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Civil Code Article 766

Japanese Civil Code Article 766 was revised, and the new article took effect on April 1, 2012.

The purpose of the article is to assign custody to a parent and parental responsibilities when couples divorce.
Here is the text of the article in Japanese and English with the revised text in red.

Below the text of the article is the transcript of the testimony given in Diet questioning by former Minister of Justice Satsuki Eda on April 26, 2011.

He responded to questions to explain the purpose of the revision of civil code article 766.


Article 766 (Determination of Matters regarding Custody of Child after Divorce etc.)

1 父母が協議上の離婚をするときは、子の監護をすべき者、父又は母と子との面会及びその他の交流、子の監護に要する費用の分担その他の子の監護について必要な事項は、その協議で定める。この場合においては、子の利益を最も優先して考慮しなければならない。

(1) If parents divorce by agreement, the matter of who will have custody over a child, visitation and other means of contact between the child and his or her mother or father, payment of expenses for child-rearing, and any other necessary matters regarding child custody shall be determined by that agreement. In such situations, the child’s interests must be given the highest priority.

2 前項の協議が調わないとき、又は協議をすることができないときは、家庭裁判所が、同項の事項を定める。

(2) If an agreement referred to in the preceding paragraph cannot be reached, or discussions are not possible, a family court shall decide the matters referred to therein.

3 家庭裁判所は、必要があると認めるときは、前二項の規定による定めを変更し、その他子の監護について相当な処分を命ずることができる。

(3) If the family court finds it necessary, it may change determinations made pursuant to the provisions of the preceding two paragraphs and order any other proper disposition regarding child custody.

4 前三項の規定によっては、監護の範囲外では、父母の権利義務に変更を生じない。

(4) The rights and duties of parents beyond the scope of custody may not be altered by the provisions of the preceding three paragraphs.


Diet testimony by Minister of Justice Eda to explain the purpose of the revision of Civil Code Article 766

第一類第三号 法務委員会議録第九号 平成二十三年四月二六日

Class I, No. 3, Proceedings of the Legislative Council, No. 9, April 26, 2011

I agree with the interpretation that 1) parental abduction can be regarded as child abuse, 2) the person who abducts children is deemed not to be qualified to get custody-right, the person who is willing to realize the visitation between parents and children is deemed to be qualified to get custody-right when the custody right should be decided (by family court), and 3) the person who has custody-right and breaks the commitment of visitation without any sound reason can be deprived of her/his custody right.

あるいは子の連れ去 りが場合によっては児童虐待になる、あるいは監護権、監護親を決定する場合に不当 な連れ去りが不利に働くように、面会交流に積極的な親が監護権決定に有利に働くよ うに、あるいは面会交流を正当な理由なく破ったら監護権者の変更の重要な要素にな り得るというような御指摘は、いずれも一般論としては異論ありません。重要な指摘 だと思います。 


On March 8, 2017, Kenta Matsunami, a member of the Japanese House of Representatives, questioned Minister of Justice Katsutoshi Kaneda, a successor of Minister of Justice Eda, in Diet testimony of the Legal Affairs Committee. 

Mr. Matsunami wanted to confirm whether Mr. Kaneda agreed with Mr. Eda's interpretation of the revised article 766.

Mr. Kaneda's replies did not answer the question but were instead bureaucratic policy positions on the issue.

Mr. Matsunami persistently asked several times. Finally, Mr. Kaneda reluctantly replied that he did agree with Mr. Eda's interpretation.  However, Japanese judges do not rule according to the principle of the revised article 766.

Here is a video of the testimony. The video has English subtitles.

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