Child trafficking in Japan in numbers

3,000,000 +

Nearly 20% of children denied access to a parent

56%

Child poverty rate for single-parent households

499+

children died by suicide in 2020

2,172

minors victims of child abuse

Every hour a child is abducted by a parent in Japan due to Japan’s ridiculous and corrupt child custody laws.

Tell the International Olympics Committee, its sponsors, and your government leaders they must stand up for the rights of Japanese children. Sign the petition today!

An estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Japanese children lose access to a parent every year. Since 1991, that is a total of 3,000,000 children who have lost access to a parent, or 20% of all children in Japan. Though international parental abduction of Japanese children born to a Japanese and foreign parent is most shown in the media, the reality is that the vast majority of these 3,000,000 children are born to two Japanese parents.

These children are victims of Japan’s corrupt family system where parents are advised on how to kidnap their children, lawyers make a lot of money off of single custody, and judges believe that children will not be affected at all if one of their parents suddenly disappears from the child’s life. Lawyers who are taking money away from parents who have been deprived of their children are naturally strong opponents of any reform to Japan’s single custody law because it would mean less money in their pockets.

Ultimately, it is the children who suffer the most from Japan’s single custody laws. The socio-economic and psychological effects this has on these children are significant and often follow them for the rest of their lives.

Japan's single custody law violates the fundamental human rights of Japanese children and is contrary to the best interests of a child. It is unacceptable that the Japanese legal and judicial community financially benefits from the suffering of innocent children.

“Even though you cannot see your children, you can be a ‘cool’ father if you work much harder to send more child support to pull your children out of poverty. If you will send money, your children will rely on you when they grow up. Try to make a relationship with your children which last for a lifetime.

Advice from a prominent so-called human rights lawyer to a father whose child was abducted.

Right side is 海瑠 Kairu (12 years old) and left side is 紫晶 Shiaru (7 years old), Separated since 2020/2/13. Submitted to FMP through Twitter.

Single Custody Law

There is no such thing as joint custody in Japan unless parents agree to it on their own. So, for nearly all divorces, one parent gains full custody and the other parent can only see the children with the custodial parent’s agreement.

The other parent – which is the father 80% of the time – has no legal right to contact or visit the child. It is not uncommon for the other parent to never see his or her child again. The custodial parent has full control of custody decisions and can agree to co-parenting but is not required to by any means. This makes it very easy for the custodial parent to completely erase the other parent out of the child’s life. And the courts will do absolutely nothing.

In fact, only 31% of children living with their single mothers are in contact with their fathers, and 48% living with single fathers are in contact with their mothers. And that is just ‘in contact,' and not measuring the frequency of contact, which can be minimal.

Japanese Family courts – wrongly so – assume that it is in the child’s best interest to remain in their current environment or home. It does not at all consider the importance of a child seeing both his or her parents. Because fathers often leave the house after a divorce and mothers remain in the family home, mothers are almost always granted full custody.

The issue goes well beyond custody. Under Japan's legal system, the non-custodial parent also loses all parental rights. That means that parent cannot access the child's medical or school records and has no right to make any such decisions or even dispute their child being adopted by a step-parent or other family member! This is even true for couples who remain married but are separated.

This system is fueled by corruption as legal professionals financially benefit from larger child support payments that happen under single custody. With lawyers receiving as much as 30% of child support payments until the child is 20 years old, it is no surprise that lawyers encourage parents to abduct their children, resulting in sole custody and larger child support payments that lawyers can benefit from.

Sorry, we couldn't find any posts. Please try a different search.

Ayano was just 3 months old and still breastfeeding and her brother Towa two years old when they lost all contact with their mothers. You can read more about their story here and listen to her podcast.

Children grow up in poverty

There is a strong connection between Japan’s single custody law and child poverty. 56% of children living in single-parent households live under the poverty line in Japan. This is the highest rate among all OECD countries. These children are living on an income of around $900 per month in a country with one of the highest costs of living in the world. What does it mean for a child to live in poverty? It means children not being able to eat enough, not being able to go to the doctor when needed, perhaps being forced to work to provide for the family, not being able to access good schools or academic support and, in the long-term, children not being able to escape poverty.

How is it that the world’s third-largest economy and one of the largest donor countries allows its own children to grow up in such appalling conditions?

There is a parent who attempted to commit suicide just because the court does not accept his request. He has a delusion that the court takes sides with his wife’s team. It is really annoying for us that he feels desperate and jumps out a window of the court building. Don’t do it inside the courthouse, for it is troublesome to clean up. Oh, please do it wherever you want as long as you do it out of the court area… hahahaha

Unnamed judge in response to a suicide attempt of left behind parent​.

The first thing you have to do to fight against your husband to get the child’s custody is to take your child when leaving home.

Lawyer's advice to Japanese mothers in a local magazine. ​

These three young children have been forced to grow up without their loving mothers because of Japan’s custody laws.

Academic achievement

The effects of growing up without a parent go beyond the house with Japanese children paying the price at school and ultimately for their entire lives. Academic studies have shown that children of single mothers perform significantly worse at school than those living with married mothers.

This is not surprising, as single mothers earn less and thus are less able to afford high-quality schools and so-called cram schools, than married mothers. And in a country where the non-custodial parent has zero right to his or her children, it is hard to convince that parent to pay child support. This ultimately means the child falls behind at school.

How will this inequality in education affect these Japanese children as they grow up and enter the workforce?

Well-being and health

Similarly to academic performance, the overall well-being and health of children of single-parent households are worse. This was confirmed by single mothers who participated in an academic study and were asked to report the health of their children.

The stress of being a single mother leads to significantly lower levels of happiness, self-rated health, and emotional well-being among single mothers. This, in turn, impacts parenting and can result in children having a lower level of well-being. These single mothers must work endlessly to provide for their children and given the intensity of Japan’s work culture, they must spend most of the day outside the house at work. This means these children are left home, alone, in darkness; Without both parents and without both parents' love.

Child abuse

2020 witnessed another appalling record set in Japan - the highest number of children subjected to abuse. And these are only reported figures. 2,172 children were abused in 2020 alone and the number of children referred to child welfare centers jumped 21% percent from 2019. This is just another indication of how the Japanese government fails to protect its most vulnerable citizens - its own children.

The perpetrators of this abuse are almost always parents - either biological parents, step-parents, or adoptive parents. The country’s single custody law is partly to blame for this as when children are granted the right to two parents in their lives, there is accountability and checks for both parents. This would make it much harder for children to be abused. But when one parent has sole custody of a child, that child has limited people to reach out for help.

Parent-child visitation is not important.

Ruling of the Tokyo High Court who overruled the so-called friendly parent rule.

Share #yourstory

Get in touch with us today to share your story of parental abduction via our podcast, social media or #yourstory initiative.

Get Support

Are you looking for your parent or child? Head over to our AI search engine.

Join FMP’s parent or child support groups to get first-hand advice and support from those who have been affected.

Reach out to one of our partners to get the support that you need.

There is common consensus among lawyers in divorce cases involving a custody conflict: The first step is to secure the child with the client.

The Research Institute of the Japan Federation of Bar Association​.

Loss of entire family

Losing a parent is like losing half of one’s entire identity. These children lose a set of grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins and for no good reason. When the child is eventually - if he or she is - reunited with the left-behind parent, it is not a given that their relationship will be normal. It can take years to re-establish bonds and sometimes they are just never re-established, even when the child has become an adult, leaving the child forever without a second parent.

Mental health

Suicide is the leading cause of death among children in Japan and in 2020 school-age suicide hit a record high with nearly 500 children taking their own lives. Family issues and being reprimanded by parents are the most common known reasons for child suicide indicating the potentially fatal effect single custody has on children’s lives.

Left behind parents also suffer greatly from depression and even suicide after their children are kidnapped. Akio Yokota sadly took his own life after his wife was granted sole custody of their young son after a divorce. The mere one hour per month he was allowed to see his son was not enough and caused him to suffer from depression.

How can you help?

FAQ

Find My Parent is an international non-profit organization using technology to empower children to reunite with their families. FMP takes a unique child-centered approach and raises awareness worldwide on the importance of children having access to both parents.

Find My Parent was founded by Enrique Gutierrez after his daughter Meline Yanagihara was kidnapped by his ex-wife in Japan. Enrique has not seen or spoke with his daughter for over 700 days. Fed up with the little progress he was making in reuniting with his daughter under existing political and legal channels, he was determined to create and way for Meline to find him one day and that is why he founded Find My Parent and built the latest AI technology.

Japanese children have been suffering from the effects of the country’s single custody law for decades now. And efforts by Japanese parents to lobby for change within Japan have failed. The 2020 Olympics provides a unique opportunity for the entire world to see how Japan is really treating its own children. FMP will use this opportunity to provide the thousands of Japanese children and parents with a platform to express their grievances and show the world what is really happening in Japan.

Find My Parent is using the 2020 Olympics as an opportunity to spread awareness among the international community of how Japanese children are suffering from single custody and its effects. FMP wants to empower children, parents, families the general population in Japan to stand up for their rights. We want the world to know that parental abduction is not an issue that just affects children of international marriages, but rather mostly affects children of two Japanese parents – to the tune of 210,000 children per year.

Volunteers for the Olympics Campaign can support in a number of ways - spreading awareness of the benefits of joint custody and what joint custody really is, sharing stories of affected children and parents and gathering signatures for our petition that will send a strong message to the Japanese government, and many more ways. To express your interest in volunteering, register here.

Joint custody is a child arrangement in which children have access to both parents after divorce. That means that children may spend a share of their time at one parent's home and another share at the other parent's home. Exact arrangement vary per case, but in general an assumed 50-50 shared custody by which children spend half their time with dad and half with mom is in the best interest of children.

In countries where joint custody is legal (that is all but three countries – Japan, India and Turkey), children continue to have access to both parents after divorce as long as doing so would not pose any risk or harm to the child. When there are concerns of child abuse or domestic violence, those accusations are thoroughly investigated and based on those the judge determines whether to grant joint or single custody.

Joint custody does not mean that child support payments are not made. In most countries, the parent who earns more will often still be required to provide child support regardless of custody arrangements. Evidence also shows that parents with joint custody may be more inclined to fulfil these financial obligations compared to parents who have no access to their children.

Joint custody is beneficial to women, men, families and children. Most importantly, children continue to have access to the love and care from both parents and both sets of extended family. Children growing up with joint custody arrangements are less likely to suffer from poverty, do better in school, have better physical and mental health outcomes and are happier.

Joint custody is also linked to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Mothers with shared custody arrangements have higher incomes, are more likely to advance in their careers and report higher levels of satisfaction.

Single custody drives gender inequality and mental health issues among children and parents. It also means that children are more likely to grow up in poverty, have limited access to quality healthcare and perform worse in school.

 

Children without access to both parents lose half of their entire identity and to half of their extended family such as grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. The social and psychological effects are significant and long-lasting on these children. This is not something that they will just overcome when and if they reunite with that parent. These children’s future relationships and well-being will be impacted by this negative experience.

Estimates range from 150,000-210,000 children who lose access to a parent each year in Japan. Official statistics on this do not exist.

Japanese Family courts – wrongly so – assume that it is in the child’s best interest to remain in their current environment or home. It does not at all consider the importance of a child seeing both his or her parents. Because fathers often leave the house after a divorce and mothers remain in the family home, mothers are almost always granted full custody.

This system is fueled by corruption as legal professionals financially benefit from larger child support payments that happen under single custody. Lawyers receive a share of child custody payments every month until the children reach 20 years of age. Hence, there is little incentive for lawyers to advocate for joint custody even when it’s in the child’s best interest.

Find My Parent's search platform is 100% free. We are not looking to make money off of parental abduction. We are here to fill the gap that government and politicians have failed to fill. Many of our staff have been personally affected by parental abduction and our founder's daughter – Meline Yanagihara #柳原 #メリーン グ remains kidnapped by his spouse in Japan.

Find My Parent is a non-profit organization that is committed to the highest standards of data protection and security. Your personal data will never be shared with anyone and you can revoke our access to it at any time.

The demand for change is coming for Japanese. However, since they understand the government well, they know that politicians will give into international pressure before they listen to their own citizens. This is why affected Japanese have asked FMP to support them in spreading awareness and lobbying for reform at an international level.
Demanding change to Japan's single custody law is not a form of imperialism or of forcing western values on other countries. Rather it is a commitment to standing up for the rights and future of vulnerable children who have no voice.

Related Content

  • All
  • Books
  • Children Resource
  • Data / Fact Sheet
  • Japan Resources
  • Knowledge Products
  • Legal Guidelines
  • Movies
  • Podcasts
  • press release
  • Real Stories / Articles
  • Scholarly Articles / Reports / Journals
  • Toolkits / Guidelines
  • Tools
  • Training Courses
  • TV shows
  • Videos
  • Webinar / Events
All
  • All
  • Books
  • Children Resource
  • Data / Fact Sheet
  • Japan Resources
  • Knowledge Products
  • Legal Guidelines
  • Movies
  • Podcasts
  • press release
  • Real Stories / Articles
  • Scholarly Articles / Reports / Journals
  • Toolkits / Guidelines
  • Tools
  • Training Courses
  • TV shows
  • Videos
  • Webinar / Events

住宅内で母子3人が血を流し男児2人死亡 前橋市(2021年6月11日)

Read More →

Ueno, Odagiri, Perina & Fichot: Japan’s Child Abduction Issue

Akira Ueno: Lawyer, Nihonbashi Sakura Law Firm / Noriko Odagiri: Professor of Clinical Psychology, Tokyo International University / Tommaso Perina: …

Read More →
Child Trafficking

父母の離婚後の子の養育に関する海外法制調査結果の公表について

 父母の離婚後の親権制度や子の養育の在り方について,当省が外務省に依頼して行っていた海外法制調査の取りまとめ結果と,結果の概要を公表いたします。
 本報告書は,主に以下の事項について,各国の政府関係者等からの聞き取りや文献調査を基に,各国の離婚後の親権や子の養育の在り方に関する,主として制度面について取りまとめたものです。
 ⑴ 各国の親権の内容及び父母の離婚後の親権行使又は監護の態様
  ア 父母の離婚後も共同で親権を行使することを許容する制度の有無
  イ アの制度が採用されている場合に,父母が共同して行使する親権の内容
  ウ 父母の離婚後の子の養育について,父母の意見が対立する場合の対応
 ⑵ 協議離婚(裁判所が関与しない離婚)の制度の有無
 ⑶ 子の養育の在り方について
  ア 父母の離婚時に子に対する面会交流又は子の養育費の支払について取決めをする法的義務の有無・内容
  イ 公的機関による面会交流又は子の養育費の支払についての支援の有 無・ 内容
  ウ 父母の離婚後に子を監護する親が転居をする場合の制限の有無・内容
 ⑷ 離婚後共同親権制度の下における困難事例
 ⑸ 嫡出でない子の親権の在り方

Read More →

親子を分離する戦後の時代遅れの法律の改正と制度の見直しを。

私達は、虐待やネグレクトなどの疑いをかけられ、我が子を児童相談所に一時保護され、帰してもらえなくなったり、一切面会もさせてもらえなくなった全国の親が集まった原告団です。 私たち、児童相談所の誤認保護により分離させられた被害者一同は、実際に保護され幸運にも出ることができた子どもや勇気を持って逃げ出して来た子ども達と一緒に、 1、戦争孤児のためにでき今尚続いている劣悪な保護施設に保護されていて助けを求めている子ども達を救い出し、 2、令和にふさわしい子どもの権利条約を遵守した子どものための法律、また安心して親子が家族が生活していける法律や制度への改正を目指して活動していきます。 

Read More →
Child Trafficking

訴訟について

原告ら(予定)は、日本の家事事件手続法の不備より、自らの意に反し、親子が引き離され、 会えず、養育に関われません。憲法・条約等に違反して、家事事件手続を利用しても親子養育の利益・権利が実現しなかったため、 当事者が集団となり、近いうちに国を相手に損害賠償請求事件、いわゆる集団国賠を提起する予定です。

Read More →

My Children (an abduction story)

Video I made for my children and to raise awareness of Japan and their state sponsored child abduction and child …

Read More →