Question No. 36: Principal question from the European Union Plenary Session of the European Parliament on the adoption of the resolution on the abduction of children in our country and the emphasis on serious abuse of children

Question No. 36: Principal question from the European Union Plenary Session of the European Parliament on the adoption of the resolution on the abduction of children in our country and the emphasis on “serious abuse of children”

The proposer, Banri Kaieda

The U.S. Department of State recognized Japan as a country in default of its obligations under the so-called Hague Convention. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has recommended that parents be able to exercise their “right to joint custody” after their divorce. On July 8th of this year, the European Parliament plenary Session expressed concern about the impact on the health and well-being of children arising from the abduction of children by their parents in Japan, and adopted a resolution urging Japan to implement the Hague Convention and to amend its laws to recognize “joint custody”. In response to the above, I pose the following questions.

(i) According to the 2017 Vital Statistics (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare), approximately one in three couples divorces and more than 200,000 minor children experience parental divorce each year. In Japan, where we adopt the sole custody system after divorce, there are many cases of child abduction and separation without the consent of one parent during the marriage and subsequent separation of the parent and child, in order to gain an advantage in the battle for custody of the child during the divorce. More often than not, lawyers instruct parents to abduct children, and the European Parliament’s plenary session has taken up the issue. The same thing was discussed in the 185th session of the Parliament (Extraordinary Session), House of Councillors Question No. 18, do you have any thoughts on reviewing the system of sole custody after a divorce, with the idea of putting Children First?

(ii) Some separated parents who are unable to see their children choose suicide. A local government, Akashi City of Hyogo Prefecture, is actively working to maintain the parent-child relationships after divorce. Many separated parents who want to improve the situation are trying to complain and petition in various places. We believe that the government should take a positive view on the maintenance of the parent-child relationship after divorce, as well as measures to combat the declining birthrate. We seek the government’s opinion.

(iii) The Cabinet Office emphasizes the importance of both parents raising their children together. For example, when a mother and her newborn child stay at home with the mother’s grandparents, the mother monopolizes the child with the maternal grandparents, and after a divorce, the father, who has the intention to raise the child, cannot do anything about it. I propose that the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s definition of child abuse should include “both parents not raising a child together without the consent of one parent”, taking into account the so-called Convention on the Rights of the Child. We seek the government’s opinion.

(iv) “The phenomenon of alienation or rejection of the separated parent by pathologically identifying with the cohabiting parent’s dislike or fear of the separated parent” is referred to as “parental alienation syndrome”. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD11) of the World Health Organization (WHO) lists “Parental Alienation” in its Classification Index of Mental and Behavioral Disorders (QE 52), and therefore it is also a disease of children. We propose to include “parental alienation” in the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s definition of child abuse, taking into account the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We seek the government’s opinion.

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