Everyone in Japan will be called Sato by 2531 unless marriage law changed, says professor

Stan BiSH

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Jun 20, 2019
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Everyone in Japan will be called Sato by 2531 unless marriage law changed, says professor​


Japanese citizens will all have the same family name in 500 years’ time unless married couples are permitted to use separate surnames, a new study has suggested as part of a campaign to update a civil code dating back to the late 1800s.The study, led by Hiroshi Yoshida, a professor of economy at Tohoku University, projected that if Japan continues to insist that couples select a single surname, every single Japanese person will be known as “Sato-san” by 2531.

“If everyone becomes Sato, we may have to be addressed by our first names or by numbers,” he said, according to the Mainichi. “I don’t think that would be a good world to live in.”

Some social media users wrongly assumed the study, first reported on Monday but published in March, was an April fools’ day prank, but Yoshida said he wanted it to give people pause for thought.

A nation of Satos “will not only be inconvenient but also undermine individual dignity,” he said, according to the Asahi Shimbun, adding that the trend would also lead to the loss of family and regional heritage.

According to Yoshida’s calculations, the proportion of Japanese named Sato increased 1.0083 times from 2022 to 2023. Assuming the rate remains constant and there is no change to the law on surnames, around half of the Japanese population will have that name in 2446, rising to 100% in 2531.​
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