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. Children are not considered a party in child protective proceedings and can only represent their views through a legal representative. 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.
Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)
Convention on the Rights of the Child
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.
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.
Child Welfare Law
(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
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/
 R. Goodman (personal communication November 5, 2005).
 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.
 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.
 Child Welfare Law, art. 26.
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