Study Session about Reforming Japanese Family Law
On Sunday the 25th of April (2010) a study session related to reforming family law was held in Kyoto. The study session was sponsored by Oyako-net Kansai. The keynote speaker was Mr. Nonoyama a lawyer who practices in the Kansai area. Nonoyama sensei is good friends with Tanase sensei (another lawyer based in Tokyo) who is also interested in reforming family law in Japan. One of the first things Nonoyama sensei said was it is too easy to get a divorce in Japan. You only have to sign a sheet of paper to get a divorce. There are no requirements (as in many western countries) for parents to make or agree to a joint parenting plan. This parenting plan outlines the details of how the children will be raised. It covers everything from where the children will live to where and how they will spend their vacations with each respective parent. Nonoyama sensei implied that Japan needs a similar system.
Domestic Violence (DV) was another big topic that was brought up in the question and answer session. Nonoyama sensei was clear that there are some domestic violence cases and that the women in these cases need protection but he was also clear that most divorce cases do NOT involve DV. In non-DV cases there needs to be some type of enforcement. If a mother refuses visitation then that mother needs to be penalized. He equated denial of parental visitation as abuse. Excuses such as your son does not want to see you and your son is sick were not valid reasons (in most cases) to deny visitation. Nonoyama sensei said he would continue to work with Tanase sensei to reform family law. These two lawyers seemed to have some great ideas but there seems to be some resistance with the diet and the public. It sounds like there is still a lot of hard work that needs to be done.
One Japanese mother (whose children are living in America with their American father) spoke during the question and answer session. She said Japan must sign the Hague. Her ex-husband is refusing to let her children travel to Japan for a visit because Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction. She said she and her extended family are heartbroken that her kids can not experience Japanese culture. She said if Japan signed the Hague it would then be possible for her children to travel to Japan for vacation.