A recent hunger strike by a French national near Tokyo’s National Stadium has rekindled controversy over Japan’s post-divorce parental authority system, drawing attention to his claim that his children have been "abducted" by his estranged Japanese wife.
The story of Vincent Fichot, a long-term resident in Japan who says he hasn’t been able to see his two children since his wife abruptly disappeared with them nearly three years ago, raises specific issues about Japan's parental authority system, but his strike has also brought attention to wider concerns too. And in a country where only one parent maintains their shinken (parental authority) in the event of divorce, this has resonated with many.
The system of sole parental authority has been hotly debated over the years, with its detractors blaming it for essentially endorsing what they call parental child abduction. Supporters of the current system, meanwhile, resist the idea of joint parental authority on the grounds that it could exacerbate domestic violence.