Parental child abduction in Japan

Japan is internationally considered the “black hole” of parental child abduction: in Japan, every year, an estimated 150,000 parents (both Japanese and foreigners) are cut off from their children’s life due to a unilateral decision of their partner (Data: Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion).

Something that in the rest of the world falls under the term "abduction" and is treated as a criminal offense, is widely tolerated in Japan. Here, all disputes related to parental issues and child custody are considered "private matters" and the Japanese authorities avoid getting involved.

Even a court victory may not have actual effects, because the Japanese civil courts do not count on law enforcement agencies to enforce their sentences. Furthermore, shared custody is not contemplated by the Japanese legal system: the court gives the full custody of a child to a single parent, very often the same parent who abducted the child (in most cases the mother).

After years of international pressures, in 2014 Japan ratified The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. In 2018, the EU ambassadors in Japan issued a formal letter to the Japanese government, to ask that at least court sentences are enforced. Nevertheless, parental child abduction in Japan is still widely tolerated.

This project is about the fathers who are facing the tragedy of having had their children abducted by their wife/partner. In their daily lives, they are dealing with loneliness, sense of abandon, rage and legal battles (and costs) to at least obtain a regular visit schedule with their children.

PHOTO ESSAY (Sep 2018)


Photos, video and sound: Marco Panzetti
Subject, research, interviews and written article: Chiara Galvani, Federica Galvani (Orizzontinternazionali)

For a preview of the full written article or more information about the project, please contact me.

error: All images on this website are copyrighted © 2019 Marco Panzetti