Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"Ghost Citizen" and the Koseki System

"A 27-year-old woman who was left with no family register records because her birth registration was refused in connection with a law on children born within 300 days of a divorce is pregnant and expecting a child in June, it has been learned.

"By law, birth registrations must list the mother's permanent domicile. Authorities in Hyogo Prefecture, where the woman lives, say that without the woman's family register records, registration of her child's birth would not be possible.

"As a result, it is likely the woman's child will also be left without family register records, preventing the child from receiving various government services. It is the first reported case in which a person without family register records is due to give birth.

"The 27-year-old woman's mother, who is in her 50s, divorced her former husband due to violence and other reasons. Seventy-three days afterwards, she gave birth to her daughter in a relationship with her new husband. However, she was unable to register her child as the daughter of her new husband due to a law stating that children born within 300 days of a divorce are regarded as the offspring of the former husband.

"Due to the difficulty of having the legal stipulations overturned and because she didn't want her former husband to know where she lived, it was difficult for her to file a lawsuit involving her former husband to have her new husband recognized as the father. Her daughter was left without family register records as a result, and was only able to attend elementary school for four years. She was also unable to receive medical services and could not vote.

"In the summer of last year, the 27-year-old woman wed her husband in a ceremony, but was unable to register the marriage because she had no family register records. It emerged last autumn that she was pregnant and was due to give birth in mid-June.

"Worried about the future of her child, the woman visited local authorities this month and discussed her situation, but she was told that the birth could not be registered without her family register records.

""I don't want my child to endure the hardships I've gone through," the 27-year-old said.

"Justice Ministry officials said the situation was unheard of.

""We have never heard of a case of a person without family register records giving birth. We want to consider what to do in the future," a ministry official said."

By Mainichi Shimbun (5/20/2008), Link to article (last visited 5/21/2008)

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