Japan is set to end a 19th-century law that restricted women’s rights to remarry before giving birth, and ultimately affected children’s rights to public services.
The 1898 law concluded that a child born to a woman within 300 days of divorce is considered to be the child of her former husband. Consequently, many women opted to keep their children unregistered, particularly in cases where domestic abuse was present.
“This change in the law will help reduce the number of children who have no family register. They have finally realized that this law is for the children,” explains lawyer Tomoshi Sakka.
Children who remain unregistered face difficulties when trying to access things such as public education, healthcare, and the issuing of passports. The recently-passed legislation – which will now grant paternity to the mother’s husband at the time of the birth – will also lift a ban on pregnant women remarrying within 100 days of divorce, and help pave the way for children to have equal access to public services, regardless of their parental situation.