Supreme Court fines woman after denying ex-husband access to child

posted on APRIL 3, 2013 by ADAM WESTLAKE in NATIONAL

The Japanese Supreme Court ruled last week that a woman pay her ex-husband 50,000 yen (approx. $535) for each time that she denied him access to visit their daughter. The mother had agreed to regular meetings between the child and father in a family court settlement, and this marks the first time that Japan’s highest court has ordered penalties on a parent with custody for breaking their visitation agreements.

The Supreme Court’s decision was an upholding of a ruling made by the Sapporo High Court, and the measure of “indirect enforcement” is said to often be used in cases where a debtor is ordered to make cash payments to a creditor as a way of having a psychological impact on those failing to obey a court’s decision. Justice Ryuko Sakurai said in the ruling that a parent can be ordered to make payments when the date, frequency and length of a meeting, or transfer method of a child that were agreed upon are disregarded. Other courts have set precedence of punishing custodial parents for not meeting their agreements, but as this is the first time the Supreme Court has made a ruling, it is expected to set a far-reaching standard.

This decision seems like a significant contribution to the changes in parental rights in cases of divorce in Japan. The country almost always grants custody to the mother, and there is no recognition of dual-custody, often leaving the father with no rights to see their children. In the last decade, the number of court cases involving divorced, non-custodial parents demanding to see their children has tripled, less than 3,000 in 2001, to well over 8,000 in 2011. In addition, the Japanese government has finally committed to joining the Hague Convention on child abduction, an international treaty that requires taken children to be returned to the country of their original home in order to resolve custody in a failed international marriage. Up until now, Japan has been seen as a safe-haven for its nationals to bring their children back to without notifying their foreign spouses.

These statistics were provided by John Gomez of Kizuna-CPR (

“4.6 million divorces 1992 – 2010, one child per divorce on average, 58% loss of access according to NHK Close Up Gendai yields an estimated 2.7 million children in Japan who have lost their relationship with their parent during this time, which is a human rights violation. It is about 150,000 children per year.”
That means every hour an additional 17 children living in Japan are being shut out of the life of one of their parents.  Considering the cumulative impact, not just in terms of the number of children involved, but also left-behind parents, family members, and others, this problem is having a devastating effect on a sizeable percentage of the Japanese population.


Child care left undecided in divorces

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Less than 50 percent of divorcing couples have planned for such matters as child support and visitation rights since the revised Civil Code was implemented in April, which requires couples with small children to do so, according to the Justice Ministry.

As local governments accept divorce applications without making couples declare such arrangements, the effectiveness of the revision has often been questioned.

The ministry collected its first statistics on the issue during the first quarter since the revision came into force. The results reflect the difficulty couples face in reaching an agreement on child-related matters.

In tandem with the implementation of the revised code, the ministry in April added items to the divorce application form asking couples with young children to verify they have come to an accord on certain issues. This includes whether they have agreed on visitation arrangements for the noncustodial parent and how child support will be handled.

According to the ministry, 32,757 couples with young children mutually consented to file for divorce from April to June. Among them, 15,622, or 48 percent, indicated they had made arrangements regarding visitation for the noncustodial parent, and 6,843, or 21 percent, had not. The remaining 31 percent did not check any boxes.

Concerning payment of child support by noncustodial parents, 16,075 couples, or 49 percent, had made a decision on the matter, while 6,316, or 19 percent, had not. The other 32 percent left the boxes blank.

In 2011, about 235,700 couples got divorced, with about 90 percent of them doing so by mutual consent. Still, there have been many problems concerning the handling of these child-related matters after divorce.

“It’s necessary for couples to reach an accord [on such matters] for their children’s sake,” said Noriko Mizuno, a Civil Code professor at Tohoku University.

“In Western countries and South Korea, couples are not allowed to get divorced unless they agree on a plan to raise their children and the plan is approved by the court. In Japan, it’s not sufficient to simply check whether parents have come to an agreement on such matters. We must also create a system to verify their decisions really serve the best interests of the child and enforce them if so.”

(Sep. 15, 2012)


Photographer’s Statement:

I have been documenting the plight of Japan’s so-called Left-Behind Parents, of which there are believed to be over 2 million, since 2011. A recent exhibition of these images at Tokyo’s Foreign Correspondents Club, Japan drew wide media interest in a problem that is generally overlooked in Japan, where it is seen as something that only happens in international marriages or to “other people.” On the contrary, it is an issue that affects families throughout the country, as well as overseas.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012



Japan’s battered men suffer abuse in silence

Equality bureau turns a blind eye as growing ranks of husbands claim mistreatment at the hands of their wives



As in many surveys, numbers and percentages are abundant. But for me, it was that little 3.4 at the bottom of page 21 that stood out more than any other: 3.4 percent of married men in Japan say that their spouses have forced them to engage in sexual relations against their will. And that is down from 4.3 percent reported three years ago. Improvement is apparently being made: Married men in Japan are essentially being raped less by their wives.


News photo
The abused or the abuser?: The Gender Equality Bureau’s emblem against violence is unlikely to reassure male victims of spousal abuse that the agency is looking out for their interests as well as those of battered women.


This survey, conducted by the Cabinet Office every three years, sampled 5,000 men and women across the nation in November and December of last year. About 6 percent of all marriages in Japan now involve a non-Japanese partner.

Most of the reported findings, which were released in April, are alarming: 32.9 percent of married women in Japan claim to be victims of spousal violence; 25.9 percent say they have been punched, kicked or shoved.

The assertions made by the other gender are nearly as troubling: 18.3 percent of married men in Japan are now claiming to be victims of spousal violence, with 13.3 percent of all married men in the sample claiming to be victims of violence that entailed punching, kicking or shoving.

These numbers are far higher than those often cited in the U.S., where one in four women is reported to have experienced domestic violence (DV) over a lifetime, and 85 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence are women. Intimate partner violence (IPV) includes violence from current or former spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends, including same-sex relationships. Domestic violence includes IPV in addition to violence from other family members, such as in-laws, siblings, parents or children.

In the Cabinet Office survey, 8.7 percent of married men subjected to physical, emotional or sexual violence indicated that it was so intense that they actually feared for their life; 13.4 percent of married women reported the same. In fact, 5.5 percent of married men apparently found the abuse so intolerable that they decided to end the relationship, which interestingly is nearly identical to the 5.6 percent of married women who did the same.

For those who stay in these abusive relationships, the question must be “Why?” Men reported staying mostly for the children. In fact, a greater percentage of male victims (65.0 percent) than female victims (57.3 percent) cited the children as their reason for staying. Men also indicated worries about keeping up appearances and concerns for their partner’s needs far more than women when asked why they stayed.

Men more than women recognized DV as consisting of slapping, kicking or causing a bodily injury, whereas a greater percentage of women said DV also included behavior such as ignoring the partner for a long period of time, calling the partner a “good-for-nothing useless person” (kaishō nashi) or shouting in a loud voice.

The percentage of respondents who were unaware that a DV-related law exists — i.e., the Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims (2001) — has actually grown to 22.5 percent over the 19.3 percent recorded in 2005, with most of the uninformed being men between the ages of 20 and 39.

A tone that is fairly prevalent throughout the report, though, is an emphasis on the suffering by female victims over that of men. For example, even though the raw data shows that 76.1 percent of married men who had been victims of spousal violence over the past five years did not seek assistance or guidance in response to the abuse they were subjected to, the heading given to this section of the report emphasizes that help had not been sought by about 40 percent of women. While the assertion about women is certainly true, turning a blind eye to the apparent hidden shame of abuse being borne by a far higher percentage of male victims seems to indicate the leanings of the Gender Equality Bureau, which is tasked with producing this report for the Cabinet Office.

Moreover, nine pages of the 57-page report are dedicated to the 14.1 percent of married women who claim to have been forced to engage in sexual relations against their will. Not one word is given to explaining the 3.4 percent of married men who claimed the same, or the 4.3 percent who claimed it three years ago.

The survey seems to indicate that the apparently passive men and women who comprise the stereotypical family in Japan may not be as docile as thought once the front door closes. Nearly 1 in 5 married men in Japan is now claiming to be a victim of spousal violence, up from 17.7 percent in 2008 and 17.4 percent in 2005. The percentage for married women making the same claim has actually decreased slightly since 2005, but remains 1 in 3.

Why would spousal violence against married men in Japan be steadily increasing? The peer-reviewed European Journal of Scientific Research tackled a similar question in 2010 in a research article titled “The Relationship between Jealousy and Aggression: A Review of Literatures Related to Wives’ Aggression.” The article mentions an oft-cited study by professors Richard Felson and Maureen Outlaw based on an analysis of data obtained through the National Violence Against Women survey conducted in 2000. The journal reports, “Individuals who are controlling of their partners are much more likely to also be physically assaultive, and this holds equally for both male and female perpetrators.”

When asked whether abusive men or women in Japan could possibly be characterized as controlling of their households and partners, a representative of the Gender Equality Bureau declined to comment. The bureau representative answered some questions, but she said she was not able to respond to others, such as how the bureau would explain the progressive rise in spousal violence claims by men.

Moreover, spousal violence against men in Japan has interestingly been ignored by the mainstream English press. The Daily Yomiuri and The Japan Times ( both reported the claim of spousal violence by 32.9 percent of married women. Neither mentioned the reported abuse of 1 in 5 married men. Both newspapers reported that 14.1 percent of married women had been forced to engage in sexual relations with their husband. Neither paper reported on the marital rape of 3.4 percent of men. Both newspapers reported that 41.4 percent of abused women suffered in silence. Neither reported the silent suffering by a much higher 76.1 percent of abused men.

Why? Why is spousal violence against men seemingly being ignored by the press and the government bureau that conducts this survey? When I put this very question to the Gender Equality Bureau, I was told that even though men are included in the sample, the purpose of this research is to protect women from DV. Women.

And DV against women in Japan is obviously a problem, even though the latest data in this survey clearly shows that claims by women are trending slightly downward, and claims by men are trending upward.

Several of the questions I had for the Gender Equality Bureau concerned the composition of their organization: How many men and women work there? How many men and women were involved in the writing of this survey analysis?

Even though corporations often publish data on employee demographics, I was surprisingly told that the government bureau tasked with ensuring gender equality was unable to specify the gender makeup of its own organization or those who crafted this survey analysis.

With the bureau apparently giving no attention to its own data indicating an increase in the spousal abuse of the nation’s men — men who mostly classify abuse as physical assaults — one must wonder how the bureau would respond if more men subjected to nonphysical forms of abuse began to make claims, thus resulting in a rapid surge in the overall percentage of men reporting abuse. Would the bureau continue to ignore the men, leaving so many to suffer in silence as they do now? Or would it begin what may be a much needed campaign to help women in Japan better recognize, control and eliminate their own abusive behavior?

If the claims in this data can be trusted, Japan clearly has a developing DV epidemic on its hands. And it’s not rising because of any increase in violence against women. Rather, it’s the women who are increasingly charging into battle against the nation’s men.

The word “married” in this article refers to men and women who are or have been legally married or in common-law unions. Guidance for victims of spousal abuse is provided in Japanese, English, Spanish, Thai, Tagalog, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese and Russian Information in English on phone numbers for spousal violence centers across Japan can also be found on this website. Send comments on this issue


Parental abduction in Japan


A dark side to family life in Japan

Jan 21st 2012 | TOKYO | from the print edition

THIS Christmas Moises Garcia, a Nicaraguan living in America, got the gift he had spent almost four years and $350,000 fighting for: the return of his nine-year-old daughter. In 2008 Karina was whisked away to Japan by her Japanese mother. He set about fighting in the Japanese courts for the right to see her. During that period, he met her only three times. Their longest meeting lasted for only two hours.

Then he had a stroke of luck. Last April Karina’s mother travelled to Hawaii to renew her green card. She was arrested at the airport and charged with violating Karina’s custody agreement. As part of a plea bargain, the mother relinquished Karina, who became the first child seized by a Japanese parent to be returned to America via the courts. (Feel sorry for Karina, in the middle of this tug-of-love.)

Because of such cases, America is one of many countries that has pressed Japan to honour its promise to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Japan proposes to do so this year. The convention sets rules for the prompt return to their normal country of residence of children under 16 who have been abducted by one of their parents. The State Department says Japan has about 100 such cases involving children of Americans. There are scores from other countries, too.

But for one category of parents—those living in Japan without access to their children—the Hague convention changes nothing. When parents separate, Japan’s legal system does not recognise the joint custody of children common in other jurisdictions. Instead, children are put into the custody of a single parent after divorce. The family courts usually grant custody to the parent, most often the mother, who at that particular moment is in possession of the child—even if the parent has abducted him. The courts rarely enforce the stingy visitation rights of the “left-behind” parent. And so many fathers, in particular, vanish altogether from their children’s lives. Every year as many as 150,000 divorced parents in Japan lose contact with their children, according to estimates gleaned from official data. Some do so of their own accord, but most have no say in the matter.

One such father, an ex-deputy mayor, describes the system as a conjugal version of the prisoner’s dilemma. He says that when a marriage starts to break down, the unspoken question is: who will seize the child first, the mum or the dad? In his case, she did. For two years he has had no contact with his four-year-old daughter—even his presents are returned unopened—and all with the blessing of the family court. When he reminded the judge that the civil code had been changed to encourage visitation rights, the judge silenced him.

Satsuki Eda, who as justice minister last year pushed through the change in the civil code, says he hopes it will lead to more generous visitation rights. It may, he also hopes, one day lead to a serious consideration of joint custody. But, he cautions, judges are conservative, finding it “very difficult to change their minds”. And so, in a cruel twist, a country that has long sought redress for the past abduction of a few dozen citizens by the North Korean state tacitly supports vast numbers of abductions each year at home. “Many people in my situation commit suicide,” the estranged father says. “I can understand the feeling.”

from the print edition | Asia

For anyone with children in Japan, this short film, “blind,” is very powerful, and very scary, as it doesn’t seem all that unrealistic to imagine.
This map by Japanese professor Yukio Hayakawa suggests that the nuclear contamination that came from Fukushima may be pretty widespread, including the Tokyo metropolitan region.

Akio Yokota Diary

October 6, 2011

Link to audio version, read by Masako Suzuki Akeo:

Final entries in diary of Akio Yokota, a left-behind Japanese father who committed suicide on September 11, 2011, provided and translated by Masako Suzuki Akeo.

Akio Yokota Diary


Restless mind Today  

 2011年08月31日15:00 死にたい。

I want to die.


I am thinking to try on this Saturday.


Already I got the medicine.


If I fail to die, I resign myself to my fate and I should live.





Somebody left a 2 year old girl who was injured. Is she abused?

http:// news.mi iew_new 2&media _id=88


Why was she abused?


I can’t understand their feelings.


Are children in fault?


I wish such stupid parents would die.


Lack of confidence 



I think my death will be suited in this real world.


I have lived for my son but I knew it is impossible for me.


When I work in my work place, I make many mistakes. My life is unstable.


I think my health and mental problems are the reasons



I should leave my will.


I’m near the end of my life-span.


Today I feel worse than yesterday.





Somebody put the new born baby in a rice farm.

http:// news.mi iew_new 0&media _id=4


Please do not do that anymore.


I question someone’s character. Please think about us who cannot raise our children and.


Please stop giving the mother sole priority and child custody in the court.


After I read this news, I thought we do not need to keep giving the mother sole priority and custody


The method


始業式前 中1女子が飛び降り?

Before a school opening ceremony, a girl in the second grade of junior high school jumped to her death.

http:// news.mi iew_new 3&media _id=4


I can understand the feeling of someone who commit suicide.


I am same as them.


I am thinking of the method.


If I jump to my death, will I be unconscious?


In my case, I want to use medicine and hang myself.


I want to die as soon as possible.


I have visitation on next week and I want to hug my son.


However, I am not sure if I’ll be alive until the next visitation.


Leave the chair on today



Justice Minister Eda.


Who is the next?


Will The Hague Convention and Domestic Child Abduction start over again?


I wish the next Justice Minister will not be a Feminist.


Please consider Child Abduction.


Child Abduction is Kidnapping.


Opinion from other people



Somebody put the new born baby in a plastic bag and put the baby in a rice field.

http:// news.mi iew_new 0&media _id=4


I copied and paste this story on my



I wish this situation becomes less



If they can deliver the baby in this world,

they could put the baby up for adoption.





If you give up your pregnancy, I can respect your decision.


If somebody has same problems like this, please let them know these website.

★赤ちゃんを救う会★  Save The Babies

http:// www2.od /~cae26 630/wa004.html

★環の会★ Circle Meeting

http:// http://www.wa- no-kai. jp/

★小さないのちを守る会★ Save the Children

http:// http://www.chi isana.o rg/

★愛の決心★ Cords of Love

http:// http://www.jes us-fami doption.html

★ベビーライフ★ The Baby Life

http:// http://www.bab ylife.o rg/inde x.html

★ISSジャパン★ ISS Japan

http:// http://www.iss

★アクロスジャパン★ Across Japan

http:// http://www.geo cities. jp/mama s5papas /

★慈恵病院紹介の24時間相談所です。★ round the clock counseling in the Jikei Hospital

http:// http://www.jik ei-hp.o rikago/3-1.htm l

0120-783-449( 悩みよ 至急 )

24時間無料電 round the clock toll free line


Please spread to everybody


I could understand the baby is very cute since I got my son.


How much I love my son. I cannot think that my son came from by body.


This is a gift from god


If I am not related to my son by blood, my life does not change.


I have seen my son’s growth.


I do not care about blood relationship.


The other day the news announced very sad story between foster child and foster parents.


I think newAdopted Child System is better than Traditional Adoption by Mutual Consent.

I think the new Specialized Adoption System should be put into use more, rather than the traditional one.


If somebody wants to put the child somewhere they should send them to an adopton center.


If a child find out the truth about their past they will be shocked about that situation


However it wouldn’t matter if they have a strong relationship with their new parents


I found this article on a website.


This mother was minor. She was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. She could not tell to anybody and she missed her period.


She wanted to forget her situation but her tummy was getting bigger.


She contacted an organization for Adopted Children Center.


She moved to this center quickly.


Then she delivered the baby. It was too late to have an abortion.


She has never seen her own baby.


The Caesarean scar left a reminder of the assault.


When she saw her scar, it made her sad.


I think this baby maybe happy in the future, a rich family may take him and he has a good life


Do not throw away children.


God cannot control a parent-child problem. We should do this in the real world.


No more positive



We have been separated for one year now. I have memories of when my son and I lived together alone.


I recall the day when my wife asked to come back to live together with us.


I agreed but 2 months later she abducted my son.


Now the situation is opposite and she lives with my son and I am alone.


I asked her to live together again. But she ignored.


She refused to give me her email address and phone number , but I know her number anyway.


I am thinking about many things but I do not see a food outcome.


Now I am checking how to kill by myself,


I have general anesthetic and a muscle relaxing fluid.


But I do not use of that one.,,,,,,,, because…….. the police will investgate of my hospital where I work.


I tried to use a towel to hang myself from a thick pipe earlier, but all I heard was q squeaking sound.


I thought to myself why de cannot I die.


If I die, I would not be a problem for everybody anymore.


How long should I suffer from this problem


I have prepared a list of people to contact when I die.


What is happiness?


My happiness is raising my son.


I am wondering if I can live together with my wife and son again.


My wife is still adamantly saying no.


Really please help me.


I wish she would accept me like I accepted her one year ago.


I am wondering, if I know her cellphone number can I send a message to her?


I wish I can find somebody to harass her by sending a lot of emails to her cell phone and make her wake up.



In this situation my son is never going to be happy.


I got a phone call from my mother in law.



Before going to my work, my mother in law phoned to me this morning.


She said that when Natsumi and kaede were biking, they had a car accident.


Then I got day off and went to mother in laws house.


She did not say hospitals name.


Anyway I will go there.


I wish just kaede will be ok.


I will tell he is ok or not latar.




They were in her house.


Mother in law said that they were fine.


My wife said to her that she does not want to see me and go home.


The next visitation will be as usual.


Then I asked to her why you phoned to me. So she replied I panicked and contacted you without my daughter’s permission.


I didn’t expect you to come here.


Your son was fine. But your wife got bruises and scratches.


Then she asked me.


Why did you come here when we are still in mediation?


Were you concerned about your wife or were you only worried your son ?



I replied both!



I felt helpless, when I left from their house.


I cannot control my emotions and I feel so angry and frustrated.


I only wanted to see my son for a few seconds. They said no, i was shocked, I felt dazed and weak like in was about to pass out.


Today’s matter 



I decided to give up by Today’s matter.


I want to die.


I pressured of my neck with towel.


I heard the sound that my neck of the bone was cracked.


However, I could not be unconscious and only my face and my tongue were numbed by this.


Hanging myself is not suited about me.


Why can everybody hang themselves very easy?


I heard the diet member hanged himself today.


I envy him.


My life is hopeless.


I cannot expect anything good from the Hague Convention. Furthermore, the Domestic Children Abduction Problem is hopeless.


Really it is difficult to live in japan.


My neck is in pain.


If I became be unconscious, I hope I leave this world.


I hate me.


Please kill me.


TV news announces about many murder cases. I can die instead of them,


Please help me. Please…..





I am not o.k.


I felt lots of generation gap in my work place. Everything bothered to me, car accident, new work place, more office work, etc.


Furthermore, trauma is coming again, I cannot think about anything. So I could not sleep for 2 nights and I got diarrhea.


This situation is same as after child abduction.


I got off my work today.


I want to die. I think I’ll attempt suicide again.


I am tired of everything






I think some of people believe what I’m saying about my story on mixi.


I met my son today.


I asked him who is dad. My son did not look at me and he was against me.


He knows this situation.


Is he worried about me?


I saw my wife for the first time in 10 month.


She was same as before.


However, I thought that she became to be more fashionable.


The other day I mixed Dormicum and Horizon and administered intravenous fluids. So I stayed in a hospital for 2 days.


I was thinking to die at that time.


I was hoping to not use general anesthetic.


Although the police would investigate how I got this medicines and I would bother my work place, this is my only way.


To everybody, I would like to keep MIXI like this.


To everybody.


Good bye

Final words from Akio Yokota

September 20, 2011

Thank you, Masako, for providing and translating this.

Akio Yokota, a left-behind Japanese father, committed suicide on September 11.

AKio Yokota Profile

My wife took my son in November 16th,

2010. Since then, I couldn’t contact then. One day I got a letter about divorce

settlement from Family Court. It said false DV, permission of abortion, financial

trouble, personal conflict and depression. On that’s time I was on medical

leave from job. It caused from depression.

Since then, I have tried to committed suicide

several times. I couldn’t get any evidence against DV and my wife didn’t have,

too. I filed about any other evidences in mediation. However, my wife said

everything was lie. 9 months after mediation, I met my son. We couldn’t see for

6 month. He didn’t remember father.

I have 2 hours visitation per month. My son

is 2 years old and still he doesn’t understand I am his father. My wife supposed

to not let give any visitation rights to me. I begged her about sleep-over visitation.

She refused to me. Then I begged 2 times visitation per month. She refused

this, too. She said this reason was my mental problem. My judge recommended to

have one more mediation about visitation and this judge said that I will give of

the court order 2 times visitation per month.

In my case, it is false DV.

I can raise my son. She can’t inculcate

moral to my son. It is very difficult to understand why she took my son from


I was thinking to commit suicide many


Still I am thinking now.

My psychiatrics doctor told me that if your son is coming

back, your depressions will be recovery.  He gave the medical certificate for me.

However, my life is hard.

I don’t have anything to live for.

I am smiling at my work. I haven’t left the house at my

day off. I remember my son and cry every day.

Kidnapping is crime and abuse.

Japanese law is nothing. The judge doesn’t think about

Children’s happiness.

Please give any good environment to our children.

Children are Japanese future.

Really I want to disappear from this world

I don’t have anything to live for and my life is


Thank you for reading my profile.

Akio Yokota