It is my 40th birthday today. I was aged 30 the day that you were born in late 2008. I have tried to “involve” you in my day today: the first thing that I did today was to once again visit the spot at Heathrow Airport where I last saw you. After that I took the train to Paddington from where I walked to the nearby Regent’s Park. This is one of my favourite places in London and I remember being taken there by my own parents when I was a similar age to you. I have now come into work for a few hours but plan to leave early to visit the National Portrait Gallery, Westminster Cathedral and the theatre later today. Below are some photographs that I took of the Park.
A reader writes: “I live in Japan with my son. His father left us nine years ago. After a couple of months, he contacted me, though he has never contacted us since then. I have never heard any news from him. I tried also to send a letter to his parents with a picture of my son attached, but I received no reply from them. I’m so desperate to know what happened to him and even whether he is still alive or not.”
There are several ways for the reader to find her husband if she consults with a lawyer. The usual way of tracing someone’s address is to ask a lawyer to obtain their family registry (koseki-tohon) or certificate of residence (juuminhyō) from their local municipal office. Attorneys are allowed to obtain someone’s koseki-tohon or juuminhyō without the permission of that person, as long as it is deemed necessary for a case.
If the reader knows the address of where she and her husband used to live or his parents live, a lawyer can trace her husband’s present address by obtaining his koseki-tohon and juuminhyō. However, it is essential that the reader knows the kanji of her husband’s or husband’s parents’ names in order to obtain those documents. Sometimes, the fact that non-Japanese spouses do not know the kanji of their spouse’s name can stop a case moving forward.
To avoid this kind of situation, non-Japanese spouses are advised to copy the koseki-tohon or take a picture of it when they marry a Japanese national.
Once the lawyer has traced her husband’s address, the lawyer can contact and negotiate with him over the terms of the divorce, presuming that is what she wants. If he does not reply to the lawyer, she can sue him for divorce on the grounds of abandonment. If he is not living in Japan, she can still sue him at Japanese family court for divorce on the same grounds.
However, even if the husband’s address can be traced, it may be that the husband no longer lives in that place and neglected to change his address on his juuminhyō, for whatever reason.
In this kind of case, due to the possibility that he might be missing or has passed away, the wife can seek a different remedy through the courts: She can file a petition called an Adjudication of Disappearance arguing that her husband has been missing for more than seven years. If the petition is granted, her husband would be regarded as being deceased from the point seven years after the last communication with her.
Again, it’s important to stress that although the family registry and certificate of residency come in very useful when you want to trace a Japanese person’s address, a foreign spouse must know the exact kanji of their partner’s name.
Otherwise, the case risks being stuck in limbo.
Seiji Yamaura is an attorney with the Foreign nationals and International Service Section at Tokyo Public Law Office, which handles a wide range of cases involving non-Japanese in the Tokyo area (03-5979-2880; www.t-pblo.jp/fiss) FISS lawyers address readers’ queries once a month. Your questions and other comments: email@example.com
I participated in the above last week Monday; below is the team photograph followed by some photos taken by me along the route through the West End and Green and Hyde Parks. We were also amongst those featured in the Law Society Gazette.
Are you a cat person? If so, Japan is the place to be on 22 February because this is when Cat Day is celebrated.
Now in its 30th year, Cat Day has lit up Japanese social media with endless portraits of …cats as well as cat-themed doughnuts, cat-shaped biscuits, cat manga, cats staring soulfully out of windows, kittens mewing expectantly and so on. On this day it is Japan’s hugest trend on social media.
What happens on Cat Day?
Known as “Neko no Hi”, it was chosen because the date’s numerals, 2/22 (ni ni ni), are pronounced fairly closely to the sound a cat makes in Japan (nyan nyan nyan).
You can play tricks on your cat
You can dress up as a cat
Enthusiasts of cosplay, the art of dressing up like animated characters, posted pictures of themselves dressed as cats, or wearing “nekomimi” (cat’s ears).
You can make food look like cats
You can monetise cats
Over the years the day has become a commercial success, with shops and businesses releasing cat-themed items.
Disney in Japan declared the day to be “Marie Day,” after the young female character from the Aristocats, while newspaper Asahi Shimbun marked the occasion with a special report from one of Japan’s cat cafes, where you can sit for an hour or two in the company of numerous pampered and purring moggies.
How did it start?
The event began in 1987 after an Executive Cat Day Committee polled cat-lovers across Japan and decided that February 22 should be Cat Day.
Other countries also have days to celebrate cats, but few marked with as much enthusiasm as Japan’s.
Some of Japan’s celebrity cats
A cat called Tama made headlines after becoming honorary stationmaster of a train station in Wakayama prefecture. Wearing a special cat-sized stationmaster’s hat, she was a popular tourist attraction until her death in June 2015.
Tama was duly inducted into a hall of fame for the station’s train line in February 2016.
Meanwhile, a cat called Maru became an internet sensation with a series of YouTube videos. The videos have had huge viewing figures since 2008, with one early film gaining 21.7 million views.
And then there’s Nyancat – the internet meme which features a flying cartoon cat, creating an infinite rainbow through space, set to the sound of Hatsune Miku, a “vocaloid” human-sounding synthesiser.
This is probably the day to clear up a common misconception about the global phenomenon that is Hello Kitty – the white cat without a mouth first unveiled by Japanese company Sanrio in the 1970s. Not a cat, but a girl and actually British to boot.
But what if you’re not a cat person?
Fret not. This day, 22 February, is also Ninja Day in Japan (another play on ‘two’ being pronounced as ‘ni’).
Koka city in Shiga prefecture is one of the better known places to celebrate this occasion, with town hall staff dressing as elusive assassins for the day.
Reporting by Jordan Allen, a freelance journalist in Tokyo.