“I was reading about the Lucy Stone League,” Aiko said to her husband, Hiraku.
“What’s that?” he asked glancing up from his cell phone.
“It’s a women’s rights organization founded in 1921 was named after Lucy Stone, the first married woman in the United States to carry her birth name through life. She married in 1855. The League was first group to fight for women to be allowed to keep their maiden name after marriage and to use it legally. The motto is ‘a wife should no more take her husband’s name than he should hers. My name is my identity and must not be lost.’“
“That’s foolish,” Hiraku said. “How is changing her name to her husband’s threaten a woman’s identity? The changing of the name simply shows that she’s no longer single but married.”
“I don’t think it’s foolish. If a woman wants to keep her maiden name instead of taking her husband’s name, she should have that right.”
“Wouldn’t that be confusing for the children? They will probably wonder why her name is different from theirs.”
“I’m sure they won’t mind once it is explained to them.”
“Well, not all women share your views. What about Japan’s minister for women’s empowerment and gender equality, Tamayo Marukawa? She was among a group of conservative MPs who opposed a legal change which would allow women to keep their birth name after marriage.”
“Yes, I remember. I was very upset. Her of all people denying women’s right to keep their maiden names. Japan needs to get with the times. How could she want Japan to remain of the industrialized countries where it is illegal for married couples to have different surnames?”
“She said that her opposition to allowing couples to use different surnames would not affect her commitment to women’s rights.”
“What about the women who launched a legal challenge seeking damages for the emotional distress and inconvenience of having to take their husband’s name?”
“It has been argued that allowing couples to have different surnames would harm the traditional family unit. And according to the law, marriages are unions between families, not individuals. During the Meiji era when the law was introduced, it was common for a woman to leave her family to become part of her husband’s family.”
“What about the Bible which says that a man shall leave his family and be joined to his wife?”
“That verse has nothing to do with the woman keeping her maiden name. It’s simply saying that the man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife in such a way that the two become one person.”
“Most Japanese people don’t have a problem with married couples using different surnames. If I were there, I would form a group similar to the Lucy Stone League.”
“That’s just we need, lobbying Lucys and gentle jokers.”
“Yes, jokers like Yuusuke Kawai who is running for governor of Chiba Prefecture.”
Aiko snorted dismissively. “You can’t take someone like him seriously,” she said. “No one in their right min would vote for someone wants to rename Narita Airport Disney Sky.”
“You might be surprised. He believes that his unorthodox campaign strategy might get him support from the masses because the Joker is kind of a dark hero.”
“Maybe I should run for some kind of office and fight to have the law revised because it discriminates against women. And I think Marukawa is a hypocrite because she uses her birth name at work and her legal, married surname in official documents.”
“She isn’t the only woman who does that.”
“I call her a hypocrite because she’s supposed to be a women’s rights advocate.”
“Look, if it would make you feel better, form a group like the one you told me about or write to the MPs, start a petition, join the campaigners, whatever. Can we have dinner now, please? It’s getting late.”
She glared at him. “Sure. That’s all you care about–putting food in your gut.” Rising to her feet, she marched out of the living-room.
Hiraku shook his head and returned to downloading APPs.