Seminar Series

The Politics of Child Custody in Japan and Beyond

Thursday 8 February 2024 | 9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. (JST)
Zoom Webinar
  • Allison ALEXY Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, the University of Michigan
  • Sawako SHIRAHASE Director of TCJS
Event Description

In 2023, a committee from the Ministry of Justice announced the possibility that a joint custody option might be created for divorcing parents in Japan. Before this change, divorced parents must pick one person to hold legal custody, and now more than 80% of custody is granted to mothers. For decades, activists within and beyond Japan have been advocating for a joint custody option, focusing particularly on fathers’ loss of rights and connections with their children after divorce. In particular, international cases of so-called “parental abduction,” when one parent takes their child and refuses access to the other parent, have drawn more global media attention to Japanese family law and custody rules, prompting diplomatic and political calls for change. In this presentation, I examine the questions and debates surrounding child custody within Japan and as a global topic, including violence within families, fathers’ rights, and parental alienation. 

About the Speaker

Allison Alexy is an Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Michigan. She is a cultural anthropologist focused on contemporary Japan and investigates changing norms for romantic relationships and legal constructions of intimacy contextualized within the rapid societal changes in recent decades. Intimate Disconnections: Divorce and the Romance of Independence in Contemporary Japan, was published through open access and in Japanese and Chinese translations. She has co-edited Home and Family in Japan and Intimate Japan, and is the editor for the Asia Pop! series from the University of Hawai’i Press.