Ai Fukuhara and Jiang Hongjie Custody Battle, Two-time Olympic table tennis medalist, Ai Fukuhara, 34, and her former husband, former Taiwanese table tennis teammate Jiang Hongjie, 34, are in a conflict over the custody of their eldest son. This issue has garnered significant attention in Taiwan and China.
Jiang’s approval rating reached 92% in a poll conducted by the Taiwanese daily newspaper “China Times” on the 28th, a day after Jiang’s emergency press conference. On the other hand, Mr. Fukuhara, who is highly popular in China, has received a flood of comments supporting him on his Chinese Twitter account, “Weibo.” There are also differences in how the two countries are facing the political tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
Table of Contents
“A Possibility of Falling into the Fire of Purification”
The Conflicting Custody Dispute
The marsh conflict with Fukuhara, which was revealed at an emergency press conference where Jiang, her former husband, cried, “I want my eldest son back,” has captured a lot of attention in Taiwan and China. Additionally, there is political tension in the Taiwan Strait, creating a contrasting situation where Taiwan supports the former representative Jiang and China supports Fukuhara, who holds high popularity in the country.
Shortly after Jiang’s press conference concluded, the Taiwanese daily newspaper “China Times” conducted a poll titled “Which Side Do You Support?” on their official YouTube channel. On May 28th, 92% of 6,736 respondents supported Mr. Jiang. Some reader comments responding to the survey emphasized their neutrality, saying,
“I think this is unnecessary involvement,” and, “This is a family matter, not our issue.” But the majority criticized Fukuhara, accusing her of kidnapping her eldest son. “It’s surprising that 8% of people support a former cheating wife.”
Fukuhara, who has participated in four consecutive Olympics, won a silver medal in the women’s team event at the 2012 London Olympics and a bronze medal in the same event at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In the same month of September, she married Jiang, who participated in the Rio Olympics, and gave birth to their eldest daughter in October 2017 and their son in April 2019.
Afterwards, while Jiang’s accusations of moral misconduct and Fukuhara’s allegations of adultery were reported in some regions, their divorce was established in July 2021. Both Mr. Jiang and Mr. Fukuhara have joint custody of the children, and their eldest daughter and son live with Mr. Jiang in Taiwan.
However, in July of the previous year, when Fukuhara visited Taiwan for an exchange visit, she returned to Japan with only her eldest son. In a process that could not reunite them until now, Ms. Fukuhara applied to a Japanese court in August for detention orders, and Mr. Jiang also petitioned the Tokyo Family Court in October to hand over their eldest son.
On the 20th of this month, Mr. Jiang’s petition was granted, and at the same time, a preservation order was issued instructing Mr. Fukuhara to immediately hand over their eldest son.
However, since Mr. Fukuhara did not communicate with Mr. Jiang to agree to the handover, Mr. Jiang petitioned for mandatory execution on the following day, the 21st.
The largest daily newspaper in Taiwan, Liberty Times, emphasized that Mr. Jiang could file a lawsuit for kidnapping a minor as a last resort. Quoting reports in Japan, he mentioned that Mr. Fukuhara’s future “might fall into the fire of purification.”
The fire of purification is said to be located between Heaven and Hell, a world where people are burned to atone for their sins during their lifetime and suffer.
Public Reaction and Media Coverage
“Japanese media have taken the voice of a television station official indicating that ‘even if Ms. Fukuhara denies it, if she’s suspected of committing a crime in the future, the TV station will cease using her.’ As a former medalist, it becomes extremely difficult to engage in various activities, and even if she wants to move to China, which is still popular, that country maintains strict control over well-known athletes and artists.
In essence, it can never be underestimated, and as a result of this ongoing situation, it continues to significantly impact careers in Japan and China; they might face the fire of purification, or in short, the danger of collapse.”
The 24-hour news channel, Sanli Newspaper, introduced public opinions in Taiwan, where Mr. Jiang is strongly supported, and continued as follows:
“Weibo is the only one supporting Ai Fukuhara.”
Fukuhara has an account on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. Statements and her own comments about this incident were posted. Specifically, in her comments following her press conference, she said, “I will never allow anyone to openly discuss the responsibility of a mother who protects and loves her children.”
Fukuhara’s Twitter account received many supportive tweets.
“Jiang Hongjie not only lacks table tennis skills, but in the current situation, he can’t even control his ex-wife. I think he’s a very regrettable man.”
“Ai-chan, don’t hand over your child to him. If you do, you won’t be able to see your child for the rest of your life.”
It’s clear that Ai’s violence led Ai to decide to divorce.”
Based on this situation, Sohu Newspaper, a leading Chinese news site, shows what Fukuhara and Mr. Jiang lack. It published an article condemning Mr. Jiang.
“This incident has caused a lot of damage to both of them, and Ai Fukuhara, in particular, received a lot of criticism from the public. However, since they’ve already divorced, people around them have become calm, and the issue of custody is legitimate. Mr. Fukuhara still has many fans, so Mr. Jiang flew directly to Japan to hold a press conference to gain sympathy and understanding.
Unlike Mr. Fukuhara, whose income far exceeds her former husband’s, Mr. Jiang has lost the aura of the period when he was supported by his ex-wife, and now he’s in a declining trend. Mr. Jiang used to be a wealthy tree, but unfortunately, he has become a completely different person.”
Partly due to his affiliation with the Guangdong Province, Fukuhara is still very popular in China. When news of her divorce came out last spring, the majority of voices supported Fukuhara. It’s undeniable that this situation, combined with anti-Taiwan sentiment in Japan, intensifies the attack on Mr. Jiang.
The “Marsh Struggle” is perceived very differently in Taiwan and China. What kind of ending will we achieve?”