Ie seido (family system) (家制度)

Ie seido was a family system, which was introduced to the Civil Codes established in 1898 (hereunder referred as Old Civil Codes), under the system, a small group consisting of relatives and living in a house is considered as a family and a family has a family head who was given an authority to lead a family. This was based on paternalistic family system which was developed in Edo Period among samurai society.

Ie seido was abolished as a major revision was made to the Old Civil Codes according to establishment of the Constitution of Japan in1947 and sections of relatives and Inheritance were completely changed.

The concept of 'Ie (household)'. Members of a Ie are classified as a family head and other family members. Therefore, a family head is a leader of Ie (household), and family members are those who consist of Ie and are not a family head.

A household (Ie) is registered in a koseki (the household registers). In other words, if a person is listed in a certain Ie, the person was proved to belong to the Ie. Accordingly, definitions of articles in the Old Civil Codes such as "be a member of one's own father's Ie"or "(someone) leaves a Ie" means "be registered on the koseki of one's own father" and "remove someone's name from a koseki".

According to the Family Registration Law which became effective as an alternative to the Old Civil Codes and a law to manage koseki system, more than two generations are not allowed to be registered on the same koseki (banning koseki include more than two generations), however at the time of Ie seido, there was no limitation regarding the number of generations and no restriction on koseki.

Head of a family
Head of a family is considered as a leader of a Ie and his/her name was put at head of a koseki. Therefore identification of a koseki is conducted by a name of head of a family and his/her registered address.

The rights and obligations of a family head
A head of a family has duty of support for family members, as leader of a family (however, the duty of support by a spouse, direct descendants, and direct ancestors are prioritized.), and the other capabilities and powers of a head of a family are listed below.

Consent right regarding marriage of family members and adoption (the Old Civil Codes, Article 750)

Consent right regarding registration and deregistration of family members on household registers (except situations in which registration and deregistration is needed from a legal standpoint) (the Old Civil Codes, Article 735, 737 and 738).

Right to determine residence of family member (the Old Civil Codes, Article 749)

Right to remove family member from household register

Right to refuse someone's registration on household register
Right to refuse reverting to previous household register against family member who got married or adopted without agreement of head of a family (the Old Civil Codes, Article 741-2 and 735).
Right to refuse registration on household register of family member's illegitimate child (the Old Civil Codes, Article 735)
Right to refuse registration on household register of relatives (the Old Civil Codes, Article 737)
Right to refuse to take in someone in one's koseki (the Old Civil Codes, Article 738)
Right to remove family member from household register (except minor and presumed successor)
Right to remove family member who dissent from determination of residence from household register (the Old Civil Codes, Article 749)
Right to remove family member who got married or adopted without from household register (the Old Civil Codes, Article 750)

Female head of a family
In principle, a head of a family must be a male, but female head of a family existed in case of creation of a new household register by illegitimate children or succession to a family. However, there were some differences compared to male head of a family.

There are some conditions required for retirement, including age restriction, but in case of a female head of a family there is no restriction regarding age (the Old Civil Codes, Article 755). In case of marriage and registration on another household register of a family head, there are only two possible cases such as to be a member of a family which has a female head of a family or to be adopted by a wife's family (marriage and adoption by wife's parents will be granted at the same time), however in case of marriage of a female family head, there are alternatives such as to go into retirement and to abolish a household after being permitted by a law court (the Old Civil Codes, Article 754). In case of marriage that husband will be a member of a family which has female head of a family (Nyufu marriage), if no party dissent, a husband became a head of a family (the Old Civil Codes, Article 736). However, according to the Family Registration Law established later, if there is no statement to register a Nyufu (the husband who enters a family of which family head is female) as head of a family on the registration form of Nyufu marriage, the former female head of a family remains as the head of the family.

Those examples are based on thoughts that a male head of a family is more appropriate than a female head of a family and a head of a family should be a male in principle.

Succession to the position of family head
A head of a family position will be taken over with property right according to institute of succession to the position of a family head. This is a form of succession, however there is a big difference between the Old Civil Codes and the Civil Codes today because Old Civil Codes says that property right will be given to a person and a new head of a family will be given all the property rights from the former head of a family.

The position of a family head will be succeeded in the following cases.
In case of death of a family head
In case of retirement of a familoy head
In case of leaving for another household register because of marriage
In case of Nyufu mariage (a husband is registered to a household whose family head is a female due to marriage) and bein taken over its family head position by her husband. In case that a husband who has become a head of a family after Nyufu mariage will divorce and be removed from the house hold register. In the case of loss of Japanese citizenshi p of a family head.

A successor of a family head position (a new family head) will be chosen from the members (family) living in the same household with former head of a family, and a successor will be decided under the conditions such as male or female, legitimate child or illegitimate child, older or younger, or a person appointed by former head of a family or elected by parents of former head of a family or family reunion, but usually the first son will be a successor of a family head position.

The foundation and abolition of a Ie
As forms of foundation of an Ie, there are 3 cases which are a branch family, restoration of an abolished family and creation of a family, and as forms of abolition of an Ie there are two cases which are abolished families (廃家) and ended families (絶家).

A branch family
This means a family member belong to an Ie will go independent and create a new Ie based on his/her intention. In this case, the Ie, which the member belonged to was called as a head family. From the viewpoint of leadership of a head family, agreement of a head of a head family is necessary to create a branch family. At the time of creation of a branch family, the wife of the head of the branch family and lineal descendants can be members of the new household. Because there is a principle that a husband and a wife must be on the same household register, a wife of a head of a branch family and also a wife of a lineal descendant must be registered on the new household register with their husband.

Restoration of an abolished Ie. This means someone who has a relationship with an abolished Ie or/and an ended Ie(廃家・絶家) will be a head of the family to revive the Ie. Followings are requirements regarding restoration of abolished Ie.

A member of a family can revive an abolished head family, branch family, family which has the same origin as its branch family, or other family of relatives (the Old Civil Codes, Article 743). A legal successor of a head of a family position, a wife of a head of a family, or a husband of a female head of a family can only revive own head family (the Old Civil Codes, Article 744).
A person who has created a new Ie can abolish the Ie without any inhibition and revive a head family, branch family, family which has the same origin as its branch family, or other family of relatives (the Old Civil Codes, Article 762)
A person became a head of a family according to succession to family headship can only revive own head family after being permitted by a law court and abolishing the current household (the Old Civil Codes, Article 762). After divorce or dissolution, a person who shall return to one's family but the family is abolished, can revive the family (the Old Civil Codes, Article 740). Restoration of an abolished family must be reported to a chief of local authority (the Old Civil Codes, Article 164). A person who revived a household can be the head of the family and refer to the name of the abolished family, but won't be given property, so the meaning of restoration of a family is to take over the name and retain the family line such as a head family and a branch family.

Creation of a family
Unlike succession of a family or creation of a branch family, this is a case that a household will be created by laws, regardless of will of a new family head.

Creation of a family occurs in following cases. If both a father and a mother of a child are unknown (the Old Civil Codes, Article 733-3). In case that illegitimate children who were not allowed to be a member of their parent's household, because the head of the family did not approve (the Old Civil Codes, Article 735-2). In case that someone who had got married or adopted can not return to his/her own family after dissolution because the family was abolished (the Old Civil Codes, Article 740). In case that someone who had got married or adopted without agreement of head of his/her own family and can not return to his/her own family after dissolution because the family head refuses (the Old Civil Codes, Article 741, 742 and 750). In case that a family member is removed from household register (the Old Civil Codes, Article 742, 749 and 750). In the event that, because the family line has died out despite the fact that family members are still living, a person has no household to which he or she can belong (the former Civil Code, Article 764). In case that someone who doesn't obtain Japanese citizenship will obtain Japanese citizenship (the Old Citizenship Law, Article 5, 24 and 26). In case that someone whose parents are stateless persons is born in Japan (the Old Citizenship law, Article 4). In case that a family member who is not a head of a family was given peerage (In 1905, A law regarding a case that non-head of a family was given peerage). In case that a member of Imperial family will become subjects of the state (In 1910, Koshitsu-rei [the Imperial Families' Act], no 2).

Abolished families
It means abolishment of one's own family for being a family member of another family due to marriage or adoption (the Old Civil Codes, Article 762). However, a head of a family who had created his own household can abolish the household without any inhibition but a head of a family who had become successor needed permission from a law court to abolish the household.

Zekke (Extinct families)
It indicates a household which is abolished because there is no successor after former head of the family died even though the process of succession of the family head position has began (the Old Civil Codes, Article 764). An abolished family is a case that depends on determination of the head of a family but an extinct family is based on unavoidable occurrence.

The reason of abolishment and others
Because a head of a family has rights as leader of a family, even relatives which have the same level of degree of relationship must follow the head of the family as long as they live in the same household. In addition, regarding changes of status (due to marriage, adoption or other backgrounds) family members need agreement of their head of a family, so the decision of leaving the household is made by the head of the family. Those conditions above result in relation of rights of relatives controlled by a head of a family.

Therefore Ie seido had a side that rights of family members were sacrificed by rights of a head of a family, so, since this goes against Article 24 of the Constitution of Japan, according to Act on emergency measures of Civil Code (民法の応急的措置に関する法律) (In 1947, law no.74) Ie seido was abolished on the day of enforcement of the Constitution of Japan (May 3, 1947). However, taking in opinions from conservative jurists including Eiichi MAKINO, a part of Ie seido was preserved such as 'obligation of support family member'.