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Thursday, Sept. 5, 2002


Divorce issues, cheap traveling and getting ADSL

Divorce issues

Dear Lifelines, My wife and I have been separated for three years. I do not see any hope for our marriage and feel we need to get a divorce. I have two children. What should I do? -- Tony in Chiba

Dear Tony; For whatever reason, there is a rise in divorce here in Japan involving Japanese and non-Japanese. We at The Japan Helpline are swamped with similar calls. The reasons for the rise are complex, but involve a number of factors, including the dramatic rise in people coming to Japan, particularly during the bubble years. In addition, large number of Japanese are going overseas.

Divorce in Japan is surprisingly simple. All you need to do to get divorced is for both parties to sign a divorce form, which you can obtain from your local city office. If there are no disputes involved it is as simple as that.

If there are areas of dispute, it becomes much more complicated, however. In this case your case will go before a family court, in which the court appointed arbiters will do all they can to persuade both parties that they should not divorce. Usually there will be from three to six meetings mandated by the family court to try and iron out the differences. If this fails then it will shift to putting together an agreement.

Where much of the problems develop is in the areas of support and custody. Traditionally in Japan, divorce has been final and the parties have separated, never having contact again. They began new lives, the mother almost always got the children and life went on.

The concept of visitation, child support and other payments was almost non-existent. If you can't work out the situation amicably with your wife, you need to get a lawyer to help you handle the paperwork and contacts with the family court.

It is critical that you move as soon as possible, as traditionally the Japanese in the dispute, and usually the woman, has the edge on custody for the children and visitation rights are very limited.

If any readers have had a similar experience, have some advice or know someone who does, please let us know.

Cheap trip

Dear Lifelines; My fiance and I were planning to go to Japan. Do you have information on inexpensive places to stay in Japan? We found one at www.kimiwillbe.com -- Theo on the moon

Dear Theo on the Moon; A good question -- particularly for our many readers outside of Japan. In spite of what you have heard over the years, Japan is not the expensive place it once was. One of the benefits of the fall of the bubble economy has been the dramatic drop in the cost of everything from property to lunch.

First, the cost of travel to Japan has fallen dramatically. You should be able to get an inexpensive ticket to Japan from any major travel agency.

Second, travel within Japan is incredibly cheap due to a system called Japan Rail Pass, which lets you travel anywhere in Japan on the JR rail system for a set price, and that includes the Shinkansen.

Third, there are a number of inexpensive places to stay, beginning with youth hostels. The Japan Youth Hostel Association is at www.jyh.or.jp

That is the cheapest way to stay if you don't care about your privacy. When I have traveled, I have taken along the Japanese Inn Group guidebook and been surprised to find a great place to stay in just about every part of Japan.

What's more, you can even use your credit card, which is no small matter when you are in the middle of nowhere in Japan. Check out www.members.aol.com/jinngroup/

ADSL in Japan

Dear Lifelines; I want to sign up for DSL in Japan and find out information about getting online. Can you give me some basic information? -- Bantas in Japan

Dear Bantas; You sure picked a good time. DSL otherwise known as ADSL is taking Japan by storm.

It is amazingly fast and, as you are always connected, there is no per minute charge, which always made getting online so expensive.

It is very quick. You just sign up and either buy or rent a simple modem. This is connected to the telephone line and then to your computer and you have unlimited access to high speed Internet service for a paltry monthly charge of only 2,000 yen per month.

Check it out at www.gol.com. NTT offers similar services.

If you have a PDA or Palm Pilot there is a wonderful new service that gives you unlimited, yep, unlimited online access with a PDA.

It is hard to believe but for about 7,000 yen a month you can have it. It is through KDDI at www.kddi.com and available at any DDI/KDDI dealers.

I have been using it for some time and it is absolutely wonderful -- unlimited and portable.

Ken Joseph Jr. is the director of The Japan Helpline ( www.jhelp.com)

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