A family in Pingtung County’s Neipu Township (內埔) has a second chance at regaining its ancestral name thanks to the county government.
The family, surnamed Pan (潘), had applied to resume the surname Hung (洪), but were turned down by the county’s household registration office.
The family said that one of their ancestors was a “mukoyoshi” during the Japanese colonial era — a man who had married into a rich family that did not have any male heirs to pass along the name and the family’s business.
Mukoyoshi is a common practice in Japan, especially for business reasons. It has its origins in that nation’s feudal era when an aristocrat or a warrior only had a daughter. They would adopt a male child or even an adult male, who would marry the daughter and take his new family’s surname.
According to the household registration office, under current regulations it is easier to change a person’s first name, and there have been few examples of Taiwanese who were descendants of mukoyoshi seeking to have their former surname restored.
There are no laws covering such a change, the office said.
It said the family would have to produce paperwork proving there had been a change in surname as well as verifying whether the original Hung had joined the Pan family only as an adopted son, or as a son-in-law as well.
If the family’s application was granted, aside from the six people named in the petition, their sons, grandsons and even their deceased parents and grandparents would also have to have their surnames changed, which would be quite a job, the office said.
However, the Pingtung County Government has overturned the the household registration office’s denial. This means the family can file another application for a name change.