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Court rules parents who keep estranged partners from seeing children can be fined

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Japan's supreme court has ruled that parents who fail to respond to an estranged partner's requests to see their children can be fined.

The announcement comes as the result of a series of cases in which biological parents failed to respond to requests from the former spouses to see their children. The cases resulted in a supreme court ruling on March 28 stating that the individual who proposed the meeting must make the purpose and content of the meeting clear, Fuji TV reported.

Furthermore, the court ruled that the Sapporo high court's decision to indirectly coerce non-compliant parents using monetary fines was legal. For the first instance of non-compliance, a fine of 50,000 yen is mandated by the Sapporo high court.

A team consisting of presiding judge Ryuko Sakurai and four other judges considered the issue and agreed that, "the needs of the child should be considered and prioritized by the law. We are implementing flexible laws, in the hope that cooperation can be achieved in private without recourse to legal coercion."

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We are implementing flexible laws, in the hope that cooperation can be achieved in private without recourse to legal coercion

Which planet are these judges from? Obviously they have never been through a divorce involving children in Japan. Your 'flexible' laws are abused by the custodial parent and they will continue to be abused until there are clear and strict laws on joint custody in Japan. 'Flexible law' has to be the oxymoron of the week!

9 ( +11 / -2 )

This should just be common sense. The child's well being should always come first and contact with both biological parents should be secured no matter how bad the relationship between the parents is.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

The point here is, that having strict laws can & will result in THE CHILD feeling that parents are fighting over & being because of it. The last thing a child needs to witness is hostilities between the parents, or even police. This way, though seemingly harsh, forces the RATIONAL/civilized partner to be more thoughtful in dealing with the (m)other. Observe the well-documented emotional scarring that takes place in jurisdictions that encourage direct & often protracted conflicts (eg: USA). People need to learn to limit conflict, either through cooperation or civilized retreat, if not the parents, then at least the children...

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

"the needs of the child should be considered and prioritized by the law. We are implementing flexible laws, in the hope that cooperation can be achieved in private without recourse to legal coercion."

It seems something is lost and added in the translation. The corresponding part of the original ruling is this. (translated) http://www.courts.go.jp/search/jhsp0030?hanreiid=83152&hanreiKbn=02

"4 (1) When determining the terms of visitation between the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent, the interest of the child should be considered with the highest priority (see Article 766, paragraph 1 of Civil Code). It is desirable that visitation is carried out based on flexible conditions and under co-operation between custodial and non-custodial parents. On the other hand, family court ruling that orders an action has the same power as an enforceable title of obligation."

In the Sapporo case, the custodial parent rejected visitation on the ground that the child, born in January 2006, expressed her intention to decline visitation in July 2012. The Supreme Court ruled that, although the intention of the child has the potential to be the ground for over-turning the existing family court order, it does not have the power to stop enforcement of the existing family court ruling.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I do not like the Supreme Court ruling because it places too much weight on procedural aspects and too little on the interests of the child.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'm sure I will get ostracized for this, but here it goes: When it comes to children, women have far too much legal recourse and men have not nearly enough. Good call, Japan. It's about time the rights of the male parent are given a little credence.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

Im sorry... but just hold on a minute.

This is, apparently, only applicable to divorced which are done through the courts, no? The ones which the parents could not reach an agreement, and had to have everything settled by the judge, including child support, who the child would live with, and who would get full parental custody?

Firstly - Given that the very vast majority of divorces (over 90%) are done by signing a bit of paper at the local Kuyakusho, this ruling has absolutely no impact on the very, very vast majority of parents not seeing their kids.

Secondly - "the best interests in the child" is great and all, if the father wants to be involved on a regular basis. ( I know there are many foreign fathers who have personal experiences in situations like this, and I am NOT referring to you who WANT to see your kids, or whose children whose children have been abducted when I say this).

However what about all the very vast majority of Japanese dads who divorce and never look back? In my opinion, if a father walks out of his childrens life and goes a certain length of time without any interest in seeing those kids, it is much better for the child if they do NOT see the child any more. Swanning in and out of a childs life once a year when you feel like it is bound to be more damaging than not seeing the child at all.

I resent that the mothers are being portrayed as the bad ones here. They are often seriously struggling with no child support (men in Japan commonly do NOT pay it, and if they do its a paltry 1-2 man a month) working full time, raising children, often with very little or no help, and to slap them with a 5 man fine is absurd.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Kimuzukashiii----I think you're a little off-base here. She was fined for "non-compliance", which--if you read between the lines---the father has been making an effort to have a relationship with his child. The mother is likely using the child as a pawn because she holds a grudge. The father took her too court and obtained visitation rights. She failed to comply with the court order. Hence, "non-compliance."

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Kyle Alpert were you a child caught up in a divorce in the US? I was and grew up wonderfully having both of my loving parents in my life. They argued and had their problems but never let that get in the way of taking care of me and my sister. Children need both of their parents.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Kimuzukashiii----I think you're a little off-base here. She was fined for "non-compliance", which--if you read between the lines---the father has been making an effort to have a relationship with his child. The mother is likely using the child as a pawn because she holds a grudge. The father took her too court and obtained visitation rights. She failed to comply with the court order. Hence, "non-compliance."

Who was? I dont think they are talking about a single person here, but more as a general concept?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Who was? I dont think they are talking about a single person here, but more as a general concept?

The Supreme Court was only ruling on this particular case even though that ruling has implications for all other custody cases. The ruling clearly states that fines are applicable when the parent without custody requests to see the child and the parent with custody makes to effort to accommodate the request. In this particular case, the court ruled that the stated wish of the six-year old child was not enough to overturn the court ruling. This is actually a good thing because six-year olds are highly susceptible to brainwashing by the custodial parent - poisoning the child's mind in regards to the non-custodial parent. Their statement that they didn't want to see the non-custodial parent may be entirely due to coercion on the part of the custodial parent. The child is already without one parent and would probably do everything they could to prevent the remaining parent from becoming angry and leaving them. The child would do everything including lying to authorities.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

parent with custody makes NO to effort to accommodate the request, that is.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Common sense? 99.9999~% of divorce cases in Japan end up with the mother gaining full custody and the father has no rights what-so-ever to see his kids unless the mother grants him access and the access can be as little as two hours a month (or year) depending on what kind of selfish trout he is divorcing. She is also within her rights to demand any kind of number she wishes for child support. The wife's parents will often jump in and request zero access to the father just for spite. Divorce with kids in Japan is a spiteful and cold business with no domestic laws what-so-ever for joint custody, child support or property settlements. I know guys that pay in excess of 100,000yen per month and have not seen the kid/s for years. If the divorce goes to court the husband has to pay. If it goes through mediation the husband pays with ridiculous demands from the ex. This Supreme Court ruling means absolutely nothing and is barely newsworthy. There is one law for divorce with kids in Japan: What the woman wants, she gets! And, that is all there is to it. Common sense? Bwaaaaaah!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

The courts have just neatly handed the custodial parent another stick to beat the non-custodial parent with. Who pays the fine? And how is taking 5 man from the chances are an already impoverished single parent family in the best interests of the child? "Pay my fine and Ill let you see the kids" is going to be the next line.

Disillusioned - I agree with everything you say but just bear in mind it is NOT always the women who get the kids, there have been many cases where the mother is separated from her kids too. It seems whoever grabs them first gets priority. And yes, once the in laws get involved it really does get nasty.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What on earth is stopping japan from recognising joint custody like the socially advanced nations? I despair of the kids in japan deprived of their dad or mum by a shockingly outdated system. If this ruling helps in a small way then good.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What on earth is stopping japan from recognising joint custody like the socially advanced nations? I despair of the kids in japan deprived of their dad or mum by a shockingly outdated system. If this ruling helps in a small way then good

Anytime there is a court invovlement in regards to divorce and child custody/visitation issues, it means that the parents could not be civil enough to come up with their own term, creating a system that promotes further animosity between them which usually ends up with the children suffering the most.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@burakuminDes - Because Japan is not a socially advanced nation, their family laws are still based on 1860's Meiji japan!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

People who have objections to court enforcement of the children's right to both parents, and the right of both parents to their children, and the prevention of one parent from abusing the absence of enforcement which exists in Japan to now, are still unable to grasp the point because they are confusing outcomes with causes. Lack of enforcement of children's rights, lack of children's right to their parents, lack of respect for children's continuous lifelong deep attachment to both of their parents, is the cause of a much higher level of possessiveness and dangerous acrimony in divorce, and far more contentiousness in the child's life due to hostility between the parents. This is in essence an invisible problem to so many in Japan because they passively accept as "normal" what is actually a social pathogen: the permanent exclusion of one parent from the rest of the life of a child of divorced parents. Eliminate the option of the forced removal of one parent from the life of the child (which today gets fathers who want to have a normal (to now "non-Japanese" style of) equality with their wives in raising their children arrested for trespass and kidnapping). The current system drives children and parents to despair, and drives parents to outright acts of hostility, stealing children from their other parent in order to secure "custody" under Japan's shameful family court system. It must be reformed with a hard, fast blow to those who abuse it, so that children's lives will at last be protected, and the courts at last begin to offer a source of security to the parent-child relationship.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

what if the estranged partner left for another with absolutely no financial support for the kids? i have a friend whose (now) ex-hubby (US navy) was sent back to the states, left her with an infant and a 2 y.o. promised to bank in cash every month but always late and less than what was promised and eventually stopped. his reason was he had too many things to pay off blah blah, but on facebook he up'd pictures of him in clubs, in vegas, or showing off his new games, car accessories, and then filed for a divorce when apparently he could not stand her "nagging". then a year later he mailed saying he misses the kids and that he wants to see them on his next visit to okinawa. she refuses, and i agree with her.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Kimuzukashiii

Yea....it was a hypothetical situation designed to dumb down a simple concept for you. Critical thinking is a beautiful thing, no?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It says Sapporo, does this apply to the courts in Tokyo as well..we are struggling to want to see our grand kids whom we, and my son has been deprived from seeing by his wife. my son refuses to sign divorce papers until she reaches an agreement in giving him his parental rights to see his daughter who turned 1 year old and whom we've not seen since she was 2 months. If there are any advises or tips, please let me know. This news is the best news I've heard in months. I just hope it can work right,y for us and for other people concerned!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Disillusioned: you're comments is very clear and true. This is what is happening exactly to my son.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I resent that the mothers are being portrayed as the bad ones here. They are often seriously struggling with no child support (men in Japan commonly do NOT pay it, and if they do its a paltry 1-2 man a month) working full time, raising children, often with very little or no help, and to slap them with a 5 man fine is absurd.

Resent all you want but in the overwhelming majority of cases here it's the women who are given, or take, custody of the children. Yes typically fathers leave the scene but in cases where one or the other parent WANTS to continue their relationship with their children it's a step in the right direction.

Either parent also has the right to go to family court and challenge the visitation as well if there are concerns about the welfare of the child. But typically I would guess that the parent who is trying to see their child already has a good relationship with the child and wants it to continue.

Also the support paid, or lack of which, can be mandated by the family court and the parent who is not paying support can be forced, including withholding of wages to enforce it as well. The thing is though that the mother's typically do not go through the process and cut all ties with the fathers and make the choice NOT to seek assistance as they do not want to continue with any relationship of any type with their former spouses. (I learned about this from a friend who had three children, the father wanted to keep the oldest son, as he was the 1st born son of a 1st born son, and the grandparents wanted him with them....it was a nasty process)

Who was? I dont think they are talking about a single person here, but more as a general concept?

The court would not have made the ruling unless someone or some group made the petition. Courts here do not unilaterally make decisions about laws on their own.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Elementz - hypothetical situations are not needed here. What the article says is that no-one in particular is at the centre of this, (and no-one is actually being given a fine) but after many cases in which a custodial parent has been ordered by the court to grant access, yet refuses to grant access to the non-custodial parent (for reasons unknown) they could, theoretically be fined.

My point still remains - this is going to change nothing. Because most people in Japan do a "ward office divorce", full physical custody and legal custody is automatically given to whoever is written on the divorce paper (usually the mother in both cases.) The courts have absolutely nothing to do with the very vast majority of divorces in this country.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fadamor

The Supreme Court was only ruling on this particular case even though that ruling has implications for all other custody cases. The ruling clearly states that fines are applicable when the parent without custody requests to see the child and the parent with custody makes to effort to accommodate the request. In this particular case, the court ruled that the stated wish of the six-year old child was not enough to overturn the court ruling. This is actually a good thing because six-year olds are highly susceptible to brainwashing by the custodial parent - poisoning the child's mind in regards to the non-custodial parent. Their statement that they didn't want to see the non-custodial parent may be entirely due to coercion on the part of the custodial parent. The child is already without one parent and would probably do everything they could to prevent the remaining parent from becoming angry and leaving them. The child would do everything including lying to authorities.

Is this actually what happened? Or is a hypothetical situation? source please?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Resent all you want but in the overwhelming majority of cases here it's the women who are given, or take, custody of the children. Yes typically fathers leave the scene but in cases where one or the other parent WANTS to continue their relationship with their children it's a step in the right direction.

As I mentioned (and so did you) in a regular, non-court involved divorce, its as simple as signing a bit of paper. And you need 2 hankos. Its not a case of "abduction" in the very, very vast majority of divorces here.

Either parent also has the right to go to family court and challenge the visitation as well if there are concerns about the welfare of the child. But typically I would guess that the parent who is trying to see their child already has a good relationship with the child and wants it to continue.

Exactly - and looking at exactly how few people actually do go to family court after a divorce to get access to their children is evidence just how low a priority this is for Japanese (men). Of course there are some who fight to see their kids, and I do genuinely feel bad they are being refused access, however its a social problem that men divorce and generally just don't care anymore. They walk away, start a new life and often remarry and have other kids.

Also the support paid, or lack of which, can be mandated by the family court and the parent who is not paying support can be forced, including withholding of wages to enforce it as well. The thing is though that the mother's typically do not go through the process and cut all ties with the fathers and make the choice NOT to seek assistance as they do not want to continue with any relationship of any type with their former spouses.

Indeed they can, theoretically. But again having to go to family court to get a couple of man paid to you a month? For a single mother without any legal help, and probably very little money? Realistically impossible.

I think many westerners cant really understand, but its a case of mother gets the children and no financial help, father keeps working and gets to play golf with his boss more often. Both end up satisfied with the outcome.

My main point is that, if a large percentage of Japanese men wanted, and were fighting, to see their children after divorce, then they would already have things like joint custody in place. Things like a 50000 fine for custodial parents who ignore the courts wouldn't even be making news, because it would be so common.

The fact they don't is evidence of Japanese mens nonchalance to the whole "children" situation. The Japanese are happy with the outcome of divorce, in the vast majority of cases, I think.

Sadly, to the vast majority of Japanese men, their job comes first. Then they get sad on new years holiday break when they realize that they have let their children go. But then they forget about it when they go back to work again.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

kimuzukashiiiii,

Is this actually what happened? Or is a hypothetical situation? source please?

You should really read the court document before flooding here with your comment. The link is in my comment at CH3CHOApr. 02, 2013 - 05:43PM JST, but for your convenience. <http://www.courts.go.jp/search/jhsp0030?hanreiid=83152&hanreiKbn=02

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@megosaa "I have a friend who... " is not an argument for the protection of children and parents' rights to maintain an uninterrupted relationship. Japanese lack of family law INDUCES the kidnapping of children by one parent, INDUCES the parent to make false charges of threats or violence against the other parent, INDUCES families to renounce their obligations to their children ... and why? Why is there no protection against parental abduction? Why is there no legal force behind child support in post-divorce parenting plans? @kimuzukashiiiii I still see the endless confusion of outcomes with causes. Why are Japanese men uniquely indifferent to the lives of their children after divorce? It's not genetic, you know! Why do Japanese men live lives in which the "job comes first" and they "move on" in "nonchalance," abandoning their own children? You've identified a horrible social pathology in Japanese society, without looking for what forms the destructive psychology of Japanese work-submissiveness and emotional living death. Do you and your friends and family not care that this is all rooted in grotesque sexism and gender-rigidity, which is perpetuated under the umbrella of social / economic pressures that force this ugly, miserable choice on Japanese men and women, year after year after year? I think to assert that people are "happy" with this is quite blind. I know we don't have to remind you of the negative population growth and extraordinary suicide rate in Japan. The Japanese state has pretended to be powerless to do anything about Japanese family practices, generation after generation. Yet six people in a Japan today thread have identified the problem and solution in one day. When women and men work, are educated to the same competencies, and give up their attachment to outmoded forms of work slavishness, Japan will rebound with happier people, fewer economic problems, and a healthier generation of children. I must add: I want my son back from his abductors, and it is killing me to be unable to have him with me, 100% because of the Japanese government!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I want to add the VERY important point, that for many, many men, THERE IS NO RATIONAL REASON to pursue a court case to obtain custody of their children in a Japanese family court, because (1) they have NO chance of winning custody, and (2) Japanese courts only award ONE parent custody of the child. See how it goes? A foregone conclusion to have NO access to your children. The lack of court actions is evidence that men are hopelessly resigned to the fate of having to lose their families and suffer in silence. Reset the system to automatic joint custody as the baseline assumption unless powerful evidence against one or the other particular parent can be proven in court beyond a shadow of a doubt, and you will see a change in the make up of family court cases in Japan. Or are the Japanese AFRAID to stick out their necks and ask for equal family rights for fathers, mothers and children?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Disillusioned

Common sense? 99.9999~% of divorce cases in Japan end up with the mother gaining full custody and the father has no rights what-so-ever to see his kids unless the mother grants him access and the access can be as little as two hours a month (or year) depending on what kind of selfish trout he is divorcing. She is also within her rights to demand any kind of number she wishes for child support.

Do not sign the divorce paper. That is the simple answer in Japan. Japanese courts cannot force divorce unless one spouse is heinous. So, if you do not like the divorce terms, just do not sign it.

Do you see why most Japanese are unsympathetic to "left behind parents"? It is because, they see LBPs are either,

(1) people who signed divorce paper without reading it, though it is very important to children,

(2) people who wanted divorce at any rate to get married with another person, or

(3) people who are so heinous that the court forced divorce.

I know LBPs have their say. But it is better that they recognize how people see it and how the law works here.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

ch3cho thank you for the link. Very interesting indeed. Agree that this article is a very bad translation indeed.

Brianpager - you seem very bitter to have had your child taken away, and Im sorry to hear that your child was abducted. However, I have been on the other side of this too - my ex ran off with someone else, leaving me high and dry with a very small baby all alone, with no financial help. He signed away all his rights to his daughter when he divorced me (he wanted to remarry her) and never paid a penny of child support.

When, a few years later, they found she couldn't have children, he tried (once only) to casually come back into my childs life, and I refused, obviously, and he has never been in contact since. Never gone through the courts, never sent a birthday card. Im sure many of the people on this board would happily have me whacked with a 5man fine for that, but its just not happening. Children are not a hobby to be picked up and put down as and when the non-custodial parent feels like it. The sad fact in Japan is that, Japanese men do CASUALLY want access to their kids, but just not every week, or month. They want access when they feel like it.

I am now remarried, and my husband has adopted my child. We all share the same name and have more children. While I would support my child finding him after age 20, if the child wants to, until then there is no reason to initiate contact.

IMO children need stability, and someone being there one day and then gone for the rest of the year. "Fathers" (or rather, sperm donors) appearing when and if they like, is not healthy for a kid.

Lets not forget that, until a couple of decades ago, it WAS the FATHERS and their families getting full custody of the children upon divorce, and it turned out rather badly for all involved. The thing is that, while fathers are undeniably important, the mothers are the absolute bedrock of a childs life.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@brianprager

Carry on! Extremely accurate assessment and very well stated.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

brianprager, I hate it how activists brain wash LBPs.

Japanese lack of family law INDUCES the kidnapping of children by one parent

Article 725 through Article 1044 of the Civil Code is the family law of Japan. Activists claim Japan lacks family law, abusing the fact that there is no law whose name is "family law".

Why is there no protection against parental abduction?

Kidnapping by a parent is a crime in Japan. See article 224 of the Penal Code. Do you know the small difference between kidnapping and abduction in UK law? These two crimes are almost identical but there are theoretical differences. Kidnapping by a parent is criminalized in Japan, but there is no separate clause that prohibits abduction. In this very limited sense, the claim by the activists is true.

Why is there no legal force behind child support in post-divorce parenting plans?

There is. A custodial parent on behalf of the child can file a law suit claiming child support against the other parent, during and after the divorce. A custodial parent can also claim additional child support years after divorce. By winning the suit, the custodial parent can seize whatever assets of the other parent. Japan does not have "contempt of court", which is peculiar to common law countries. So, ignoring a court judgment is not a crime. But the custodial parent can seize all the assets of the ignoring parent.

Why are Japanese men uniquely indifferent to the lives of their children after divorce?

You cannot make such a broad comment. Most Japanese think that a couple should not get divorced if their children are young.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"Kidnapping" in English refers to holding somebody for ransom, nothing else. Don't see how it can possibly apply in child custody cases.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

CH3CHO - Thanks for the reply to my comment here. I'm concerned that you've mischaracterized what I wrote. The last of the items you quoted - that Japanese men are "uniquely indifferent to the lives of their children after divorce" - is how kimuzukashiiiii characterized Japanese men, and was said by me ironically. Widespread belief in this supposedly intrinsic characteristic of Japanese men is being used here, and everywhere, as a justification for parental abduction. Yet a second of reflection should make it obvious to all that this "indifference" is the result, not the cause, of what amounts to a legal prohibition of continued parent-child relationship. From a psychological point of view, the "indifference" is feigned, and internalized; a defense mechanism against the horror of the routinized, banal way that Japan strips children of their parent and prohibits the relationship from continuing. It is the pose that is required of men who have lost their flesh and blood children to the abduction "machine" in Japan. And anyone who has held a child in his arms and raised him for 5 years (as I have) and then had him "disappeared" half way around the world under the protection of the Japanese state knows that the removal of the bond of father and child is not done with any less violence than yanking a limb out with pliers. It is a violent act of sociopathy, guaranteed by Japan.

I don't want to get pedantic about reading the comments; but the remaining objections you raised to my argument were all in the form of "I know, we have this law, BUT... " ... These statements: "we have no contempt of court... so, ignoring a court judgment is not a crime" means that the court judgment is rendered meaningless. "Kidnapping by a parent is a crime" you say, but there is no means to punish the kidnapper or have the child returned, because the courts have no power to enforce that law; and as a matter of practice, they don't make it a habit of making judgments that they cannot enforce, ever. The remaining point - that various financial prerogatives exist for "the custodial parent" in a system that is entirely rigged to create a "custodial parent" without even a remote provision of legal rights for both parents or for the child - makes the argument moot. It is a systemic provision of exclusive custody by illegitimate means, with no punishments for wrongdoing. Children are routinely taken across international borders against the rule of law, against decency, against children, in order to reach the safe haven provided by Japan to child abductors. This will not change because of the judgment discussed in this article. But it is a sign that not everyone in Japan enjoys seeing children and parents forcibly separated from one another.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Indeed they can, theoretically. But again having to go to family court to get a couple of man paid to you a month? For a single mother without any legal help, and probably very little money? Realistically impossible.

Do you know what you are talking about? It costs @1,500 yen to file a lawsuit in Japan. PLUS there is legal assistance, FREE, for people who are in need.

It IS realistically possible, HOWEVER it is culturally a different story.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kimuzukashiiiii---

"The announcement comes as the result of a series of cases in which biological parents failed to respond to requests from the former spouses to see their children."

Apparently you do need a hypothetical because you reading comprehension skills are lacking. Furthermore, this article or the court decision has nothing to do with divorces. Why you are so hung up on that, I have no idea. It misses the point completely. Nearly every person on this thread has called you out and pointed out the errors in your arguments. You're rants have no basis here. Be done with it and move on.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Brianprager is right. My lawyer told me the exact same thing and told me not to waste my money. Kimuzukashiii, I am sorry that that happened to you, but that is not us!! I don't know Brian or perhaps I met him at a meeting or protest. We want to be fathers and I would love to pay child support in return for a relationship with my child.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Canadaman, if your lawyer said as brianprager did, I advise you to find a new lawyer. There are not so many lawyers qualified in Japanese law who can speak English, but sure to avoid English speaking lawyers who are qualified in foreign laws and are not qualified in Japanese law.

Or find a foreign lawyer in Japan that practices both American and Japanese law. They exist.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

All readers back on topic. Please focus your comments on the story.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ok. Staying on topic. This could be a start for noncustodial spouses who want to see their children. Depending on the custodial spouse, it is a waste time wise and financially to get visitation rights. If the custodial spouse knows that there is no penalty for not showing up to visitation appointments, the time and energy is wasted. If this article is what I think it is, then it's a start. I hope that its enforced. Any other opinions out there?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Who pays the fine? And how is taking 5 man from the chances are an already impoverished single parent family in the best interests of the child? "Pay my fine and Ill let you see the kids" is going to be the next line.

Of course, if you're "impoverished", then I guess it would be too difficult to avoid even risking a fine by actually attempting to comply with the court orders, huh? The only time a fine comes into play is if the custodial parent is told by the courts to work something out and the custodial parent refuses for no good reason. 99% of the people this ruling would apply to will never be fined because they will comply in good faith with the court order. It's only the 1% who thumb their noses at the courts that are at risk of a fine. If they do so while being impoverished, then I have zip-point-squat sympathy for their situation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Most Japanese think that a couple should not get divorced if their children are young.

And this sums up the difference between the so-called "socially advanced" nation versus Japan. In a society where dual custody is a given in these so called "socially avanced" nation, is it any wonder that their respective divorce rates are so high? Got tired of your spouse? Easy. Get a divorce for you are guaranteed not to lose your child. It's really hypocritical when these parents claim "best interest of the child" is to have both parents present nearby and yet at the same time never gave a serious consideration that the "best interest" is for them to act like responsible adults, work it out with your partner, and not get a divorce until the child is grown.

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@nigelboy. I do not get what your last post means.Japan dos not have an especially low divorce rate, in fact it is rather high.

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I do not get what your last post means.Japan dos not have an especially low divorce rate, in fact it is rather high.

Compared to who? I look at marriage rate per 1,000 population and divorce rate per 1,000 population.

http://www.mhlw.go.jp/toukei/saikin/hw/jinkou/suikei12/dl/honbun.pdf Page 5

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Generally, mothers are more nurturing than fathers. However, in the Japanese the legal system has turned child care into an even bigger business. Fathers lost far more than just money. If you divorce, chances are, your wife will become your worst enemy. If you actually care for your children, that becomes your biggest weakness. In most cases, the lawyers of the wife and husband work together. You ever hear of an attorney who encourages the client to get along with his/her spouse? Hell no. Because that takes away from potential business. Children are the big losers. Imagine your worst nightmare, You have an idea of what children go through when their parents fight. If one parent shows a weakness, the desire to shield the children from the spousal violence, the other will be coached to be the aggressor. The weaker parent is then backed to the wall and faces the threat of losing the children and all rights to them. What's worse is that he (or she in some rare cases) will be reminded that the other parent has all control over whether or not you see your children and, if so, when. Imagine your angry ex determining when you can see your kids. It just so happens that men are more often the victim than women but it does happen to women too. It's true that mothers are generally more nurturing but that has nothing to do with who gets the kids or who pays.

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Ok. Staying on topic. This could be a start for noncustodial spouses who want to see their children. Depending on the custodial spouse, it is a waste time wise and financially to get visitation rights. If the custodial spouse knows that there is no penalty for not showing up to visitation appointments, the time and energy is wasted. If this article is what I think it is, then it's a start. I hope that its enforced. Any other opinions out there?

Yes .... but surely, if you really didn't want your ex to see your child (I dunno, maybe he was a drunk, irresponsible wife beater) and they whack you with this fine in Sapporo, wouldn't you just move to Kyushuu? There are many way around this, I think.

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The worst, most misguided view here s the one that claims that a father who is cut out of a child's life for more than a few months is better off giving up completely on a relationship with the child for the child's sake. This is truly and completely wrong, as there is no "too late" when it comes to returning to being a father to the child although of course sooner is better than later. This seems to be the idea that allows the abhorrent lack of legal structure for handling divorce & child custody to persist, that somehow it is just fine for mothers to keep fathers out of their children's lives under all sorts of circumstances. For all the inconvenience to parents here who are trying to co-parent, there are many systems, worldwide, that are so much more humane.

It is frustrating that Japanese courts keep making rulings like the one discussed in the article without dealing with the larger issue of how hopeless it is & how misguided for left behind parents to try to deal with Japanese courts at all, given that they will not & cannot make binding rulings in favor of joint custody for the sake of the children.

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@CH3CHO You continually misrepresent that way that the Japanese court system actually works?

Have you any formal legal training? Have you ever been personally involved with the Japanese family court system? Have you read any of the legal essays on the topics?

Here is a starting point for you: http://www.law-t.jp/en/publications.html

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Have you any formal legal training? Have you ever been personally involved with the Japanese family court system? Have you read any of the legal essays on the topics?

None of us have, I believe. But in this day and age of the internet, I would never even consider exposing names and photos of your children for general public view. That to me is definitely counter to the "best interests" of the child, PERIOD.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

People change. And those changes are not always predicable

Is that the recent "excuse" now? Post-partum depression to personality disorder that suddenly perks up (decision to abduct) and remains in such a state terminally???

Seriously dude.

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According to the article, it is finally being seen in Japan that “the needs of the child should be considered and prioritized by the law" - but many stories around the Japanese press, and any number of the comments above, indicate that not surprisingly, there is a lack of general knowledge of what "the needs of the child" means. It is NOT a mere conjecture of received opinion to state that children are grievously harmed by interference in or termination by one parent or their families (or the courts) of their relationship with their father or mother. There is a huge body of literature, always growing, on this topic. I and several others among the readers here, have children who have been and are currently being victimized by the Japanese system, by the absence of law and law enforcement to stop one parent from interfering in and terminating the relationship between the other parent and the child(ren). So this ruling - a fine if one parent fails to meet his/ her obligation to the child to maintain a court-ordered visitation schedule - is a significant baby step by Japanese courts, which have been principally interested to now in maintaining Japan's archaic "clan"-like structure of child possession via kosekis and single-parent custody, in the right direction of now giving a darn about children's well-being, healthy psychological development, and protection from trauma. Modern economic life has already far outstripped the applicability and usefulness of the traditional legal family form to the contemporary Japanese public. The courts must catch up - NOW, and FAST- with what people are already living outside of their bureaucratically narrow window on the world. This case is a glimmer of light towards achieving that. And It is vital that forms of force - such as fines in this case, such as publicity, and other forms of coercion - be brought into play when necessary against parents whose selfishness and possessiveness are being used against their own children, whether they psychologically understand it that way or not. Protecting children is in their interest, and in society's best interest. Finally, the reader who stated that mothers are more nurturing than fathers is really wrong. Males and females both experience equal levels of empathic response towards others by the time they exit puberty and adolescence, and are therefore both capable of tenderness and being nurturing, particularly towards their own children - which is one reason why Japan's extremely stiff gender normativity is so harmful, and requires the action of courts (such as in this case) to counteract it on children's behalf. Let men nurture their children along with their children's mothers, and they will do so. But you must let them, first.

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Overall, Japanese family law do pretty fine. Incentives are well allocated which mean it is cheap and efficient system which run on its own. It encourage family to stay together at least until children grow up, which is probably the best outcome for kids. Divorce rate is low. 90% of divorce don't even reach court. Down side of Japanese system is that, in cases such as international divorce where meditated outcome is not possible, there is no remedy through court litigation. However, there are like only few hundred cases of international custody dispute involving Japan for the whole world. I doubt these are sufficient for Japan to overhaul family court which is needed if Japan is to sign the Hague Convention.

The assertion that father don't get any visitation in Japan is not an accurate statement. The way Japanese divorce work is that each partner keep what they worked for. Wife get kids and husband usually keep assets and no alimony. This will discourage divorce by punishing wife with loss of financial stability and husband with loss of kids. And in case of divorce, there is no enforcement of income/child support or visitation from family court whatsoever. So if you want something from the other side, then you must engage in meditation. The system try to encourage outcomes where visitation and income/child support are negotiated bartered by mutual consent. And plenty of divorced father keep contact with their kids this way.

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@sfjp330

The assertion that father don't get any visitation in Japan is not an accurate statement.

Your own statements contradict your assertion. As you point out, visitation is based on voluntary compliance. Although the Japanese Court system officially recognizes the importance of visitation for the child's best interests ( http://www.courts.go.jp/video/kodomovideo/flv/kodomobb_01.html ) the system is not set up to actual ensure that the child's best interest is made the priority. Even when (the unenforceable) visitation is granted, the standard in on the lines of a few hours a month - again, prioritizing the desire of the parent in "possession" of the child over the actual best interests of the child.

In addition, the statistics don't back you up:

Disputes over visitation are dramatically increasing in Japan. The number of cases has almost quadrupled over the last ten years, from 1,700 mediated divorce cases and 290 judicial divorce cases in 1998, to 6,260 mediated divorce cases and 1,000 judicial divorce cases in 2008. These disputes are never easy to resolve, and out of a combined 7,100 conciliation and judicial divorce cases that have been resolved, less than 49% resulted in any kind of visitation award. Only half of these decisions resulted in visitation one or more days every month, and only 15% allowed overnight stays. Furthermore, it is common for the parties not to honor their agreements even when the parties agree, and issues of visitation remain to the end, even in cases that have reached family court, becoming cases that "cannot be cleanly resolved."

Behind these statistics is the rising divorce rate in Japan. Over 251,000 married couples separated in 2008, and if this number is divided by the 726,000 marriages in the same year, roughly one out of every 2.9 marriages will end in divorce. Out of all divorcing couples, 144,000 have children, equaling about 245,000 children in all. Seeing as roughly 1.09 million children were born this year, about one out of every 4.5 children will experience divorce before reaching adulthood. Even with the increase in visitation awards, only about 2.6% of the 245,000 children affected by divorce will be allowed visitation.

This raises the question of whether the remaining 97% of children of divorced couples will be able to have smooth visitation with the noncustodial parent. A lack of reliable studies prevents knowing the absolute truth, but considering that judicial cases epitomize the adversarial nature of parties in a divorce, and that their decisions can be seen as legal norms, the most likely result in these types of cases is that noncustodial parents will no longer be able to meet with their children following divorce. Even if they are able to meet, once a month is an abysmal state for visitation rights.

SOURCE: http://digital.law.washington.edu/dspace-law/bitstream/handle/1773.1/1028/20PacRimLPolyJ563.pdf?sequence=4

Divorce rate is low. Not that low. And is probably reflective of the fact that marriage rates have dropped.

90% of divorce don't even reach court. This isn't necessarily a good thing. In the case of Japan it is more due the fact that Japanese court outcomes are predetermined - making court a futile exercise. The parent in possession of the child will virtually always get custody. The other parent will get nothing - or, at best, an unenforceable visitation order. That said, the cases that do wind up in court are the ones that need the courts to function well and protect the children.

Also, this is a problem of the domestic Japanese system. The Foreign parents just have better means to get noticed. Recently, if you pay attention to this issue, you would see that more and more Japanese parents are speaking out.

I doubt these are sufficient for Japan to overhaul family court which is needed if Japan is to sign the Hague Convention.

Japan should do it for the sake of Japan. Japan has a plummeting birth rate. Japan should work to make sure that what children are being born are protected, and incentivize couples to have more children.

What responsible person wants to have children if they know that those be arbitrarily taken away by the other parent - and there are no enforceable legal protections?

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Messed up. Mother shouldn't even had visitation rights if it were true.

But in the Japanese system, she gets sole custody. The father is the one who gets cut out.

This is where the father should of taken the kids far away from her similar to what the Japanese spouses should of done.

There are a few problems with this. 1) The "Japanese spouses" doing the abduction can actually be the abusers. The Japanese legal system doesn't actually care - abduction wins. 2) The point is to be concerned about the child's best interest. Children do best when they have a relationship with both parents. Cutting a child off from a loving parent (even if that parent and the other don't get along) harms the child - and has long term emotional consequences. The Japanese courts do not function in a way that ensures a child gets to maintain relationships. One parent - the abductor - gets absolute control.

Aren't you doing exactly that?

No. I'm trying to show that cases can't all be lumped together. That abductors can't be assumed to be in the right. That fathers can't be assumed to be in the wrong. That details need to actually be looked at. I'm also suggesting that I've seen a pattern in the cases that I am familiar with - but I'm also only interacting with cases where the non-abducting parent is fighting for the right to see their children. Doesn't the mere fact that these parents are fighting against all the odds just to be able to see and have a relationship with their children indicate that their is a better than average chance that they might be good good parents? This aren't parent's who don't care and want to just walk away. They do care and ar willing to fight for the right to see their children.

So on the flip side... isn't it possible that a parent who is willing to completely cut out a loving parent from the life of the child isn't looking out for the best interests of the child? And is merely being selfish?

As others have stated, most all of divorces does not involve any court proceeding...

That is at least in part because of how the Japanese system is structured. In court, the outcome is predetermined - abductors get custody. Also, the mediation process is designed to beat down the other parent. They are pushed by the mediators to "give in" to the abducting parent's desires. This makes it easy on the court - but doesn't look after what is actually best for the children.

it's certainly better than constantly living in an environment where children has to witness the continued bickering between the parents despite the fact that they no longer live together.

A) Studies disagree. Having two parents in the picture is generally better for the child - even if there is conflict.

B) Under the Japanese system the less abducting parent is incentivized to increase the level of conflict. Increasing the conflict actually benefits the abducting parent, as the court gives in more to them (as japanese courts are ignoring modern child psychology and are still using the same thought process you mentioned). If instead, the court deincentivized conflict and actually prioritized the child's interests - the level of conflict would actually decrease in the vast majority of cases; to the increased benefit of the child. This has been demonstrated over and over as most industrialized countries have moved to the presumption of shared parenting.

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Patrick McPikeApr. 05, 2013 - 06:14AM JST the system is not set up to actual ensure that the child's best interest is made the priority. Even when (the unenforceable) visitation is granted, the standard in on the lines of a few hours a month - again, prioritizing the desire of the parent in "possession" of the child over the actual best interests of the child. Japan should do it for the sake of Japan. Japan has a plummeting birth rate. Japan should work to make sure that what children are being born are protected, and incentivize couples to have more children.

Compare to what? Japan's divorce rate is substantially lower if you compare to 50 percent of divorce rate in U.S. Is U.S. doing any better on custody cases? There are thousands and thousands of deadbeat fathers in U.S. that court or legal system and they do not enforce at all. And your pointing fingers at Japan? Sure, the part of the problem in Japan is a prolonged (at least two decades) economic stagnation which has created increase in divorce. Years of stagnant or declining incomes have made Japanese men less attractive as potential partners. And economic uncertainty has led couples to delay getting married and having children. Many working women have delayed the marriage or have decides they don't need to get married.There are also shortage of public day care centers, especially in cities, has made the cost and burden of parenthood so high that today’s couples either have fewer babies or none at all. And I doubt J-goverment will increase funds for affordable childcare centers. If you notice also, Japan has over 30K suicides annually for 14 years in a row. And what has J-goverment done to decrease suicides and depression? Nothing. Do you see decrease in suicides? None. So what makes you think J-goverment will enforce legal protection in custody case? Not much will change in Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

But in the Japanese system, she gets sole custody. The father is the one who gets cut out.

Why would you say that? I can see that when both parents are not "abusive" or "crazy", the Japanese court would most likely award the custodial rights to the mother. However, I do not see the court favoring the mother if she was the one that was "abusive" or "crazy" while the father is not.

There are a few problems with this.

If one parent is abusive, you do what is necessary at all costs. This, by definition, is for the "best interests" of the child, IMO. Of course, as you stated, there are legal implication

No. I'm trying to show that cases can't all be lumped together. That abductors can't be assumed to be in the right. That fathers can't be assumed to be in the wrong.

I agree. But it does get kind of annoying when the LBP blame EVERYTHING for their misfortune.

Studies disagree. Having two parents in the picture is generally better for the child - even if there is conflict.

http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/joincust.htm

"But when the former spouses had frequent disagreements, the children were likely to feel sad, actively intervene into the parental conflict, and behave less cooperatively, said Mo-Yee Lee, author of the study and associate professor of social work at Ohio State University.

“A high-conflict environment, especially when it places children in the center of parental arguments, is detrimental for children. It completely nullifies the benefits that the dual-residence arrangement can provide,” said Lee. "

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Is U.S. doing any better on custody cases?

Yes. As are many other countries that prompt shared parenting. None are perfect, but they are at least trying to put the children first.

There are thousands and thousands of deadbeat fathers in U.S. that court or legal system and they do not enforce at all.

A) that is deflection from the issue of the broken Japanese custody system. B) the US tracks it better than Japan, so hard to do an apples to apples comparison on that related, but separate, issue.

Japan is a prolonged (at least two decades) economic stagnation which has created increase in divorce.

Actually, Japan traditionally had high divorce rates. Gaiatsu brought about changes in the domestic law that reduced it. But it has been rising again http://amzn.to/12kTY0p

That said, I'm not singling out Japan with regard to divorce rates. As you say, this is an overall unfortunate trend in too many countries.

Years of stagnant or declining incomes have made Japanese men less attractive as potential partners

A) deflection from the custody issue. B) Marriage, in general, has lost its appeal. This is due to numerous social factors which, while related, are still separate issue.

Many working women have delayed the marriage or have decides they don't need to get married.

A) deflection from the custody issue. B) This has less to do with economic stagnation and more to due with Japan's social attitudes towards working women, the assumption that marriage == children, and the attitude towards career women after children see: http://www.weforum.org/issues/global-gender-gap

There are also shortage of public day care centers

A) deflection from the custody issue. B) This is due to the plummeting birth rate. Simple supply and demand.

So what makes you think J-goverment will enforce legal protection in custody case?

Are you saying that parents should abandon their children merely because trying to get the government to do the right thing is difficult? Can't never did... and, if you note the article that we are commenting on, estranged parents seem to be making progress.

"The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members."

Children deserve protection.

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Patrick McPikeApr. 05, 2013 - 07:19AM JST the US tracks it better than Japan, so hard to do an apples to apples comparison on that related, but separate, issue.

U.S. tracks better than Japan? What a joke.

In U.S., over $100 billion is owed in unpaid child support and nearly half of that to taxpayers supporting children on public assistance. According to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, $108 billion in total back payments was owed to parents with custody of children in 2009.

If those payments aren't made and the children then need to go on public assistance, payments are supposed to be made to the government in the form of reimbursement. About 49% of that back money -- or roughly $53 billion -- is owed to the government. That's a raw deal for taxpayers. But for the mothers owed -- 82% of custodial parents are women -- it's the severing of an economic lifeline.

For poor mothers, child support payments represent 45% of their income. Deadbeats are a big reason why 41% of households headed by single women are below the poverty level -- twice that for households headed by single men and nearly five times that for married couples.

Source: money.cnn.com/2012/11/05/news/economy/unpaid.../index.html

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Why would you say that?

Because:

I've seen the system at work first hand; I've talked to numerous Japanese legal experts; etc. I've been dealing with, and researching, this problem for two years now.

I can see that when both parents are not "abusive" or "crazy", the Japanese court would most likely award the custodial rights to the mother.

You would think.. but it doesn't work that way. As I mentioned, that mother (even having admitted all that) has custody in Japan after abducting the child there. The system in Japan is broken. That is my point.

If one parent is abusive, you do what is necessary at all costs.

I agree. However, there can be a difference between abuse in the relationship between the parents vs. what exists in the parent-child relationship. The goal is to protect the child. So just because there is parent-to-parent conflict doesn't necessarily mean that the child should be deprived of the relationship with both parents. It is something that must be monitored and balanced.

http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/joincust.htm

I see your outdated article and raise you with a modern one:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/co-parenting-after-divorce/201205/co-parenting-and-high-conflict

For many years the research supported the position that shared parenting in situations of high conflict was harmful to children. More recently, however, this research has been scrutinized and found wanting, and a different viewpoint has emerged. Previous research examined the frequency of alternating contact, and found negative outcomes for children in situations of high conflict and a high frequency of alternations between mothers’ and fathers’ homes; that is, children were being exposed to their parents’ conflict during frequent transitions between the two households. When the frequency of transitions is reduced, and high conflict parents avoid direct contact with each other during the transitions and shield their children from their conflict, these negative effects disappear.

More recent research has examined actual parenting time as opposed to frequency of contact (less frequent transitions, but shared or equal parenting time), and has found not only that shared parenting is not harmful in high conflict situations, but shared parenting can ameliorate the harmful effects of high conflict: a warm relationship with both parents is a protective factor for children.

Again, the Japanese system encourages the abducting parent to make things as "high conflict" as possible. If you remove the incentives to to be high-conflict, you reduce the level of conflict. Win-Win for the children.

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@sfjp330

You continue to deflect from the actual issue of custody.

In addition you a lumping "dead-beat dads" in with parents who are actively fighting to have a relationship with their children. How do you justify lumping the two categories together?

U.S. tracks better than Japan? What a joke.

Very well, what are the child support stats in Japan? How about the child abuse stats?

For poor mothers, child support payments represent 45% of their income.

So shouldn't that be even more incentive to fix the system in Japan?

http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/2013/04/04/does-harsh-child-support-enforcement-work/

Studies show that child support compliance improves with shared parenting. This stands to reason. Why is it that parents who are migrant workers living in barracks thousands of miles from their children send their meager earnings back home? Why is it that parents work two or three jobs making it almost impossible for them to enjoy time with their children? Obviously, to support their children. Why do parents work in deadly dangerous jobs? Again, for their children.

The answer is so simple - parents will sacrifice for children they feel belong to them. Take their children away, eliminate their voice in decision-making, let the custodial parent move far away, prohibit contact with children based on a phony restraining order, or place parental rights in the hands of a hostile ex, and they no longer feel like parents. Although most will pay child support anyway, many will not walk the last mile for kids who no longer belong to them.

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You would think.. but it doesn't work that way. As I mentioned, that mother (even having admitted all that) has custody in Japan after abducting the child there. The system in Japan is broken. That is my point.

Not talking about how the Japanese courts interpreted, ignored, or omitted the testimony in U.S. Courts. What I'm referring to is how Japanese court will decide if the situation was in Japan. In all likelihood, one stable parent will get a sole custody and the visitation request by the unstable parent would be declined, as it should be.

I agree. However, there can be a difference between abuse in the relationship between the parents vs. what exists in the parent-child relationship. The goal is to protect the child. So just because there is parent-to-parent conflict doesn't necessarily mean that the

We are talking about "abuse" right? Because parent to parent conflict is in essence what resulted in the divorce.

I see your outdated article and raise you with a modern one

Modern but lame. Reducing the frequency of transitions? Good luck with parents agreeing to an alternate schedule when they have a proven history of not agreeing to the simplest and most petty of things.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The best interest of the child argument is a smokescreen. The goverment is really acting in its own best interest and using innocent children as pawns. Also, arrogant family court judges, corrupt lawmakers, and nosy social service bureaucrats that lectures fathers about their responsibilities are conspicuously and conveniently silent when it comes to enforcing a father’s visitation rights. Where are these same righteous snot noses then? The answer is that it is not profitable for the goverment to enforce a father’s visitation rights, while it is profitable to collect child support from him. It’s about money, not the ‘ best interest of the child’.

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What I'm referring to is how Japanese court will decide if the situation was in Japan. In all likelihood, one stable parent will get a sole custody and the visitation request by the unstable parent would be declined, as it should be.

You would think... but that isn't how Japanese Family Courts make decisions. Custody is based primarily on possession/abduction. But don't take my word for it - I refer you to several of my provided links above referring to material written by legal experts. If you want more details I suggest:

http://youtu.be/P3g3g_0r01c

and

http://www.policymic.com/articles/15499/from-the-shadows-documentary-reflects-sad-reality-of-government-sponsored-child-abduction-in-japan

We are talking about "abuse" right? Because parent to parent conflict is in essence what resulted in the divorce.

I'm merely pointing out that parent-2-parent conflict doesn't necessarily mean parent-2-child conflict. Each situation needs to be evaluated to ensure that the children's interests are being put first.

Modern but lame. Reducing the frequency of transitions? Good luck with parents agreeing to an alternate schedule when they have a proven history of not agreeing to the simplest and most petty of things.

But that is the point. When you leave the decision up to the most uncooperative parent (Japan's system), the child's interests are not being cared for. If you remove the incentive to be "uncooperative", the level of conflict usually subsides. If the conflict doesn't subside, the more cooperative parent should be the primary guardian - as they are demonstrating the most willingness to protect the child's interest.

Instead the Japanese system, by its nature, generally places the child with the least cooperative parent - who then has ultimate control of the child (as that is the nature of the Japanese sole-custody system).

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@sfjp330

The best interest of the child argument is a smokescreen. The goverment is really acting in its own best interest and using innocent children as pawns. Also, arrogant family court judges, corrupt lawmakers, and nosy social service bureaucrats that lectures fathers about their responsibilities are conspicuously and conveniently silent when it comes to enforcing a father's visitation rights. Where are these same righteous snot noses then? The answer is that it is not profitable for the goverment to enforce a father's visitation rights, while it is profitable to collect child support from him. It’s about money, not the "best interest of the child".

I basically agree with everything that you just wrote. Or I at least agree that it is that Government's basic attitude.

That is why parents, AND concerned citizens, have to stand up and call for change. It needs to be about the children - and not simply what is convenient for the bureaucracy; or a cash cow for attorneys.

I would suggest that Japan's future success actually requires such changes.

A right that cannot be enforced is no a "right". So the current Japanese system is basically saying that parents have no rights.

Japan needs to restore the family system. (Many other countries, like the US, need to do so as well - but they have the advantage of more open immigration policies to maintain population). And the start of that is protecting family relationships by making parental rights something enforceable.

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