Kyodo News International
March 18, 2014
More than 40 Japanese lawmakers set up a group Tuesday with an
aim to enact legislation to ensure visitations between children and
their parents separated due to divorce or marital disputes in Japan.
The lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties will strive
to prevent severance of the parent-child relationship for the child's
best interest, as more than 150,000 children in Japan every year are
estimated to lose contact with noncustodial parents following divorce.
Japan adopts the sole custody system and the country's courts tend
to award mothers custody. It is not unusual for children to stop seeing
their fathers after their parents break up.
At the first
meeting of the parliamentarians' group, Minoru Kiuchi, a ruling Liberal
Democratic Party member of the House of Representatives, said that not
being able to meet with their own child would "violate the human rights
Kiuchi referred to his own experience of being
temporarily separated from his children in the past due to a dispute
with his wife.
A group of parents separated from their
children urged the lawmakers at the meeting to increase the frequency of
visitations, ban parental child abductions and oblige couples to work
out a joint parenting plan for their children when they get divorced.
According to a government survey on visitations in fiscal 2011,
23.4 percent of 1,332 single mothers and 16.3 percent of 417 single
fathers said they have agreed on a scheme of exchanges between children
and their separated parents.
As for the frequency of
visitations, 36.5 percent of 603 single mothers and 42.3 percent of 225
single fathers said their children have met with nonresident parents
more than once a month.
LDP lower house member Hiroshi Hase,
who heads the secretariat of the lawmakers' group, said that members
will meet once a month and conduct fact-finding surveys before starting
work to craft a new law.
The members will also promote
awareness among the general public that it will be desirable for
children to maintain access to both parents, he said.