National / Crime & Legal

Coronavirus crisis affecting family court procedures in Japan


The novel coronavirus outbreak has been causing delays in work at family courts, including the coordination of meetings between parents and children living apart and divorce mediation.

The virus crisis has forced family courts “to continue scaling back their operations, leading the judicial system to collapse,” said a member of a group formed by parents who are separated or divorced.

According to the group’s online survey conducted recently for people in mediation procedures at family courts, 48 percent of respondents said that coordination for setting the next dates in their cases had yet to start while 16 percent said that dates more than a month away had been designated.

Such coordination work has been on hold in many cases at family courts in metropolitan areas, especially in Tokyo, as well as in Yokohama, Saitama and Sapporo. Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures remained subject to the government’s coronavirus state of emergency until late May.

Asked about immediate problems in the survey, with multiple answers allowed, the proportion of respondents who said they had been unable to meet with their children was the highest, at 76 percent, followed by 52 percent who cited difficulties confirming the safety of their children.

The survey was conducted for five days from June 5, with 90 people giving valid responses.

Since the state of emergency was issued in April, Tokyo Family Court had canceled scheduled proceedings in many cases, court officials said.

But the court restarted coordination work on June 1, expecting to set new schedules gradually, according to the officials.

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