Japan Set to End Parental Alienation Syndrome: Joint Custody of Children

Japan Set to End Parental Alienation Syndrome: Joint Custody of Children

Kanako Mita and Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Times

Under the former leader of Japan, Shinzo Abe, who was tragically assassinated, he signed the ratification of the Hague Convention. This gave hope to international partners who were forcibly alienated from their children after the collapse of respective marriages or relationships.

The main victims of “parental alienation syndrome” were Japanese people, who were excluded from meeting their children after divorce – if the other partner desired this, irrespective of any court order. Accordingly, the Japanese government under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida approved an important family bill allowing joint custody. Therefore, the proposed bill to approve joint custody – along with the Hague Convention – highlights growing optimism for Japanese and foreign nationals who are alienated from their children.

Grandparents and other relatives were also denied access to meet family members. Hence, their pain was also neglected by the Japanese courts.

Importantly, if suspicion of child abuse or domestic violence is proven, the family court will have the power to provide sole custody to the other partner. However, this mustn’t be “a ruse” to keep the other parent at bay – it must be verified by family welfare networks, the police, schools, neighbors, and so forth before agreeing to sole custody.

Kyodo News reports, “Tokyo has faced criticism for its sole custody system, which poses challenges for foreign citizens seeking to maintain relationships with their children if their divorced partners return to Japan with them.”

In 2019, a United Nations committee stipulated, that Japan needs to “allow for shared custody of children when it is in the child’s best interests, including for foreign parents.”

The joint custody bill looks set to pass the parliamentary session in the middle of this year. After this, the new law will be entrenched within the family courts within two years (provisions for joint custody in the interim period).

Lee Jay Walker says, “Parental alienation syndrome is devastating for the left-behind parent and other family members, notably grandparents.”

Provisions are needed to protect children and partners from abuse. If this is enacted, then joint custody provides hope for all concerned after decades of alienation for one parent (and other family members).

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