Every Child

Has Two Parents

 
 

Bad family law supports domestic violence by a Japanese spouse against a foreign spouse

 

The following issues illustrate how current family law infrastructure in Japan allows a Japanese spouse to cut a non-Japanese spouse off from the children by abducting them

A Japanese spouse nearly always gets child custody in a divorce.

Courts cannot enforce custody.

Courts cannot enforce visitation.

So reporting abuse will likely mean losing custody of the child. 

A non-custodial parent may not be able to get a visa to stay and work in Japan to maintain a relationship with their child

and take away their visa to be in Japan gives a Japanese spouse so much power over a foreign spouse that it is very difficult for the foreign spouse to report even severe physical abuse due to fear of losing access to a child.

First, the guarantee letter from a spouse required for a residency visa encourages domestic violence against children and foreign
parents.  (Click on the preceeding link to see details.)

Finally, Japanese law enforcement and courts will not enforce visitation if a Japanese spouse runs away with a child. So reporting abuse will likely mean never being able to see the child again.  These factors together give enormous power to an abusive Japanese spouse, promote inequality in the family, and in effect support a system of domestic violence. 

  1. Systematic foreign residency discrimination facilitates spouse abuse.

Family laws in Japan provide leverage for a Japanese to continue to physically and mentally abuse a foreign spouse.  The Japanese parent finds it easy to abduct the children.  Therefore the non-Japanese spouse, usually the wife, cannot report the abuser.  She fears losing her spouse visa and hence losing her children.   (The family law problems themselves are not necessarily racial discrimination, but many are in violation of the UN CRC.)

Solutions We Want To See

  1. Amend immigration laws so that a non-married or non-custodial foreign parent of a Japanese child qualifies for a long-term residency visa permitting employment. In particular, sustaining the non-Japanese parent and living in the same country as his or her Japanese child should be an acceptable reason to grant a long term residency visa, even if that parent is not the custodial parent.

  2. Amend immigration laws so that a non-married or non-custodial foreign parent of a Japanese child qualifies for permanent residency under the same accelerated time frame and favorable conditions as the spouse of a Japanese citizen.

  3. Barring documented national security concerns, immigration regulations should explicitly permit a non-custodial parent to enter Japan to get a visa to attend court proceedings regarding his or her child.

  4. Barring documented national security concerns, immigration regulations should explicitly permit a non-custodial parent to enter Japan to get a visa to visit his or her child several times per year.

Documented Cases

  1. Mother and child, abused during pregnancy and after by Japanese father, avoid Japanese family law by leaving Japan.

  2. One case in 2005 is known where a mother being severely abused by the Japanese husband and father escaped to the UK in order to avoid losing her residency visa and children.  We have lost contact with her, but have a report that she is doing well.

  3. <<Add CJFF cases>>

Articles

  1. See this petition that will soon be put out to support legal changes to prevent spouse and child abuse.  It has a concise explanation of the connections.

    1. http://www.crnjapan.com/japan_law/en/cjff_visa_petition.html

    2. http://www.crnjapan.com/japan_law/en/cjff_visa_petition_primer.html

  2. Lost In A Loophole: Foreigners Who Are on the Losing End of a Custody Battle in Japan Don't Have Much Recourse; Los Angeles Times, September 19, 1996.  Stories of Walter Benda, David Brian Thomas, Dale Martin and Charles Talley.   Describes how lack of a "parent of Japanese child" visa gives an abducting spouse power, how a hanko can be used for fogery, and quotes a Japanese Foreign Ministry official on why Japan does not need to sign the Hague Convention on International Parental Abduction.

The information on this website concerns a matter of public interest, and is provided for educational and informational purposes only in order to raise public awareness of issues concerning left-behind parents. Unless otherwise indicated, the writers and translators of this website are not lawyers nor professional translators, so be sure to confirm anything important with your own lawyer.




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