Every Child

Has Two Parents

 
 

Proposed Remedies to Children Rights Issues in Japan

 

The Children's Rights Network of Japan requests the following actions by the Japanese government, to restore the rights of children in Japan along with the those of the parents that love them.  (See List of Issues for the problems that we believe that these actions would solve.)

NOTE: Although the proposed remedies described here are still accurate, much more detail and an expanded list now exists.  This page will soon be updated with the new remedies and details.  But until then, please see the following pages for some of the new information.

  1. Child Abduction (same issues as this page)

  2. Child Custody (many new issues, details and proposed solutions)

  3. Child Visitation (many new issues, details and proposed solutions)

  4. Divorce (many new issues, details and proposed solutions)

  5. Adoption (many new issues, details and proposed solutions)

  6. Discrimination (many new issues and details)

You may also want to review the "Critique of Japan's Second Periodic Report to United Nations on Convention on the Rights of the Child (CoRC)" which was submitted by a coalition of NGOs.  This lengthy document contains many suggestion on solutions to violations of children's rights in Japan, and the introductory section contains a summary.

1. Enact Laws Requiring Adequate Court Ordered Visitation Between Children and Parents

We call upon the Japanese government to enact laws requiring adequate court ordered visitation for non-custodial parents. The responsibility to ensure regular visitation is a direct consequence of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,

which was ratified by Japan in its entirety on May 22nd 1994.  Article nine of this treaty obligates Japan to "Respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal contact with both parents on a regular basis."   Just as there are now guidelines for adequate alimony to custodial parents, there should be guidelines for adequate visitation.  Neither child support nor visitation nor alimony should be considered in isolation. Adequate means, when practical to the education and upbringing of the child, up to 50% time, and should entail overseas visits with grandparents and extended family.  Criminal statutes should be enacted against concealment of children from a natural parent.

2. Enforce Visitation Agreements

We call on the Japanese government to enact effective and promptly enforceable measures to ensure that all parents comply with visitation and access orders. The responsibility to enforce visitation is a direct consequence of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by Japan in its entirety on May 22nd 1994.  Article nine of this treaty obligates Japan to "Respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal contact with both parents on a regular basis."  It should not take months or years of appeal after appeal in the Family Court to enforce visitation with an uncooperative custodial parent.  Japan does not provide for "Contempt of Court" as the U.S. system does when a parent does not comply with a visitation order.  Japan needs a similar enforceable mechanism. 

3. Assist in Locating Missing or Abducted Children

We call on the Japanese government to immediately implement a program to vigorously assist in locating any missing/abducted children of non-Japanese parents reported to be living within Japanese borders.  Japanese police should be legally required to immediately report and actively investigate any incidents of missing children reported to them.  All Japanese agencies and institutions should be legally obligated to disclose full information on the whereabouts and well-being of children of non-custodial non-Japanese parents.  As a preventative measure, require contact information for a non-custodial parent (either Japanese or non-Japanese) to be included on the Residency Registration (Juuminhyou) of the custodial parent and notify that parent when any changes occur.

4. Enact a Shared Parenting (Joint Custody) Law

We call on the Japanese government to enact a law that allows joint custody for those who want it.  A "shared parenting plan" worked out between both parents should become an absolute requirement for all divorces involving children or any custody agreement.

5. Create a Parent of Japanese Child Visa Category

We call on the Japanese government to create a "Parent of Japanese Child" visa category.  There is currently a Child of Japanese, and Spouse of Japanese visa category.  The new category for "Parent of Japanese Child"  would be appropriate at all times, whether there is an ongoing custody/visitation dispute, or not.  It should be similar to the spouse visa and allow a parent to work or just to live in Japan if their financial resources allow it. If a guarantor is not available, a reasonable bond from the parent should be acceptable instead.  This would allow the non-custodial parent to request adequate visitation with the child, and actually be able to use it.  It would also allow a non-custodial parent the ability to fight and defend themselves in Japanese court.  This will also eliminate one reason that a non-Japanese parent might consider abducting a child out of Japan.  This will make the Japanese parent feel less threatened, since even if they were to separate from the Japanese parent, the non-Japanese parent would be able to stay in Japan.

6. Recognize Foreign Child Custody Orders

We call on the Japanese government to expedite the court processing of foreign child custody orders when a Japanese parent has removed the child from the foreign home.  The situation needs to be rectified in adherence to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

7. Sign and Ratify the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

We call on the Japanese government to sign and ratify this treaty and enact domestic laws to criminalize parental abduction.  Sixty five nations have signed the 1980 Hague Convention on the aspects of International Child Abduction, but Japan is the only one of seven major industrialized nations not to sign. Under this treaty, children who have been abducted or retained overseas must be returned to their country of habitual residence and fall under the jurisdiction of that country's legal system.

8. Review Claims of Racial Prejudice in Court Orders

We call on the Japanese government to have an independent panel including foreign legal representatives, review claims of racial prejudice in the issuance of custody orders, visitation orders, restraining orders, etc against non-Japanese parents of Japanese children.  The Japanese Ministry of Justice should issue guidelines instructing judges to conform to appropriate anti-discrimination laws and treaties, such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution.

9. Protect Rights of Natural Parents in Adoption and Changes of Custody

We call on the Japanese government to change existing laws or enact new laws that require notification of the other natural parent before an adoption or change of custody of their child occurs.   The other natural parent should be able to prevent adoptions without their consent.  The other natural parent should have clear legal priority for custody, over and above all others including relatives of the custodial parent, if that custodial parent is no longer willing or able to take care of their child.  To facilitate notification, maintain a central database of parents who are missing their children because one parent is hiding.  Require courts to check this database before any legal change of status of a child is allowed in Japan.  Should it still be impossible to find or notify the other parent, the maximum amount of time before a change like this becomes permanent should be increased to 3 years.

10. Give Shared Custody Rights to the Father and Mother of a Child Born Out of Wedlock

We call on the Japanese government to reform Article 819 of the Civil Code of Japan, to give father and mother shared custody of an acknowledged child born out of wedlock.  This is similar to the situation after a divorce, and existing articles of the Civil Code should handle the ramifications.

11. Establish Safe Haven Centers

We call on the Japanese government to immediately implement a program to permit regular, direct contacts between children and their left-behind non-custodial parents in a positive, humane, and expeditious manner by means of a Safe Haven Center. This special program would be modeled on the Centers which Children's Rights Council of the United States has already implemented throughout the U.S.  These Centers include neutral, child friendly, non-threatening locations such as churches or community centers or schools, and not uncomfortable, stressful settings such as police stations, court buildings, or lawyer's offices.  Only one parent would be with the child at a time and the transfers between parents would be supervised by neutral, specially trained and qualified third parties.

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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