Japan to establish clear rules on international divorce disputes


The Justice Ministry has decided to establish rules to clearly define international divorce disputes that should be handled by Japan’s family courts, informed sources said Tuesday.

Such clear rules on the jurisdiction of the nation’s family courts would enable faster resolution of disputes between Japanese and non-Japanese couples during divorce, the sources said.

Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki will refer the issue to the Legislative Council at a meeting scheduled for Feb. 7. Japan will take necessary legislative steps and a new law could be implemented as early as 2015, according to the sources.

Regarding international civil disputes, Japan has established rules on the jurisdiction of domestic courts over disputes over contractual obligations between Japanese consumers and non-Japanese companies by revising the civil procedure code in 2011.

No similar rules exist for disputes in areas usually handled by family courts, such as divorce, probate and child-parent relations. At present, the courts decide whether to handle specific cases by looking at similar past cases.

Sometimes such disputes become protracted because litigants have to determine whether Japanese courts have jurisdiction over their cases in the first place.

The ministry’s officials are discussing what cases should be handled by the country’s family courts, in addition to those currently accepted, which are cases where present addresses of defendants are in Japan.

Many officials agree that the Japanese courts should cover cases in which current addresses of plaintiffs are in Japan and their spouses lived in the country during marriage. They also call for the jurisdiction of Japanese courts over cases in which the addresses of the plaintiffs are in Japan while the whereabouts of the defendants are unknown, according to the sources.

Some propose including cases in which only one of the two parties in a dispute has an address in Japan, they added.

  • Tim Johnston

    If the Family courts are going to properly handle the disputes, they will need to make many changes indeed. I had been to mediation court 7 times after the March 11th Earthquake.

    The Mediators during the proceedings seemed to side with me, in which I recorded everything and have the evidence. They even said my ex -wife was malicious, vicious and that they had never seen such a hell bent mother, trying to make it, so difficult to give the father proper access.
    They masked her workplace and annual income, yet showed her mine. This was a violation and illegal act. I have evidence of the faulty system in which either they act like they cared. But didn’t assist at all.

    My ex wife hasn’t held to her side of the bargain and makes my son suffer by making him meet me at inconvenient times on the coldest days on Sundays in the same place. We live 2 kilometers from each other. This is a violation of a parents rights.
    Japan had better give us proper access to our children in 2014. Perhaps they could have foreign mediators or monitors in place.
    Tim Johnston Japan
    Kai Endo Japan