Japan - The Civil Code - Equality Now

Japan - The Civil Code

  • Country: Japan
  • Law status: Discriminatory law in force
  • Law Type: Marriage, Divorce, Polygamy & Wife Obedience

Sex discrimination in marital status laws renders women and girls subordinate in many aspects of family relations before, during and after marriage.

Article 733 of Japan’s Civil Code prohibits women, but not men, from remarrying for 100 days after the dissolution or annulment of a marriage. Articles 772 and 774 state that a child conceived by a woman born 200 days after marriage or within 300 days of the end of a marriage shall be presumed to have been conceived during marriage, which may only be rebutted by the husband. 

These provisions deny a mother the right to have a say in the designation of the child’s father in cases when the presumption of paternity is incorrect. In many such cases, women do not obtain a birth certificate for their children due to this provision (as they would be forced to list the “legal father” of the child as opposed to the biological one), and consequently the child is denied their right to identity. 

Article 733. (1) A woman may not remarry unless 100 days have passed since the day of dissolution or rescission of her previous marriage.

(2) In the case where a woman had conceived a child before the cancellation or dissolution of her previous marriage, the provision of the preceding paragraph shall not apply.

Article 772 (1) A child conceived by a wife during marriage shall be presumed to be a child of her husband.

(2) A child born after 200 days from the formation of marriage or within 300 days of the day of the dissolution or rescission of marriage shall be presumed to have been conceived during marriage.

Article 774 Under the circumstances described in Article 772, a husband may rebut the presumption of the child in wedlock.

Link to full law



Article 14(1) of the Constitution of Japan: All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status, or family origin.

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