Akuma is a common Japanese word meaning "demon" or "devil." It also played an important role in establishing the principle of "abuse of rights" in Japanese legal precedent.
Japan maintains strict rules regarding the bestowing of personal names. The Japanese Ministry of Justice maintains a list of Chinese characters - the Jinmeiyo Kanji - which are allowed to be used in personal names. According to the letter of the law, if a name is composed of characters drawn from this list, it is legal.
In 1993, a Japanese couple applied to have their son named "Akuma," in what became known as the "Akuma-chan Case." Since the two characters that comprise the word "akuma" (悪, "evil," and 魔, "demon") were both on the list of acceptable characters, the city hall clerk duly entered the name on the family register.
However, a month later, acting on a directive from the Civil Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Justice, the city office contacted the couple, informing them that "Akuma" was an inappropriate name for a child and insisting that they choose a different name. In the meantime, the city office deleted the name "Akuma" from the family register and replaced it with an entry stating that the child was "not yet named."
The parents were deeply dissatisfied with this decision and the father filed an appeal in the Japanese Family Court. He argued that it was a parent's right to decide the name of their child and moreover that "Akuma" was a unique and powerful name that would help his son stand out from the crowd and signaled his parents' ambitions for his future success in life.
The Family Court ruled that even though the name "Akuma" conformed to the letter of the law, naming a child "Akuma" was against the generally accepted ideas of society and was thus an example of the doctrine of "abuse of rights." Therefore, a city office would be justified in refusing to accept such a name. However, In a classic Japanese "mixed ruling," the Family court also found that because the name was submitted and accepted into the family register according to proper procedures, neither the city office nor the Ministry of Justice itself could unilaterally remove the name from the family register and therefore, the child's legal name remained Akuma unless the parents could be persuaded to apply to have the child's name legally changed to another name.
Anyone who is familiar with how Japanese society works can guess the final outcome. Under intense public and private pressure, the child's father "voluntarily" agreed to submit an application to change the child's name to "Aku" (亜駆), using two phonetic Chinese characters with little actual meaning.
This case was important as a legal precedent because it helped firmly enshrine into Japanese law the legal doctrine of "abuse of rights."