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Q: Japanese marriage/divorce law ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Japanese marriage/divorce law
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: maxhodges-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 17 Feb 2003 17:56 PST
Expires: 19 Mar 2003 17:56 PST
Question ID: 162765
According to Japanese law, if a Japanese woman divorces she must wait
6 months before she can marry again. Question is: could she marry in
the US prior to the 6 month waiting period without creating a legal
issue in Japan? She would need proof that the prior married ended in
order to marry in the US, would getting that proof be an issue prior
to the end of the 6 month waiting period?

Request for Question Clarification by sgtcory-ga on 17 Feb 2003 22:08 PST
Hello maxhodges,

Is the Japanese woman an American citizen?

Thanks for the clarification -
Subject: Re: Japanese marriage/divorce law
Answered By: hailstorm-ga on 17 Feb 2003 23:55 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars

The Japanese law you are referring to is Civil Code Article 733, which
states "A woman cannot marry again within the period of six months
after the dissolution or rescission of her pre­vious marriage."  This
would seem to be at odds with the Japanese Constitution Article 24,
which states "With regard to the choice of a spouse, property rights,
inheritance, the choice of domicile, divorce and other matters
pertaining to marriage and the family, laws shall be enacted from the
standpoint of individual dignity and gender equality." However,
attempts to challenge Article 733 have been unsuccessful, and it
remains the law in Japan.

Although a woman must wait six months to get remarried, the divorce is
immediately registered on the woman's koseki tohon, or family
registry.  With a translation of this as proof, it would be possible
for a woman who has not been divorced for six months to register a
marriage overseas.  However, the marriage would not recognized in
Japan until it is registered in Japan or at a Japanese consulate
overseas.  Since they will have to check the date of the divorce on
the koseki tohon, they will most likely not register the marriage
until six months have passed from the divorce.

So to answer your question, an overseas marriage is possible, but
could not be made valid in Japan until the six month time frame has
passed.  Of course, there are many, many potential ways of
interpreting the myriad of laws on the books of Japan, and if you
found an exceptional lawyer you might be able to challenge the
constitutionality of them.  But, with the glacial pace that the
Japanese legal system works, this process would certainly take longer
than six months to achieve success.

The six month law does have one loophole:  a woman does not need to
wait six months if the person she is marrying is the same person she
divorced.  This is actually done by some couples because another law,
Article 750, states "A married couple shall use either the husband's
or the wife's surname in accordance with their agreement at the time
of marriage.", meaning that when a couple marries, one of the partners
must change their last name to the others (Mary Jones and Ken Tanaka
must become Mary & Ken Jones or Mary & Ken Tanaka in Japan after
marriage) Couples who want to avoid this can simply marry when it is
convenient or necessary for them (such as before the birth of a
child), and get divorced when otherwise necessary (such as filing for
a passport in their original name)

By the way, with regards to the clarification request of sgtcory, if
the Japanese woman is 22 years of age or older, she cannot legally be
a dual citizen, as Japanese law requires one to either give up their
Japanese citizenship or the citizenship of their other countries when
they reach this age.

Sites Cited:
    GLOCOM Platform - Special Topics - Social Trends

    Family Law

    Japanese law on Dual Citizenship

    In Japan, to Keep Your Maiden Name, You Get a Divorce

Google search terms used:
    Japan divorce "wait six months"
    Civil Code Article 733
    japanese marry abroad requirements

Clarification of Answer by hailstorm-ga on 20 Feb 2003 13:09 PST

I should mention that this information is known to apply for the case
of two Japanese nationals. In the event that the situation you are
referring to involves a Japanese national female and a foriegn
national male, marriage between the two within six months of the
female's divorce may be possible. This is because technically, the
foriegn national male is not recognized as a citizen of Japan, even if
he has permanent residency status. Therefore, he does not show up on
the female's Residency Certificate, or juuminhyou, even after
marriage, and the female "appears" to be unmarried, as mentioned in
the following Japan Times article:

For more information, please check out Japanese national Arudou
Debito's (formerly U.S. citizen David Aldwinkle) Japan fascinating
site for Japan residents at
(the discussion on juuminhyou and it's affect on foriegn nationals can
be seen from about a third of the way down the page.

Sites cited:
    Japan Times

Request for Answer Clarification by maxhodges-ga on 25 Feb 2003 02:31 PST
so, in a word, she could divorce her Japanese husband, and marry an
American IN AMERICA, within six months, but the marriage would not be
recognizied in Japan until 6 months after the divorce.

that i got, but would she be in any kind of trouble for marrying
outside of japan within that six months??


Clarification of Answer by hailstorm-ga on 25 Feb 2003 04:20 PST
No, because she wouldn't be recognized as being married by Japan until
the marriage is registered in Japan. The marriage is an issue only in
the countries where it is legally recognized, so there is nothing for
the Japanese government to penalize.

In my humble opinion, it is best to just wait the six months and avoid
any excess hassle, but if you really want to get married and don't
mind the complications of differing jurisdictions for a few months, I
don't see there being any problems.
maxhodges-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
thanks for the info

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