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From Reuters via CRC Japan - Divorce and Visitation

Mandylion

Omnipotence personified
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15 Mar 2003
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I pulled this off CRC, Japan (Childrens Rights Council, Japan) Yahoo!groups page. They pulled it from Reuters. I think it is worth to having a look. My comments follow the article. Sorry for the long post but I don't have a link for you this time.

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TOKYO, Feb 18 (Reuters) - When Naoki Miyoshi realised he would
probably never see his daughter again, he had her name tattooed on his
arm. "I won't forget her. I look at it every day and wonder what she's
doing," the 45-year-old divorced father said in an interview. "She was
a real daddy's girl." Miyoshi, who runs his own advertising business,
has not seen his daughter for five of her six years. He is far from
unique in Japan, where the end of a marriage often means one parent
disappearing from their children's lives for ever -- the
highest-profile example being provided by Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi. Koizumi took custody of two of his three sons when his
marriage broke down 20 years ago and is reported to have denied his
ex-wife access to them, while refusing to see the youngest, who lived
with his mother. Rising divorce rates mean hundreds of thousands more
children are being affected each year. In 2002, there were 2.3
divorces per thousand people, roughly double the rate 25 years earlier
and comparable with the 2.4 per thousand level in Germany. Around
300,000 children were involved. Miyoshi's wife walked out of their
Tokyo home one night in 1999 and returned to her parents' house,
taking their only child, a 14-month-old girl, with her. Miyoshi says
he has given up hope of seeing his daughter again. As in about 80
percent of Japanese divorces, Miyoshi's wife won the custody battle.
And like many divorced Japanese fathers, Miyoshi ended up with no
visiting rights, despite pursuing his case to the High Court.

FATHERS LOSE OUT
"The feeling is that men should be concentrating on their work," said
lawyer Yasuo Kuroki, who has dealt with about 10 similar cases. "They
are not supposed to mind being cut off from their children, even
though more and more men involve themselves in child-rearing these
days." He estimates between half and a third of divorced people in
Japan are unable to contact their children. One Japanese television
programme focuses on the resulting heartache, bringing long-separated
family members together for tearful reunions. Dividing the upbringing
of children between the two halves of an estranged couple is not
necessarily easy in any country, but in Japan it is virtually
impossible. Joint custody, now encouraged in many U.S. states, is not
permitted. Court orders on visiting are difficult to enforce. "Divorce
rates are rising, but we still have a law that was passed decades ago
and doesn't match the reality," said Kazuya Oshima, 32, a divorced
father who has managed to see his two-year-old son for only 15 minutes
in the past year. Both Oshima and Miyoshi are members of Fathers' Web
site, a group campaigning for changes in the law to allow joint
custody and enforceable visiting rights. Their low-key methods are a
far cry from the costumed roof-top protests that have gained media
attention for Fathers4Justice, a group in Britain with similar aims.

CHILDREN'S NEEDS
It is not only men who find themselves cut off from their children
under Japan's current legislation. Mayumi, a 37-year-old civil
servant, divorced five years ago and has not seen her six-year-old son
for two years, despite having been awarded custody by the courts. She
says her mistake was to leave the child with her former partner for
what she thought would be a few days. "When I went to pick my son up,
my ex-husband said he would rather kill all three of us than hand him
over," she said. With no way of enforcing the court order, Mayumi was
powerless. Oshima says cases like this show that the current law
encourages child abduction. "In other words, the person who grabs the
kids first wins, even if they are mentally unstable or have no
income," he said. The question of enshrining visiting rights in law
has been put on the back burner after being considered several years
ago, according to a Justice Ministry official, but ruling coalition
lawmaker Toshiko Hayamotsu says she wants to revive the idea. "Even if
parents separate, their children still need them. Children need to
know that both parents love them," the former lawyer said. Not all
divorce lawyers agree. "In cases where the child is very small, the
mother has to be present during the visits. That can be very painful,"
said lawyer Yukiko Tsunoda. Miyoshi is determined to bring about a
change in the law. "If I can't see my daughter, I at least want to
help other people avoid the same situation," he said.
"Let her be the last to suffer like this."
--------------

While a sad story, this is good news for the long term. Change seems to be coming.

It has been a complaint for a long time that when an international marriage ended in divorce one parent (often the Japanese one) would gain custody or flat out kidnap their child back to Japan if overseas. Since Japan has not signed the Hague Convention that trys to prevent child abduction, foreign fathers, and sometimes mothers, were left high and dry when trying to exercise their rights. These two issues, child abduction and visitation/custody rights, are related but not the same. Hopefully both will be resolved in the near future.

For once the interests of parents both foreign and domestic seem to be jiving. This is an important issue and one that needs to be addressed. All the kicking and screaming a bunch of foreign residents can do doesn't often amount to much in Japan, but with the added volume of distressed Japanese parents joining in perhaps Tokyo will sit up and pay attention. I only hope this article makes it into the Japanese news services too... -M
 
CRC Japan website and other articles

Please visit the CRC Japan website also. It has must read information before marrying, having children with, or divorce with a Japanese citizen.

Children's Rights Council of Japan (Japan Child Abduction)

We have not found this in the Japanese press yet. Generally, the Japanese press ignores the issue silently. But look at the top of this page for one, an editorial from the US Embassy, that did.

http://www.crcjapan.com/articles/en/

You will find many other articles here. (This one is not up yet, as we are waiting to get a real link in a publication. If you find one, please let us know.)
 
He estimates between half and a third of divorced people in Japan are unable to contact their children.

Half ? That would mean 100% divorced couples, as the other half keeps the child(ren). I guess they meant half of the "divorced couples", not "divorced people".

Joint custody, now encouraged in many U.S. states, is not permitted.

Can you think of any law more stupid and useless if it create problems and ressentment harmony for its own sake. Joint custody is the most sensible and logical thing to do when it is possible and desired by the child(ren). Having the right to visit one's own children should be a fundamental human right (and vice-versa for the children to see both of their parents). The only exception I can think of is when a parent acts dangerously or very irresponsibly (abuses...) towards their offspring.

Oshima says cases like this show that the current law
encourages child abduction. "In other words, the person who grabs the
kids first wins, even if they are mentally unstable or have no
income,"

What irresponsible behaviour ! I can partly understand if the parent had no visit right and no chance to see his/her child again. But if visiting are granted, there should be some heavy fines or imprisonment terms enforced for abducting parents, as a sane environment cannot be created for the child when complete mistrust and fear of abduction reign between the divorced parents. If penal laws are the only way to generate a sense of responsibility, the it should be done.

"In cases where the child is very small, the mother has to be present during the visits. That can be very painful,"

Why on earth does the mother have to be present ? Is that some Japanese idea that a mother can never be separated from her baby (remember that babies, and even children, always sleep with their mother in Japan, while it is unthinkable for the average Westerners).
 
new URL for CRN Japan content

Just wanted to let you know that all the content on the CRC Japan site referenced in a previous post has now moved to

http://www.crnjapan.com

We have a Japanese translation of the Reuters article also, and it will be posted soon. Reply here is you would like to see a copy before it makes it onto the CRN Japan website.
 
Japanese translation of Reuters article

As promised. the Japanese translation of the Reuters article is now posted here:

http://www.crnjapan.com/articles/ja/20040218_reuters.html

I highly recommend the editorial by Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services complains that Japan is not going to participate in the multilateral Hague treaty on recovery of child support after all. He also advocates signing the Hague Kidnapping convention and being able to enforce their own court orders. It can be found on our list of all articles here:

http://www.crnjapan.com/articles/en/ (English)
http://www.crnjapan.com/articles/ja/ (Japanese)
 
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