After the change of government in 2009, many expected the new DPJ-led government to implement changes in Japanese society and politics. In the area of gender equality policies, new policymaking and implementation dynamics were anticipated. This paper aims at exploring the extent of policy change in the field of gender equality policies since the new government took office in 2009 by focusing on two policies that stood out on the agenda: the compilation of the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality and the amendment of the Civil Code. In both cases, the prospects for policy change seemed similar, because the governing party was supposed to take up a more progressive stance towards gender equality, timing was fortunate, and the ministers in charge as well as Prime Minister Hatoyama were supporting policy change in these areas. Furthermore, lobbyists from within Japan and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Committee called on the Japanese government for action. The policy outcomes, however, turned out to be very different: While the Third Basic Plan for Gender Equality includes prominent new policy measures and is an example of visible policy change, plans for amending the Civil Code failed. The article argues that these differences are best explained by intraparty divisions over gender equality within the ruling DPJ which emerged especially since the party took over government.