Savvy Tokyo's resident "Love in Japan" columnist, Hilary Keyes, answers anonymous questions from readers on everything from dating in Japan to women’s health issues. Got a question you’d like to ask Hilary? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Ask Hilary."
I’m a foreign woman married to a Japanese man and currently living in Tokyo. I am a housewife but also have a part-time job at an international company.
Last year I caught my husband cheating on me with multiple women, including sex workers. It’s like he’s obsessed with sex. One of his partners is a married woman he used to date before we were married (he told me it wasn’t a serious relationship)—we used to fight about her but he said they weren’t in contact any longer. It turns out she is one of his affair partners despite her also being married.
I’m shocked by how shameless they are. My husband and I are now in relationship counseling, but I want to sue her for psychological distress. I have limited knowledge about legal matters in Japan and I don’t have much money for hiring a lawyer. Do you have any advice for me?
Dear Heartless Wife,
I find your choice of moniker intriguing. Do you see yourself as heartless for wanting to make this woman pay, or because of your current views on your partner and his behavior? Because you’re in counseling with your husband and don’t seem to be divorcing him, I assume you want this relationship to work.
It’s reasonable to be angry with both your husband and his affair partners, and even more so when one of those partners is someone you two have fought about in the past. However, it might be helpful to you if you talk about these feelings with a psychologist or counselor on your own, in individual counseling.
According to Japanese civil law, while you can sue his affair partner for emotional distress, there is no guarantee that you will win or be awarded anything—and you will definitely need a lawyer and time in order to sue properly.
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