Japan's justice ministry to submit joint custody plan

A panel of Japan's Justice Ministry has outlined a set of proposals to allow divorced parents to share custody of their children. The ministry intends to submit amendments to the Civil Code and other laws in the current Diet session.

The draft outline put together by the Family Law Subcommittee of the Legislative Council is aimed at revising the current system, which recognizes parental rights of only the father or mother.

It proposes that parents decide whether to apply for joint or sole custody, and that if they fail to agree, a family court will decide.

The plan says sole custody would be granted in court-recognized cases of domestic violence or child abuse.

The panel added a resolution calling on the government and welfare authorities to extend sufficient support to ensure that children are not disadvantaged.

Details have yet to be decided on how to apply the system, provide support and manage the greater role of family courts.

The Legislative Council is expected to meet as early as next month to finalize the outline and report to Justice Minister Koizumi Ryuji. The ministry aims to enact the revisions in the current Diet session.