Every Child

Has Two Parents


Discrimination in Japan Concerning Children's Rights


The Japanese Constitution professes twice that there shall be no discrimination based on race, sex or family origin in Japan in family laws and social relations.

In Article 14.  “All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.”

In Article 24.  “With regard to choice of spouse, property rights, inheritance, choice of domicile, divorce and other matters pertaining to marriage and the family, laws shall be enacted from the standpoint of individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes.”

But this is not true.

In fact, children's rights related discrimination in Japan falls into two categories: racial discrimination and gender discrimination.  This page presents the issues and discusses both.  Some of the discrimination is undeniable, we show, based on existing laws.  Others are clear, we show, based on statistical evidence.  But many others can be very hard to prove.  So in order to substantiate discrimination, we are trying to collect first hand evidence and will document it on this page. (For now, read about the personal stories of people who have experienced the Japanese Family Court and our Bullying and Racial Discrimination page.)  In order to give you an idea of what to look for, here are some specific areas where discrimination may be occurring against non-Japanese parents or against one gender.  If you have evidence of any of these, please let us know, so we can anonymously post it for others to see.

Gender Discrimination

Gender related discrimination occurs when a law favors either a father or a mother of a child, or when practices of the Family Court result in the  unjustified application of laws in favor of either fathers or mothers in a grossly unbalanced manner.

  1. Fathers of Children Born Out of Wedlock Have No Parental Rights

  2. Mothers granted child custody in 80% of court decisions

  3. The Law for Prevention of Child Abuse promotes parental alienation of and physical abuse of fathers.

Racial Discrimination Related To Family Law

Racial discrimination against non-Japanese parents in Japan can potentially happen in many ways, such as improper issuances of restraining orders, action by police.  (See the section on Being Careful for how to try to avoid these.)  There have also been accusations that certain lawyers will claim to be helping a foreign parent, but really have an agenda of encouraging you to accept loss of contact with your child in order that s/he can stay with the abducting Japanese parent.  But the most common complain is simply of racial discrimination in the Japanese Family Court system.  There is a widely held perception that the courts are strongly racially biased in favor of Japanese nationals, regardless of the inappropriateness for custody or danger to the child.

  1. Parental Kidnapping is not considered a crime in Japan, in particular when it is done by Japanese citizens

  2. Courts racially discriminate when awarding child custody in Japan.

  3. Japanese courts do not recognize foreign custody orders - since these are overwhelmingly by non-Japanese parents, this is also racial discrimination.

  4. Foreigners' constitutional right to trial is violated by visa denial or deportation

  5. Government officials refuse to help a parent find a child being hidden by the other parent

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


  1. Courts racially discriminate when applying foreign laws in divorces, child visitation and child custody.

In some cases, Japanese courts are legally obligated to follow foreign divorce and custody laws.  We know of cases where the court agreed to follow foreign laws, but then very blatantly disregarded them to protect the Japanese parent, i.e. they discriminated against the foreign parent.  (We are trying to obtain documents for these cases, but some are still in progress.)

  1. Discrimination Against Non-Japanese In Granting Restraining Orders.

There are reports of prejudice in issuing restraining orders against a foreign parent. (This claim is very tentative and under investigation to try to find and document evidence.) More information and documentation here.

  1. Systematic foreign residency discrimination separates foreign parents from their children.

Even in the absence of spousal abuse, family laws in Japan lead to foreign parents losing their visas to stay in Japan.  The Japanese parent uses family law problems (CRC violations) as a way to separate the foreign parent far from their child.  This most often happens to non-Japanese wives. But we also have evidence of this with non-Japanese husbands who have court ordered child visitation, but were denied a work visa.  A non-Japanese needs a visa to enter and stay in Japan to see their child.  The Japanese parent can complain and make it difficult for a non-Japanese citizen to re-enter later to see a child, even if they have court ordered visitation rights.   There *may* be a law or regulation that makes it easy for a non-Japanese custodial parent to get a long term visa or even permanent residency.  But since non-Japanese are almost never awarded custody when in dispute, this is largely irrelevant.  There is no visa that specifically allows a non-custodial parent to live and work in Japan long term, so that s/he may follow through with court ordered visitation.  (Not having this type of visa can also encourage foreign parents to re-abduct the child out of Japan.)

General Discrimination Against Non-Japanese in Japan

Without laws to protect against discrimination in general, discrimination in Family Law cannot be effectively fought or prevented.

"The Government of Japan (GOJ) signed The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1979, then the UN's International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 1995 (effected January 14, 1996). Under the CERD, Japan promised to take measures (including legislation) at all levels of government to eliminate racial discrimination 'without delay.'  Despite this, Japan to this day remains the only developed country without any form of a law at any level outlawing discrimination by race." For an excellent discussion (including the previous quoted summary) and an introduction to related current events, see www.debito.org (cached copy) web site, in particular here.  

Discrimination in rental of apartments and other property

Discrimination in denying entry to public establishments  (Ana Bortz, Arudou Debito, bank loan discrimination case)

Discrimination in participation in national sporting events (Kokutai case)

Police discrimination against foreigners (Cliff case)

Laws Against Discrimination

  1. See also international treaties section.


  1. Anti-Discrimination Laws in Japan (TBW)

  2. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about discrimination in Japan. (Please send your questions to webmaster @crnjapan.net )

  3. I believe that there is something in Article 14 of the Japanese constitution about discrimination, and will eventually add information here on that.

  4. See also international treaties section.


Website of "The Community", which seeks to represent and organize the scattered and varied peoples who are concerned about the treatment of non-Japanese in Japan.

  1.  See www.debito.org for various other possible issues of racial discrimination in Japan. In particular see the page on the Otaru Onsen appeal, since the judge in the original case made some very questionable statements about how the UN treaty banning discrimination should and should not be applied in Japan.


  3. Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle's "ACTIVISTS' PAGE" for people concerned with social issues who want to help make life better for everyone in Japan.

  4. The Silver Web Journal

The BENCI Project: Establishments which exclude non-Japanese - An Issho Kikaku project to protest racial discrimination in Japan. - This site eeems to have been shut down by Tony Lazlo in December 2005.

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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