Unwillingly Signed Divorce Paper: A Case of Non Japanese Couple with Different Nationalities



I am a graduate student from country A.  I have a husband, who is from country B, and a child, who is two years old.  My husband and I met each other as foreign students and got married in Japan.  The three of us still live in Japan. 

My husband is not interested to take care of the child and has started to complain, “I want more free time,” and “I cannot get relaxed because of the kid.”

The other day, he asked me to sign my name to a divorce paper, saying that even though it is not legally effective, it makes him feel easy and free.

I signed the form without any intention to get a divorce as I was afraid that if I refuse it would adversely affect our relationship.

I hope it will not cause any problem just to sign a divorce paper as he says, but is that true?  (Ms. D in Osaka)
Reply by UCHIKOSHI Sakura 

You are both foreign residents in Japan, one from country A, and the other from country B.  If both of you are qualified for stay in Japan for academic purpose as a teacher or a researcher (as is specified in the annexed table 1 of the Immigration Control Act) and have been living in Japan for more than five years, you are considered to have “a habitual residence” (a place where you usually live)  in Japan.

If a married couple have different home countries (or their nationality is different from each other) and have the same habitual residence, the law of their habitual residence is applied (refer to Article 27 and 25 of the Act on General Rules for Application of Laws).  Therefore, in your case, the laws of Japan should be applicable.

If your husband goes to city office and hands in the divorce paper without your consent, it will be accepted and formally processed.  You can ask for arbitration or bring the case to court afterwards  (refer to Article 17 and Clause 1, Article 18) , it will be very difficult for you to establish that the divorce is invalid.

There is a system to avoid such difficulty in advance by submitting an application for nonacceptance of a divorce paper, but since neither you nor your husband have family register in Japan, you can not apply for such nonacceptance.

I advise you to get the signed divorce paper back from your husband before it becomes too late.  If all he wants is to feel free, why don’t you talk with hin to find other solutions than divorce. 

Original article on the WAN website (November 21, 2011)

Translated and adapted from the WAN website by FUKUOKA.A.A

Women's Peace Prize in 2011

This year's Nobel Peace Prize is one of great milestones for women activism.   
The Worldwide Women's Action Network (W-WAN) is pleased to post related information, provided by Betsy Kawamura who is the founder of Women for Non Violence (www.w4nv.com) in Norway, for celebrating two big events in this fall: womens’ peace prize and the launch of W-WAN’s weblog. 

 Women's Peace Prize 

Saturday, December 10th the Nobel Peace Prize will be handed out in Oslo City Hall. At 5.30 p.m the same afternoon thousands of us will be gathered at Youngstorget to celebrate the laureates with appeals and cultural events before finally assembling to the traditional torchlight procession to the Grand Hotel. 

This year, FOKUS Forum for Women and Development will organize the march together with the Norwegian Peace Council, which is an umbrella organization for Norwegian peace organizations.
«We hope that Norwegian women can highlight their empowerment in a joint-tribute to these three wonderful laureates who strongly symbolize women as change-agents in countries of war and conflict,» says the CEO of FOKUS, Gro Lindstad. She also states that this year's award to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman is a great recognition of the important work being executed by women to create peace. The award sets off the importance of clarifying, implementing and strengthening United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325. 

After years of struggle and persistent advocacy by the international women's movement, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security in 2000. It was the first time in UN history that the Security Council adopted a resolution where women were recognized as active agents of change and not just victims of war and conflict. The goal of Resolution 1325 is to increase women's participation and influence in efforts to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts; to strengthen their protection and to safeguard their human rights in conflict and post-conflict situations. This resolution requires the full integration of women in peace processes through the inclusion of gender perspectives in peace-building work, before and post-conflict. 

«In many cases men negotiate the peace processes and establish the basis of institutional reconstruction in areas affected by war and conflict,» says Hedda Langemyr, director of the Norwegian Peace Council. Women have a very central position in civilian reconstruction work, but this is a task that is not credited in the same way, neither by the major stake-holders nor international donors. 

Langemyr claims that women must play a more central role both in diplomacy and in the structural arena of peace-building, in addition to promoting women’s civilian engagement. The Peace Prize revitalizes the hope that this is possible. 

Resolution 1325 is first and foremost civil society's profitable decree. Attitudes are formed and skills are most often developed and exchanged amongst grassroots women via their informal networks. The interaction between local women's groups and international organizations exemplified by FOKUS is a critical contribution. The international women's movement can draw knowledge, solidarity and resources, but the courageous women's work at local levels is even more critical to achieve peace. Resolution 1325 has aided in establishing some global norms on women’s rights and realizing peace agreements. Furthermore, it has recognized the special needs of men and women in peace and reconciliation processes, and their different perspectives and priorities. 

«There is still much work to be done in this field, but we see clear progress, » says Gro Lindstad. This year's Peace Prize is a gratifying example of how the world's most prestigious prize can help illuminate women's engagement internationally. The prize has consistently proven that without the participation of women, sustainable peace is difficult to create.

This year's laureates
All three Nobel Peace Prize winners have incorporated the spirit of UN Resolution 1325 in their work. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the first Head of State who actively used the resolution in rebuilding war-torn Liberia. Her administration has strengthened women's rights in all areas, including in legislation that protects women's dignity and clamps down on criminal activities that women are particularly vulnerable to. Johnson has also created a special unit police-force to investigate sexual violence after the civil war in her country. 

Grass-roots` activist Leymah Gbowee also from Liberia, mobilized women in the struggle against war and terrorism through effective non-violent action. The result was that Charles Taylor was summoned to the negotiation table and was subsequently forced to resign. Gbowee’s history of women's non-violent struggle and mobilization has been portrayed in the documentary film, "Pray the Devil Back to Hell", which has had great success globally. 

«This woman is a particularly good example of what non-violence, civil resistance and willingness to change lead to; and Gbowee is the candidate that most clearly fulfills the criteria that Nobel in his life-time wished to emphasize,» said Hedda Langemyr. 

Yemeni Tawakkul Karman, like Gbowee has mobilized women at the grass-roots` level. She founded the human rights group, Women Journalists without Chains in 2005 in Yemen. Women have played a key role in the revolt against President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his authoritarian regime. The Nobel Prize for Karman is an inspiration, mobilizing more women to take to the streets to protest. On October 26th this year, women burned their veils in protest against the brutal regime of President Saleh. 

Karman's goal is to create a non-violent revolution by popular resistance that has emerged in Egypt. Her clear, peaceful line encourages women to walk out into the streets to protest against the violent regime's abuses. 

«We are very pleased with this year's Peace Prize, » says Hedda Langemyr and Gro Lindstad. All three laureates have emphasized non-violent peace work, democracy, freedom of expression, and the importance of women's participation in their communities. The Prize is also an award to civil society's efforts and peace movements around the world. Many years have lapsed since the prize was awarded to individuals who have both represented Nobel's will and advocated on behalf of its principals. Langemyr and Lindstad conclude that this award therefore provides hope that future prizes will be given in a closer manner to the intentions of Alfred Nobel. 

*Translated by Kamila Wisz from Norwegian texts that can be found on Nye Meninger: http://www.nyemeninger.no/alle_meninger/cat1002/subcat1041/thread202524/#post_202524.

For your reference, please visit:

Posted by Shin YAMAAKI


The 1st National Exam for Certified Care Workers under EPA to be Held in Jan.2012.

     The Association of Japanese Language Education (AJLE) has a working group to support nurses and care workers who are candidates for certification in Japan under the Japan-Indonesia Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).   This article mainly focuses on the current situation of the candidates for care workers, as the examination system differs for nurses and care workers.

     The first group of care workers sent to Japan under the EPA for certification training arrived in the summer of 2008 and, after six months of education in the Japanese language, they are now being trained at social welfare institutions.  The candidates are required to have working experience in Japan of more than three years to be qualified to take the examination.  Since their stay in Japan is restricted to four years, they have only one chance to take the examination and obtain certification.  If they succeed, they can be employed in Japan as welfare professionals, but if not, they are forced to leave Japan.

     Nurses, on the other hand, are required to have nursing experience in their home countries and those who are qualified can take the national examination soon after they arrive in Japan.  Three examinations have already been given to those candidate nurses, but the ratio of successful applicants was as low as 1.2% in 2010, slightly increasing to 4% in 2011.  As a result, 60% of the candidates of the first year immediately went home.

In case of care workers, they receive the Japanese language program, but because the government of Japan limits its period to six months, they are required to work at hospitals and welfare facilities before they acquire sufficient Japanese language.  As a result, the candidates have great difficulty in communicating with patients, who tend to be overwhelmingly elderly and in getting accustomed to the frequent use of jargon and abbreviations used on the job.

That is the situation where the Indonesian candidates must take the national examination on an equal footing with the Japanese examinees.  And that is why we have been asking the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to use easier to understand Japanese expressions and vocabulary on the national examinations, taking into account their limitations of Japanese capability.  However, it is unlikely that they will change the level of the Japanese questions in the near term.
There was no prospect of our request having any positive effects until I had a chance to meet Professor UENO Chizuko in August at the conference of the European Association for Japanese Studies in Tallinn, Estonia.  She reminded me of the group Garuda Supporters (GS), an organization promoting exchanges between Indonesia and Japan, and thanks to the help of several people concerned, I was finally able to contact a person working at the secretariat of GS.  GS was also active in working with other support organizations to propose a fundamental change of the EPA system itself.

In order to somehow improve the situation in time for the upcoming examination in January, 2012, three groups, GS, Kansai Indonesia Friendship Association, and our AJLE working group offering Japanese language support for these workers, decided to issue an emergency proposal concerning the national examination to certify EPA care workers and nurses.

The proposal is composed of the three requests as follows: first, kana (phonetic symbols) should be printed alongside Chinese characters on written examinations; second, the time for examination should be extended; third, the EPA candidates should be examined separately in a different room from other examinees.

That is the minimum request.  This special assistance given to the non-Japanese examinees without the knowledge of Chinese characters should not be regarded as preferential treatment.  We should note the gap between the regular examinees using Japanese for more than twenty years and those who are learning Japanese for less than four years while acquiring knowledge and skills about care in the fields of a foreign country.

Recently, the EPA project for educating nurses and care workers has been extended to Vietnam, and is expected to attract more candidates to come to stay in Japan for education and training.  Yet if the situation in Japan as a recipient country for these health care workers stands as it does now, there will be more and more discouraged candidates.

The people of the host institutions appreciate the fact that the candidates, who tend to have been raised in extended families in Indonesia (and the Philippines as well) are very well accepted in their field because of their sincere care they provide their clients and patients.  The positive effect on these health care workers by the Japanese staff has also been observed in many cases, and yet, the candidates cannot live up to the expectations of their hosts as they fail in the national exam and go home.

Obviously the EPA related examination system has many inherent faults.  The system will be reexamined and things will be improved for future candidates, but something must be done immediately and continued support is required so that the existing 752 candidates for certified care workers and the 328 institutions receiving them for training can avoid unfortunate outcome despite their great efforts.

Original article by ENDO Orie
on the WAN website (November 9, 2011)

Translated and adapted from the WAN website by FUKUOKA.A.A.


What’s Going on in Schools and Homes and on Streets? ----3rd Symposium on Victims of Pornography and Human Rights of Women and Children

The Association for Victims of Pornography and Sexual Violence has been raising questions about Japan's social conditions where the violation fo sexual rights and the wide-spread of pornography do not receive enough attention.

This year we are organizing our 3rd symposium to consider the environment in which children are being raised as well as the sexual harassment and abuse in schools and local communities.

The symposium will be held in a large hall of Toui-kenpo Kaikan, Shinjuku, Tokyo,  between 13:30 and 17:00 on November 20, 2011.

For location see:

Speakers include KANEKO Yumi, a school nurse who is promoting sex education that focuses on the human rights implications of sex and gender, TACHIBANA Jun, an editor and writer who is active in collecting the voices of teenage girls who hang out aimlessly in Shibuya, and HAYAKAWA Satoshi, who is working in a foster home, supporting the children who have been sexually abused.  This symposium will provide a chance to both learn about those problems and discuss solutions to them.

Contact us:

Translated and Adapted from the WAN website by FUKUOKA A.A.


Sociologist Chizuko Ueno’s Online Seminars

Chizuko Ueno, an author of many well-known books, Japan’s foremost feminist, sociologist, and former professor of the Graduate School of the University of Tokyo, started seminars we can watch online.
Since she retired from the university, she has been active as the managing director of Women's Action Network (WAN).
Her current research interest is "how single men and women can live alone for a long time and die at home."
The first Ueno Seminar presented by WAN was held on August 5th.
Videos are accessible from here at http://wan.or.jp/ueno/?cat=11 (in Japanese only).

Written by Atsuko Ishikawa


Join Us! - Women's Organization against Nuclear Power

We launched Women's Organization against Nuclear Power. (You can find the list of who "we" are in the original website but it's only available in Japanese.) The kick-off meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. on November 23rd in Tokyo .

The Fukushima nuclear power plants’ accident teaches us that human beings cannot control nuclear power plants. Operating power plants in Japan, the earthquake-prone archipelago, is extremely risky and we don't have any solutions to the disposal of radioactive waste. Now is the time to change Japan's energy policy, where nuclear power generation has been promoted. Let’s realize denuclearization.

Now is the critical moment. Fellow women, let's cooperate.

Support Women's Organization against Nuclear Power!

The Japanese flyer is here.

  • If you support us, fax or e-mail us.
  • You can also become a supporter from our website.
  • Please make a donation through bank transfer if possible.
  •  The units of donation are 1,000 yen.  
  • We are going to use your contribution for the activities and administration of the organization.

Thank you.

TEL: 03-6550-1111

FAX: 03-6551-1111

e-mail datsugenfem@gmail.com

Please use the following application form to support the organization.

 -------------------- Application Form --------------------

I Support the Women's Organization Against Nuclear Power.
Your Organization or Title (Optional):
Can we reveal your name? Yes or No

The Amount of Contribution (Optional) 
  • The Number of Units:
  •  ______________ yen

Original article on the WAN website.

Translated and adapted by Atsuko Ishikawa