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Study warns everyone in Japan will share a last name, unless laws change

People cross a street in Shinjuku area of Tokyo on March 30, 2024. (AFP)
People cross a street in Shinjuku area of Tokyo on March 30, 2024. (AFP)
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04 Apr 2024 04:04:50 GMT9
04 Apr 2024 04:04:50 GMT9

Arab News Japan

A new study found that in 2531, everyone in Japan will have the same last name – Sato.

Unless laws are changed and married couples are allowed to have different names, then all Japanese people will be walking around with the same surname.

The study, which was led by Tohoku University Professor Hiroshi Yoshida, found that Sato was the most popular family name in Japan and shared by 1.5 percent of the population.

The study also projected that the percentage would rise to 100 percent by 2531 if there is no change to legislation, which currently requires married couples to take either the husband or wife’s last name.

Yoshida explained that the numbers are based on an “assumed scenario.” He told Japanese media that “if everyone becomes Sato, we may have to be addressed by our first names or by numbers.”

The amount of Japanese people named Sato increased 1.0083 times from 2022 to 2023, Yoshida’s study showed.

He explained that if the rate stayed the same from year to year, with no change, then half of Japan’s population will have the same last name in 2446, and eventually all of Japan will share it in just over 500 years.

Yoshida said this would be a problem since it could potentially “undermine individual dignity” and lead to “the loss of family and regional heritage associated with surnames.”

The Think Name Project and other organizations commissioned the research in hopes that Japan’s laws would change so that couples could choose to have different names.

Japan is the only country in the world that requires married couples to use the same name.

If laws change, and couples could choose different names, then only eight percent of the population would have the last name Sato in 2531.

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