A joint custody measure is being considered by parliament while a Japanese table tennis player strikes a deal with her ex.


TOKYO (AP) — A once-loved Japanese table tennis player announced on Friday that she and her ex-husband, a Taiwanese table tennis star, had reached a settlement, putting an end to their public custody dispute for their 4-year-old son.

The action is being taken at a time when the Japanese parliament is debating legislation to establish a system of shared custody in the wake of several high-profile cases involving foreign spouses who have Japanese wives.

“I will work with Mr. Chiang to raise our kids from now on,” Ai Fukuhara declared at a press conference declaring that she and her ex-husband, Chiang Hung-chieh, had come to a decision over their son’s custody.She made a deep bow and withdrew without answering any questions, allowing her two lawyers and their Chiang-representing counterparts to do so on her behalf.

According to the lawyers, Fukuhara has given Chiang custody of their kid so that he can live in Taiwan, where their daughter is already situated. According to Aiko Ohbuchi, Chiang’s Japanese attorney, the ex-couple has worked out specifics for their son to spend time with his mother and has agreed on joint custody. The attorneys refused to provide more information.

After five years of marriage, the couple filed for divorce in July 2021 in accordance with Taiwanese law. After Chiang moved in with their two children, they decided to split custody. In 2022, Fukuhara and the boy went back to Japan for the summer.

In a statement that his attorneys read, Chiang expressed gratitude to the Japanese court for its impartial ruling and the public’s support.

The agreement was reached right before Japan’s Cabinet sent a law permitting shared custody to parliament for approval. However, women’s rights and other rights groups are against the proposal, claiming that the dual custody arrangement will put women who are victims of domestic abuse by their partners at risk.

Japan does not now permit divorced parents to have legal joint custody of their children, in contrast to many other nations. While the other parent may be granted visitation rights, only one parent may take the children. In certain situations, the parent who has physical custody ends contact with the other parent, while in other situations, the parent who does not have physical custody ceases having to pay child support.Following his victory in a Taiwanese court case, Chiang also managed to get Fukuhara to promptly return the child to him last July via a Japanese court order. However, Fukuhara abducted the boy and fled to China, presumably to avoid being under Japanese jurisdiction and to avoid having to give up the child. They eventually settled in December after Chiang filed a criminal complaint accusing Fukuhara of kidnapping a child.

Chiang’s attorney, Ohbuchi, expressed doubts about how the matter could be settled in Japan because there is a lack of proper or widespread understanding of joint custody there.She noted that even with Japan’s current system, the joint custody arrangement was feasible and that the Japanese courts had rendered a very suitable and fair ruling that is consistent with the Taiwanese decision.

According to Fukuhara’s attorney Nao Sakai, the issue is that Fukuhara refused to return the child to the primary parent when the court-mandated visitation period was up. “It was good that we could work out a settlement; the boy did not want the dispute to drag on.”

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