Photo/Illutration In this July 3, 2019, file photo, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was the only party leader who opposed a dual-surname system for married couples in a debate among leaders of seven ruling and opposition parties held in Tokyo, and then he scolded a reporter who raised the issue. (The Asahi Shimbun)

While the nation's Family Register Law requires married Japanese couples to choose one surname for both partners, a new poll shows respondents overwhelmingly support allowing them to use separate surnames.

In the poll conducted by The Asahi Shimbun, 69 percent favored allowing married couples to choose separate surnames, far exceeding the 24 percent who opposed it.

The nationwide survey was conducted by telephone and mobile phones on Jan. 25 and 26. Valid responses were obtained from 2,166 people who were contacted.

In the survey, 63 percent of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) supporters among the respondents favored giving married couples the option of freely choosing whether to use the same or different surnames, while 31 percent were opposed.

The issue was taken up at the Jan. 22 plenary session of the Lower House.

In the Upper House election in July, allowing married couples to choose different surnames was included in the election pledges of Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner; the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan; the Democratic Party for the People; the Japanese Communist Party; and the Social Democratic Party.

But some LDP members have expressed caution about adopting such an idea.

By gender, 71 percent of women supported allowing married couples  to choose the use of a surname, while 66 percent of men did so. By age, more respondents aged 59 or younger favored the notion than those opposing it. More than 80 percent of women in their 50s or younger said they support the idea.

Although the survey methodology differed, opinions regarding the issue were more closely divided in a telephone survey conducted in December 2015, with 49 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed.

In the mail survey conducted between March and April 2017, 58 percent supported the notion, while 37 percent were opposed.

Another question pertained to Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi's recent announcement that he will take about 14 days paternity leave during the three months following the birth of his first child. He’ll be the first male minister to do so.

Asked for an opinion on his decision, 69 percent of the respondents viewed taking paternity leave favorably, while 22 percent did not. More than 80 percent of those aged 39 or younger approved his decision.

In Japan, less than 10 percent of men take paternity leave. Asked if Koizumi’s action will encourage more men to do the same, 50 percent said it would, while 42 percent disagreed. Of men in their 30s or younger, 60 percent said they believe more men will follow suit.