About the Book
Japan is the only developed G7 country with no joint custody.
The country’s parental rights system (Shinken) states that after the separation of the parents it is only one of them who will get the parental rights. This law triggers the act of parental abduction. A partner who is about to split is unilaterally taking a child away from the household and disappears. He/she registers under a new address and after six months a “law of continuity” applies and the child, like any other estate, belongs to the new property.
After a divorce one parent not only loses custody but also all parental rights. The non-custodial parent has no say whatsoever in their child’s life. They cannot meet their child, access their child’s medical or school records. They become strangers to their children. Often they do not know where they live. In case of a custodial parent death, it is a new partner or grandparents who take parental custody of the child. The biological parent ceases to exist to a child. It is a human rights violation according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which Japan is a signatory of, article 9 paragraph 1.
In the project, “Forever mine”, left-behind parents share their stories of being involuntarily deprived of their children by their partners. Despite the legal fights, they have no access to their children, they do not know where they live and if they are safe or alive. What they hear from police and judges is: “go home and forget that once you had a child, pretend that your child is dead.”
Despite the deep grief, depression and trauma the left behind parents put all their effort to be able to regain access to their children, who are the real victims of the system being deprived of half of the identity, culture, and love.