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Joint custody? 共同親権?

The Japanese government has been considering changes to its family law over the last few years. It set up a family law review subcommittee in March 2021 to look into potential changes and they accepted submissions from the public two years later.


 The committee just completed their final meeting in January this year. Last week, on the 8th of March, their proposal for changes was approved by the legal affairs committee of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). It will be submitted for debate in the House of Representatives this week and then presented to Justice Minister Koizumi.


The draft amendment is low on details, but will allow for parents who agree to choose joint custody (called parental responsibility in Australia) after divorce.This is a change from the current system that only allows sole custody post divorce, however it does not go far enough to result in joint custody as the norm, as in other countries. 


When parents don’t agree, it will be up to a family court judge to make the determination about joint custody. Based on my own personal experiences with the family court, and the experiences of other parents I’ve spoken to, I don’t hold much hope that joint custody will be the outcome for most cases. The family court is old fashioned, conservative and looking for easy solutions.


日本政府はここ数年、家族法の改正を検討してきた。2021年3月に家族法検討小委員会を設置し、改正の可能性を検討し、2年後には一般からの意見提出を受け付けた。


 委員会は今年1月に最終会合を終えたばかりだ。先週8日、その改正案が与党・自民党の法務部会で了承された。今週中に衆議院で審議され、小泉法務大臣に提出される。


これは、離婚後に単独親権しか認められていない現行制度からの変更であるが、諸外国のように共同親権が当たり前になるほどのものではない。


両親が合意しない場合、共同親権を決定するのは家庭裁判所の裁判官である。私自身の家裁での経験や、私が話をした他の親たちの経験からすると、共同親権がほとんどのケースで実現するとはあまり思えない。家庭裁判所は古風で、保守的で、安易な解決策を求める。


It has been reported that under the new laws, parents that have lost custody under the current system will have the opportunity to apply for a change of custody, requesting joint custody instead. Once again, since the family court would be involved, it’s highly unlikely that this will lead to significant numbers of parents regaining custody.


Many of the issues surrounding the current system such as false family violence (DV) claims and parental child abduction don’t appear to have been dealt with adequately by the proposal. Instead, the vague phrase that parents should respect each other’s jinkaku, or personality, after divorce is open to interpretation. 


In my opinion, the proposed amendment is an expertly crafted piece designed to quell international criticism, whilst at the same time keeping as many of the stakeholders as happy as possible.


新法の下では、現行制度の下で親権を失った親は、代わりに共同親権を要求する親権変更を申請する機会が与えられると報じられている。繰り返しになるが、家庭裁判所が関与することになるため、これによってかなりの数の親が親権を取り戻す可能性は低い。


虚偽の家庭内暴力(DV)申し立てや親による子の連れ去りなど、現行制度を取り巻く問題の多くは、今回の提案では十分に対処されていないようだ。それどころか、離婚後も互いの人格を尊重し合うべきだという曖昧な表現には、解釈の余地がある。


私に言わせれば、この改正案は国際的な批判を鎮め、同時にできるだけ多くの利害関係者を満足させるために巧妙に作られたものである。



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