Every Child

Has Two Parents


Child Custody Information from Japanese Government Reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child


From Japan's Second Report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.  (cached copy) in 2001

218.     Article 6 of the Basic Law for a Gender-Equal, enacted in 1999, lays down the basic principle that women and men can perform their roles smoothly as household members in home-related activities, including child-raising and nursing of family members through mutual cooperation and social support.

224.     More and more people consider it desirable that men as well as women should take part in housekeeping and community activities, and balance work and family life. The perception towards traditional gender-oriented role-sharing as reflected in the term “Men at work, women at home” has been steadily changing. The Government will continue to make efforts to promote participation of both men and women in family life under the Basic Law for a Gender-Equal Society, enacted in 1999 and the Basic Plan for Gender Equality drawn up in 2000.

From Japan's First Report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child  (cached copy) in 1996


A. Parental guidance (art. 5 and art. 18, para. 1)

111. Paragraph 1 of article 818 of the Civil Code of Japan prescribes that a child who has not yet attained majority is subject to the parental power of his/her father or mother. Articles 820 and 857 of the Civil Code stipulate that a person who exercises parental power and is the guardian of a minor has the right and incurs the duties of providing for the custody and education of the child.

112. Article 24 of the Constitution prescribes essential equality of the sexes with regard to matters pertaining to the family. Article 818 of the Civil Code provides for the joint exercise of parental power by the father and mother: parents, in principle, assume joint responsibility for raising and educating a child.

113. Article 1 of the Child Welfare Law stipulates further that "All the people shall endeavour to ensure the sound birth and growth of children, both in mind and body." Thus parents and legal guardians must regard the best interests of the child as their basic concern.

B. Parental responsibilities (art. 18, paras. 1-2)

114. The Government formulated the "New Domestic Action Plan towards 2000 AD (First Revision)" in May 1991, with the aim of creating "a society wherein women and men can participate together". The Government promotes various measures to establish an environment where both women and men can jointly participate in every corner of family and social activities, based on the philosophy of equality of the sexes. The principal targets under the Action Plan are to "correct the rigid conception of dividing roles between women and men" and to "promote the joint participation of women and men in the local community and family life". With regard to the former, the Government aims to correct the conventional idea that "men are for work and women are for families" which divides the roles of the sexes, and conducts public relations activities to encourage the revision of customs and habits in every social place, that is, at home, at the workplace and in the community. In relation to the last, the Government promotes public relations activities to raise the awareness of the general public that women and men are both responsible for housekeeping, child-rearing and nursing and should cooperate with each other to that end.

126. Designation and change of the person in parental authority and the guardian and the pronouncement of the loss of parental power are made in the Family Court pursuant to the Civil Code, the Law for Adjudgement of Domestic Relations and the Regulations on Adjudgement of Domestic Relations. The said Regulations prescribe the voluntary participation of interested persons in the event (arts. 14 and 131), and persons found to have an interest in the case may also participate in the procedure with permission from the Family Court. In cases where the Family Court conducts a hearing to designate or change the person in parental authority or to assign the guardian, the Court must hear the statement of the child if he/she is 15 years of age or more, under the provisions of articles 54 and 70 of the Regulations.

127. Though there are no express provisions in cases where the child is below 15 years of age, the Family Court hears the statement of the child by pertinent means, such as ordering ex officio the investigator of the Family Court to inquire into the case (art. 7, Regulations). In addition, it does not prevent the child from making a voluntary statement.

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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