Reader Mail

Parents should be equals in custody battles

Regarding the story “Parents sue state over custodial rights” in the Nov. 23 edition, I am a victim of the unfair system in Japan that deprives a parent of the right to share custody of a child.

I always helped my partner in bringing up my daughter until she was 2½ years old, at which time she was taken away by her Japanese mother from our habitual residence and from me as the only breadwinner.

Believing that something was not right, I hired a lawyer and went to family court. At that time I did not know that in Japan parents are not treated as equals. There is no joint custody. In most cases — Japanese men are victims as well — the fault lies perhaps not so much with the mothers who are granted custody but with the system itself.

Because there is no joint custody or equal treatment in Japan, the system can only favor one party. I believe this also violates Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution, which stipulates equality of race, gender, etc.

So, I was shocked when the family court issued a restraining order. How could this have happened? Again, it’s the system that makes it easy for the court to accept a one-sided view.

Mistaken notions, exaggerated statements, emotional sensitivities, even lies, etc., can easily slip into the judgment/conclusion the other party’s lawyer puts forward. That is exactly what happened in my case.

In the past six years I have only been able to see my daughter once a month for three hours under the strict supervision of a third party agency that charges ¥15,000 to monitor each visit.

My daughter and I have always had and still have a very loving relationship. However, her mother has interrupted visits for three months and more on several occasions. I feel I am being terrorized. I miss my daughter every day.

<B>ANONYMOUS</B>

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.