Jewish Law in Japan?

The law in Japan is that a divorced woman needs to wait 6 months before she can remarry. Following a supreme court ruling last December ,the government has now submitted a revised law that reduces this waiting period to 100 days. Furthermore, women who have medical proof they are not pregnant will supposedly be allowed to remarry immediately.

Married couples in Japan are also required to have only one family name. It can be either the husband’s or the wife’s, but in practice this forces women to adopt their husbands’ surnames. In this male-dominated society, very few men volunteer to take the wife’s maiden name. Unlike the remarriage waiting period law, the supreme court upheld this practice.

These arcane laws date back to the Meiji period (19th century), when Japan was mainly a feudal society ruled exclusively by men. The Americans reformed many Japanese laws during their occupation of Japan following WWII, but the remarriage and surname laws survived these reforms.

These laws caught my eye because of their similarity to Jewish law. The surname law is pretty common and is not unique to Judaism. But the “cooling off period” is, I believe, a unique Jewish law. Divorced women (and widows) are not permitted to remarry for 3 months. This is in order to remove any doubts with regards to paternity. In the old days it was not possible to determine pregnancy in early stages, and 3 months were considered a long enough period for the woman to know whether she’s with child.

How about that? 100 days vs. 3 months. Almost identical! I guess this is yet more “proof” of the theories that the Japanese are in fact descendants of the lost tribes of Israel.

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5 thoughts on “Jewish Law in Japan?

  1. The so called “cooling period” was NOT a rule practiced by Jewish people only, in actuality it was observed in feudal Europe to much stricter degree. The “cooling period” has started by the Japanese much later, during the Meiji era and was adopted from Germany.
    The practice was observed for bastardy, illegitimacy, inheritance and ownership. In England for example, although being practiced much earlier, it was formed into a law in the Statute of Merton in the year 1235 and was unchanged until the Family Law Reform Act of 1969.
    Some claim that with today’s DNA test’s abilities, this practice is unneeded but other are claiming that it may still be a problem if an adult refuse a DNA test or if the divorcee husband and the fresh husband are brothers.

    • Thank you for your comment. Of course other cultures practiced this law. But if I’m not mistaken, feudal Europe came to be some 2,000+ years after Jewish Law. My point being that this law was a Jewish invention. Now, if you find such a practice in, say, Hammurabi laws, that would be interesting.

      • I did not argue the point of origin, only commented on your reference “the “cooling off period” is, I believe, a unique Jewish law”. This is incorrect. It is not unique to Judaism and hence my remark. And if it is not unique to Judaism, why wondering it exist also in Japan, which during the Meiji restoration adopted most of the German law.
        By The Way, Jewish lore was mostly influenced by Akkadian Lore made by Sargon of Akkad and the code of Eshnunna rather than the later Babylonian Hammurabi’s law which is much more strict, so if you are really wish to search for the origin, I would suggest there.

  2. although you are right about the inability to combine both surname while getting married, I know of quite a few men who have taken on their wife’s surname. mainly it is done in prosperous families which does not have a male heir to the business, or even regular households with only daughters, that there is no one to take care of the aging parents in case they all marry and leave the “setai”
    (household)

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