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2014年8月20日 (水)

社説:無戸籍の人 法を見直し抜本救済を

August 19, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Time to aid residents without family records
社説:無戸籍の人 法を見直し抜本救済を

In Japan there exist a number of adults who have been left without family register records because their parents have failed to register their births. The government does not have a grasp of the situation, and the exact number of such people remains unknown, but private support groups receive roughly 100 inquiries a year.

Recently, the Ministry of Justice sent notification to regional legal affairs bureaus across the nation and initiated its first investigation into the problem. It is wrong for children to be left struggling in society simply because their parents, dealing with particular circumstances, failed to submit birth notifications. We hope the ministry's investigation will be the first step in providing relief.
The problem has been partially fuelled by a stipulation in the Civil Code that when a woman gives birth, the person who was the woman's husband at the time she was pregnant is deemed to be the father. Any child born within 300 days of a divorce, therefore, is presumed to be the child of the woman's former husband.

Because of this, if a woman flees her husband due to violence or other such reasons, and meets another man and gives birth without first settling her marriage relationship, it is apparently not uncommon for that woman to refrain from registering the child's birth.

There are also times when a woman gets pregnant with another man's child before her divorce is finalized, and after the child is born takes measures to avoid her former husband being registered as the father under the 300-day rule.

Of course, such problems can be overcome through arbitration and court rulings, but it is often a great burden for each side to meet face to face.

If a person has no family register, they cannot prove their age. Accordingly, they cannot vote, and are unable to obtain a driver's license or a passport. There are apparently a significant number of people who are also unable to obtain resident cards.

This leaves them in a worse situation, in which they are left out from being notified about entry into public schools while their families remain ineligible to receive administrative services and benefits, such as child welfare allowances.

It is possible for local bodies to create resident cards at their own discretion even if a person does not have a family register, but this fact has not been sufficiently publicized.

The Ministry of Justice is said to be seeking the cooperation of municipalities in its investigation. We hope that it will release its findings.

The Justice Ministry also sent out notification encouraging local officials to explain the administrative services that people without family register records can access under certain conditions.

Naturally, a careful explanation of the procedures is necessary, but the ministry should also think about drastic legal revisions that prevent people being left without family register records.

In today's society, divorce and remarriage have increased, and family relationships are often complicated.

Violence toward spouses has also risen, with some 50,000 incidents recorded each year.

In such circumstances, it is hard to say that the Civil Code stipulations on presuming paternity fit in with the times.

Just last month, cases that questioned paternity on the grounds of DNA tests were heard in a Supreme Court appeal and presumed paternity emerged as a focus of the hearings. Four of the five justices submitted individual opinions stating a need for legislation.

In 2007 the Tokyo Bar Association drafted a revision to the Civil Code under which presumed paternity would not apply if the space for the father's details was left blank when registering the child's birth, releasing this draft as a statement of its position.

The Legislative Council of the Ministry of Justice should begin full-scale deliberation of such methods discussing ways to presume paternity of a child.

毎日新聞 2014年08月19日 02時31分


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