A family registry. Japanese law requires all households (ie) to report births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and criminal convictions to their local authority, which compiles the information into a detailed family tree that encompasses everyone within their jurisdiction. If such events are not recorded in the koseki, they are not officially acknowledged by the Japanese government. While similar systems have been employed in Japan since ancient times, the modern koseki, encompassing all of Japan's citizenry, appeared in the late 1800's, immediately following the Meiji Restoration. This was the first time in history that all Japanese people were required to have family names as well as given names. Records were originally kept in lengthy paper volumes, but were translated to digital format in 2002 and are now kept by computer. The koseki fills the role that birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, and censuses play in other countries, all in one package. The location of the permanent domicile listed in the koseki is called the honseki. When a person enters another koseki (e.g., in the case of marriage), his or her name is stricken from the former koseki (a line is drawn through his or her name). (from Wikipedia).
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