Out-of-wedlock/illegitimate children is even more complicated in Japan due to its antiquated koseki system:
- Japan’s Household Registration System (koseki seido) is an extremely powerful state instrument, and is socially entrenched with a long history of population governance, social control and the maintenance of social order. It provides identity whilst at the same time imposing identity upon everyone registered, and in turn, the state receives validity and legitimacy from the registration of its inhabitants.
The study of the procedures and mechanisms for identifying and documenting people provides an important window into understanding statecraft, and by examining the koseki system, this book provides a keen insight into social and political change in Japan. By looking through the lens of the koseki system, the book takes both an historical as well as a contemporary approach to understanding Japanese society.
In doing so, it develops our understanding of contemporary Japan within the historical context of population management and social control; reveals the social effects and influence of the koseki system throughout its history; and presents new insights into citizenship, nationality and identity.
- The koseki simultaneously fills the function of birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, and the census in other countries. It is based on family rather than each individual. For married couples, only one family name may appear on the koseki, which means that one person has to abandon his or her family name when he or she marries. Usually it is the woman.
- Only Japanese citizens may be registered in a koseki, because koseki serve as certificates of citizenship. Non-Japanese may be noted where required, such as being the spouse of a Japanese citizen or the parent of a Japanese offspring, however they are not listed in the same fashion as Japanese spouses or parents. (This can be a real problem for the foreigner spouse down the line.)
- Merely being born in Japan doesn't automatically make you Japanese unless the Japanese father acknowledges paternity and is listed on his koseki. Child will take mother's nationality or is otherwise stateless.
- There is a huge stigma attached to illegitimate children in Japan, e.g. can only inherit half of what their 'legitimate' siblings can get.
- Information provided in koseki is detailed as well as sensitive and makes discrimination possible against such groups as burakumin or illegitimate children and unwed mothers, for example. Almost anybody could get a copy of someone's koseki until 2008, when some restrictions are placed.
- Japan's Supreme Court rules even DNA test results cannot revoke paternal status of child's non-biological father in the koseki. The ruling means that under the Japanese Civil Code, DNA tests cannot change the status of a child who is considered the offspring of a married couple.
The court ruling therefore means that children are legally recognized to be the offspring of their mothers’ husbands, and not their biological fathers, e.g. a married man asked the court to invalidate his paternal relationship with two of his children after DNA tests established they were not his offspring - his appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court.
- It certainly pertains to the J-Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss a case brought by a woman who wanted authorities to acknowledge her late husband as the father of her son, even though the boy was born three years after the husband died.
The heart of the problem is the family registration system, or koseki, in which relationships within a family are designated and recognized by law. Before the woman’s husband died from leukemia in 1999 he had his sperm frozen because he was aware that the treatment he received might damage his ability to procreate.
Sometime after he died the woman used the sperm to fertilize one of her eggs and in 2001 gave birth to a boy. She tried to have the baby’s name registered in her koseki as the son of her and her late husband, but local authorities rejected it... The government does not acknowledge the dead husband as the baby’s father, which means the baby is officially illegitimate.
So in Japan, ya cannot just give birth and leave blank the baby's father's name and his acknowledgement. Otherwise, that officially makes the child illegitimate, and people can see that document such as when applying to schools.
Also, a married woman cannot just keep her maiden name (she must be listed under her husband's koseki once her name is crossed off her father's koseki - everyone on the same koseki must use the same last name) or simply divorce without going thru his koseki which is controlled by her father-in-law (she was crossed off her parents' koseki to go to her husband's, but her husband doesn't need to be crossed off his parents' koseki).
And we're not even getting to international marriages............
Viz has been really pushing this one, it seems. I would've hoped they'd change the title though, since I, too, thought there'd be some kind of twincest in this. It's not a message I'd recommend to proclaim to the world.