Australia Asks Japan to Adopt Joint Custody System

SYDNEY (Jiji Press) — Australia has asked Japan to introduce a joint custody system in which divorced parents can share custody of their children, in response to a series of cross-border parental child abductions.

The Australian government submitted a written opinion to Japan’s Justice Ministry, requesting a revision to the Civil Code to allow parents to meet with children living with their divorced partners in Japan more easily.

The Civil Code gives sole custody to either parent after divorce. This is viewed as a reason for parental abduction cases between Japan and Australia.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, at least 82 children had been recognized as abducted by their Japanese parents since 2004 after the breakups of marriages with Australians.

Japan joined the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction in 2014, which stipulates that custody disputes be resolved after children are returned to their original country of residence.

But many Australian parents cannot meet their children even for a short time due to Japan’s sole custody rule.

Australia’s submission came after the ministry started seeking public comments last December on parental custody after divorce.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong told Australian media organizations that she understands that “the pain and distress these [affected] families are feeling is immense”

“We encourage Japan to find a solution that allows … children to maintain meaningful relationships with both parents,” Wong added.

The Japanese Embassy in Canberra said, “We are aware that the parental abduction issue has been dealt with appropriately in accordance with law and for the benefit of children.”