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Japan[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005


Summary and Analysis


Japan ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on April 22, 1994, effectively giving the Convention the force of law domestically. In addition to the Convention, Japan's laws governing child protective proceedings include the Child Abuse Protection Law, the Child Welfare Law, and the Civil Code.

As minors have no litigation capacity in civil suits, a legal representative is required to take procedural action.  In civil proceedings, a minor may present his/her views as a party or a supplementary intervener through a legal representative.[2] Children are not considered a party in child protective proceedings and can only represent their views through a legal representative.[3]  In cases such as child protective proceedings, in which the interests of a child are at odds with his or her parent's, the person exercising parental power is required to apply for a special representative for the child.  The Civil Code does not explicitly discuss the representation of the child's views in protective proceedings.  However, children are generally guaranteed the opportunity to be heard in judicial proceedings or administrative decisions affecting them. Furthermore, the child's best interests are considered in the same manner as those of adults since, in Japan, anyone who is a party to or an interested person in a trial is guaranteed the opportunity to express views in judicial proceedings according to the Constitution of Japan.

[A]nyone who is a party, or a person concerned is generally guaranteed to the opportunity to express his/her views.
Nevertheless, proceedings in cases relating to personal status and determination and conciliations of domestic relations concerning emergence, alteration or dissolution of status relationship, require procedural actions through legal representatives for minor (less than 20 years of age) who are incapable of understanding interests (advantage and disadvantage) of juristic acts, and proceedings in civil suits (excluding cases relating to personal status), administrative litigations, and conciliations of civil affairs require procedural actions through legal representatives for minors.[4]


Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)


Original Text:


International Law





1 締約国は、自己の意見を形成する能力のある児童がその児童に影響を及ぼすすべての事項について自由に自己の意見を表明する権利を確保する。この場合において、児童の意見は、その児童の年齢及び成熟度に従って相応に考慮されるものとする。

2 このため、児童は、特に、自己に影響を及ぼすあらゆる司法上及び行政上の手続において、国内法の手続規則に合致する方法により直接に又は代理人若しくは適当な団体を通じて聴取される機会を与えられる。






第七条 精神上の障害により事理を弁識する能力を欠く常況にある者については、家庭裁判所は、本人、配偶者、四親等内の親族、未成年後見人、未成年後見監督人、保佐人、保佐監督人、補助人、補助監督人又は検察官の請求により、後見開始の審判をすることができる。


第八百二十六条 親権を行う父又は母とその子との利益が相反する行為については、親権を行う者は、その子のために特別代理人を選任することを家庭裁判所に請求しなければならない。


児童福祉法 [7]


第二十六条 児童相談所長は、第二十五条の規定による通告を受けた児童、第二十五条の七第一項第一号若しくは第二項第一号、前条第一号又は少年法(昭和二十三年法律第百六十八号)第十八条第一項の規定による送致を受けた児童及び相談に応じた児童、その保護者又は妊産婦について、必要があると認めたときは、次の各号のいずれかの措置を採らなければならない。
 一 次条の措置を要すると認める者は、これを都道府県知事に報告すること。
 二 児童又はその保護者を児童福祉司若しくは児童委員に指導させ、又は都道府県以外の者の設置する児童家庭支援センター若しくは都道府県以外の障害児相談支援事業を行う者に指導を委託すること。
 三 第二十五条の七第一項第二号又は前条第二号の措置が適当であると認める者は、これを福祉事務所に送致すること。
 四 保育の実施等が適当であると認める者は、これをそれぞれその保育の実施等に係る都道府県又は市町村の長に報告し、又は通知すること。
 五 第二十一条の二十五の規定による措置が適当であると認める者は、これをその措置に係る市町村の長に報告し、又は通知すること。
2 前項第一号の規定による報告書には、児童の住所、氏名、年齢、履歴、性行、健康状態及び家庭環境、同号に規定する措置についての当該児童及びその保護者の意向その他児童の福祉増進に関し、参考となる事項を記載しなければならない。




International Law


Convention on the Rights of the Child[8]


Article 12

1. State parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.


2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law. 




Civil Code[9]


Art. 7. (Judgment of Commencement of Guardianship) 

For minors who are mentally unfit, family courts may rule on the commencement of guardianship upon requests of the minor themselves, spouses, relatives within four degrees, guardians of minors, supervisors of minors' guardians, protectors, supervisors of protectors, auxiliaries, supervisors of auxiliaries, or prosecutors.


Article 826. (Special Representative) In respect of acts in which the interests of father or mother who exercises parental power conflict with those of his or her child, the person who exercises the parental power shall apply to the Family Court for the appointment of a special representative on behalf of the child.
2. In cases where a person who exercises parental power exercises the same over two or more children, the provisions of the preceding paragraph shall, on behalf of one party, apply mutatis mutandis in respect of acts in which the interests of one child conflict with those of the other or others.


Child Welfare Law[10]


Article 26

(1) When governors (or the authorized Child Guidance Centers) make a decision on placement in facilities, etc., and the said decision disagrees with the will of the child or his/her guardian, prefectural child welfare councils with experts on law, medicine, etc., as their members shall be consulted . . .  

(2) It is stipulated that opinions of the child shall be respected in placing him/her in an institution.


Local Contact Information


Mr. Roger Goodman

Nissan Professor of Modern Japanese Studies

Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies

University of Oxford

27 Winchester Road

Oxford OX2 6NA, UK

Tel: 44 (0) 1865-274576

FAX: 44 (0) 1865-274574

E-mail: roger.goodman@nissan.ox.ac.uk


Additional Resources and Links


Goodman Roger, Children of the Japanese State- the changing role of child protection institutions in contemporary japan, (Oxford University Press 2000).


Center for Child Abuse Prevention (In Japanese only): http://www.ccap.or.jp/



[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial report by Japan, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/41/ Add.1 (1996), available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[3] R. Goodman (personal communication November 5, 2005).

[4] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Second periodic report of States parties due in 2001: Japan,  at ¶ 156, 157, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/104/Add.2 (2003) available http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/7de38e6b7df15213c1256df80045afc4/$FILE/G0343286.pdf and also as .pdf Document.

[5] G.A. res. 44/25, annex, 44 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 49) at 167, U.N. Doc. A/44/49 (1989) available at http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/japanese/Jk2crc.htm.

[6] Minpo (Civil Code), artust. 5, 7, 826 available http://www.ron.gr.jp/law/law/minpo_so.htm.

[7] Jido Fukushi Ho (Child Welfare Law), art. 26 available http://www.ron.gr.jp/law/law/jido_fuk.htm and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[8] G.A. res. 44/25, annex, 44 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 49) at 167, U.N. Doc. A/44/49 (1989) available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[9] Jap. Civ. Code, art. 5, 7 (Book 1 - official translation from Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs), previously available at http://www.nomolog.nagoya-u.ac.jp, art. 826 (Book 4- unofficial translation) available at http://www.crnjapan.com/japan_law/laws/en/book4_relatives.html and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[10] Child Welfare Law, art. 26.


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