Research predicts single surname for all Japanese citizens by 2531

All Japanese citizens may have the same last name of ‘Sato’ by the year 2531 if married couples are not allowed to use separate last names, a new study concludes.

All Japanese people will share the same family name in 500 years if married couples are no longer required to use the same surname, according to a new study led by Hiroshi Yoshida, a professor of economy at Tohoku University. The study is part of an awareness campaign regarding not changing a law dating back to the late 1800s that mandates married couples share the same surname.
If the government continues requiring married couples to share one surname, then every single Japanese person will be called ‘Sato’ by 2531, projections from the research show.
“If everyone becomes Sato, we may have to be addressed by our first names or by numbers,” Yoshida explained to media. “I don’t think that would be a good world to live in,” the academic added.
According to a March 2023 survey, ‘Sato’ currently tops the list of Japanese last names, accounting for 1.5% of the total population, while ‘Suzuki’ comes in a close second.

Japan remains the only country worldwide that requires spouses to use the same name. Couples reportedly must choose which surname to share when they marry, but in 95% of cases, it is the woman who changes her name.
The government has, nevertheless, allowed maiden names to appear alongside married names on passports, driving licenses and residence certificates.
Meanwhile, conservative members of the ruling Liberal Democratic party (LDP) argue changing the law would “undermine” family unity and cause confusion among children.
The study, published in March but first reported on this week, sparked speculation of an April fools’ day prank, but Yoshida said he wanted it to make people reflect on the matter, according to The Guardian.