Japan Times “Richard Cory” updates us on child custody woes and systematic bias against NJ fathers


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog. Here’s the first part of a sad story from a friend whose marriage broke down, and how the system is geared against NJ (particular fathers) who want custody of and access to their children.  This came out last week, and part two came out today.  You can also read about it in Japanese here.  Wow.  May more stories like these get into print and offer cautionary tales.  Arudou Debito in Calgary.


The Japan Times THE ZEIT GIST
Battling a broken system
A left-behind father tells the story of his fight to find and win custody of his lost daughter
September 21, 2010

(excerpt) In December 2009, shortly after I detailed my fears in this column (Zeit Gist, Nov. 3, 2009) about my wife’s ongoing affair potentially resulting in me losing custody of my children, family life got even worse as she became increasingly physically abusive toward our children. In fact, the police visited my home after one incident in December and recommended that I take my daughter to the Child Guidance Center (jidosodanjo) so that we could determine how to best handle her mother’s violent behavior. Over the next few months, my daughter was interviewed twice at the Child Guidance Center and a few times at her public elementary school.

Unfortunately, as we neared the abduction date, bias against her American father started to become evident. Exactly two weeks before her abduction, her female school principal met privately with my daughter, who summarized her principal’s comments as follows: “Your mother might be violent, but we know she’s a very nice mother on the inside. She will change one day. She’s just stressed right now.”

Two days before the abduction, the school principal and two child welfare officers met with my daughter in the principal’s office, and just hours after returning home, my daughter reported the following exchange between her and one of the welfare officers, an older Japanese woman: “And then she said, ‘Who are you going to choose?’ And I said, ‘Because Mama beats me, I want to go to Daddy’s side. I’m going to choose Daddy.’ Then she said, ‘Your mother does all the stuff at home, like cooking and doing the clothes and stuff like that, so I think it would be better if you choose your mother.’ “

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100921zg.html

10 comments on “Japan Times “Richard Cory” updates us on child custody woes and systematic bias against NJ fathers

  • I don`t know if its been noted but these child welfare officers are nothing more than government bureaucrats who get rotated around different positions within the local government every few years. They do not have any specialist training or even a social work/welfare degree.
    In fact once they get pass a certain age (early 30`s I think) they can no longer work in child welfare!!
    I know this from experience.

    — I do too. The ones I’ve dealt with, however, were older men, so I’m not sure there’s an age ceiling. They would also do nothing about an intractable situation. That’s a story for another time.

  • I was wondering if these stories would end up on Debito…anyway, I’ve read both parts, and sadly, it was very familiar to me, as my dad and stepmother tried to do pretty much the same stuff this mother here is doing with the man’s children. At least the man wasn’t denied his kids because he was a NJ. At least there was SOME help for him. At least for now he he has his daughter. Better than no one at all.

  • I think he should abduct her back to the States, if he can relocate there.

    After all, thats what some Japanese ex spouses do, so surely its fair. Tit for tat.

    Its ironic that the GOJ recently said their main cause of concern for not signing the Hague Convention was domestic violence against Japanese wives abroad.

    Now it seems the shoe is on the other foot-the Japanese wife is the violent one.

    — Not as though it mattered. DV is still generally seen as perpetrated by the man.

  • I’m a lawyer myself (not qualified in Japan) and I’ve been involved in some legal disputes, and always found myself asking later that if I were in trouble in Japan would I bother hiring a lawyer in Japan? I just can’t see the upside. Lawyers in Japan seem to have no real power to do anything. To be fair it’s not their fault, the system is set up that way. But I would never recommend anyone to hire a Japanese lawyer if they were in, for example, any kind of criminal trouble.

    I think in most cases what you need is willingness to jump through the hoops, a good translator/interpreter and a good recording device. Much cheaper and you’ll get better results, probably (my speculation).

    I’m not sure what other people think, but I’d be pleased to hear.

  • IS this racist though, or sexism? Most of the cases we hear about are NJ husbands and J wives, I wonder who would be given the favorable bias if it were the opposite case? (Or do most Japanese ex-husbands not bother to fight for their kids?) It’s definitely an issue that needs addressing but I wonder if it’s an issue of racism or sexism or (most likely) a combination of both?

  • Kimberly, I believe it is much easier for a man to find full time job (as an English teacher) and get working visa, than to a woman, therefore a man has much more chances to stay in Japan and fight for his children.
    Just to make something clear here, there’s an issue of “psychological DV”, which can be proven by proper mental health evaluation. There are many resourses on the net about this issue, and it is as scary as the physical DV-it can simply drive the abused person suicidal.

  • nah, lots of business English suppliers want more female teachers, but they re in short supply. I m not sure why, but most resumes I get are from men.

    Anyway, linking English teaching for a visa to fighting for child custody is going off topic.


Leave a Reply to Norik Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>