Over 40% polled in Japan say parents’ divorce, separation made life harder

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TOKYO — A survey of 1,000 adults in Japan whose parents divorced or separated when they were minors found more than 40% felt their lives became more difficult after their parents parted, results released on March 12 by the Ministry of Justice show.

The perceptions of respondents regarding finances also supported the fact that many single-parent households are considered to be in a state of poverty.

According to the ministry, the study is believed to be the first large-scale survey of children in Japan regarding divorce. It was conducted anonymously in January among 1,000 people in their 20s and 30s via the ministry website.

A total of 31.8% of the respondents said they were of preschool age when their parents separated, while 32.4% were in elementary school, and 13.7% were in junior high school. Altogether, 78.6% lived with their mothers after the separation and 21.4% with their fathers.

As for the impact of the partings on finances, 40.5% of the respondents answered that things became more difficult. When asked if they consulted with anyone when they were in trouble, only 7.1% said they did, while 32.7% said they either “wanted to, but there was no appropriate person to tell,” “kept it private,” or “didn’t want to tell anyone.” Another 59.6% said they “didn’t have anything to consult others about.”

With regard to child-support payments made by separated parents, 29.8% said that there was no agreement or promise. Another 16.8% said that child support was paid properly, while 18.9% said that it was not paid at all. Fourteen percent said that support gradually stopped being paid. The proportions of respondents who said they did not know the status of the agreement or know about payment surpassed 40%, respectively.

An official of the ministry said, “It became clear that child-support payments for the sake of the child have turned into an issue between parents and that the child is not fully informed of the situation.”

When asked who made decisions about education and other matters after their parents divorced, 42.3% of the respondents said the parent they lived with did so, 12.2% said the parents consulted with each other, and 36.7% said they didn’t know.

In February, Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa consulted the Legislative Council, the ministry’s advisory body, on a review of the legal system for child-rearing following parental divorce. The main topic of discussion will be the elimination of non-payment of child support, with reference to the results of a survey.