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Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Child Abduction, the Hague Convention and Japanese Culture 2

An estranged non-Japanese father, whose children have been 'abducted' by a Japanese mother, expressed the opinion that while he believes in and respects justice, law, and rights of children, the Japanese, or the Japanese legal system does not.

This issue is massive, and massively tragic. The agony and the outrage are palpable.

I beileve that if I were in the position of a parent whose child were 'abducted,' I would be feeling the same way, reacting in the same way, decrying, petitioning, lobbying and doing all that is in my power to affect change, in the same way, in any way, with all my heart and all my strength.

At the same time, I ask myself, do the Japanese believe in justice, law and the rights of their chidlren? I am sure that the Japanese do. And yet, there is a real tragedy.

I think there are important, equally massive, cultural differences.

If I were to put this opinion - that there are 'cultural differences' - to a Western estranged parent, I would expect them to say, "Oh cutural differences! What bull! Another name, another excuse for gross injustice."

So, I am not suggesting that nothing should change. But there are two ways of making change, two types of change that one might hope for:

1) That change be made at the national/cultural boundary.
If one believes that there are cultural differences, then one may strive for change at the boundary between cultures, such that parents from other nations be given rights under Japanese law that are not given to Japanese parents, due to the fact that the marriages were based in more than one culture, in more than one law.

2) That changes should be made universaly, applying in Japan too.
If one believes that the Japanese, as they stand, do not respect justice, law, and the rights of their children (as is argued by many estranged Western parents) then the change that needs to be made is of type (2): All parents, be they non-Japanese or Japanese, should be allowed dual custody because the present Japanese system is just bad, patently and universally bad.

I think that (1) is the answer, because it will be more likely to succeed, because the Japanese family system works, and because change at the former level will not destroy Japanese society. Change as an exception, for predominantly Western fathers, is more likey to succeed because it will not devastate Japanese culture. I think that dual custody if made law in Japan would have enourmously adverse effects.

It seems to me that in Japan people get married primarily in order to have custody of, that is to say to have relationships with, children. If dual custody were enforced, and the realisation of its enforcement were to sink in, to become a commonplace, become accepted from the outset, then that would be the end of the Japanese family. Kaput.

I suspect that the legitimization of dual custody in Japan would be akin to the legitimization of marital infidelity in the West. It would make the critical family bond in each culture meaningless. The concept of family would be negated.

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.