Japanese Policy Orphans Children

Posted on February 27, 2012. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese policy | Tags: , , , |

I am writing in response to a series of articles in the Japan Times about children being raised by relatives after the tsunami.  First, I would like to say that I feel for all of the people who  lost their lives in the tsunami disaster in March of 2011. It is was a tragedy for so many. Children, parents, grandparents, and relatives were left to cope with unprecedented loss. However, I am writing about the use of a particular word and that word is “orphan”.

In one story the father and mother both died in the tsunami (very tragic). In the other 2 stories it appears the fathers were never in the picture. One story mentions divorce and the second story never mentions the father at all.  Neither of these stories elaborate on why the father was out of the picture. Was it his choice to leave? Did the mother refuse to let her ex-husband see his son? If the latter is true then we could say the mother orphaned the boy because she cut off all contact with his father. (In my opinion one story implies that the loss of one parent makes you an orphan)

Perhaps the father chose to leave. He may or may not have wanted to contact his son any longer. If this is true then we could say the father orphaned his son.

In my personal opinion it is better to say that Japanese policy orphans children. When people divorce in Japan only one parent is given custody. Due to this policy thousands of children become orphaned every year. That is, thousands of children loose contact with one parent every year due to divorce.

According to these articles if one parent dies then you are an orphan. I feel an orphan is a child who has experienced the death of both biological parents. (This is true in 1 of these 3 stories).  Two of these children presumably have  biological fathers out there and perhaps extended family that would like to help out. When I began to write this article my intention was not to undermine the loss/death of a parent, child, or relative. My intention was to underscore the importance of family. Japanese policy does not encourage nor allow children to remain in contact with extended family after divorce. Children are “orphaned” due to outdated laws and bureaucratic complacency. If Japanese policy allowed for joint custody, these children would still probably have a father and grandparents on the father’s side of the family that could help raise and support these children.  Children are the foundation of our future. The more love children receive from extended family the better.  I really hope bureaucrats and politicians wake up and draft laws that allow children to see both parents.  The future of Japan depends on it.

To read the articles, please click on the links.

 Tohoku teen feels guilt of being lone survivor

Divorcee raising orphaned nephew

Grandparents stifle grief to raise orphan

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