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National Women's Shelter Network

English translation of Liberal Time article March 2017    日本語版下です

The National Women’s Shelter Network

Goes Nipping at the Heels of the Tokyo High Court


A wife can bring a lawsuit against her husband even when no domestic violence is involved. If a husband has a record of having been the subject of a suit, it becomes extremely difficult for him to win custody of any children, and even when such an arduous struggle is won, non-profit organizations receiving government financial support can intervene.


Having had a face-to-face meeting with newly elected US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Abe commented on the endearing performance by Mr. Trump’s granddaughter, Arabella Rose, of the “Pen Pineapple Apple Pen” song. If unrelated observers can find delight in a small child, how much more do parents cherish their offspring! And it matters not the gender of the parent.


Nevertheless, in Japan decisions regarding which of the parents should have custody and rear children are largely conditioned by the principle of “continuity and stability,” according to which mothers are granted preference, with changes in the domestic environment being regarded as detrimental to a child’s interests. Furthermore, the Domestic Violence (DV) Prevention Law often and arbitrarily villainizes the father.


For example, when after a fierce quarrel between husband and wife the latter goes back to her parental home, taking their child or children with her, the father faces an uphill battle to gain custody, and that effort becomes all the more problematic when the wife goes to a hospital in her parents’ neighborhood and has herself diagnosed with an ailment such as stress-induced enteritis. And when the spouse has gone to a DV shelter, it is not unusual for the courts to regard this as evidence that violence has indeed taken place. Ms. Keiko Kondō, director of the National Women’s Shelter Network (Zenkoku Josei Sherutā-Netto), a non-profit organization, states that “the fact that a victim has taken refuge in a shelter provides clear evidence of DV.” Proving that such has not taken place is extremely difficult, and even when the charge is false, the innocent not infrequently suffer. In other cases, the charge itself is left in the record. Moreover, a common scenario is for the wife to demand the issuance of a restraining order against her husband. When the courts comply, the husband is no longer able to meet his offspring and thus finds himself in an even weaker position, again confronted with the “status-quo” principle.


All of this puts the divorced father in a disadvantageous position. If he finds the situation so unbearable that, quite on his own, he tries to wrest his child or children from the mother, she may call the police and have him arrested, thereby leading to the loss of his custodial rights. Needless to say, this occurs even without any sort of domestic violence. To alleviate such injustices, legislation to prevent the termination of parental relationships (oyako-danzetsu-bōshi-hōan) is under consideration, but the proposal has no real teeth in it.


As stated above, children are loved by both fathers and mothers. But in today’s Japan, fathers are in a decidedly unequal position. The fixed idea of women as “the weaker sex” has led to 100 billion yen ($800 million) being allocated in the gender-equality budget for the eradication of violence toward women.


In response to a lower-court judgment, the National Women’s Shelter Network, the beneficiary of such funding, is reported to have gathered signatures and gone to the government, including the Tokyo High Court. On March 29, 2016, the Matsudo branch of the Chiba Family Court ordered that a man who been separated from his wife for over five years be granted custody of their daughter. The wife appealed, with the case to be decided by the Tokyo High Court on January 26, 2017. In the meantime, the National Women’s Shelter Network formed a counseling training group—DV higaisha ni tsuite manabu [Learning about the victims of DV]—and put pressure on the court with a petition intended to aid the wife’s cause. Ms. Keiko Kondō held a lecture sponsored by the Cabinet Office. Is it not questionable for a non-profit organization to make such an appeal at government expense?


According to materials distributed at the time with unsubstantiated claims of “abusive language, violence, and psychological and economic mistreatment by the husband toward the wife, who after four years of marriage separated from him.” This is a gross distortion of reality. What are we to make of an organization so obsessed with this case?






 米大統領選当選直後にトランプ氏と面談した安倍晋三首相が、トランプ氏の孫娘であるアラべラ・ローズちゃんのPPAP動画を話題にしたが、幼い子どもは実に可愛いものだ。まして、それが血のつながっ た肉親であればなおのこと。母親、父親にかかわらず自分の子どもはいとおしい。

 しかし、日本では親権者や養育者を決定する際には、母親が養育するのが望ま しいとする「母親優先の原則」や成育環境が変わるのは子どもに不利益との考え方から「継続性の原則」が重要な要件となっ ている。加えて、DV防止法によって、一方的に父親が悪者にされるケースもある。


 そうなれば、離婚した夫婦間での子どもの親権争いは大きく夫に不利になる。余りにも辛いので、夫が自力で子どもを取り戻そうとすれば、妻は警察官を呼び、逮捕にでもなれば、親権争いでは負けと なる。いうまでもないことだが、これはDV等存在しない場合である。こうしたケースを未然に防ぐために「親子断絶防止法案」が検討されているが、いまや骨抜き状態になっている。前述したように子どもが可愛いと思うのは、父親も、母親も同様だろう。ところが、現状の日本ではきわめて父親に不利な状況がある。「父親は強く、母親は弱い」という固定観念から男女共同参画関係予算では「女性に対するあらゆる暴力の根絶」に一千億円を超える予算が与えられている。



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