Japanese Mothers Must Be Granted Child Custody

Japan joins The Hague Convention

Children can be returned to their original homeland.

According to The Hague Convention 1980, a child taken abroad from the parent who has sole custody by another parent must be returned to the parent who has sole custody in the country where the child resides.

This Treaty conflicts with Japanese culture of mothers caring for their children, due to sole custody is almost always granted to the mother. Thus when a mother returns to Japan, so does the child.

Japan and Russia were the only countries that were not members of the Hague Convention until January 24, 2014 when the Japanese Diet approved the participation and signed the treaty, which will be in effect from April 1, 2014.

Also, from April 1, 2014 Osaka and Tokyo courts will listen to cases of children kidnapped by a parent and can decide to return the child to country of residence. We can file and argue the case for you.

Most United States courts grant the father child custody in a divorce case involving an American husband and a Japanese wife. However, as many Japanese mothers cannot accept this decision, they often return to Japan permanently and illegally bring their children to Japan. The mothers are willing to violate US laws for the sake of, “Why not! It is only natural that a child be raised by ones mother.”

In light of a case occurring in September of 2009, a father pursued his children to Japan and attempted to take them back to The United States. However, he was caught and charged with a felony although; the father had been granted sole custody in the state of Tennessee. Thus, the US media was outraged of his detainment, contrary to the Japanese press disdaining his paternal plight.

In Japan child custody for children up to the age of junior high school, is given to the mother with visitation rights to the father. These visitation rights are granted after a thorough interview by the courts and affirmation that child support has been paid, roughly 40,000 yen to 50,000 yen monthly. When such regulations are met, the father may see the child two to three times a year and only during the day.

The Family Court’s decision to grant custody to the mother originates from Japanese social culture that it is unheard of that a man would raise elementary school children.

This precedent is firm and unlikely to change in the near future.

Kaneko Hirohito Law Office
Wako-Ginza 8-chome Bldg. 7F 8-10-4, Ginza, Chuo-ku Tokyo 104-0061, Japan [MAP]
Tel: 03-3574-8535 / Fax: 03-3574-7144 / Email: