It is not often when international issues are discussed on this blog, but a recent move by the United States House of Representatives brings family law standards in Japan into the American forefront. According to sources, there are parents in the U.S. who are being denied parental rights to their children because their exes have taken the kids to Japan after divorce. U.S. representatives are calling Japan out and saying that it is expected that the child custody challenge that exists between the U.S. and Japan must be addressed.
On Wednesday, Sept. 29, by a near unanimous vote, the House approved a non-binding resolution that will hold the Japanese government responsible for crimes of kidnapping if the country does not change how it handles child custody issues involving half-American children. According to Japanese family law, only one parent is given custody of a child after a divorce, and sources indicate that Japan’s legal system strongly favors mothers’ rights to their children.
One American father has lost his children to his ex who fled the country with their kids after their divorce. He reportedly went to Japan to collect the kids but was arrested by Japanese officials. Because the Japanese mother in the case had taken the kids to Japan and was considered the sole custodial parent there, the father was breaking the law in attempting to bring his kids home to the U.S. The House resolution voted on this week would allow American parents to visit their kids in Japan without facing legal repercussions.
The Associated Press states that the above-mentioned father is not alone in missing out on his rights as a parent due to Japan’s noncompliance with the U.S.; an estimated 121 kids have been taken by their parents out of the U.S. and to Japan. In response to the U.S.’ passionate resolution, Japanese officials have expressed that they too are concerned about the wellbeing of the children who are in the middle of their parents’ custody battles and are working to come up with a solution.
This is sure to be an ongoing issue between the U.S. and Japan, and we will post an update as the matter gets closer to being resolved.
The Associated Press: House condemns Japan on custody rights; Foster Klug, 10/1/2010