Courtroom guidelines single-parent custody system constitutional : The Asahi Shimbun

A Tokyo court ruled on February 17 that Japan’s custody system for divorced couples is constitutional for single parents and rejected a challenge by a father who lost custody of his children following the divorce.

A man in his fifties who lives in Tokyo sued the state for violating constitutional equality and claimed 1.65 million yen (US $ 15,600) in damages. The plaintiff alleged that he suffered mentally from loss of custody of his two sons after his divorce in 2019.

Unlike most developed countries, Japan does not have a joint custody system for divorced couples. The country’s civil law grants one parent custody of children after divorce.

In its decision, the Tokyo District Court found that a parent-child relationship does not change even if the parents do not have custody. The court said that the child and parents can still benefit from personal development by interacting with each other.

The court ruled that the single parent custody system was adequate, considering cases where parents are poorly connected, and concluded that the system was not against the constitution.

The court also found that it is at the discretion of the state parliament to grant divorced couples joint custody, on which no decision has yet to be made in this matter.

Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa on February 10th called on the Legislative Council, an advisory body to the minister, to begin discussing changes to child rearing legislation after divorce, including joint custody of children. However, no deadline has been set for reaching a conclusion.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed in the Tokyo District Court against multiple plaintiffs demanding that the government put in place systems to give divorced couples joint custody of children and to ensure that parents without custody can meet and interact with their children.

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