Seasteads offer the possibility of “reinventing” marriage, free from the constraints of existing norms, accreted legal traditions and political, legal, cultural, or other forms of baggage that have come to burden the institution of matrimony. A tremendous degree of flexibility, variety, and respect for autonomy (individual and communal) could be brought into the institution of marriage by privatization. At the same time, however, the same absence of existing norms – legal or otherwise –requires us to go back and think at a very basic level about the purpose of marriage and what people get out of it.

This essay represents an attempt at a thought experiment on the subject of how seasteads could become a stage for reinventing marriage. While the discussion will be mostly based on “western” concepts of marriage generally familiar to most readers, hints will also be taken from Japan’s fascinating koseki (family registration) system and the very different perspectives it can help bring to the subject.


The Author

Dr. Colin P. A. Jones is a professor at Doshisha Law School in Kyoto, Japan. With an A.B. from U.C. Berkeley, an LL.M. from the graduate faculty of law at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, and a J.D. and LL.M. from Duke Law School, he is qualified as a lawyer in New York, Guam and the Republic of Palau. Having two decades of experience as an international transactional lawyer, he has also published widely on comparative law with a particular focus on Japanese law (including four books in Japanese).



Colin P. A. Jones (2017): Rethinking Marriage from the Seastead up, in: Victor Tiberius (Ed.) (2017): Seasteads. Opportunities and Challenges for Small New Societies, Zurich (vdf), pp. 179-195.