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Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School - Green Background

Country Details

Japan

  • Appeal Concerning an Application for Permission to Revise a Family Registration, ID 28212731, Japan, Third Petit Bench of the Supreme Court, 2013.
    Person X1 was female and underwent surgery to become a man. X1 registered as a male and married a woman X2 in 2008. In 2009, X2 bore a child. In 2012, X1 applied to have the family registry reflect that X1 was the child’s father and that the child was born while X1 and X2 were married. The ward mayor in charge of changes to family registries held that there was a problem with the application because Article 774 of the Civil Law was inapplicable to the child’s situation as the child was not related by blood to X1. X1 did not comply with the ward mayor’s request to fix the application, so the ward mayor filled in the family registry for the child with a blank for father and a note that the child was X2’s oldest son. X1 and X2 filed suit to have X1 added as the child’s father on the grounds that the child should be presumed to be a “legitimately” born child based on Article 772 of the Civil Law. The Supreme Court held that the child should be presumed to be the son of X1, overruling the lower court and the ward mayor’s decision. The court reasoned that under Article 3.1 of the Gender Identity Disorder Law, a transgender man should be treated for all purposes under the law as a man. The court held that this includes being able to marry and have a “legitimate” child. Following this decision, the Ministry of Justice issued a notification on 27 January, 2014 directing that this procedure be followed for any similarly situated families. Subsequently, the state changed the family registry for forty-five such couples to reflect that both parents are their children’s parents.
  • 2007(A) No. 1961, Japan, Supreme Court, 2008.
    The accused was charged with the act of stalking a female customer at a shopping mall, taking photographs of her buttocks in trousers with his cellular phone with a built-in digital camera from a close distance.  The court held that this act constituted an obscene act making a victim feel embarrassed or insecure under the Hokkaido Prefecture Ordinance on Prevention of Violent Public Nuisance No. 34 of 1965, which criminalizes obscene behavior.
  • 2004 (Ju) No. 1968, Japan, Supreme Court, 2006.
    Two female members of a certain local community which have collective property rights to a common land (called a "common" or a "hamlet") petitioned the court to decide the unconstitutionality of a traditional practice which determined membership and property rights within the community.  The court held that this custom which excludes female descendants who married outside of the community, is "contrary to public order and therefore null and void" under Article 90 of the Civil Code.  The court held that "the male descendant requirement discriminates against female descendants only because they are females" and it is unreasonable and against the constitutional principle of "essential gender equality."
  • 2004 (A) No. 2199, Japan, Supreme Court, 2005.
    The defendant husband, who had joint parental authority with his wife, forcibly took his son away from his mother.  The court held that the defendant's act constituted kidnapping, as there were no special circumstances which made the defendant's actions necessary, and the act was "violent and coercive."  In addition, the court found that the act of kidnapping the child could not be justified even though the defendant had parental authority.
  • 2002 (A) No. 805, Japan, Supreme Court, 2003.
    The defendant husband of Dutch nationality, married but separated from his Japanese wife, forcibly took his two-year-old daughter away from her mother, with the purpose of taking her away to the Netherlands.  The court held that the defendant kidnapped his daughter in a "malicious manner" when he pulled her by the legs, hanged her upside down and wedged her between his arm and waist, a criminal offense of kidnapping for the purpose of transporting the kidnapped person to a foreign country, under Article 226(1) of the Penal Code.