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HOME  > Past issues  > 2024 May 15 - 21  > Amid mounting opposition, revised law to introduce controversial post-divorce ‘joint custody’ enacted
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2024 May 15 - 21 [POLITICS]

Amid mounting opposition, revised law to introduce controversial post-divorce ‘joint custody’ enacted

May 18, 2024
A bill to revise the Civil Code in order to introduce a system on post-divorce “joint custody” was approved and enacted on May 17 at the House of Councilors plenary session by the majority vote of the ruling parties, the “Ishin no Kai” party, the Democratic Party for the People, and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. The Japanese Communist Party voted against the bill.

In discussions prior to the vote, JCP lawmaker Yamazoe Taku pointed out that not only victims of domestic violence and abuse, but also people and organizations in medical, education, and welfare fields have been protesting against the controversial bill, and said that it is unacceptable to bulldoze through the introduction of a “joint custody” system without listening to various opinions.

Under the revised law, parents at the time of divorce need to discuss and decide between joint custody and sole custody. If agreement cannot be reached, a family court will determine the custody arrangements.

Yamazoe said, “Joint custody without agreement may become a tool for continuing interference in and control over children’s lives by non-resident parents and possibly pose the risk of harming children’s rights and wellbeing.”

He noted that four medical associations including the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology have expressed their concerns that the introduction of a joint custody system may make it “impossible” or “delayed” for medical institutions to provide medical care required to save children’s lives in an emergency.

Yamazoe said that during Diet deliberation on the bill, the JCP demanded that provisions be included to redefine the term “custody” as one centered on children’s rights and welfare and that guarantees children’s right to express their opinions and desire. He went on to say that the JCP also calls for improving the family justice system by such means as increasing the number of judges and court investigators. He stressed that these are vital to realize a true joint custody system.

Past related article:
> JCP Motomura opposes hasty introduction of post-divorce ‘joint custody’ [March 15, 2024]

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