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     British father wants Japan to play fair in child custody battles
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Posted on: 2008/10/9 9:55
Joined: 2008/7/11
From: Chiba (Japan)
Posts: 118
British father wants Japan to play fair in child custody battles


Japanese courts should give more support to foreigners who are seeking access to their children living in the country, according to a British father who is seeking the return of his two daughters to England.

Shane Clarke says Japanese courts need to do more for the hundreds of foreign parents whose estranged Japanese spouses have taken children away from their home country and returned to Japan.

Once back in Japan, family courts will generally award custody to the Japanese parent in these cases even when she or he (it is normally the mother) has deliberately taken her or his child away from its home country.

And, more than likely, the foreign father will not be able to persuade the judge to give joint custody or have the child returned to its home country. The courts will generally side with the Japanese mother who already has custody in an effort to avoid any further disruption to the child’s life.

This is the current situation Briton Shane Clarke finds himself in, and he would like the British government to press Japan so that its courts properly acknowledge the access rights of foreign fathers.

Britain is calling on Japan to improve the rights of foreign fathers and the Japanese government says it is looking at legal moves to improve the situation. But Tokyo disputes claims that the courts are instinctively biased toward Japanese mothers.

Clarke’s problems began in January when his wife took his daughters, aged 1 and 3, to Japan on a long holiday to visit her family in Ibaraki Prefecture. She claimed her mother was terminally ill.

As far as Clarke was aware there were no major problems in the four-year marriage―although his wife did not like him seeing his other child by a previous marriage. But when he went out to see his wife in May, he realized something was wrong.

She acted strangely and, in the end, she told him she and the children would not be returning to Britain.

With hindsight, he realizes it was a ‘‘very well planned child abduction.’’ His wife had taken all the necessary papers with her to Japan and, like many others before her, had decided to go back home because the courts were likely to side with her.

He claims his wife has refused mediation and access to his children. She has now started divorce proceedings.


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