Japanese Family Law Throwback to Another Era

Japan may be a modern country technologically. But not legally, according to reports.

In approximately 80% of divorce and paternity cases in Japan, the father loses all parental rights, excluding the “right” to pay child support. In the remainder of cases, it is the mother who is stripped of her parental rights.

Visitation? That’s not a concept that is part of Japanese family law.

When parents break up, the “other parent” fades out of their children’s lives. Another family member may even adopt their children without their consent.

How does a parent win custody in Japan?

One alleged way to get a leg up on a custody award in Japan is to abscond with the child, even across international boundaries.

Statistics suggest that some 10,000 children in Japan have no access to their foreign parent.

Japan is a not yet a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Although there are rumors that it will adopt the convention in a couple of more years, one has to wonder whether it will really matter.

Japanese family law is in need of a paradigm shift. Without that, change may be a pipe dream.

Japan did sign the Convention of New York, the purpose of which was to assure children access to both parents. It didn’t.

Family law activists in Japan are lobbying for a long overdue overhaul of the Japanese family law.

Read more in this Singapore Straits Times article: Over 160,000 Japanese children split from one parents every year.