1948 Family Register Law

Registration in the age of egalitarian family law

By William Wetherall

First posted 1 April 2008
Last updated 20 June 2011


1948 Family Register Law Essential articles
Major revisions since 1948 1985 nationality selection | 1994 computerization
Related registration laws Alien registration laws since 1946 | 1951 Resident Registration Law | 1967 Basic Resident Registration Law


1948 Family Register Law

The existing Family Register Law and Civil Code is the 1947 revision (Justice Ministry Order No. 94), which came into force in 1948.

This law abolished a number of measures going back to the early Meiji period and the Taisho period.

The "house" or "corporate family" (家 ie) unit was changed to a husband-wife (夫婦 fŭfu) unit that includes the children (子 ko) of the couple -- in effect a parent-child (親子 oyako) unit, though this term does not appear in the law.

The so-called "corporate family system" (家制度 ie seido), which was introduced in 1915, essentially codifying a number of common-law family law practices, was effectively abolished when the postwar Constitution came into effect from 3 May 1947.

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Essential articles in 1948 Family Register Law

1 January 1948

Law No. 224 of 1947 (22 December)
Enforced from 1 January 1948 (replacing 1872 law)

The new Family Register Law reflected the new constitutional right of adults to establish independent family registers.

The new law abolished the system of registration notifications in exterior registers. In other words, people in prefectural registers no longer had cause to change registration from an interior (prefectural) to an exterior (Taiwan, Karafuto, Chosen) register.

The postwar revision of the Family Register Law, coming as it did before the 1950 Nationality Law, still contains the provisions for acquisition of nationality through adoption or marriage. These provisions for derivative nationality would not be abolished until the 1950 Nationality Law came into effect from 1 July 1950.

Obligation to create household register

The 1948 law, like the 1914 law and earlier versions, obliged local officials to create a household register for everyone qualified who was both a resident of the locality and otherwise qualified to be a member of such a register -- namely, someone qualified for status as a national of Japan.

Articles mandating creation of household registers for qualified individuals
1914 Family Register Law 1948 Family Register Law

第九条

戸籍ハ市町村ノ区域内ニ本籍ヲ定メタル者ニ付キ戸主ヲ本トシテ一戸毎ニ之ヲ編製ス

Article 9

Structural translation

Family registers shall be established for persons who have established their principal register [domicile] within the area [zone] of a city, town, or village, with the head of household as the principal [source of family name], for every single household.

Received translation

Forthcoming.

第六条

戸籍は、市町村の区域内に本籍を定める一の夫婦及びこれと氏を同じくする子ごとに、これを編製する。ただし、日本人でない者(以下「外国人」という。)と婚姻をした者又は配偶者がない者について新たに戸籍を編製するときは、その者及びこれと氏を同じくする子ごとに、これを編製する。

Article 6

Structural translation

A family register shall be created for a single couple [husband-wife] who have established their principal register [domicile] within the area [zone] of a city, town, or village, and for each child [offspring] who makes [his or her] family name the same [as that of] [the couple]. However, when creating a new register for a person who has married a person who is not a Japanese (hereafter called an "alien") or for a person who does not have a spouse, a register shall be created for the person and for each child with the same family name as [that of] [the person].

Received translation

A family register shall be established for a husband and a wife, who establish their principal register within a district of a city, town, or village. and for each child who has the same family name as theirs. However, when newly establishing a family register for a person who is married to a person who is not a Japanese national (hereafter referred to as a "foreign national") or for a person who has no spouse, it shall be established for the person and for each child who has the same family name as the person.

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Major revisions to Family Register Law since 1948

Forthcoming.

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Nationality selection from 1985

Forthcoming.

Nationality Law in Family Register Law, 1948 and 1985
1948 Fam Reg Law (1899 Natl Law) 1985 Fam Reg Law (1985 Natl Law)
The Japan Year Book, 1946-48 (1949) EHS Law Bulletin Series (1988)

CENSUS REGISTRATION LAW

Chapter I
General Provisions

Chapter II
Census Register

Chapter III
Registration in Family-Register

FAMILY REGISTRATION LAW

Chapter I
General Provisions

Chapter II
Family Register

Chapter III
Registration in Family-Register

Chapter IV
Notifications

Section XIV
Acquisition or Loss of Nationality

Article 102.   If an alien is to acquire Japanese nationality by reason of an adoption or a marriage, the original nationality of the acquisator of Japanese nationality shall be stated in the written notification of the adoption or of the marriage.

Derivative nationality, through adoption or marriage, was abolished by the 1950 the Nationality Law. In 1950, the above article was replaced by an entirely different article, which now reflects changes in the 1985 Nationality Law as well.

Article 103.   If an alien is to acquire Japanese nationality by reason of recognition, the original nationality of the recognized child shall be stated in the written notification of the recongition.

If the person who recognized a child is its father, the written notification shall state the nationality of its mother.

Derivative nationality, through recognition after the birth of a child, is no longer possible. Nationality through legitimation, in accordance with Article 3 of the present Nationality Law, are in Article 102 of the present Family Register Law.

Article 104.   A notification of naturalization shall be given within ten days of the day on which the license thereof was granted. . . . [rest omitted].

Provisions for making a notification of naturalization are in Article 102-2 of the present law.

Article 105.   A notification of loss of Japanese nationality of a person shall be given by the spouse or any of his relatives within the fourth degree of relationship within one month of the day on which he became aware of that fact, upon being annexed with a writing proving the loss of Japanese nationality. . . . [rest omitted].

Provisions for making a notification of loss of Japanese nationality are in Article 103 of the present law.

Article 106.   A notification of recovery of Japanese nationality shall be given within ten days of the day on which the license thereof was granted. . . . [rest omitted].

Provisions for making a notification of reacquisition of nationality are in Article 102 of the present law. Provisions for reacquisition are in Article 17 of the present Nationality Law.


Article 104, Article 105, and Article 106 now facilitate provisions made in the 1985 Nationality Law for reserving nationality and declaring choice of nationality. Nationality reservation originated in 1924 revisions to the 1899 Nationality Law. Nationality choice declaration was introduced by 1985 revisions to the 1950 Nationality Law.

Chapter IV
Notifications

Section 14
Acquisition or Loss of Nationality

(Notification of acquisition of nationality)
[As amended on 25 May 1984 by Law No. 45]

Article 102.   A notification of acquisition of nationality in the case of the nationality which has been acquired in accordance with the provision of Article 3 paragraph 1 or Article 17 paragraph 1 or 2 of the Nationality Law (Law No. 147 of 1950) [ Note: i.e., by reason of legitimation or by reacquisition of nationality ] shall, within one month from the day of such acquisition (if a person is outside the country, within three months therefrom), be given by a person who has acquired the nationality.

2. The notification in writing shall state the following particulars and shall be accompanied by a document proving the acquisition of nationality. . . . [rest omitted].

Article 102-2.   A notification of naturalization shall be given by a naturalized person within a month from the date of public notice. With respect to the particulars to be stated in the notification in such case, the provision of paragraph 2 of the preceding Article shall apply mutatis mutandis.

(Notification of loss of nationality)
[As amended on 4 May 1950 by Law No. 148]

Article 103.   A notification of loss of nationality shall be given by the person to whom such matter occurred, a spouse, or any relative within the fourth grade relatives, within one month from the day he or she has become aware of the fact of loss of nationality (if the person bound to give notification is outside the country on the day he becomes aware of the fact, within three months therefrom). . . . [rest omitted].

(Declaration of intention of reserving nationality)

Article 104.   The declaration of intention of reserving nationality as provided for in Article 12 of the Nationality Law shall, within three months from the date of birth, be made by a person who is able to give a notification of birth (excluding a person who is bound to give notification in accordance with the provision of Article 52 paragraph 3), giving notification to the effect that Japanese nationality is reserved. . . . [rest omitted].

(Declaration to choose Japanese nationality)
[As amended on 25 May 1984 by Law No. 45]

Article 104-2.   A declaration to choose Japanese nationality under the provision of Article 14 paragraph 2 of the Nationality Law shall be made by a person, who wishes to make such declaration, giving notification to that effect. . . . [rest omitted].

(Declaration to pending choice of nationality)
[As amended on 25 May 1984 by Law No. 45]

Article 104-3.   If the mayor of a city, town, or village considers at the time of conducting family-register affairs that a person, who is bound to choose nationality in accordance with the provision of Article 14 paragraph 1 of the Nationality Law, has not yet chosen it within the time limit prescribed in said paragraph, the mayor shall give notice of the same and registered locality of the person, and other matters prescribed by ordinance to the Director of the supervising Legal Affairs Bureau or the District Legal Affairs Bureau.

(Report of loss of nationality by government or public authority)
[As amended on 4 May 1950 by Law No. 148]

Article 105.   If a government or public authority who has learned in the performance of duties thereof that any person has lost his nationality, the authority shall, without delay, make report on the loss of nationality to the mayor of a city, town, or village which is the registered locality of such person, attaching the document proving the loss of nationality. . . . [rest omitted].

(Notification of loss of foreign nationality)
[As amended on 25 May 1984 by Law No. 45]

Article 106.   If a Japanese national having foreign nationality has lost his foreign nationality, the person shall give notification to that effect within one month from the day he has become aware of the fact of the loss (if the person is outside the country on the day he has become aware of the fact, within three months from such day). . . . [rest omitted].

Chapter V
Rectification of Census-Registration

Chapter VI
Miscellaneous Provisions

Chapter V
Rectification of Census-Registration

Chapter VI
Miscellaneous Provisions

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1994 computerization of family registration

Family Register Law revised to accommodate computerization.

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Related registration laws

Forthcoming.

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Alien registration laws since 1946

Because alien registration and related border control laws were introduced to Japan under GHQ/SCAP direction during the Allied Occupation of Japan between 1945-1952, such laws are grouped in the following article, which see for further details.

Alien registration and immigration: Changing statuses during and after the Occupation of Japan.

The above article necessarily focused on the impact of the Alien Registration Law and the Exit-country enter-country Control Law on Taiwanese and Chosenese in the prefectures before and after they lost their Japanese nationality in 1952. However, it also describes their enactment and enforcement as laws that have applied equally to all aliens and Japanese.

The "have applied equally to all aliens and Japanese" is to be taken literally, for some Japanese are also subject to certain aspects of alien registration, and all Japanese are subject to border control provisions in what in English has been misnomered an "immigration" law.

Alien Registration as such ended on 9 July 2012, when the administration of alien residence was taken over by the Immigration Control Bureau under a so-called "Residence Management System". See Alien control laws in Japan: The regulation of entry, stay, and residence and Family and alien registers: Why they still need to be merged and how to merge them for particulars.

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1951 Resident Registration Law (Law No. 218)

Forthcoming.

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1967 Basic Resident Registration Law (Law No. 81)

Forthcoming.

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