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International News Archive
October 01 - October 06, 2001


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This page contains news for the period October  01 through October 06, 2001.



<<   October 2001  >>

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Friday, October 5, 2001

Japan’s market economy affecting marriage plans

A story released today by Reuters reports that in Japan, Cupid’s powerful love arrows is facing a formidable opponent - the nation's battered economy.

Some 55.5% of the 200 men and 47% of the 200 women between the ages of 25 and 34 who took part in the poll said economic concerns would make people postpone tying the knot.

Asked how the poor economy had affected their thinking with regard to marriage plans, 55% of the men said they had become more worried about their earning power and 48.5% said they were concerned about making financial plans for the future.

Among women, 50% said the recession had made them interested in their partner's earning potential, while 48% said they were concerned about their partner's ability to make financial plans.

But, the survey found love won out in at least some cases.

Some 13.5% of men and 19% of women said the poor state of the economy may encourage people to get married earlier than planned.

Scottish lawmakers expands domestic abuse bill

A story published today by the Daily Record (London) reports that members of the Scotland Parliament (MSP) yesterday backed a new bill to protect the victims of domestic abuse.

The Protection of Abuse (Scotland) Bill will give legal protection to divorcees, same-sex cohabitants, family members and even neighbours from abusive partners or relatives.

Until now court orders banning ex-partners were normally only granted to ex-spouses.

The Bill, which was introduced by the Parliament's Justice Committee, had the overwhelming support of MSPs from all parties.

Justice Minister Jim Wallace, told MSPs: "Domestic abuse has for a long time been a blot on our national life.

"Protecting the vulnerable is one of the most important duties of any civilization and we fully expect that this Bill will provide a significant additional shield for them."

Thursday, October 4, 2001

British dads are becoming more involved with their kids

A story released today by the BBC News reports that according to a survey carried out by NOP Research Group, British dads are spending more and more time with their children and becoming more involved in their education.

The survey - of 1,287 fathers aged over 16 also showed that although they are working harder than ever, 63% of fathers (aged between 25 and 45) questioned said they still picked up their children from school. And 68% of fathers in the same age group say they read to their children more than their fathers did.

The study also suggest that dads are becoming more demonstrative.

Almost half of the surveyed said they were more affectionate to their children than their own fathers were to them. Just one per cent of those questioned said they were less affectionate than their own fathers had been.

Dr. Alessandra Lemma, NHS consultant clinical psychologist and honorary senior lecturer at University College London believes men now want to be more involved in family life.

"Trends suggest that when it comes to childcare, fathers are more present figures. For example, there have been gradual, but consistent changes, in the degree to which fathers have been willing to be involved in the period after childbirth, including a willingness to get up at night and change nappies." said Dr. Lemma.

Dr. Lemma says men are increasingly demanding family-friendly work polices.

"They seek work environments where it is possible to 'phone in and say you will be late for work because your child needs you at home. Environments where such a request is validated as a sign of being more of a man than the one who ignores his child's needs and views them as the preserve of the mother," she said.

Despite the signs of the emergence of a "new dad", fathers themselves say they would very much like to spend more time with their children.

Tuesday, October 2, 2001

In Japan, splitting means saying goodbye to your children forever

A story published in the Los Angeles Times reports that in Japan, splitting up often means saying goodbye to children forever. There is no such thing as joint custody, and in the few cases where courts grant visitation, there is no enforcement. Most divorces occur with both parties simply signing a one-page "consent" form that requires only the most basic information. No need for a lawyer. Stamp it with your hanko name seal and it's done.

"It's the Japanese general understanding that if they divorce, the noncustodial parent won't be able to see the kid again," says Tokyo divorce lawyer Hiroshi Shibuya, who handles some of the rare cases that are contested. "It's as if the child loses a parent in an accident, as if that parent just dies."

Custom--and usually the custodial parent--dictates the arrangements after a husband and wife with children part ways.

Family counselor Hiromi Ikeuchi, 39, who runs a "divorce school" in Tokyo to advise couples thinking of separating, has both professional and personal experience. She divorced seven years ago; her daughter, now 13, hasn't seen her father since.

Ikeuchi takes colorful magnets the shape of buttons and maneuvers them around a board in her office to illustrate the male-dominated lineage system--known as ie--that underlies family matters here.

One of the magnets represents the mother's family, another the father's. If a child is close to the mother--viewed as an outsider by the father's family--the child goes with the mother and, from the paternal family's perspective, they're both out of the picture. Often children's names are removed from the father's registry, changed to the mother's maiden name and entered into her family registry. Such documents, kept in city halls, track family ties in Japan.

Although official adherence to the ie system ended after World War II, it's still very much a part of the Japanese psyche, Ikeuchi says. A woman can keep her maiden name after marriage only if her husband agrees to take it as well.

"Japanese people have the idea that marriage is between family and family, so it's difficult to think of divorce as a matter of individuals," Ikeuchi says.

Although divorce is on the rise in Japan--in 2000 there were about 264,000 divorces in this country of 127 million people--it is still generally considered taboo. Instead, alienation within marriages is common, and estranged couples often lead separate lives.

These days, in 80% of divorces, mothers take the children. But with little if any child support, most women wind up moving in with their parents, who take them, in part, to preserve their own family lines, Ikeuchi says.

Ikeuchi believes that it's healthy for a child to see the other parent if the child wants to, but she says most children apparently refrain from asking because they sense that the custodial parent doesn't want to make contact.

"I always get depressed, and I start hating Japanese people when I talk about this issue," Ikeuchi says. "Japanese people are just too immature to be reasonable enough to make the opportunity for visitation."


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