Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Thursday, October 29, 2020

In Japan, Divorce Can Mean Losing Access to Children. Many Parents Want That to Change.

From the Washington Post:

Japan is unusual among developed nations in not recognizing the concept of joint custody. Its custom of granting sole custody to one parent means that hundreds of thousands of mothers and fathers face potential barriers to seeing their children, and that children are being denied the right to see both of their parents as they grow up, lawyers say.

But now, a combination of international pressure and a legal effort in Japan could bring a reexamination of the country’s custody laws. Tomoshi Sakka, a lawyer who has handled rights cases, said there is growing public awareness that children have fundamental rights of their own to see both parents.

Japanese courts operate on what’s known as the “continuity principle,” almost always granting sole custody to whoever has physical control of the children when a case comes before them.

That reflects Japan’s now-abolished family system that saw children as “possessions” of households and the prevailing idea that courts shouldn’t disturb those households. It is also an idea Japan’s conservative establishment clings to.
Read more here.

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