Comparing Japanese and American Approaches to Parental Rights: A Comment on, and Appreciation of, the Work of Takao Tanase
6 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2006
Date Written: August 2005
This short essay, presented at a conference honoring the work of leading Japanese legal sociologist Takao Tanase, examines the portion of his recently translated work that compares Japanese and American law on child visitation after divorce. The comparison initially suggests that the stronger American view of parental rights better serves children's interests than the weaker Japanese view. Looking at the comparison through a different lens, however, also suggests that the real difference lies in the two cultures' diverging conception of social parenthood, and thus of the identify of the person who holds parental rights: the noncustodial American parent remains a legal parent at least in part because he or she remains a social parent, in aspiration if not reality, while the traditional Japanese view is the opposite. Finally, the essay suggests a causal connection, running in both directions, between the traditional Japanese rules on custody and the relatively low Japanese divorce rates.
Keywords: Divorce, custody, parental rights, Japan
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