Forgive my inactivity on this forum for some time.
Lately, I've been reading a book, "Fathers' Rights" by U.S. fathers' rights attorney Jeffery M. Leving. There is an important chapter in this book called "An Honorable Peace" that mentions the value of mediation and the role it plays in divorce and custody litigation.
In this chapter, favorable mention is made of the mediation system in Japan, although the mention was brief. It'd be interesting to hear the opinions of others on this text, positive or negative:
Mediation has a long and honorable history. The Beth Din, a Jewish mediation council, is thousands of years old. In China and Japan, the mediation process is the cornerstone of their entire legal systems. Restoration of "peace and tranquility" is the goal of Japan's mediation-based judiciary. A quest for harmony is a Japanese court's primary function - not the deliverance of retribution. (Interestingly, Japan has one lawyer for every twelve thousand citiziens. In the United States there is a lawyer from every six hundred people.)
It is surprising how favorable the author's comments are about Japan's judicial system. If he had visited this site, or took a look at the divorce statistics, or observed the Japanese laws forbidding joint custody, he might have written differently.
However, I do agree with him about the value of mediation. If at all possible, it seems more effective to agree on things in family court rather than to take them to district court or high court in Japan. And in some cases, the father in Japan simply has no real clout or leverage to restore a meaningful relationship with his children. Family court will render a decision, but the decision will likely be visitation rights once per month. It would seem much better for the children for the father and mother to discuss and mediate their dispute until a fair agreement is resolved. Regrettably, however, the very lack of lawyers and the slowness of the family court process means that the mediation process could take a long time.
I'm not all the way through the book yet, but this chapter in particular came to my attention. The validity of the above text on Japan aside, reading this text has helped me feel a little more confidence and a little more relaxed about the tension I currently feel, of not being able to my kids but once per week for three hours... and not at all on the weeks that my wife deems fit. It'd be enlightening to hear how other mothers and fathers who have been through Japanese family court feel about the mediation issue.