A typical koseki has one page for the household’s parents and their first two children: additional children are burakumin PDF on additional pages. Any changes to this information have to be sealed by an official registrar. The following items are recorded in the koseki. This census was introduced under the ritsuryō system of governance.
The shūmon jinbetsu aratamechō was created around 1670 and lasted almost 200 years. It combined social and religious registration, and data was renewed annually. Several categories of outcasts were not registered at all under this system, or were registered in specific registers, for instance the burakumin. During the course of Japanese Empire, a number of reforms were carried out after 1910 to eliminate double standards in the koseki system. Persons diagnosed with GID must seek an official diagnosis with letters of support from two independent psychiatrists to change their koseki gender. Information provided in koseki is detailed and sensitive and makes discrimination possible against such groups as burakumin or illegitimate children and unwed mothers, for example. As the burakumin liberation movement gained strength in postwar Japan some changes were made to family registries.
Only Japanese citizens may be registered in a koseki, because koseki serve as certificates of citizenship. It also guarantees the accuracy of Japanese Passport. Note that the koseki system is different from the jūminhyō residency registration, which holds current address information. The koseki simultaneously fills the function of birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, and the census in other countries. It is based on family rather than each individual.
For married couples, only one family name may appear on the koseki, which means that one person has to abandon his or her family name when he or she marries. A similar registration system exists within the public administration structures of all East Asian states influenced by the ancient Chinese system of government. In South Korea, the hoju system was abolished in 2008. In September 2010 the Japanese government completed research into 230,000 « missing » persons age 100 years old or more. Some journalists claimed koseki is an antiquated system that enabled younger family members to receive the pensions of deceased elderly relatives. Sealing Japanese identity, Critical Asian Studies, Vol. Nakahara: Family Farming and Population in a Japanese Village, 1717-1830, Stanford University Press, pp.