In this appeal, a child born out of wedlock appealed the High Court’s finding that a relevant part of the proviso to Article 900.4 of the Japanese Civil Code was not inconsistent with Article 14.1 of the Constitution of Japan, prohibiting discrimination based on race, belief, sex, social status, or lineage. The proviso set forth that the statutory share in inheritance of a child born out of wedlock is half of that of a child in wedlock. The Supreme Court reversed the High Court’s ruling and found that the proviso was inconsistent with Article 14.1 of the Constitution. In making this finding, the Supreme Court took into account the changes in the following, which have been observed since 1947––the year in which the Japanese Civil Code was revised after World War II: Japanese society, forms of family, legislative acts in foreign countries, and relevant Japanese legal frameworks. The Supreme Court noted that, even though the system of civil marriage is strongly respected in Japanese society, society has come to accept the idea that a child should not suffer disadvantages based on a factor that she/he did not cause or could not change––whether to have been born in or out of wedlock––and that a child’s rights need to be protected and she/he must be given respect as an individual.
2012 (Ku) No. 984