November 30, 2012
These statistics were provided by John Gomez of Kizuna-CPR (http://kizuna-cpr.org/meeting_summary_november_24_2012):
November 20, 2012
Child’s right to see an absent father: Law to help millions from broken homes
- Government to draw up radical changes to the 1989 Children’s Act
- £10m will be pledged to help couples settle out of court
- Figures show one in five children lose contact with a parent after separation
By James Chapman UPDATED:19:14 EST, 2 February 2012
Millions of children from broken homes are to be granted new rights to a ‘full and continuing relationship’ with both their parents.
The move is designed to ensure that the parent who leaves the family home – most commonly the father – cannot be cut out of their children’s lives following an acrimonious separation.
Ministers have decided that a change in the law is vital in the face of heartbreaking evidence that huge numbers of youngsters whose families split up lose contact with one parent for ever.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke have been at odds over the proposals
Courts will be put under a duty to ensure that unless their welfare is threatened by staying in touch with either their mother or father, children have an ‘equal right to a proper relationship with both’.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have dismissed objections from Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke and overturned the findings of a major review of family law which was published last year.
On Monday, the Government will announce a ministerial working group that will draw up radical changes to the 1989 Children Act.
Unmarried fathers say they are often at a particular disadvantage, having to apply for a ‘parental responsibility order’ through a court or have one granted through an agreement with the mother.
‘The Act is going to be rewritten,’ said a Government source. ‘The welfare of children must of course remain paramount – but alongside that there will be an equal right for a child to have a proper relationship with both parents.
Children’s Minister Tim Loughton (right) said courts are ‘rarely the best place’ for resolving conflicts between parents about the care of children
‘There should be no inbuilt legal bias towards the father or mother, and where there are no welfare issues, we want to see this principle reinforced through law.
‘This is about children. We want to be clear that both parents should have a full and continuing role in their children’s life after a separation.’
Ministers will pledge £10million for mediation services to encourage more couples to settle their disputes out of court.
Children’s Minister Tim Loughton told the Mail: ‘The courts are rarely the best place for resolving private disputes about the care of children. That’s why we want to see greater use of mediation to solve parental disputes out of court.
‘It is also right that we continue to encourage fathers to take responsibility as equal parents and to be fully involved with their children from the outset.’
The decision overturns the main finding of a family justice review, conducted for the Ministry of Justice by businessman David Norgrove, which was published in November.
It concluded that giving fathers shared or equal time, or even the right to maintain a meaningful relationship with their children, ‘would do more harm than good’.
The proposals immediately sparked a Cabinet revolt, led by Mr Duncan Smith and Mr Clegg, who insisted that the law must be amended to strengthen fathers’ rights.
Official figures show that one in five children from broken homes lose touch with their absent parent, usually their father, within three years and never see them again.
November 17, 2012
Many important bills being shelved, scrapped
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Many important bills were hastily passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday, including a bill allowing the government to issue deficit-covering bonds, ahead of the imminent dissolution of the lower house.
However, there are quite a few important bills that were scrapped or shelved, such as a bill for Diet approval of Japan joining the Hague Convention, which stipulates procedures among member states to resolve international child custody issues. A bill to introduce the My Number system, which would provide each person with a unique identification number, also was canned.
During a debate with main opposition Liberal Democratic Party President Shinzo Abe on Wednesday, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said he could dissolve the lower house Friday. After that, the LDP and its opposition coalition partner New Komeito softened their stances regarding Diet affairs.
At its plenary session on Thursday, the lower house passed bills such as the deficit bond bill and a revision to the National Pension Law, which will reduce pension benefits that are currently 2.5 percent higher than they should be in deflation-adjusted terms in three stages from October 2013.
These bills were enacted after being passed in the House of Councillors on Friday.
In order to resolve as many bills as possible, both houses held two plenary sessions Friday.
The issue of electoral reform of the lower house, which was the main point of concern before the dissolution of the house, became complicated, as two separate bills were passed in the lower house.
The Diet affairs committee chairmen of the DPJ, the LDP and Komeito met Thursday morning to discuss how to handle two separate bills related to electoral reform of the lower house, submitted by the DPJ and the LDP.
During the meeting, they compromised on various points. First, they agreed to drop from the DPJ-sponsored bill a plan to cut a single-seat constituency from each of five prefectures in the lower house without increasing other prefectures’ single-seat electoral districts.
However, they decided to keep in the bill another provision to reduce the number of lower house seats contested through proportional representation and then to partially introduce a new method in the proportional representation system that benefits small parties.
The three parties’ Diet affairs committee chairmen then agreed to put both the modified DPJ-sponsored bill and the LDP-sponsored bill to a vote. The LDP bill also includes trimming five single-seat constituencies in the lower house.
Following their negotiations, the lower house’s special committee on establishing political ethics and revising the Public Offices Election Law voted on both bills separately. The modified DPJ-sponsored bill was passed with the support of the DPJ and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), and the LDP-sponsored bill was passed with the support of the LDP, Komeito and the DPJ. Subsequently, both bills were passed in a plenary meeting in the lower house and were sent to the upper house for a vote.
In the upper house, which is dominated by opposition parties, only the LDP-sponsored bill was passed and enacted, resulting in the plan of trimming five single-seat constituencies being realized ahead of other issues.
The three parties did not narrow the two bills down to one, out of consideration for DPJ members who insist on the party-sponsored proposal to cut the number of lower house seats contested through proportional representation.
Meanwhile, a bill to approve the nation’s participation in the Hague Convention and another one to implement its membership were scrapped.
Among the Group of Eight industrialized nations, only Japan has not ratified the treaty, because of a lack of Diet approval.
Western countries see the situation as problematic, prompting concern that scrapping the bills may invite criticism from the international community.
Regarding bills related to integrated reform of the social security and tax systems, a modified bill to introduce the My Number system, which was largely agreed upon by the three leading parties at the previous ordinary Diet session, was scrapped.
The three parties have given up on submitting a bill to promote regenerative medicine to prevent the bill from being scrapped. The bill aims to encourage research on the topic using induced pluripotent stem and other cells and put the findings into practical use.
“I’m extremely sorry about this. We have no choice but to submit the bill to the next ordinary Diet session,” said Chikara Sakaguchi, Komeito member and former health minister who played a central role in compiling the bill.
On Thursday, the Noda Cabinet approved legislation concerning local civil service reform that will grant local government officials the right to collective labor agreements, one of the fundamental labor rights. The legislation was submitted to the lower house.
The labor right was promised in the DPJ’s policy pledges and organizations supporting the party have been calling for submission of corresponding legislation. This had prompted criticism from the LDP that the promise was merely an electoral ploy.