婚外子格差撤廃 配偶者の権利も尊重したい

The Yomiuri Shimbun December 9, 2013
Spouse’s rights must be respected despite change on inheritance rights
婚外子格差撤廃 配偶者の権利も尊重したい(12月8日付・読売社説)

The Diet has approved a bill to revise the Civil Code that will delete an article that discriminates against the inheritance rights of children born to unmarried parents.

For now, we can only praise the Diet’s swift action following a ruling by the Supreme Court’s Grand Bench that said the article “runs counter to the Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law.”

The revision will delete the article limiting the inheritance an out-of-wedlock child receives to half that of a child born in wedlock. Among major advanced nations, Japan was the only country that maintained such a discriminatory regulation.

In its ruling in September, the Supreme Court stressed, “Children born out of wedlock should not be at a disadvantage as a result of their parents not being married, a situation the children had no control over.”

The number of so-called de facto marriages and single mothers has increased, and the narrow social view of perceiving children born out of wedlock as different has declined considerably. The court’s decision is in line with changing public awareness.

At the same time, the court’s ruling does not diminish respect for de jure marriages, in which couples follow all legal procedures.

We should bear in mind that there is no change in this way of thinking under the revised Civil Code.

During discussions on the revision, strong concerns were voiced within the Liberal Democratic Party that the family system based on legal marriage could be undermined and that adultery could be encouraged.

Even if a spouse of a deceased person has no previous acquaintance with an out-of-wedlock biological child, that child is still entitled to receive the same inheritance as the spouse’s child.

If the only asset is a house, some people have said there may be an increase in cases of a spouse selling the house to pay a portion of the inheritance to an out-of-wedlock child.

Importance of family ties

We can understand to some extent the concern expressed by the LDP and other parties that the deletion of the article could undermine the rights of a spouse—who had lived with his or her spouse for many years before that spouse died, built up their family and accumulated wealth together—and those of the spouse’s child.

To deal with these problems and to maintain the family system founded on legal marriage, other measures must be taken, besides those concerning discriminatory inheritance between in-wedlock and out-of-wedlock children.

The government and the LDP have decided to study what form the legal system for inheritance should take, particularly in regard to spouses, in an effort to protect family bonds, and to come up with a conclusion one year from now.

Granting a higher share of inheritance to a spouse than under the current system is a good option.

The family will remain the foundation of society. During and after the Great East Japan Earthquake, people once again recognized the importance of the family ties.

We should deepen our discussion on family ties now that the Civil Code has been revised.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 8, 2013)
(2013年12月8日01時23分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2013-12-11 07:23 | 英字新聞

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