evidence to back up this hyperbolae.

Conversely, more centrist elements within the governing party cite the declining birthrate and the fall in marriage numbers. They point to direct testimony from Keidanren members and other prominent female business leaders. These women said that, in numerous anecdotal cases, they know of people who were actually put off of getting married at all, due to the damage that changing their name could do to their career.

Despite the current law, the vast majority of female executive level staff in Japan continue to use their maiden name on business cards and other such matter, post marriage. However, confusion arises whenever they need to use their passport or other official identification for business purposes, and the names don’t match. This can lead to embarrassment, and in some cases directly hinder the smooth conducting of business.

Osaka House Builder Faces Humiliating, Expensive Cancellation

Unfortunately, this entire condo building will soon be knocked down.

One of Osaka’s best known residential property companies faced an embarrassing U-turn this week.

Sekisui House, a property building and sales firm based in Osaka, has had to abandon plans for a condominium complex near Tokyo.

Despite the development being almost complete, with buyers due to take ownership of their condos in a matter of weeks, the entire project has now been cancelled.

The reason for this: the condo complex spoils the view.

Kunitachi City is known for its scenic views of Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji.

Local residents complained that the condos disrupted this view. Despite numerous meetings with local residents associations, and agreeing to numerous changes to the condominium layout, ultimately Sekisui House will have to abandon the project.

The property firm informed the Kunitachi City government of their plan to cancel the project this week. Sekisui will absorb the costs incurred in building the complex, as well as the additional costs that will now come with its removal. These sums will go down in next year’s annual accounts as “extraordinary losses.”

And Finally…

Using third party apps on your iPhone got a little easier for Osaka’s phone enthusiasts this week.

Osaka’s smartphone users celebrated a major win this week. The Japanese government announced a change in the laws governing access to third party apps. Under new laws, companies that restrict or fail to make freely available third party apps or payment methods on their devices could face fines of up to 30% of their revenue.

Similar laws already exist in the European Union. Consumer rights activists hope that Japan’s new Digital Markets Act is the latest step towards an eventual global framework. Though not named directly in deliberations, it seems that the main targets of this new law are Apple and Google. The two American firms have come under criticism worldwide in recent years for their near duopoly of the smartphone app market.

That’s all for now but be sure to check back again same time next week for another round of this week in Osaka!


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