Women frequently hyphenate their last names like Sarah Huckabee-Sanders. How would a Japanese woman with a Japanese maiden and married name added, hyphenate her last name?

  • I don't think this is a common practice in Japan. Usually the woman takes the man's name, but I hear that occasionally the man takes the woman's name if the woman belongs to a notable family.
    – Angelos
    Sep 6, 2019 at 1:56
  • 1
    @naruto I disagree with this being marked as a duplicate as how Japanese women write their names is different to how foreign names are written in Japanese. This question pertains to cultural and legal practices for native Japanese names, not transliteration.
    – Tom Kelly
    Sep 6, 2019 at 5:23
  • @TomKelly You're right, basically the answer should be "they don't do that".
    – naruto
    Sep 6, 2019 at 5:35
  • @naruto Moved my comment to an answer explaining why.
    – Tom Kelly
    Sep 6, 2019 at 6:08

1 Answer 1


Legally she cannot do this. Under Japanese law you can only have one surname registered on your residence and family register documents. If her husband is Japanese, then she will have to change her family name to his (as he is head of the household). If her husband is a foreigner, she is permitted to keep her family name (and is legally head of the household).

What she is known by informally is up to her but it's not her legal name in Japan. Japanese culture does not have a tradition of hypenating family names (or middle names). These are only permitted for writing foreign names in Japanese.

There is a convention for writing hypenated foreign names in Katakana but there is not one for hypenating native Japanese names in Kanji (as this never done).

Note that Japanese people have their family names first before their given names (so calling it a last name is discouraged to avoid confusion).

  • I've never met a Japanese woman in Japan or living abroad how hypenates their family name. They either take the husband's name per tradition or keep their maiden name. The only Japanese people who commonly use 2 family names are half-Japanese as they'll use their Japanese parent's family name in Japanese and their non-Japanese parent's name in English. Many choose to do this (as women married to foriegners keep maiden names) but it may be due to social pressure to fit into Japanese society.
    – Tom Kelly
    Sep 6, 2019 at 6:11
  • Sarah Huckabee-Sanders
    – Jack Bosma
    Sep 8, 2019 at 2:16
  • @JACK she’s not Japanese. They do not have this convention. For foreign names written in Japanese, this has already been answered for other questions.
    – Tom Kelly
    Sep 8, 2019 at 2:26
  • Correct, I appreciate your answer Tom!
    – Jack Bosma
    Sep 8, 2019 at 2:32

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