The Japanese Supreme Court has upheld a law that married couples must have the same surname, in a blow to women’s rights activists.

Campaigners have said the law was discriminatory as most couples end up using the husband’s surname. However, the court said the law did not violate the constitution, public broadcaster NHK reported.

It did, however, deem a separate law that stops women remarrying within six months of a divorce unconstitutional.

Judge Itsuro Terada noted that among the Japanese there was already informal use of maiden names, which eased the impact of the surname law. He said parliamentarians should decide on whether to pass new legislation on separate spousal names.

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