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Table Tennis icons Ai Fukuhara and Chiang Hung-chieh in international custody dispute

Ai Fukuhara, Japan’s table tennis star, and her ex-husband, Taiwanese player Chiang Hung-chieh, are embroiled in a heated child custody dispute following Fukuhara’s alleged breach of their joint custody agreement, highlighting stark differences in international custody laws.



TAIWAN: Former table tennis champions Ai Fukuhara of Japan and Chiang Hung-chieh of Taiwan find themselves embroiled in a child custody dispute. The contention arose after the 2021 divorce of the couple who had agreed to share custody of their two children.

However, Fukuhara allegedly violated the agreement by refusing to return their younger son from Japan to Taiwan.

The children had been living with Chiang until last summer when the younger child traveled to Japan with Fukuhara for a summer visit. Yet, upon the end of the visit, Fukuhara cut off contact with her ex-husband and did not return the son to Taiwan.

Custody laws in Japan, unlike many other countries, do not allow for dual custody after divorce. This has escalated international disputes, particularly with foreign spouses, some of whom have accused Japanese partners of child abduction.

In a bid to resolve the dispute, Chiang’s Japanese lawyer, Aiko Ohbuchi, noted that a court ruling on July 20 ordered Fukuhara to return their son to Taiwan immediately.

“The next day, Chiang’s side asked the court to enforce the order,” she said. Despite the ongoing legal procedures, Chiang expressed concern over the potential emotional impact on their son, saying, “I hope Fukuhara would hand over their son, out of worry that such a process may hurt the boy’s feelings.”

The situation is alarming as Fukuhara and the son’s current location are unknown. Ohbuchi stated that if Fukuhara continues to disregard the court orders, “Chiang’s side may eventually have to consider filing a criminal complaint accusing Fukuhara of child abduction.”

On the other hand, Fukuhara’s legal team issued a statement on social media on Wednesday, urging Chiang not to reveal the details of their disputes as the case in Taiwan is still pending.

Chiang voiced his desire to maintain relations with his children and further consider the situation. “My son and daughter only have one mother, so I would like to maintain relations and further consider the situation. I wish that Ms Fukuhara would please peacefully hand over my child to me,” Chiang said.

The unfolding drama sheds a dark light on Fukuhara’s illustrious career, which includes a silver medal win at the 2012 London Olympics and a bronze at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016, as well as a silver at the 2016 World Championships. She was also ranked among the world’s top-10 players at her prime.

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