A koseki (戸籍) is a Japanese family registry. Japanese law requires all Japanese households (ie) to report births, acknowledgements of paternity, adoptions, disruptions of adoptions, deaths, marriages and divorces of Japanese citizens to their local authority, which compiles such records encompassing all Japanese citizens within their jurisdiction. Marriages, adoptions and acknowledgemants of paternity become legally effective only when such events are recorded in the koseki. Births and deaths became legally effective as they happen, but such events must be filed by family members.
A typical koseki
has one page for the household's parents and their first two children: additional children are recorded on additional pages. Any changes to this information have to be sealed by an official registrar.
The following items are recorded in the koseki.
(Law of Family Register, (戸籍法), article 13.)
- family name and given name
- date of birth
- date of records and causes (marriage, death, adoption, etc)
- names of the father and the mother and the relation to them
- if adopted, names of the adoptive father and mother
- if married, whether the person is a husband or a wife
- if transferred from another koseki, the former koseki
- registered residence honseki chi
Introduced in the 6th century, the original population census in Japan was called the kōgo no nen jaku
(庚午年籍) or the kōin no nen jaku
(庚寅年籍). This census was introduced under the ritsuryō
system of governance. While various systems have been employed in Japan since ancient times, the modern koseki, encompassing all of Japan's citizenry, appeared in 1872, immediately following the Meiji Restoration
. This was the first time in history that all Japanese people were required to have family names as well as given names. Records were originally kept in lengthy paper volumes, but were translated to digital format in 2002 and are now entirely computerized.
In 2003, the "GID Law" was enacted, enabling people with Gender identity disorder (GID) to change their gender on their koseki provided they meet certain conditions. Persons diagnosed with GID must seek an official diagnosis with letters of support from two independent psychiatrists in order to change their koseki gender.
simultaneously fills the function of birth certificates
, death certificates, marriage licenses, and the census
in other countries. It is also based on family rather than each individual. Information provided in koseki
is detailed as well as sensitive and makes discrimination possible against such groups as burakumin
or illegitimate children and unwed mothers, for example. As the burakumin liberation movement gained strength in postwar Japan some changes were made to family registries. In 1970 some details of one's birth address were deleted from the family registry. In 1974 a notice that prohibited employers from asking prospective employees to show their family registry was released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. In 1975 one's lineage name was deleted and in 1976 access to family registries was restricted. As of April 2007, anyone interested was eligible to get a copy of someone else's koseki
. However, on May 1
, a new law was implemented to limit the persons eligible for a copy to the persons whose names are recorded in a given koseki
and those who need such a copy to exercise their due rights. Anyone who is listed on a koseki, even if their name has been crossed off by reason of divorce and even if they are not a Japanese citizen, is legally able to get a copy of that koseki. One can obtain a copy in person or by mail. Lawyers can also obtain copies of any koseki
if a person listed is involved in legal proceedings.
Koseki and citizenship
Only Japanese citizens may be registered in a koseki
, because koseki
serve as certificates of citizenship. Non-Japanese may be noted where required, such as being the spouse of a Japanese citizen or the parent of a Japanese offspring.
Note that the koseki system is different from the jūminhyō residency registration, which holds current address information.
Family registries in other nations
A similar household registration system exists within the public administration structures of China
), and North Korea
). In South Korea
, the hoju
system was abolished in 2008.