Gender and Land Rights Database

Japan

Women's property and use rights in personal laws

The Civil Code, 1896, amended in 1947:
 - In accordance with the principle of equality between men and women of the Constitution, the Civil Code was reformed in the Family Law and Inheritance Law sections in 1947 to abolish the legal status of the Ie, the family system that was the basic unit of traditional society, to ensure equality between husband and wife in property rights, inheritance, matrimony, and child care.

Marriage
- Article 731: The legal age for marriage is 18 years for men and 16 years for women.

- Article 733: A woman may not remarry if six months have not passed since the day of dissolution or rescission of her previous marriage, unless she has conceived a child before the cancellation or dissolution of her previous marriage.

- Article 756: If a husband and wife have entered into a contract that departs from the statutory property system, the contract may not be asserted against the successor of the husband or wife or a third party, unless registered prior to notification of marriage (17).

Divorce
- Article 763: Husband and wife may divorce by agreement.

- Article 766: Parents who divorce by agreement will also have to agree on children’s custody and any other related matters. If an agreement is not reached, the Family Court will decide on custody.

- Article 768: One party to a divorce by agreement may claim the distribution of property from the other party. If the parties do not settle on agreement, either party may make a claim to the Family Court for a disposition in lieu of agreement; this claim for distribution of property shall be extinguished at the expiration of two years from the day of divorce. The Family Court shall determine whether to make a distribution, and the amount and method of that distribution, taking into account the amount of property obtained through the cooperation of both parties and all other circumstances.

- Article 770: Judicial divorce may be requested by either husband or wife: i. if a spouse has committed an act of unchastity; ii. if abandoned by a spouse in bad faith; iii. if it is not clear whether a spouse is dead or alive at least three years; iv. if a spouse is suffering from severe mental illness and there is no prospect of recovery; or v. if there is any other grave cause making it difficult to continue the marriage.
A court may dismiss a suit for divorce if it finds continuing the marriage reasonable (17).

Property
- Article 755: The property rights and duties of a husband and wife shall be prescribed by provisions of the Civil Code, unless they entered into a contract regarding their property before giving notification of the marriage.

- Article 758: The property rights of a husband and wife may not be altered after notification of marriage.
In case of misadministration of property by one party to a marriage, the other party may make a claim to the Family Court to take over administration of that property. Also, a claim may be made for division of property held in co-ownership.

- Article 759: If an administrator of property has been changed, or property held in co-ownership has been divided, the pre-nuptial contract referred to in Article 755, may not be asserted against the successor.

- Article 762: Property owned by one party before marriage and property obtained in the name of that party during marriage shall be separate property. Property that does not clearly belong to either husband or wife is presumed to be held in co-ownership (17).

- The Labour Standards Act, 1947, Article 4 prohibits wage discrimination between male and female workers (18).

Act on Securing Equal Opportunity and Treatment between Men and Women in Employment, 1972, revised in 2006:
- Article 1: The Act has the purposes of promoting equal opportunity and treatment between men and women in employment in accordance with the principle in the Constitution, and of promoting measures to ensure the health of women workers with regard to employment, during pregnancy and after childbirth.

- Article 2: Workers must be enabled to engage in full working lives without discrimination based on sex for all workers, but with respect for maternity in the case of women workers.

- Article 5: Employers shall provide equal opportunities for all persons, regardless of sex, as to the recruitment and employment of workers.
No discrimination on the basis of sex is to be made in: i. assignment, promotion, demotion, and training of workers; ii. loans for housing and other similar fringe benefits as provided by Ordinance of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare; iii. change in job type and employment status of workers; and iv. encouragement of retirement, mandatory retirement age, dismissal, and renewal of the labour contract.

- Article 9: Employers are prohibited from: i. using marriage, pregnancy or childbirth as a reason for retirement of women workers; ii. dismissing women workers for marriage; iii. giving disadvantageous treatment to women workers by reason of pregnancy, childbirth, or for requesting absence from work for reasons relating to pregnancy, childbirth; iv. dismissing women workers who are pregnant or in the first year after childbirth. However, all of the above do not apply in the event that the employers can prove that dismissals are not by reasons prescribed in the law.

- Employers shall establish necessary measures so that workers do not suffer any disadvantage or do not suffer any harm due to sexual harassment in the workplace.

- Originally promulgated in 1972 as the Act to Promote the Welfare of Working Women, the Act became the Equal Employment Opportunity Act in 1985 when the provisions for equal employment opportunities of male and female workers were added (19).

Sources: numbers in brackets (*) refer to sources displayed in the Bibliography