Australian journalist freed in Japan after arrest for trying to see his children

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Scott McIntyre speaks outside courtImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Scott McIntyre spent more than a month in jail before the case went to trial

An Australian journalist living in Japan has been given a suspended sentence on charges of trespassing at the home of his estranged in-laws while searching for his children.

Scott McIntyre says he has not seen his children since May, when his relationship broke down.

He spent more than a month in jail before the case went to trial.

It is the latest case to highlight Japan's lack of joint custody laws, rare among developed countries.

What was the case about?

Mr McIntyre - a former football journalist for Australia's SBS network - was arrested in November, a month after allegedly entering the common area of the apartment building where his in-laws live.

He has apologised for his actions but said he just wanted to check his children were safe after Typhoon Hagibis hit Japan the month before.

Mr McIntyre has accused his wife of abducting their two children - now aged 11 and eight - in May and severing contact. His former partner has accused him of violence, which he denies.

He said he was kept in a cell with the lights on and was only allowed to bathe infrequently.

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"This penalty should not be taken lightly," presiding judge Yuichi Tada said, handing down the six-month prison sentence, suspended for three years.

"However, the area [Mr McIntyre gained access to] was a common area and he did not use force. He has no criminal record and promised this court that he would not do it again."

Speaking outside court, Mr McIntyre said: "All I and other parents want is for Japan to join the civilised world and institute a system of joint custody."

"I am here on behalf of all those abducted children who don't have a voice. This is not a way for a modern society to operate. Children deserve two parents."