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

Country Details

  • 2012 (Ju) No. 2231, Japan, Supreme Court, 2014.
    The plaintiff was a physiotherapist in a managerial position at her employer. She requested and was grated maternity leave but was not allowed to return to her position at the end of the maternity leave. She filed a lawsuit against her employer, asserting that there was a violation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law. The Supreme Court found in favor of the plaintiff because the Equal Employment Opportunity Law forbids disadvantaging employees based on the employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, request for maternity leave, or request for transfer to lighter work.
  • 2013 (Kyo) No. 5, Japan, Supreme Court, 2013.
    The plaintiff husband, who had gender identity disorder and changed his gender from female to male, and the plaintiff wife requested the local public agency to amend their family registry to state the plaintiff husband as the father of their child. The child was born by artificial insemination and has no blood relationship with the plaintiff husband. The Supreme Court determined that, since the child was conceived by the plaintiff wife during marriage, he is presumed to be a child of the plaintiff husband under the Civil Code, and ordered the family registry to be amended.
  • 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.
  • 2009 (JinNa) No. 9, Japan, Supreme Court, 2010.
    The plaintiff father was granted sole custody of his child in divorce proceedings in Wisconsin, USA. The defendant mother took the child to Japan. The plaintiff father sued for custody at the Osaka High Court. The court found in favor of the defendant mother because the father had a history of violence, the child lives a stable life and had many friends in Japan, and the child desired to live with the defendant mother.
  • 2007 (A) No. 1223, Japan, Supreme Court, 2008.
    The defendant broke into the house of the victim and, after indecently touching her, tried to escape. The victim was accidentally injured during the escape. The defendant was charged with the crime of Forcible Indecency Causing Injury. The Supreme Court concluded that, even though the injury was not directly caused by assault or intimidation, the defendant could be convicted of Forcible Indecency Causing Injury because the assault was committed closely before or after the indecent act.
  • 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.
  • 2007 (A) No. 520, Japan, Supreme Court, 2007.
    The defendant was indicted under the Stalker Regulation Law on a charge of stalking his former girlfriend by sending two rose bouquets and five letters. The defendant argued that the Stalker Regulation Law is unconstitutional because it infringes a “right to fulfill romantic feelings”. The Supreme Court rejected the defendant’s argument opining that even if a right to fulfill romantic feelings were to exist, the purpose of the Stalker Regulation Law is legitimate and its contents are reasonable.
  • 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.
  • 2004 (A) No. 2571, Japan, Supreme Court, 2005.
    The defendant was indicted under the Stalker Regulation Law on a charge of stalking his former girlfriend. The defendant demanded many times by email and phone that she repay costs he incurred while they were dating. The defendant sent a letter to her threatening to distribute nude photos of her if she did not unblock him on her cell phone. The Supreme Court determined that, even though he sent the letter only once, his conduct amounted to “stalking” under the Stalker Regulation Law since his conduct was as a whole persistent and repetitive.
  • 2004 (Ju) No. 247, Japan, Supreme Court, 2004.
    The plaintiff husband filed for divorce arguing that his wife was impossible to live with due to her neurosis for cleanliness. The defendant wife refused to agree to divorce because she had a seven-year-old child who needed child support. The plaintiff dated another woman and was living separately from the defendant for two years and four months before filing for divorce. The Supreme Court refused to grant divorce because (i) the plaintiff destroyed family trust by dating another woman, (ii) the period of living separately was not long, (iii) their child was still only seven years old, and (iv) it would be difficult for the defendant who suffered from a neurosis to find a job to support herself.
  • 2001 (Ju) No. 1066, Japan, Supreme Court, 2003.
    The plaintiff exercised her right under Japanese law to reduce her working hours to spend time taking care of her child. The internal policy of her employer stated that employees who did not attend work for 90% or more of work days are ineligible for a bonus. The plaintiff’s employer counted the plaintiff’s shortened working days as absences and refused to pay her a bonus. The plaintiff sued her company for a bonus. The Supreme Court determined that the employer’s internal policy violated public policy and the employer should have counted actual working hours when calculating attendance rate.
  • 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.   
  • 1998 (O) No. 576, Japan, Supreme Court, 2001.
    The plaintiff had breast cancer and sued her operating surgeon who conducted a mastectomy arguing that he had a duty to inform her in advance that there are other treatments that do not require complete breast removal. The Supreme Court determined that the surgeon had a legal obligation to give her an opportunity to make an informed decision about her treatment, in this case by providing the name and address of medical institutions that conduct breast cancer operations that do not remove the entire breast.