Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 94 Annual Top Ten: “Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015”, Jan. 3, 2016

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest Just Be Cause column 94 for the Japan Times Community Page:

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 3, 2016

2015 was another year of a few steps forward but many steps back in terms of human rights in Japan. The progressive grass roots consolidated their base and found more of a voice in public, while conservatives at the top pressed on with their agenda of turning the clock back to a past they continue to misrepresent. Here are the top 10 human rights issues of the year as they affected non-Japanese residents:

10) NHK ruling swats ‘flyjin’ myth

In November, the Tokyo District Court ordered NHK to pay ¥5.14 million to staffer Emmanuelle Bodin, voiding the public broadcaster’s decision to terminate her contract for fleeing Japan in March 2011. The court stated: “Given the circumstances under which the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima No. 1 plant’s nuclear accident took place, it is absolutely impossible to criticize as irresponsible her decision to evacuate abroad to protect her life,” and that NHK “cannot contractually obligate people to show such excessive allegiance” to the company.

This ruling legally reaffirmed the right of employees to flee if they feel the need to protect themselves. So much for the “flyjin” myth and all the opprobrium heaped upon non-Japanese specifically for allegedly deserting their posts…

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/01/03/issues/battles-history-media-message-scar-2015/

Paul Toland Case Update: Japan as a “black hole” for parental child abductions — Family Court lawsuit & press conference to raise awareness of issue

mytest

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Hi Blog. One longstanding case that Debito.org has been following, among others, has been the Paul Toland Case, where his Japanese wife abducted their child aged 9 months, then committed suicide four years later, whereupon the grandmother claimed custody and cut off access with the child’s only remaining parent. More details below.

Godspeed to a satisfactory resolution, Paul. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

///////////////////////////////////////////////////

Custody case a test for Japan, says U.S. father seeking access to girl held by grandmother
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, STAFF WRITER
The Japan Times, OCT 26, 2015

A U.S. man seeking access to his daughter said Monday that the case is an opportunity for Japan to prove to the world it no longer tolerates parental child abduction.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Paul Toland is suing the mother of his Japanese ex-wife for denying access to his 13-year-old daughter.

His former wife left with the child in 2003, at the age of 9 months, after their marriage failed. The woman committed suicide four years later.

Toland said his situation would amount to a “felony crime” in other countries with up-to-date family laws.

“In Japan, this abduction by a nonparent is not only accepted, but it is condoned. I’m the only parent in the world to (my daughter),” Toland said, who is in Japan for the first time since the trial at the Tokyo Family Court kicked off in July.

Toland said if the case is resolved it would demonstrate to the world that Japan is turning over a new leaf after years of notoriety as a “safe haven” for parental child abduction. If his daughter is not returned to him, he said, it will only alienate the nation further.

Japan joined The Hague Convention on cross-border parental child kidnapping in 2014. The pact does not apply in Toland’s case because the abduction was within Japan — Toland’s family was based in Yokohama at the time. In addition to this, the convention cannot be applied retroactively.

“How can we expect Japan to ever resolve more complicated divorce, child custody issues if it cannot even resolve this very straightforward case, which does not involve divorce and where one parent is deceased and the nonparent is withholding a child above the parent who wants to care for her?” he said.

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/26/national/crime-legal/custody-case-test-japan-says-u-s-father-seeking-access-girl-held-grandmother/

/////////////////////////////////////////////

U.S. father calls for return of his daughter at Japan family court
By May Masangkay
TOKYO, Oct. 26, Kyodo News, courtesy of TK
https://english.kyodonews.jp/photos/2015/10/381123.html

The American father of a 13-year-old daughter urged at a Japanese family court on Monday to give him back custody of his daughter, who is now under the custody of her grandmother following the death of his former Japanese wife in 2007.

“If Japan rules as it should in favor of my daughter’s right to know and love her father, then it will truly be a threshold step for Japan, and Japan will be closer to joining the rest of the international community as a nation that respects the basic fundamental bond between a parent and a child,” Capt. Paul Toland of the U.S. Navy told a press conference in Tokyo.

Ruling against his claim will “truly alienate Japan from rest of the international community” and “show that Japan is simply out of touch with the rest of the world in their lack of understanding for basic fundamental parent rights,” said the 48-year-old father based in Hawaii.

Toland is in Japan to appear for the first time in the Tokyo Family Court to appeal his case, which is not a cross-border dispute, in not seeing his daughter for years.

He urged the Japanese court to make the right decision to return the child to him since he is the sole living parent since his wife died. Toland has since remarried and wants to take his daughter to Hawaii.

At the family court, the mother of his former wife has disputed Toland’s appeal. The father lodged a lawsuit with the court in July.

Toland’s lawyer Akira Ueno, who was present at the same press conference, said his client received in writing from the grandmother’s side that the daughter “does not want to see” her father.

Ueno said the grandmother’s side claims that things are fine the way it is now, as the girl goes to school and is engaged in club activities, an argument which the lawyer says is not acceptable.

As his case is not a cross-border dispute, Toland cannot seek the return of his daughter under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which took effect in Japan in April last year. The treaty is designed to help settle cross-border child custody disputes due to failed marriages.

The pact is also not retroactive, only dealing with cases occurring after its entry into force.

With Japan joining the pact and many Japanese politicians becoming vocal about changing Japan’s response to parental child abductions, Toland said he sees “some hope for change in Japan.” Before Tokyo acceded to the treaty, the country had been accused of being a “safe haven” for international child abductions.

His daughter was 9 months old when his wife left him in 2003 before proceedings for a divorce concluded and custody was given to the wife.

Toland has been asking to see and live with his daughter, but his request for access or visitation through government channels, in line with the Hague pact, has been rejected by the grandmother’s side. Since 2003, he has seen his daughter only several times.

Even in cases occurring before the Hague treaty took effect in a country concerned, parents can seek assistance for visitations under the pact.
ENDS
////////////////////////////////////////////////

「日本はブラックホールのような国」米国男性が裁判で「連れ去られた娘を返せ」と主張
弁護士ドットコム 10月26日(月)20時31分配信, courtesy of CS
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20151026-00003861-bengocom-soci

「日本はブラックホールのような国」米国男性が裁判で「連れ去られた娘を返せ」と主張
記者会見したポール・トーランドさん(中央)と代理人の弁護士たち
米海軍大佐でハワイ在住のポール・トーランドさんが、日本人女性との間に生まれた娘(13)の引き渡しを求めて、娘の後見人となっている母方の祖母を訴えた裁判が、東京地裁で進行している。裁判に出席したトーランドさんらが10月26日、東京の司法記者クラブで会見し、「娘は、唯一の親である私と一緒に暮らすべきだ」と訴えた。

トーランドさんによると、米国に在住していた1995年、日本人の女性と結婚。二人は1999年に来日し、2002年に娘が誕生したが、しだいに夫婦関係がうまくいかなくなり、2003年7月に母親が生後9カ月の娘を連れて、横浜の家を出ていってしまったという。

母親とは2006年に離婚が成立。離婚協議で、娘の監護をするのは母親と決まった。しかし、その母親が2007年10月に自殺してしまったという。トーランドさんは娘を引き取ろうとしたが、娘と一緒に住んでいた祖母に拒まれた、と主張している。

離ればなれになって以降、トーランドさんはたった2回しか娘と会えていない。なお、2008年8月からは、祖母が娘の未成年後見人をつとめているが、後見申立をすることなどについて、トーランドさんは事前に全く知らされていなかったのだという。

●「ハッピーバースデーと言う機会も奪われた」

トーランドさんは会見で、「私はこの世でたった一人の親なのに、娘が健康なのか、安全に暮らしているのかも、全く知らされていない。どこの学校に通学しているのかも知らないし、写真の一枚ももらえない。一緒に公園で散歩をしたこともないし、『ハッピーバースデー』と言う機会も奪われた」と、12年間もの間、娘と会えずにいる悔しさを口にした。

そして、「片方の親が勝手に子どもを連れ去ることは、先進国なら普通は誘拐となり、許されない重罪となるはずだ」と主張。子どもの連れ去りをめぐる日本のルールや運用が、国際的に見るとおかしいものだと訴えた。

トーランドさんは現在、26年間勤めている海軍でのキャリアの集大成として、ハワイ・ホノルルにある4LDKの一軒家で、国土安全保障省勤務の妻(2010年に再婚)と暮らしている。ホノルルには、日本語・英語の両方に対応し、日本の学校を卒業したのと同じ資格が得られる学校もあり、日米ハーフの娘が住むのには最適な環境だ、としている。

●娘はトーランドさんとの面会を拒否

裁判について、トーランドさんは「日本は一度子どもが吸い込まれると、二度と出てこられない『ブラックホール』のような国だ。最近は(子どもの連れ去りを違法とする)ハーグ条約への加入など、希望も出てきている。今回の裁判は、裁判所が正しい判断を下す絶好の機会だ」と話していた。ただし、今回のケースは国境を超えていないため、ハーグ条約の適用外だ。

なお、娘は、父であるトーランドさんとの面会を拒んでいるという。しかし、トーランドさんの代理人である上野晃弁護士は「別れたとき生後9カ月だった13歳の娘が、実の父親に会うことを拒否することのほうが、むしろ不自然だ。子どもは本来、親と暮らすべき存在だ。裁判所は、最終的に娘が父親のもとで暮らせるようにするための第一歩として、まずいち早く父娘の面会交流を実現させるべきだ」と話していた。

弁護士ドットコムニュース編集部
ENDS

My Japan Times JBC 83 Jan 1, 2015: “Hate, Muzzle and Poll”: Debito’s Annual Top Ten List of Human Rights News Events for 2014

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

A TOP TEN FOR 2014
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE Column 83 for the Japan Times Community Page
Published January 1, 2015 (version with links to sources)

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/01/01/issues/hate-muzzle-poll-top-10-issues-2014/

 | 

Hate, muzzle and poll: a top 10 of issues for 2014

BY DEBITO ARUDOU, The Japan Times, January 1, 2015

As is tradition for JBC, it’s time to recap the top 10 human rights news events affecting non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan last year. In ascending order:

10) Warmonger Ishihara loses seat

This newspaper has talked about Shintaro Ishihara’s unsubtle bigotry (particularly towards Japan’s NJ residents) numerous times (e.g. “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2012). All the while, we gritted our teeth as he won re-election repeatedly to the National Diet and the Tokyo governorship.

However, in a move that can only be put down to hubris, Ishihara resigned his gubernatorial bully pulpit in 2012 to shepherd a lunatic-right fringe party into the Diet. But in December he was voted out, drawing the curtain on nearly five decades of political theater.

About time. He admitted last month that he wanted “to fight a war with China and win” by attempting to buy three of the disputed Senkaku islets (and entangling the previous left-leaning government in the imbroglio). Fortunately the conflict hasn’t come to blows, but Ishihara has done more than anyone over the past 15 years to embolden Japan’s xenophobic right (by fashioning foreigner-bashing into viable political capital) and undo Japan’s postwar liberalism and pacifism.

Good riddance. May we never see your like again. Unfortunately, I doubt that.

9) Mori bashes Japan’s athletes

Japan apparently underperformed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (no wonder, given the unnecessary pressure Japanese society puts on its athletes) and somebody just had to grumble about it — only this time in a racialized way.

Chair of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics committee Yoshiro Mori (himself remembered for his abysmal performance as prime minister from 2000 to 2001) criticized the performance of Japanese figure skaters Chris and Cathy Reed: “They live in America. Because they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.” This was factually wrong to begin with, since through their Japanese mother, the Reeds have always had Japanese citizenship. But the insinuation that they weren’t good enough because they weren’t Japanese enough is dreadfully unsportsmanlike, and contravenes the Olympic charter on racism.

Mori incurred significant international criticism for this, but there were no retractions or resignations. And it isn’t the first time the stigmatization of foreignness has surfaced in Mori’s milieu. Since 2005 he has headed the Japan Rugby Football Union, which after the 2011 Rugby World Cup criticized the underperforming Japan team for having “too many foreign-born players” (including naturalized Japanese citizens). The 2012 roster was then purged of most “foreigners.” Yet despite these shenanigans, Japan will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup right before the Tokyo Olympics.

8) ‘Points system’ visa revamp

In a delicious example of JBC SITYS (“see, I told you so”), Japan’s meritocratic Points-based Preferential Treatment for Highly Skilled Foreigners visa failed miserably in 2013, with only 700 people having even applied for the available 2,000 slots six months into the program.

JBC said its requirements were far too strict when it was first announced, predicting it would fail (see last year’s top 10, and “Japan’s revolving door immigration policy hard-wired to fail,” JBC, March 6, 2012). Policymakers arrogantly presumed that NJ are beating down the door to work in Japan under any circumstances (not likely, after Japan’s two economic “lost decades”), and gave few “points” to those who learned Japanese or attended Japanese universities. Fact is, they never really wanted people who “knew” Japan all that well.

But by now even those who do cursory research know greater opportunities lie elsewhere: Japan is a land of deflation and real falling wages, with little protection against discrimination, and real structural impediments to settling permanently and prospering in Japanese society.

So did the government learn from this policy failure? Yes, some points requirements were revamped, but the most significant change was cosmetic: The online info site contains an illustration depicting potential applicants as predominantly white Westerners. So much for the meritocracy: The melanin-rich need not apply.

Good luck with the reboot, but Japan is becoming an even harder sell due to the higher-ranking issues on our countdown.

7) Ruling in Suraj death case

This is the third time the case of Ghanaian national Abubakar Awadu Suraj has made this top 10, because it demonstrates how NJ can be brutally killed in police custody without anyone taking responsibility.

After Suraj was asphyxiated while physically restrained during deportation in 2010, for years his kin unsuccessfully sought criminal prosecutions. Last March, however, the Tokyo District Court ruled that immigration officials were responsible for using “illegal” excessive force, and ordered the government to pay ¥5 million to Suraj’s widow and mother.

The case is currently being appealed to the Tokyo High Court. But the lesson remains that in Japan, due to insufficient oversight over Immigration Bureau officials (as reported in United Nations and Amnesty International reports; four NJ have died in Immigration custody since October 2013), an overstayed visa can become a capital offense.

6) Muslims compensated for leak

In another landmark move by the Tokyo District Court, last January the National Police Agency was ordered to compensate several Muslim residents and their Japanese families, whom they had spied upon as suspected terrorists. Although this is good news (clearly noncitizens are entitled to the same right to privacy as citizens), the act of spying in itself was not penalized, but rather the police’s inability to manage their intelligence properly, letting the information leak to the public.

Also not ruled upon was the illegality of the investigation itself, and the latent discrimination behind it. Instead, the court called the spying unavoidable considering the need to prevent international terrorism — thus giving carte blanche to the police to engage in racial profiling.

5) ‘Japanese only’ saga

If this were my own personal top 10, this would top the list, as it marks a major shift in Japan’s narrative on racial discrimination (the subject of my Ph.D. last year). As described elsewhere (“J.League and media must show red card to racism,” JBC, March 12, 2014), the Japanese government and media seem to have an allergy when it comes to calling discrimination due to physical appearance “discrimination by race” (jinshu sabetsu), depicting it instead as discrimination by nationality, ethnicity, “descent,” etc. Racism happens in other countries, not here, the narrative goes, because Japan is so homogeneous that it has no race issues.

But when Urawa Reds soccer fans last March put up a “Japanese only” banner at an entrance to the stands at its stadium, the debate turned out differently. Despite some initial media prevarication about whether or not this banner was “racist,” J.League chair Mitsuru Murai quickly called it out as racial discrimination and took punitive action against both the fans and the team.

More importantly, Murai said that victims’ perception of the banner was more important than the perpetrators’ intent behind it. This opened the doors for debate about jinshu sabetsu more effectively than the entire decade of proceedings in the “Japanese only” Otaru onsen case that I was involved in (where behavior was ruled as “racial discrimination” by the judiciary as far back as 2002). All of this means that well into the 21st century, Japan finally has a precedent of domestic discourse on racism that cannot be ignored.

4) Signs Japan may enforce Hague

Last year’s top 10 noted that Japan would join an international pact that says international children abducted by a family member from their habitual country of residence after divorce should be repatriated. However, JBC doubted it would be properly enforced, in light of a propagandist Foreign Ministry pamphlet arguing that signing the Hague Convention was Japan’s means to force foreigners to send more Japanese children home (“Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents,” JBC, Oct. 8). Furthermore, with divorces between Japanese citizens commonly resulting in one parent losing all access to the children, what hope would foreigners have?

Fortunately, last year there were some positive steps, with some children abducted to Japan being returned overseas. Government-sponsored mediation resulted in a voluntary return, and a court ruling ordered a repatriation (the case is on appeal).

However, the Hague treaty requires involuntary court-ordered returns, and while Japan has received children under its new signatory status, it has not as yet sent any back. Further, filing for return and/or access in Japan under the Hague is arduous, with processes not required in other signatory countries.

Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction, and JBC hopes that respect for habitual residence continues even after international media attention on Japan has waned.

3) Ruling on welfare confuses

Last July another court case mentioned in previous top 10s concluded, with an 82-year-old Zainichi Chinese who has spent her whole life in Japan being denied social-welfare benefits for low-income residents (seikatsu hogo). The Supreme Court overturned a Fukuoka High Court ruling that NJ had “quasi-rights” to assistance, saying that only nationals had a “guaranteed right” (kenri).

People were confused. Although the media portrayed this as a denial of welfare to NJ, labor union activist Louis Carlet called it a reaffirmation of the status quo — meaning there was no NJ ineligibility, just no automatic eligibility. Also, several bureaucratic agencies stated that NJ would qualify for assistance as before.

It didn’t matter. Japan’s xenophobic right soon capitalized on this phraseology, with Ishihara’s Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) in August announcing policies “based on the ruling” that explicitly denied welfare to NJ. In December, in another act of outright meanness, Jisedai made NJ welfare issues one of their party platforms. One of their advertisements featured an animated pig, representing the allegedly “taboo topic” of NJ (somehow) receiving “eight times the benefits of Japanese citizens,” being grotesquely sliced in half.

You read that right. But it makes sense when you consider how normalized hate speech has become in Japan.

2) The rise and rise of hate speech

Last year’s list noted how Japan’s hate speech had turned murderous, with some even advocating the killing of Koreans in Japan. In 2014, Japanese rightists celebrated Hitler’s 125th birthday in Tokyo by parading swastika banners next to the Rising Sun flag. Media reported hate speech protests spreading to smaller cities around Japan, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered little more than lukewarm condemnations of what is essentially his xenophobic power base. Even opportunistic foreigners joined the chorus, with Henry Scott Stokes and Tony “Texas Daddy” Marano (neither of whom can read the Japanese articles written under their name) topping up their retirement bank accounts with revisionist writings.

That said, last year also saw rising counterprotests. Ordinary people began showing up at hate rallies waving “No to racism” banners and shouting the haters down. The United Nations issued very strong condemnations and called for a law against hate speech. Even Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto confronted Makoto Sakurai, the then-leader of hate group Zaitokukai (which, despite Japan’s top cop feigning ignorance of the group, was added to a National Police Agency watch list as a threat to law and order last year).

Unfortunately, most protesters have taken the tack of crying “Don’t shame us Japanese” rather than the more empowering “NJ are our neighbors who have equal rights with us.” Sadly, the possibility of equality ever becoming a reality looked even further away as 2014 drew to a close:

1) Abe re-election and secrets law

With his third electoral victory in December, Abe got a renewed mandate to carry out his policies. These are ostensibly to revitalize the economy, but more importantly to enforce patriotism, revive Japan’s mysticism, sanitize Japan’s history and undo its peace Constitution to allow for remilitarization (“Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2013).

Most sinister of all his policies is the state secrets law, which took effect last month, with harsh criminal penalties in place for anyone “leaking” any of 460,000 potential state secrets. Given that the process for deciding what’s a secret is itself secret, this law will further intimidate a self-censoring Japanese media into double-guessing itself into even deeper silence.

These misgivings have been covered extensively elsewhere. But particularly germane for JBC is how, according to Kyodo (Dec. 8), the Abe Cabinet has warned government offices that Japanese who have studied or worked abroad are a higher leak risk. That means the government can now justifiably purge all “foreign” intellectual or social influences from the upper echelons of power.

How will this state-sponsored xenophobia, which now views anything “foreign” as a security threat, affect Japan’s policymakers, especially when so many Japanese bureaucrats and politicians (even Abe himself) have studied abroad? Dunno. But the state secrets law will certainly undermine Japan’s decades of “internationalization,” globalization and participation in the world community — in ways never seen in postwar Japan.


Bubbling under:

a) Jisedai no To’s xenophobic platform fails to inspire, and the party loses most of its seats in December’s election.

b) Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Japan’s biggest drugmaker, appoints Christophe Weber as president despite the Takeda family’s xenophobic objections.

c) Media pressure forces Konsho Gakuen cooking college to (officially) repeal its “Japanese only” admissions process (despite it being in place since 1976, and Saitama Prefecture knowing about it since 2012).

d) All Nippon Airways (ANA) uses racist “big-nosed white guy” advertisement to promote “Japan’s new image” as Haneda airport vies to be a hub for Asian traffic (“Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad,” JBC, Jan. 24, 2014).

e) Despite NJ being listed on resident registries (jūmin kihon daichō) since 2012, media reports continue to avoid counting NJ as part of Japan’s official population.

ENDS

Japan Times JBC 80 October 8, 2014: “Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents”, on MOFA propagandizing re Hague Treaty on Child Abductions

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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All donations go towards website costs only. Thanks for your support!

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Hi Blog. Thanks to readers once again for putting this article into the #1 spot at the Japan Times Online for two days!  Debito

“BIASED PAMPHLET BODES ILL FOR LEFT-BEHIND FOREIGN PARENTS OUTSIDE JAPAN
Pamphlet on Hague Treaty on Child Abductions displays slanted mindsets favoring the Japanese side of disputes
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, Column 80 for Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE, October 8, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/10/08/issues/biased-pamphlet-bodes-ill-left-behind-foreign-parents-outside-japan/
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After years of pressure from foreign governments, and enormous efforts by “left-behind” parents to have access to children abducted to and from Japan after marital separation or divorce, the Japanese government became a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in April.

That is, of course, good news. Now the issue becomes one of enforcement. And to that end, this column has serious doubts that the Japanese government will honor this treaty in good faith.

These doubts are based on precedent. After all, Japan famously ignores human-rights treaties. For example, nearly 20 years after ratifying the U.N. Convention on Racial Discrimination, and nearly 30 since acceding to the U.N. Convention on Discrimination against Women, Japan still has no law against racial discrimination, nor a statute guaranteeing workplace gender equality backed by enforceable criminal penalties.

We have also seen Japan caveat its way out of enforcing the Hague before signing. For example, as noted in previous JT articles (e.g., “Solving parental child abduction problem no piece of cake” by Colin P.A. Jones, March 1, 2011), the debate on custody has been muddied with ungrounded fears that returned children would, for example, face domestic violence (DV) from the foreign parent. DV in Japan is being redefined to include nontactile acts such as “yelling,” “angry looks” and “silent stares” (particularly from men).

It is within this context that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) recently issued a pamphlet titled “What is the Hague Convention?” Available in Japanese and English, it offers a 12-page manga in which a Japanese father carefully explains the Hague Convention to his Japanese-French son.

The pamphlet has sparked considerable controversy. After I blogged about it last month on Debito.org, many annoyed left-behind parents overseas said they would forward it to their national elected representatives. After a South China Morning Post article cited blog commenters calling it racist, Huffington Post Japan and Al Jazeera picked up the story, engendering predictable relativism about differing cultural interpretations.

For the record, I never wrote that the MOFA pamphlet was “racist.” That term, if not used carefully, tends to dull analysis, especially since the pamphlet is more subtle than that. In fact, it provides valuable insights into MOFA’s slanted mind-set towards the child abduction issue.

First, consider the visuals. In three cartoons (on the cover, and pages 4 and 10) we see a foreign-looking man (never a woman) being physically violent towards his child, with two of those showing the child longing to return to Japan and be with mother.

Violent Dads: First and 3rd illustration are used twice, so three.

MOFA1MOFA2

Reinforcing that in five more places (cover, pages 1, 7, and 9 (twice) — see C and D) are illustrations where the child expresses dismay at being abducted from Japan; only once (page 4) is there dismay at being abducted overseas. On the other hand, pages 2 and 7 show children displaying no dismay at being abducted to Japan, or instead showing shock (pages 2 (twice) and 3 — see E) at not being allowed to return to Japan. The clear inference: Japan is, on balance, the natural place for the child, regardless of factors such as primary language or time spent living abroad.

Dismay at being abducted from Japan. Cover and pg 9 repeat illustration twice, so five.

MOFA3 MOFA4 MOFA5

(text context clarifies that the third illustration above is an abduction from Japan)

Dismay at being abducted overseas (one image only):

MOFA6

No dismay at being abducted to Japan:

MOFA7 MOFA8

Dismay at not being allowed to return to Japan:

MOFA9 MOFA10

This implicit fear of the outside world is reinforced by images of uneasy children facing unfamiliar rules, customs and languages (pages 1, 4 and 5 (twice)). More subtle is the picture on the cover and page 1, where foreign (adults) surround, frown and stare at the nervous Japanese child as though she really doesn’t belong. (She’s sent back to her Japanese mother’s loving arms by the next panel — phew.) Only once (page 3) is there a happy child sent back to his foreign dad.

Uneasy children facing the unfamiliar:

MOFA11 MOFA17

 

MOFA12

Being stared at by adults:

MOFA13

Sole image of happy child being returned to NJ father (plus katakana-speaking father not in English version, referred to below):

MOFA14

Then consider the manga storyline. The Japanese father protagonist experiences a child abduction when the French mother abducts their son to France. Fortunately, according to the pamphlet, because Japan signed the Hague, Japan’s authorities can have French authorities track down the child, get mediation and (as the conflict resolution of this story) return the son (and the mother) to live happily ever after in Japan (page 6).

That is the central and tacit argument of the MOFA pamphlet: Japan signing the Hague isn’t about returning children to their habitual residence (whether it be Japan or overseas); it is about giving Japan greater leverage overseas to bring its children home to Japan. Where they belong.

Moreover, for some mysterious reason we spend the first page developing the relationship between the Japanese father and son protagonists, with father comically put off-balance by a barrage of questions from son, then negotiating with him to finish his dinner before answering. By page 3, the pamphlet mysteriously succumbs to another case of the cutes, as an anime figurine appears to praise the son’s intelligence (revealing father as an anime fetishist).

Irrelevant curlicues:

MOFA16 MOFA15

Why these irrelevant curlicues? Because by page 6, we learn why the French mother abducted the son: She accuses father of spending all his time watching anime and not paying attention to them. This is of course made dubious after all the space spent portraying the father’s caring, explaining, hugging, even cooking for his son. So clearly she’s just being hysterical. Of course, she returns to Japan with them after negotiations, so nothing fatal to the relationship.

On the other hand, when it’s a Japanese woman abducting, her reasons are more serious than hubby’s anime fetish. She has to deal with domestic violence, poverty (cover), unsympathetic or unpredictable foreign courts (pages 2, 3, 4, and 5), and even the unlikely scenario of begging frowning foreign strangers on the street to help her missing child overseas (page 2). Conclusion: The Japanese side is generally being victimized, while the foreign side is subtly depicted as violent and overreacting.

Other images referred to above. Frowning foreign strangers on the street:

MOFA18

This is where MOFA is most disingenuous: In no fewer than four places (pages 1, 2 (twice) and 5) are unsympathetic courts, “cultural differences,” “legal procedures” and “language barriers” cited as hurdles for the Japanese spouse overseas.

Japan’s unsympathetic courts, legal procedures and cultural presumptions allowing child abductions to happen here on a regular basis — even between Japanese couples — are never mentioned. Japan, remember, has no joint custody or guaranteed child visitations.

In fact, taking the issue to a court overseas may afford both parents more rights — as it did in the Savoie case, where, despite the pamphlet’s claims, a Tennessee court gave Noriko Savoie permission to leave the U.S. for Japan (whereupon she abducted Christopher Savoie’s children). This is where the pamphlet morphs from guide to screed.

No doubt some MOFA representatives will be reading this critique, so let me point out two more inaccuracies unbecoming of a government agency attempting an impartial review of the issue.

First, almost all of the international marriages in the pamphlet are portrayed as between (katakana-speaking, in the Japanese version) white men and Japanese women. In fact, most international marriages in Japan are between Japanese men and Asian women. That is where the pamphlet is an easy target for accusations of racism. Not all “foreignness,” especially in this case, is so visually identifiable.

Then there’s the biased terminology. It is inaccurate in the English version to frame child abductions as “children’s removal” — after all, this is not the Hague Convention on Child Removals. Just as inaccurate as the term it was translated from, tsuresari (literally, “accompanying and disappearing”), meant to semantically soften the act of kidnapping — especially when another appropriate word, rachi, is used for abductions of Japanese by North Koreans.

On the plus side, there have already been good outcomes from Japan’s joining the Hague. Left-behind parents including Christopher Savoie and U.S. Navy Capt. Paul Toland (who have successfully pushed for the Goldman Act, as well as several U.S. congressional resolutions decrying Japan’s status as a haven for child abductions) have recently had their Hague applications accepted by the Japanese government, which has promised to locate and provide access to the Americans’ children in Japan. In effect, this is official acknowledgment that their children were in fact abducted from their lawful custody. Two abducted children have also been returned to their habitual residences in Japan.

NB:  There are at least 3 US resolutions mentioning Japan Child Abduction: House Resolutions 125 and 1326 and Senate Resolution 552.  Savoie Case, letter from MOFA dated September 8, 2014, accepting his case as a Hague Case, meaning the GOJ recognizes his legal custody:

SavoieGOJletter090814

Very good. But will all this eventually result in Japan actually returning a child to a parent overseas — something which, according to activists, has never happened as a result of Japanese government or court action?

Let’s wait and see, of course. But at this juncture, I doubt Japan will enforce the Hague with much verve. Doing so, as Colin P.A. Jones has pointed out on these pages, would in fact give more rights to those in international marriages than it would domestic couples! If the Japanese government’s past behavior towards inconvenient international treaties is any guide, it will find caveats to ensure international divorce does not become another way for Japan’s depopulation to accelerate.

Thus, MOFA’s pamphlet is little more than subtle propagandizing meant to reassure the Japanese public that they haven’t lost the power to abduct by signing the Hague. In fact, MOFA is portraying the Hague as a means to bring more Japanese children back home. With that mind-set as strong as ever, I anticipate that foreign parents will continue to get a raw deal from the Japanese system.

======================

Debito Arudou recommends that officials at MOFA and everyone else understand this issue better by watching “From The Shadows,” a documentary available at www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause usually appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

SCMP (Hong Kong) on MOFA Hague Pamphlet: “‘Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists”, cites Debito.org (UPDATE: Also makes Huffington Post Japan in Japanese & Al Jazeera)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I am happy to say that our last Debito.org blog post generated another news article.  Thanks very much to Julian for drawing attention to the issue.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE, courtesy of Debito.org Reader Oliver:  The pamphlet can be found on the MOFA website, so it is genuine. PDF is here:

http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000033409.pdf
(link from this page: http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/hague/index.html)

And there is even an English language version!

http://www.mofa.go.jp/files/000034153.pdf
(link from this page: http://www.mofa.go.jp/fp/hr_ha/page22e_000249.html)

/////////////////////////////////////////////

‘Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists
Pamphlet issued by Tokyo to Japan’s embassies in response to Hague convention is criticised for depicting a foreign man beating his child

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2014, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 1:44am
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong,), by Julian Ryall in Tokyo
Courtesy http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1594102/racist-cartoon-issued-japanese-ministry-angers-rights-activists
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The cartoon showing a white man beating his child has drawn condemnation from human rights activists.

Human rights activists in Japan have reacted angrily to a new pamphlet released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that they claim is racist and stereotypical for depicting Caucasian fathers beating their children.

The 11-page leaflet has been sent to Japanese embassies and consulates around the world in response to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction going into effect in Japan on April 1.

Tokyo dragged its feet on ratifying the treaty, which broadly stipulates that a child should be returned to his or her country of habitual residence when they have been taken out of that country by a parent but without the consent of the other parent.

But manga-style images of foreign fathers beating children and Japanese women portrayed as innocent victims have raised the hackles of campaigners, both those fighting discrimination against foreigners and non-Japanese who have been unable to see children who have been abducted by Japanese former spouses.

“It’s the same problem with any negotiations in which Japan looks like it has been beaten,” said Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese citizen who was born in the United States and has become a leading human rights activist.

“After being forced to give up a degree of power by signing the Hague treaty, they have to show that they have not lost face and they try to turn the narrative around,” he said. “It’s the same as in the debate over whaling.

“The Japanese always see themselves as the victims, and in this case, the narrative is that Japanese women are being abused and that the big, bad world is constantly trying to take advantage of them.”

Arudou is particularly incensed by the cover of the publication, which shows a blond-haired foreigner hitting a little girl, a foreign father taking a child from a sobbing Japanese mother and another Japanese female apparently ostracised by big-nosed foreign women.

“It is promoting the image that the outside world is against Japanese and the only place they will get a fair deal is in Japan,” said Arudou.

The rest of the pamphlet takes the form of a conversation between a cartoon character father and son, but with the storyline showing the difficulties of a Japanese woman living abroad with her half-Japanese son.

Arudou says the publication then “degenerates into the childish” with the appearance of an animated doll that is the father figure’s pride and joy, but also dispenses advice.

“As well as promoting all these stereotypes, why are they not talking about visitation issues for foreigners whose half-Japanese children have been abducted by their ex-wives?” asked Arudou.

Several foreigners who have been unable to see their children for years have already contacted Arudou to express their anger, with a number of US nationals saying they would pass the document onto lawmakers.

Arudou’s post on the issue on his website has also attracted attention, with commentators describing the pamphlet as “racist propaganda”.

“This is disgusting,” one commentator posted. “Pictures are powerful, more powerful than words. And the only time I’ve ever seen anything remotely like this is when I did a search for old anti-Japanese propaganda.

“Of course, that was disgusting too, but it was wartime!”

Another added, “What a pathetic advert for an ‘advanced’ country.

“As for the text – not wasting any more bandwidth on such utter racist, xenophobic, patronising, paranoid nonsense.”
ENDS

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UPDATE SEPT. 19: THIS SCMP ARTICLE PRODUCED AN ARTICLE IN HUFFINGTON POST JAPAN:

外務省作成の「ハーグ条約」小冊子は人種差別 人権活動家が指摘
The Huffington Post
投稿日: 2014年09月17日 16時34分 JST 更新: 2014年09月19日 14時17分 JST PAMPHLET WHAT IS THE HAGUE CONVENTION
Courtesy http://www.huffingtonpost.jp/2014/09/17/pamphlet-of-the-hague-convention-mof_n_5833674.html

国外に連れ出された子供の扱いを定めた「ハーグ条約」について、外務省が作成した小冊子に人権侵害にあたる内容が含まれているのではないか、という指摘が出ている。

指摘しているのは、人権活動家の有道出人(あるどう・でびと)さん。アメリカ出身の日本国籍取得者だ。有道さんは「ハーグ条約ってなんだろう?」という外務省が作成した小冊子について、子供や無実の日本女性に暴力をふるう外国人のイラストは、嫌悪感を抱かせる内容となっていると分析。日本人のかつての配偶者によって子供を連れ去られ、子供に会うことができないでいる外国人もいるとして、小冊子のあり方に疑問を呈しているという。香港の英字紙・サウス・チャイナ・モーニング・ポストが報じた。

有道さんは特に、小冊子の表紙のイラストに怒りを覚えるという。そこには、小さな女の子を叩いている外国人のイラストや、ブロンドヘアの外国人男性がすすり泣く日本人女性の母親から子供を連れ去るイラストなどが描かれている。有道さんは「このような内容は、日本だけが公正な話し合いができる場所で、世界は違うというようなイメージを植え付ける」と話す。(中略)

「これらの固定観念のイラストばかりでなく、なぜ、元妻に連れ去られた子供と会うための外国人の権利について書かないのか」と有道さんは指摘した。

(サウスチャイナ·モーニング·ポスト「’Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists」より 2014/09/16 23:14)
pamphlet what is the hague convention

ハーグ条約は夫婦のどちらかによって国外に連れ出された子供の扱いを定める多国間条約で、日本は2014年4月から条約加盟国となり、合わせて小冊子もつくられた。

日本はハーグ条約への加盟が遅く、海外から批判を浴びていた。特にアメリカからの圧力は強く、2010年にはアメリカ下院本会議が日本への連れ去りを「拉致」と非難する決議を採択した。ハーグ条約の適用を受けた2014年4月には、元配偶者らが日本に連れ帰った子供との面会を求める親が、アメリカでは少なくとも約200人に上ったという。

有道さんは自身のブログで、この小冊子の中に、外国人が子供にDVを行っているイラストが複数あることや、外国人が日本人に冷たいことを明示するイラストも使用されていると述べている。

pamphlet what is the hague convention

pamphlet what is the hague convention

pamphlet what is the hague convention

これらの有道さんの指摘について外務省領事局の担当者は、現在のところ外務省は同様の指摘を受けてはないとハフポスト日本版の電話取材に回答。また、「小冊子を見ていただければ分かると思うが、人種差別的な内容を意図して作成したものではない」として、画像の変更等を行う予定はないと述べた。

なお、この小冊子は日本語版だけでなく英語版もつくられているが、日本語版と同様のイラストや文章が使われている。
ENDS

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UPDATE SEPTEMBER 30:  ALSO MAKES AL JAZEERA:

http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201409181245-0024160

Al Jazeera.com, September 18, 2014

Japanese ministry’s child abduction pamphlet shows white father hitting child

Rights activists criticise cartoon from Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs after country signs child abduction convention.

Screenshot of Japanese Foreign Ministry publication. MOFA JAPAN.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry pamphlet depicting white fathers abusing children has drawn criticism from human rights activists who say it perpetuates(link is external) racist stereotypes.

The pamphlet(link is external) reportedly was sent to Japanese embassies and consulates to explain the implications of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The booklet features manga-style cartoons and is also available in English via the ministry’s website.
 
Japan’s years of refusal(link is external) to sign the Hague Convention drew significant pressure from critics in the US and Europe, who argued(link is external) that Japan had become a “safe haven” for parental child abductors…

Read the rest at http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201409181245-0024160

2014 MOFA pamphlet explaining Hague Treaty on Child Abductions to J citizens (full text with synopsis, including child-beating NJ father on cover & victimized J mothers throughout) UPDATE: With link to MOFA pdf and official E translation

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Japan, after years of pressure from overseas, is now a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, where children of international marriages are to be protected against psychologically-damaging abductions and severed contact with one parent after marriage dissolution and divorce.  Debito.org has covered this issue extensively in the past.  What matters now is how Japan intends to enforce the treaty.  Debito.org has argued that we are not hopeful about Japan following the spirit of the agreement in good faith.  It has been reinterpreting sections with caveats to give the Japanese side undue advantages in negotiations, indirectly portraying the Non Japanese (NJ) party as the suspicious interloper, redefining important issues such as domestic violence (DV) to include heated arguments and “silent stares” etc., refusing to see abductions by the Japanese parent as much more than a natural repatriation, and not being self-aware that in Japan, child abduction and severed contact with one parent is quite normal (due in part to the vagaries of the Family Registration System (koseki)), but not necessarily in the best interests of the child.  Japan has been, in short, a haven for international child abductions, and how the GOJ will interpret the Hague to its people is crucial for change in public mindsets and enforcement.

To that end, Debito.org is fortunate to have received a copy from a concerned reader of a 2014 Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Gaimushou) pamphlet explaining the Hague to the Japanese public.  Scanned below in full, within its discourse are troubling assumptions and presumptions that bear scrutiny and exposure, as they remain along the lines of the concerns expressed above.  If this is Japan’s official mindset towards international child abductions, then Debito.org remains pessimistic, if not cynical, about Japan’s intentions to enforce the Hague in good faith.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE, courtesy of Debito.org Reader Oliver:  The pamphlet can be found on the MOFA website, so it is genuine. PDF is here:

http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000033409.pdf
(link from this page: http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/hague/index.html)

And there is even an English language version!

http://www.mofa.go.jp/files/000034153.pdf
(link from this page: http://www.mofa.go.jp/fp/hr_ha/page22e_000249.html)

From the Japanese Consulate in Hong Kong, courtesy of XY.
(click on any image to expand in browser)
p1
This is the cover image, with a father about to explain the Hague to his curious son, and look what makes the first impressions:  The J mother sobbing as the NJ parent whisks their child from her grasp.  The child being stared at and not fitting in with her big-nosed NJ classmates (Japanese rarely have much of a nose in Japan’s international illustrations; it’s a style, but it makes it seem as if NJ are never Asian; never mind).  The J father being nabbed by the police regarding his kid.  The J mother short of money when thinking of her daughter.  And, of course, the obligatory drawing of the physically-abusive NJ parent with the child longing for her J mother.  The point is, the J mother is in most situations the one being victimized.

p2
The first page already has a case of the cutes (even though, since this book has no furigana over the kanji, it’s a manual directed towards adults, not children), with a J father explaining to his son suddenly overwhelming him with questions (after complimenting him on his interest in the news) about how, as of April 1 2014, Japan has to follow the Hague regarding the “tsuresari” (“accompanying and disappearing”, not the more hot-button term “rachi” used for “abductions” when it’s Japanese being abducted to North Korea) of children.  After making a deal with him to eat all his dinner before hearing more, we have a prototypical J=NJ union couched as between a Japanese and a Gaijin (even though most international marriages in Japan are overwhelmingly between Japanese and Asians): the NJ male makes off with the child, the child has trouble fitting in overseas due to language and environmental difficulties, and the child is happily returned to the J mother’s arms thanks to the glad hands of the Hague Treaty thinking of the best interests of the child.  By the end of the page, the son is already shuddering to think what it might be like to live in a foreign country, what with no friends in school and all that.

p3
Next page has more explanation about what will change under the Hague.  The first point is that Japan had no standing to have children returned if they were abducted.  The poor victimized J-mother had to find her child with no help (apparently by showing a photo to taller Gaijin strangers giving her the cold shoulder), and even had to go to court to ask for custody (in a place with different laws and culture!).  How terrible, the child notes, for the parent to suddenly have to go to a big country and look for a little child.  Of course, then the converse is depicted to be true (but without the sobbing child pining for his NJ dad as the J mom takes her back to Japan — in fact, more alarm from the child that he can’t return to Japan), with consequent difficulties in seeing their child (NB:  Nowhere mentioned is the fact that joint custody and visitation is guaranteed in some of these overseas places with the dreaded “different laws and cultures”, but not in Japan.)  And what about the case where the divorce takes place overseas and the J-mother wants to take the child back to Japan?  The courts will deny the mother the ability to leave!  (“What, you can’t go home to your country of birth??” proclaims the ever more-startled son at the end.  Even though that exit denial didn’t happen, for example, in the Christopher Savoie Case, which is why the abduction of his children occurred.)  Conclusion:  Already the issue is portrayed in a lopsided manner, with the J-mother being the more victimized party overseas.

p4
Next page succumbs to an even more silly case of the cutes, not only with the katakana-accented NJ begging a J court for his child back, but also with an animated doll appearing as an interlocutor because Papa happens to be an anime otaku fetishist (rather unbecoming of a serious issue in a serious pamphlet issued by a national government).  Carrying on…  This section talks about how signing the treaty makes it so that either side can have their child returned, meaning this will stop courts from hindering parents from returning to their countries at will, because if problems arise, there is an apparatus where courts can return the child if necessary.   (NB:  Not mentioned is that there has not been a single recorded case in Japanese court where a Japanese child has been returned to a NJ parent’s habitual residence overseas, meaning there is no precedent that the apparatus will work on the Japanese side.)  It also will probably act as a means to preempt abductions, says the pamphlet.

p5
Then the pamphlet turns to a case of one of Papa’s friends (a J mother married to a NJ father) who abducted their child to Japan.  It went before a Japanese court, with the child standing at the mercy of the gavel, fate uncertain.  But just to make sure there is a lingering scare, the son expresses doubt as to the justice of a child being repatriated to a physically-abusive (!!) NJ father (where did THAT presumption come from?). Once again, the NJ father is being portrayed as potentially abusive, even though, naturally, abusive J (mothers or fathers) exist in Japan.

p6
Next page allays the fears of injustice, with a list of reasons why a child would not be forcibly returned thanks to the Hague (bonus image of the loving mother embracing a heart and saying that she will prioritize the protection of the child).  But — horrors — at the suggestion by the child that Papa’s friend shouldn’t have abducted the child and should have perhaps gone to court in America, Papa immediately kiboshes that by mentioning how American courts have a different culture, procedures, language barriers, and might even award custody of the child to a third party! (Again, no mention of the possibility of joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights enforced overseas, neither of which are permitted in Japan due to the koseki Family Registry system, aka “different culture”).  The nuance of this section becomes “it’s oh so complicated, no wonder Papa’s friend abducted their child”.  Conclusion of this page:  It would be awful if one parent couldn’t see their child (which is disingenuous coming from the GOJ because, as mentioned above in the introduction, child abductions without joint custody or visitation rights even between Japanese parents in Japan are quite normal).

p7
Suddenly, a sad fate befalls even this family, what with Papa being revealed as married to a French woman named Marie (who speaks normal Japanese; DV and broken Japanese seem to be the lot of the Western NJ male) who has run off to France with their boy.  Fortunately, thanks to the Hague, the GOJ can intervene, contact the French government, ascertain where she and their child is, get the authorities over there to mediate, get Papa to abandon his anime fetish (good thing he’s not a physically-abusive man; it’s just a harmless fetish, so nothing to fault the J man overmuch for as any serious grounds for divorce, right?), and get them all to make up and fly into the sunset back to Japan for a happy life ever after.

p8
Next page outlines the Hague procedures in three basic steps.  Of course, it’s all NJ men and J women (three different couples).  Visually, note the nuance of the child once again being more distressed to be leaving Japan with her father than going back to Japan with her mother.

p9
Next page lists the countries that are signatories to the Hague and the key points of it in bullet form.

p10
Next page gives the key points in Q&A format, first with what happened before Japan thankfully signed the Hague (abductions with impunity!), second with what to do if an abduction from Japan to a signatory country takes place, third with how long the Hague is in effect (until the child is aged 16), and fourth with a warning not to go abroad and reabduct your child back (you’ll be arrested; get a lawyer).

p11
The penultimate page gives more Q&A, with the obligatory 5) what to do in cases of DV (paste in NJ dad child abuse image again), or even the possibility of DV in the past (ko ni aku’eikyou o ataeru you na bouryoku), with a special section on page 5 above just in case you should want to use Japan’s increasingly grey and loose definitions of DV to get your child back; 6) getting J diplomats to help you out overseas; 7) getting a better understanding of the laws and Alternative Dispute Resolution using public resources.

p12

The pamphlet ends with the boy saying how he understands it all now, and the dad saying how nice it would be if more countries signed the Hague.  Quite.  But not the way it’s being interpreted here.

ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column January 7, 2014: “The empire strikes back: The top issues for NJ in 2013”, with links to sources

mytest

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Happy New Year to all Debito.org Readers.  Thank you as always for reading and commenting.  2014 has a few things looming that will affect life for everyone (not just NJ) in Japan, as I allude to in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (came out a few days later than usual, since there was no paper on January 2, on January 7, 2014).

Thanks to everyone once again for putting it in the most-read article for the day, once again. Here’s a version with links to sources. Arudou Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg

THE JAPAN TIMES ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
The empire strikes back: the top issues for non-Japanese in 2013
BY ARUDOU Debito
JANUARY 7, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/01/06/issues/the-empire-strikes-back-the-top-issues-for-non-japanese-in-2013/

Welcome to JBC’s annual countdown of 2013’s top human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This year was more complex, as issues that once targeted NJ in specific now affect everyone in general. But here are six major events and five “bubble-unders” for your consideration:

11. Marutei Tsurunen, Japan’s first foreign-born Diet member of European descent, loses his seat (see “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ,” JBC, Aug. 5).

10. Donald Richie, one of the last of the first postwar generation of NJ commentators on Japan, dies aged 88.

9. Beate Sirota Gordon, one of the last living architects of the liberalizing reforms within the postwar Japanese Constitution, dies at 89.

8. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto takes a revisionist stance on Japanese history regarding the wartime sex-slave issue and reveals his camp’s political vulnerability (“By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor,” JBC, June 4).

7. Tokyo wins the 2020 Olympics, strengthening the mandate of Japan’s ruling class and vested construction interests (see “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right,” JBC, Sept. 1).

6. Xenophobia taints No. 1 cleanup

The Fukushima debacle has been covered better elsewhere, and assessments of its dangers and probable outcomes are for others to debate. Incontrovertible, however, is that international assistance and expertise (despite this being an international problem) have been rejected due to official xenophobia.

Last January, The New York Times quoted Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director of the Environment Ministry and the man in charge of the cleanup, as saying that foreign technologies were somehow not applicable to Japan (“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example”), and that foreigners themselves were menacing (“If we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there”). Nishiyama resigned several months later, but Fukushima’s ongoing crisis continues to be divisively toxic both in fact and thought.

5. Japan to adopt Hague treaty

As the last holdout in the Group of Eight (G-8) nations yet to sign this important treaty governing the treatment of children after divorces, both houses of the Diet took the positive step in May and June (after years of formal nudging by a dozen countries, and a probable shove from U.S. President Barack Obama last February) of unanimously endorsing the convention, with ratification now possible in 2014.

As reported on previous Community pages, Japanese society condones (both in practice and by dint of its legal registration systems) single-parent families severing all contact with one parent after divorce. In the case of international divorces, add on linguistic and visa hurdles, as well as an unsympathetic family court system and a hostile domestic media (which frequently portrays abducting Japanese mothers as liberating themselves from violent foreign fathers).

The Hague treaty seeks to codify and level the playing field for negotiation, settlement and visitation. However, Japanese legal scholars and grass-roots organizations are trying to un-level things by, among other things, fiddling with definitions of “domestic violence” to include acts that don’t involve physical contact, such as heated arguments (bōgen, or violent language) and even glaring at your partner (nirami). Put simply: Lose your temper (or not; just seethe) and you lose your kids. Thus, the treaty will probably end up as yet another international agreement caveated until it is unenforceable in Japan.

4. Visa regimes get a rethink

Two years ago, domestic bureaucrats and experts held a summit to hammer out some policies towards foreign labor. JBC pointed out flaws in their mindsets then (see “In formulating immigration policy, no seat at the table for non-Japanese,” July 3, 2012), and last year they ate some crow for getting it wrong.

First, a highly touted “points system” for attracting highly skilled workers with visa perks (which JBC argued was unrealistically strict; see “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail,” March 6, 2012) had as of September only had 700 applicants; the government had hoped for 2,000. Last month, the Justice Ministry announced it would relax some requirements. It added, though, that more fundamental reforms, such as raising salaries, were also necessary — once again falling for the stereotype that NJ only alight in Japan for money.

In an even bigger U-turn, in October the government lifted its ban on South American NJ of Japanese descent “returning” to Japan. Those who had taken the repatriation bribes of 2009 (see “Golden parachutes for Nikkei mark failure of race-based policy,” JBC, April 7, 2009), giving up their accumulated welfare benefits and Japanese pensions for an airfare home, were now welcome to return to work — as long as they secured stable employment (as in, a one-year contract) before arrival. Good luck with that.

Again, what’s missing in all this is, for example, any guarantee of a) equal protection under labor and civil law against discrimination, b) equal educational opportunities for their children, and c) an integration and settlement program ensuring that revolving-door visas and tenuous jobs do not continue forever. But the Abe administration has never made a formal immigration plan one of its policy “arrows”; and, with the bigger political priorities discussed below, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

3. Hate speech turns murderous

This was also the year that the genteel mask of “polite, peace-loving Japan” slipped a bit, with a number of demonstrations across the nation advocating outright hatred and violence towards NJ. “Good Koreans or bad, kill them all,” proclaimed one placard, while another speaker was recorded on video encouraging a “massacre” in a Korean neighborhood of Osaka. An Asahi Shimbun reporter tweeted that anti-Korean goods were being sold on Diet grounds, while xenophobic invective (even rumors of war with China) became normalized within Japan’s salacious tabloids (see here and here).

It got so bad that the otherwise languid silent majority — who generally respond to xenophobia by ignoring it — started attending counterdemonstrations. Even Japan’s courts, loath to take strong stands on issues that might “curb freedom of speech,” formally recognized “hate speech” as an illegal form of racial discrimination in October, and ordered restitution for victims in one case (a Zainichi Korean school) and a year of actual jail time in another (for harassing a company that had used a Korean actress in its advertising).

However, leading politicians offered only lukewarm condemnations of the hatred (Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it “dishonorable,” months after the fact) and no countermeasures. In fact, in April, Tokyo’s then-governor, Naoki Inose, slagged off fellow Olympic candidate city Istanbul by denigrating Islam — yet Tokyo still got the games.

Meanwhile, people who discussed issues of discrimination in Japan constructively (such as American teacher Miki Dezaki, whose viral YouTube video on the subject cost him his job and resulted in him retreating to a Buddhist monastery for a year) were bullied and sent death threats, courtesy of Japan’s newly labeled legion of anonymous netto uyoku (Internet rightists).

This political camp, as JBC has argued in the past two annual Top 10 lists, is ascendant in Japan as the country swings further to the right. With impressive victories:

2. LDP holds both Diet chambers

In July, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party accomplished its primary goal by chalking up a landslide victory in the Upper House to complement its equally decisive win in the Lower House in December 2012. Then, with virtually no opposition from the left, it got cocky in its deceptiveness.

Shortly after the election, Deputy PM Taro Aso enthused aloud about Nazi Germany’s policymaking tactics, advocating similar stealth for radical constitutional reforms before Japan’s public realizes it. Later it became clear that LDP reform proposals (excising, for example, “Western” conceits of individuality, human rights and a demystified head of state, and replacing them with the duty to “respect” national symbols, the “public interest” and “public order”) might be too difficult to accomplish if laws were actually followed. So off went Abe’s gaijin-handlers on overseas missions (see “Japan brings out the big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.,” JBC, Nov. 6) to announce that reinterpretations of the Constitution’s current wording would resolve pesky postwar restrictions.

Meanwhile, Abe was being rebranded for foreign consumption as a peace-loving “ethnic nationalist” instead of (in JBC’s view) a radical historical revisionist and regional destabilizing force. Not only was his recent visit to controversial Yasukuni Shrine repackaged as a mere pilgrimage to Japan’s version of Arlington National Cemetery, but Japan’s remilitarization was also portrayed as a means to assist America and the world in more effective peacekeeping operations, as seen in Abe’s “human security” and “proactive peace policy” neologisms.

As always, a liberal slathering of “peace” talk helps the munitions go down. Just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. For curtains are precisely what are being drawn with the passage of:

1. The state secrets law

In a country where most reforms proceed at a glacial pace, the Act on Protection of Specified Secrets took everyone by surprise, moving from the public-debate back burner to established law in mere weeks. We still don’t know what will be designated as a “secret,” although official statements have made it clear it would include information about Fukushima, and could be used to curtail “loud” public rallies by protesters LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba likened to “terrorists.”

We do know that the punishments for leakers, including journalists, will be severe: up to 10 years’ jail for leaking something the government says it doesn’t want leaked, and five for “conspiracy” for attempting to get information even if the investigating party didn’t know it was “secret.” It’s so vague that you can get punished for allegedly “planning” the leak — even before the leak has happened or concrete plans have been made to leak. Although resoundingly condemned by Japan’s media, grass roots and the United Nations, it was too little, too late: Stealth won.

The state secrets law is an unfolding issue, but JBC shares the doomsayers’ view: It will underpin the effort to roll back Japan’s postwar democratic reforms and resurrect a prewar-style society governed by perpetual fear of reprisal, where people even in privileged positions will be forced to double-guess themselves into silence regarding substantiated criticism of The State (see the JT’s best article of the year, “The secret of keeping official secrets secret,” by Noriko Hama, Japanese Perspectives, Nov. 30).

After all, information is power, and whoever controls it can profoundly influence social outcomes. Moreover, this law expands “conspiracy” beyond act and into thought. Japan has a history of “thought police” (tokubetsu kōtō keisatsu) very effectively controlling the public in the name of “maintaining order.” This tradition will be resuscitated when the law comes into force in 2014.

In sum, 2013 saw the enfranchised elite consolidating their power further than has ever been seen in the postwar era, while Japan’s disenfranchised peoples, especially its NJ residents, slipped ever lower down the totem pole, becoming targets of suspicion, fear and loathing.

May this year be a healthy one for you and yours. ARUDOU, Debito

Good news: GOJ signs Hague Child Abductions Treaty. Bad news: GOJ will probably caveat its way out of ever following it

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I have some good news to report.  After years of pressure on the GOJ to act like its fellow advanced societies in terms of divorce and child custody, Japan earlier this week signed the Hague Convention on Child Abductions.  Good.  I will comment more after the BBC article:

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Japan votes to adopt child abduction treaty

22 May 2013 BBC News

Japan's Upper House members approve the international treaty Hague Convention after an unanimous vote at the National Diet in Tokyo on 22 May 2013
Japan’s parliament voted unanimously to approve the treaty

Japan’s parliament has voted to adopt an international treaty on child abductions, after years of pressure from Western countries.

The 1980 Hague Convention sets out procedures for handling cross-border child custody disputes.

Japan is the only country out of the Group of Eight industrialised nations (G8) yet to ratify the convention.

Its policies have been blamed for making it easy for Japanese mothers to remove children from foreign fathers.

Parents who have had their children abducted and taken to Japan by ex-spouses have describe the country as a “legal black hole” into which their children disappear, the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports from Tokyo.

In February, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his support for the treaty after meeting US President Barack Obama.

The upper house of parliament voted to join the treaty on Wednesday. The lower house, which is more powerful, approved the treaty last month.

The government will ratify the treaty after finalising domestic procedures, including setting up a central authority responsible for locating abducted children and helping parents settle out of court where possible.

Japan says it aims to ratify the treaty by March 2014.

Divorced abroad

The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction aims to protect the rights of both parents in custody cases.

“When I said I wanted to see [my daughter] on weekends, the judge and the attorneys in the room laughed” — Paul Toland, US Navy Commander

It seeks to ensure that custody decisions are made according to the laws of the country which provided the first residence for the children.

Under the convention, children who are taken away by a parent following a marriage breakdown must be returned to the country where they normally reside, if requested by the other parent.

However, campaigners say little will change until Japan reforms its own archaic divorce laws, our correspondent reports.

Japan’s family courts normally grant custody to one parent – traditionally the mother – after a divorce.

That parent is under no obligation to give the other parent access to the child, and it is not unusual for one parent to be cut out of their children’s lives forever.

There have been more than 200 international custody cases involving Japan. Many involve cases of Japanese nationals – married to non-Japanese nationals – who were divorced abroad taking their children back to Japan, despite joint custody rulings.

One high-profile case is that of US Navy Commander Paul Toland, who lost custody of his daughter Erika after his marriage with his Japanese wife broke down.

“The [family] court completely avoided any discussion regarding visitation with Erika,” he said in a statement in 2009.

“When I said I wanted to see Erika on weekends, the judge and the attorneys in the room laughed.”

He was unable to regain custody after his ex-wife killed herself – instead, his daughter now lives with her maternal grandmother, who Cdr Toland said in his 2009 statement had refused to allow access.

In 2010, the ambassadors of 12 countries, including the US, UK, Australia and Germany, signed a joint statement urging Japan to adopt the 1980 Hague Convention.

However, critics of the convention have previously argued that it could make it harder for Japanese women to flee abusive relationships abroad.

ENDS

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COMMENT:  I don’t want to dismiss this development out of hand, because Japan doing this is a step in the right direction (after all, if even after this I had nothing good to say, then what would EVER count as good news on Debito.org?)  But as I have argued before, I think it’s been signed because enough time has passed for caveats to be put in place — so that the home team will rarely lose a custody case in Japan (furthermore, part of the argument for signing has been that Japanese would have a stronger footing overseas to pursue custody cases in Hague signatory countries — again, benefiting the home team in either case).  After all, the normalized portrayal in Japanese media of NJ as violent spouses, and Japanese as victims (particularly wives, even though they are the great minority in international marriages) has expanded Japan’s definition of “Domestic Violence” to even simple heated arguments.  Fight with your J-wife anytime and lose your kids. The deck is stacked.

Let me quote one submitter:  “From May 13’s Japan Times.  A series of articles hammering home what will evidently be Japan’s final word on the subject, that Japanese fleeing countries abroad are doing so to protect their kids and themselves from angry, violent, abusive foreign husbands.  Cue standardized quotes from proclaimed “expert on the issue” Kensuke Onuki as well as lawyer Mikiko “I was for the convention but now I see it conflicts with Japanese culture” Otani and a slew of heart-wrenching stories of Japanese wives fleeing abusive marriages (one claiming that had Japan been party to the Hague Convention at the time of her escape she would have chosen killing her child and herself than risk a return to her husband.  Whether these individual stories have merit of not, it’s pure one-sided sensationalism.  Where are the Murray Wood stories of wife abuse and neglect?
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100514f1.html
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100514f3.html
“Only Minoru Matsutani’s article sandwiched between offers any sense of balance.”
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100514f2.html

And to quote another anonymous legally-trained friend:  “How to address DV is an issue in all Hague countries. In addition to allegations of DV, the Japanese legislation will also allow a judge to consider whether it would be difficult for EITHER the taking parent OR the parent requesting return to raise the child in the country of origin.  This sounds awfully close to a full-blown custody determination, which is sort of what courts are NOT supposed to do in Hague cases.”

As for future prospects, I shall defer to the better-informed judgment of a specialist international lawyer in this field, who wrote the following shortly before the Hague was signed:

/////////////////////////////////////////

Friday, March 15, 2013

Japan’s Potential Ratification of the Hague Convention: An Update
Jeremy D. Morley

http://www.internationalfamilylawfirm.com/2013/03/japans-potential-ratification-of-hague.html

Japan has not yet ratified the Hague Abduction Convention. The Japanese Cabinet has today reportedly approved the ratification but the necessary legislation has not yet been passed by the Japanese Diet (Parliament).

The issue of Japan’s joining the Hague Convention is still controversial in Japan. Many members of the Diet are flatly opposed to the treaty on the ground that it will lead to the imposition of “Western thinking” on family relationships in Japan, i.e. that it might lead to the intervention of the courts into the private life of families, to the issuance of judicial orders concerning family matters that can be enforced by the power of the state, and to both parents having meaningful rights to their children after a divorce or separation.

Accordingly, newspaper editorials in Japan have demanded that, when Japanese wives “flee” foreign countries because of alleged domestic violence abroad, they must not be forced to return to the country where such abuse has occurred.

Such concerns have already led to inclusion of a provision in the draft legislation that is most likely to lead to an unnecessarily broad interpretation of the “grave risk” exception in Article 13(b) of the Convention. Indeed, that is the intended result.

The result of such an exception would be to shield abductors who are able to claim domestic abuse even though:

  • (a) The legal system in the (American) habitual residence would provide an abuse victim and child with very substantial protection;
  • (b) No change is being made in Japan to the lack of any meaningful provisions in Japanese law for the other parent to have any access to the child or any decision-making role in the life of the child, so that in reality the foreign left-behind parent would still be without any meaningful rights to the child; and
  • (c) There is no meaningful system within Japan to effectively determine the merits of such claims of abuse.

In addition, there is a serious concern that petitioning parents will be forced into mediation before being allowed to proceed with or complete their judicial case. There are special provisions in the draft legislation promoting mediation. If the mediation process works similarly to the current Family Court mediation process it will lead to lengthy delays and extreme unfairness to petitioning parents.

Mediation is generally an extremely unhelpful forum for foreigners in family law cases in Japan, since (i) foreign parties must appear in person regardless of their place of residency, (ii) the sessions are usually short and are repeatedly adjourned for lengthy periods of time, necessitating multiple inconvenient and expensive visits to Japan, (iii) the foreigners’ views are generally misunderstood for language and cultural reasons, and (iv) the foreigners are pressured to accept unfair terms since there is no enforcement of court decisions in family law matters in Japan and because they are told that their refusal to accept the mediators’ recommendations will be held against them in a trial.

When most other countries have joined the Convention the United States could choose whether or not to accept the accession. If a country has not enacted satisfactory legislation designed to effectively enforce the terms of the Convention other countries need not accept the accession. Such is the case with Thailand, which acceded to the Convention in 2002 but has not yet enacted implementing legislation satisfactory to the United States or several other countries. By contrast, as an original member of the Hague Conference, Japan will not be acceding to the Convention, but will ratify it which will trigger its immediate entry into force without any place for international review.

Meanwhile, the Japanese public is being told that even if Japan signs the Convention, “The return of a child can be denied if the parent seeking it is believed to abuse the child or have difficulties raising him or her.” Daily Yomiuri, Mar. 16, 2013. If that is the gloss that Japan intends to put on the Hague Convention – even though the Convention is expressly designed to secure the expeditious return of all abducted children except in extremely unusual cases – there is little or no point in Japan’s purported ratification of the treaty.

The result of Japan’s ratification of the Convention will likely be to create the appearance of Japan’s compliance with international norms but without any of the substance.

ENDS

/////////////////////////////////////////

CONCLUSION:  Same as other treaties that Japan has signed but doesn’t enforce, I think the Hague will wind up as a historical footnote as another treaty Japan chooses to ignore.  When we see the highly unlikely prospect of children of international marriages abducted to Japan sent back overseas by a Japanese court (in contrast to other judiciaries that DO repatriate children, see for example here and here) then I’ll think progress has been made.  But it’s pretty inconceivable to me, since child abduction happens between Japanese couples too thanks to Japan’s insane marriage system, and it’s hard to imagine foreigners suddenly being granted more rights in Japanese marriages than fellow Japanese.  Arudou Debito

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 13, 2013 PART 2: New eBooks by Debito on sale now

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eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 13, 2013 PART TWO

Hello Newsletter Readers. This month’s Newsletter is a little late due to a press holiday on May 7, the date my Japan Times column was originally to come out. So this month you get two editions that are chock full of important announcements. As a supplement, here is information about three new books of mine that are now out in downloadable eBook form:

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1) Debito’s eBook “GUIDEBOOK FOR RELOCATION AND ASSIMILATION INTO JAPAN” now available on Amazon and NOOK for download. USD $19.99

rsz_finished_book_coverB&N

Following December’s publication of the revised 2nd Edition of long-selling HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS comes a companion eBook for those who want to save paper (and money). A handy reference book for securing stable jobs, visas, and lifestyles in Japan, GUIDEBOOK has been fully revised and is on sale for $19.99 USD (or your currency equivalent, pegged to the USD on Amazons worldwide).

See contents, reviews, a sample chapter, and links to online purchasing outlets at http://www.debito.org/handbook.html

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2) Debito’s eBook “JAPANESE ONLY: THE OTARU ONSENS CASE AND RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN JAPAN” now available in a 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION on Amazon and NOOK for download. USD $9.99

japaneseonlyebookcovertext

It has been more than ten years since bathhouses in Otaru, Hokkaido, put up “NO FOREIGNERS” signs at their front doors, and a full decade since the critically-acclaimed book about the landmark anti-discrimination lawsuit came out. Now with a new Introduction and Postscript updating what has and hasn’t changed in the interim, JAPANESE ONLY remains the definitive work about how discrimination by race remains a part of the Japanese social landscape.

See contents, reviews, a sample chapter, and links to online purchasing outlets at http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html

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3) Debito’s eBook “IN APPROPRIATE: A NOVEL OF CULTURE, KIDNAPPING, AND REVENGE IN MODERN JAPAN” now available on Amazon and NOOK for download. USD $9.99

In Appropriate cover

My first nonfiction novel that came out two years ago, IN APPROPRIATE is the story of a person who emigrates to Japan, finds his niche during the closing days of the Bubble Years, and realizes that he has married into a locally-prominent family whose interests conflict with his. The story is an amalgam of several true stories of divorce and child abduction in Japan, and has received great praise from Left-Behind Parents for its sincerity and authenticity.

See contents, reviews, a sample chapter, and links to online purchasing outlets at http://www.debito.org/inappropriate.html

========================

Thanks for reading and perhaps purchasing!  Arudou Debito

ENDS

Now on Amazon Kindle and Barnes&Noble NOOK: Debito’s eBook novel “IN APPROPRIATE”, on child abductions after divorce in Japan: $9.99

mytest

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Hi Blog. Following up on my last blog post about JAPANESE ONLY: Otaru Onsens Case coming out as a special edition eBook, I am pleased to announce that my nonfiction novel, “IN APPROPRIATE: A Novel of Culture, Kidnapping, and Revenge in Modern Japan“, is now downloadable from Amazons worldwide and Barnes & Noble as a Kindle or NOOK eBook. Price: $9.99.

ELECTRONIC DOWNLOAD FROM AMAZON.COM WORLDWIDE IN KINDLE FORMAT (at USD$9.99)

ELECTRONIC DOWNLOAD FROM BARNES&NOBLE.COM IN NOOK FORMAT (at USD$10.00)

In Appropriate cover

My first published foray into fiction, IN APPROPRIATE is a thriller about child abductions in Japan after divorce — where one parent loses all custody and access in Japan regardless of nationality. It is an amalgam of several actual cases of child abduction framed on a fictional character, Gary, an American who falls for a Japanese girl in college, then follows her back to Japan during its Bubble Era aftermath. Not only does IN APPROPRIATE chart the progress of Gary’s assimilation into Japanese society, it also marks the slow but steady decline of fortunes for everyone in Japan as the economy sours and opportunities shrink. Gary also realizes that he has married into an elite Japanese family whose priorities regarding his children’s future do not match his, and he eventually realizes that he will have to do something drastic to save them.

Praise from readers of IN APPROPRIATE has been very positive. Only yesterday I got this feedback:

“Just bought online and finished reading your Kindle book ‘IN APPROPRIATE.’ Pretty good short read. You should come up with another using Gary and where he left off in Thailand. I especially liked it being a short read that I could finish in one sitting. I enjoyed your first fiction book and hope you come out with another.”

Other readers might concur:

“ARUDOU Debito’s depiction of how quickly life gets turned upside down by the crazy family rules in Japan will do more than just grab your attention. It will make you cry at the strange and deplorable tale of love lost in Japan. IN APPROPRIATE sheds necessary light on the twisted norms and laws in Japan that not only allow, but also encourage parents to abduct their children from one another. A must-read primer on the issue.”Eric Kalmus, Children’s Rights Network Japan (www.crnjapan.net), and Left-Behind Parent.

“IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito is a work of fiction, full of fact… I read the book twice; once to check the facts and once to feel the emotions. There is no other way to describe this but say that on both fronts, the book hits home. Many people reading this will not believe it, but as somebody that has ‘been there and done that”‘ I can honestly say this is one of the most powerful books I have ever read… If an inside, in-depth view of Japan is what you are after, then this book is for you.”John Evans, Left-Behind Parent.

“I am not a left-behind parent but I am a Japan Veteran. I first went to Japan planning to spend a year and in the end spent 7 years of my life there. I married a Japanese, have two kids, and now live back in my home country with my wife and kids. Reading through Gary’s early experiences with Japan and the culture was like reading my own diary. Thankfully the second half of the book wasn’t. The book is engaging, informative, and authentic. I highly recommend IN APPROPRIATE. At the end I wanted more. Some will take that as a criticism but it’s because I began to care about some of the characters and I wanted to know more. Without a doubt the book will appeal more to us Japanophiles, but a good story is a good story. I’ve read a lot of Japan-centric fiction, both good and bad. I classify this as great, and look forward to future fictional works by Debito.”Steve Fylypchuk

More information, reviews, and ordering details at http://www.debito.org/inappropriate.html.

ELECTRONIC DOWNLOAD FROM AMAZON.COM WORLDWIDE IN KINDLE FORMAT (at USD$9.99)

ELECTRONIC DOWNLOAD FROM BARNES&NOBLE.COM IN NOOK FORMAT (at USD$10.00)

Sample first chapter readable for free at these outlets as well.

Thanks for reading Debito.org, and if you like what you read here, consider supporting the site by downloading a copy of IN APPROPRIATE and/or JAPANESE ONLY.  You get the same good read you get here, and both are now very affordably priced at $9.99 or local currency equivalent anywhere in the world.  Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 59: The year for NJ in 2012: a Top 10

mytest

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Hi Blog. Thanks everyone for putting this article in the Top Ten Most Read once again for most of New Year’s Day (and to the JT for distinguishing this with another “Editor’s Pick”). Great illustrations as always by Chris Mackenzie.  Here’s hoping I have more positive things to say in next year’s roundup… This version with links to sources. Enjoy. And Happy New Year 2013.  Arudou Debito

=================================

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013

The year for non-Japanese in ’12: a top 10

By ARUDOU DEBITO

Back by popular demand, here is JBC’s roundup of the top 10 human rights events that most affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan in 2012, in ascending order.

10. Keene’s naturalization (March 7)
News photo

This should have occasioned great celebration in Japan’s era of crisis, but instead, scholar Donald Keene’s anointment as a Japanese citizen became a cautionary tale, for two reasons. One was his very public denigration of other NJ (despite their contributions as full-time Japan residents, taxpayers and family creators) as alleged criminals and “flyjin” deserters (JBC, Apr. 3), demonstrating how Old Japan Hands eat their young. The other was the lengths one apparently must go for acceptance: If you spend the better part of a century promoting Japanese literature to the world, then if you live to, oh, the age of 90, you might be considered “one of us.”

It seems Japan would rather celebrate a pensioner salving a wounded Japan than young multiethnic Japanese workers potentially saving it.

9. Liberty Osaka defunded (June 2)
News photo

Liberty Osaka (www.liberty.or.jp), Japan’s only human rights museum archiving the historical grass-roots struggles of disenfranchised minorities, faces probable closure because its government funding is being cut off. Mayor Toru Hashimoto, of hard-right Japan Restoration Party fame (and from a disenfranchised minority himself), explicitly said the divestment is due to the museum’s displays being “limited to discrimination and human rights,” thereby failing to present Japan’s children with a future of “hopes and dreams.”

In a country with the most peace museums in the world, this politically motivated ethnic cleansing of the past augurs ill for cultural heterogeneity under Japan’s right-wing swing (see below).

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10619 http://japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3818

8. Nationality Law ruling (March 23)
News photo

In a throwback to prewar eugenics, Tokyo District Court ruled constitutional a section of the Nationality Law’s Article 12 stating that a) if a man sires a child with a foreigner b) overseas, and c) does not file for the child’s Japanese citizenship within three months of birth, then citizenship may legally be denied.

Not only did this decision erode the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that granted citizenship to international children born out of wedlock, but it also made clear that having “foreign blood” (in a country where citizenship is blood-based) penalizes Japanese children — because if two Japanese nationals have a child overseas, or if the child is born to a Japanese woman, Article 12 does not apply. The ruling thus reinforced a legal loophole helping Japanese men evade responsibility if they fool around with foreign women.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10060 http://www.debito.org/?p=1715

7. No Hague signing (September 8)
News photo

Japan’s endorsement of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction became a casualty of months of political gridlock, as the opposition Liberal Democratic Party blocked about a third of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s bills.

The treaty outlines protocol for how children of broken marriages can avoid international tugs of war. As the Community Pages have reported umpteen times, Japan, one of the few developed countries that is not a signatory, remains a haven for postdivorce parental alienation and child abductions.

Since joint custody does not legally exist and visitation rights are not guaranteed, after a Japanese divorce one parent (regardless of nationality) is generally expected to disappear from their child’s life. Former Diet member Masae Ido (a parental child abductor herself) glibly called this “a Japanese custom.” If so, it is one of the most psychologically damaging customs possible for a child, and despite years of international pressure on Japan to join the Hague, there is now little hope of that changing.

Sources:  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120908a2.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=10548

6. Immigration talks (May 24-August 27)
News photo

In one of the few potentially bright spots for NJ in Japan this year, the Yoshihiko Noda Cabinet convened several meetings on how Japan might go about creating a “coexistence society” that could “accept” NJ (JBC, July 3). A well-intentioned start, the talks included leaders of activist groups, local governments and one nikkei academic.

Sadly, it fell into old ideological traps: 1) Participants were mostly older male Japanese bureaucrats; 2) those bureaucrats were more interested in policing NJ than in making them more comfortable and offering them a stake in society; 3) no NJ leader was consulted about what NJ themselves might want; and 4) the Cabinet itself confined its concerns to the welfare of nikkei residents, reflecting the decades-old (but by now obviously erroneous) presumption that only people with “Japanese bloodlines” could “become Japanese.”

In sum, even though the government explicitly stated in its goals that NJ immigration (without using the word, imin) would revitalize our economy, it still has no clue how to make NJ into “New Japanese.”

Source:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10396

5. Mainali, Suraj cases (June 7, July 3)
News photo

2012 saw the first time an NJ serving a life sentence in Japan was declared wrongfully convicted, in the case of Govinda Prasad Mainali. The last time that happened (Toshikazu Sugaya in 2009), the victim was released with a very public apology from public prosecutors. Mainali, however, despite 15 years in the clink, was transferred to an immigration cell and deported. At least both are now free men.

On the other hand, the case of Abubakar Awudu Suraj (from last year’s top 10), who died after brutal handling by Japanese immigration officers during his deportation on March 22, 2010, was dropped by public prosecutors who found “no causal relationship” between the treatment and his death.

Thus, given the “hostage justice” (hitojichi shihō) within the Japanese criminal prosecution system, and the closed-circuit investigation system that protects its own, the Japanese police can incarcerate you indefinitely and even get away with murder — particularly if you are an NJ facing Japan’s double standards of jurisprudence (Zeit Gist, Mar. 24, 2009).

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=9265
http://www.debito.org/?p=10407
“Hostage justice”: http://www.debito.org/?p=1426

4. Visa regimes close loop (August)
News photo

Over the past two decades, we have seen Japan’s visa regimes favoring immigration through blood ties — offering limited-term work visas with no labor law rights to Chinese “trainees” while giving quasi-permanent-residency “returnee” visas to nikkei South Americans, for example.

However, after 2007’s economic downturn, blood was judged to be thinner than unemployment statistics, and the government offered the nikkei (and the nikkei only) bribes of free airfares home if they forfeited their visa status (JBC, Apr. 7, 2009). They left in droves, and down went Japan’s registered NJ population for the first time in nearly a half-century — and in 2012 the Brazilian population probably dropped to fourth place behind Filipinos.

But last year was also when the cynical machinations of Japan’s “revolving door” labor market became apparent to the world (JBC, March 6) as applications for Japan’s latest exploitative visa wheeze, “trainee” nurses from Indonesia and the Philippines, declined — and even some of the tiny number of NJ nurses who did pass the arduous qualifying exam left. Naturally, Japan’s media (e.g., Kyodo, June 20; Aug. 4) sought to portray NJ as ungrateful and fickle deserters, but nevertheless doubts remain as to whether the nursing program will continue. The point remains that Japan is increasingly seen as a place to avoid in the world’s unprecedented movement of international labor.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10010
http://www.debito.org/?p=10497
http://www.debito.org/?p=10340
International labor migration stats http://www.oecd.org/els/internationalmigrationpoliciesanddata/internationalmigrationoutlook2012.htm

3. New NJ registry system (July 5)
News photo

One of the most stupefying things about postwar Japan has been how NJ could not be registered with their Japanese families on the local residency registry system (jūmin kihon daichō) — meaning NJ often went uncounted in local population tallies despite being taxpaying residents! In 2012, this exclusionary system was finally abolished along with the Foreign Registry Law.

Unfortunately, this good news was offset by a) NJ still not being properly registered on family registries (koseki), b) NJ still having to carry gaijin cards at all times (except now with potentially remotely readable computer chips), and c) NJ still being singled out for racial profiling in spot ID checks by Japanese police (even though the remaining applicable law requires probable cause). It seems that old habits die hard, or else just get rejiggered with loopholes.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10414
http://www.debito.org/?p=9718
Remotely readable computer chips http://www.debito.org/?p=10750

2. Post-Fukushima Japan is bust
News photo

After the multiple disasters of March 11, 2011, there was wan hope that Japan’s electorate would be energized enough to demand better governance. Nope. And this despite the revelations in December 2011 that the fund for tsunami victims was diverted to whaling “research.” And the confusing and suppressed official reports about radioactive contamination of the ecosystem. And the tsunami victims who still live in temporary housing. And the independent parliamentary report that vaguely blamed “Japanese culture” for the disaster (and, moreover, offered different interpretations for English- and Japanese-reading audiences). And the reports in October that even more rescue money had been “slush-funded” to unrelated projects, including road building in Okinawa, a contact lens factory in central Japan and renovations of Tokyo government offices.

Voters had ample reason for outrage, yet they responded (see below) by reinstating the original architects of this system, the LDP.

For everyone living in Japan (not just NJ), 2012 demonstrated that the Japanese system is beyond repair or reform.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=9745
http://www.debito.org/?p=9756
http://www.debito.org/?p=10706
http://www.debito.org/?p=10428
http://www.debito.org/?p=9698
http://japanfocus.org/-Iwata-Wataru/3841

1. Japan swings right (December)
News photo

Two columns ago (JBC, Nov. 6), I challenged former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara (whose rabble-rousing bigotry has caused innumerable headaches for disenfranchised people in Japan, particularly NJ) to “bring it on” and show Japan’s true colors to the world in political debates. Well, he did. After a full decade of successfully encouraging Japanese society to see NJ (particularly Chinese) as innately criminal, Ishihara ratcheted things up by threatening to buy three of the privately-owned Senkaku islets (which forced the Noda administration to purchase them instead, fanning international tensions). Then Ishihara resigned his governorship, formed a “restorationist” party and rode the wave of xenophobia caused by the territorial disputes into the Diet’s Lower House (along with 53 other party members) in December’s general election.

Also benefiting from Ishihara’s ruses was the LDP, who with political ally New Komeito swept back into power with 325 seats. As this is more than the 320 necessary to override Upper House vetoes, Japan’s bicameral legislature is now effectively unicameral. I anticipate policy proposals (such as constitutional revisions to allow for a genuine military, fueling an accelerated arms race in Asia) reflecting the same corporatist rot that created the corrupt system we saw malfunctioning after the Fukushima disaster. (Note that if these crises had happened on the LDP’s watch, I bet the DPJ would have enjoyed the crushing victory instead — tough luck.)

In regards to NJ, since Japan’s left is now decimated and three-quarters of the 480-seat Lower House is in the hands of conservatives, I foresee a chauvinistic movement enforcing bloodline-based patriotism (never mind the multiculturalism created by decades of labor influx and international marriage), love of a “beautiful Japan” as defined by the elites, and more officially sanctioned history that downplays, ignores and overwrites the contributions of NJ and minorities to Japanese society.

In sum, if 2011 exposed a Japan in decline, 2012 showed a Japan closing.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10854
New arms race:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20302604 (Watch the video from minute 5.30:  the Hyuuga, Postwar Japan’s first new aircraft carrier is now in commission, two new big aircraft carriers are in production.)

Bubbling under (in descending order):

• China’s anti-Japan riots (September) and Senkaku-area maneuvers (October to now).

• North Korea’s missile test timed for Japan’s elections (December 12).

• NJ workers’ right to strike reaffirmed in court defeat of Berlitz (February 27).

• NJ on welfare deprived of waiver of public pension payments (August 10), later reinstated after public outcry (October 21).

• Statistics show 2011’s postdisaster exodus of NJ “flyjin” to be a myth (see JBC, Apr. 3).

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10055
http://www.debito.org/?p=10081

Debito Arudou and Akira Higuchi’s bilingual 2nd Edition of “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants,” with updates for 2012’s changes to immigration laws, is now on sale. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp.
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013
ENDS

“From the Shadows” documentary on Japan’s child abductions debuts in Philly Film Festival Oct 23 & 27, tickets on sale now

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Great news.  A movie that has been close to a decade in the making is finally hitting the silver screen:  A documentary on child abductions after divorce in Japan (something I have personal experience with; I was interviewed regarding the Murray Wood Case six years ago; the documentary project has since expanded into something much, much bigger and my interview got cut.  Ah well, DVD extras…?).  Directors David Hearn and Matt Antell have this to say:

////////////////////////////////////////////

From The Shadows, a documentary film about Parental Child abduction in Japan, will premiere at the Philadelphia Film Festival on October 23rd and October 27th. This film follows the lives of 5 “Left Behind Parents” trying desperately to reconnect with their children after having their child-parent relationship cut by the other parent. Through their individual stories we examine why this situation is so common in Japan and hear opinions from an array of experts on the situation. The film has had work-in-progress screenings on Capitol Hill (Nov. 2011) and in Tokyo (Apr. 2012) that was attended by the foreign ministry and several embassy reps.
The screening venues and times for the Philadelphia Film Festival are:

1. Tuesday October 23rd, 5:00 pm  – Prince Music Theater – 1412 Chestnut Street  Philadelphia, PA 19102
2. Saturday October 27th 7:35 pm  – Ritz East – 125 South Second Street  Philadelphia, PA 19106

First go to this link: http://filmadelphia.festivalgenius.com/2012/films/fromtheshadows0_mattantell_filmadelphia2012
 
Then go to the bottom of the screen and make sure you select the screening(s) you want to attend and proceed through to payment.

We hope you can attend one or both screenings. There will be a Q and A session after each screening and a reception after the 27th screening. More information on the film and the trailer can be seen at www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com

Please contact David at david@fromtheshadowsmovie.com for more information.

//////////////////////////////////
Congrats, guys.  I’m nowhere near Philly, but those who are, please consider attending!  Wish I could be there!  Hope it gets picked up by a distributor!  Arudou Debito

Diet session ends, Hague Convention on Int’l Child Abductions endorsement bill not passed

mytest

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Hi Blog. After much political gridlock (the likes of which have not been seen, since, oh, the LDP was in power and the DPJ controlled the Upper House — not that long ago), the current Diet session is over, and one bill that matters to Debito.org did not pass: The one endorsing Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions. You know — the treaty that just about everyone else in the club of rich developed nations has signed, and the one that stops you at an international border if you’re traveling single with a child, demanding proof that you’re not abducting your child from the other parent. It’s a good idea, since divorce in Japan due to the Koseki Family Registry System results in one parent (regardless of nationality) losing all legal ties to the child, and leads in many (almost all, it’s estimated) cases to the child growing up with no contact whatsoever (since Japan does not allow joint custody) with the noncustodial parent.  It’s even worse for international marriages, and Japan has gotten a lot of pressure from other countries in recent years to sign.  Now unsuccessfully.

Entire movie at http://crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/itn-sbfaja.html

Well, so Japan will remain a haven for child abductions, both domestic and international. But the interesting thing I’m seeing concrete evidence of these days is overseas Japanese taking advantage of this system, banding together to assist each other in abducting their children to Japan, and the Japanese embassies/consulates cooperating with them as they spirit them into Japan.  (I’ll blog about that someday once I receive permission to make that information public.)

But as I have argued before, I’m not sure it really matters if Japan signs the Hague. The GOJ has signed other treaties before (most notably the Convention for Elimination on Racial Discrimination), and refuses to enforce them under domestic laws with criminal penalties (or in Japan’s case regarding the CERD, now signed 17 years ago, refuses to create any laws at all).  In the Hague’s case, the GOJ was looking for ways to caveat themselves out of enforcing it (by creating laws of their own advantageous to Wajin spiriters of children that would trump the HCICA, or finding loopholes, such as claims of DV (that only NJ inflict upon us gentle, mild, weak, peaceful Wajin), that would allow the children to stay in Japan out of fear.)

Or, true to character, we’ll have people claiming that it’s a matter of “Japanese custom” (shuukan) the last resort for any unjustifiable situation (only this time coming from elected Japanese Dietmember Ido Masae who herself abducted her kids):

http://www.crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/blg-jldpac.html

It’s pretty messy, by design, so visit the Children’s Rights Network Japan Website to try and untangle it.

So I guess the question I’d like to open up for discussion is:

Is it better for a nation-state to be bold-faced about it and just say, “We can’t enforce this treaty due to our culture, so we’re not going to sign it, and if you don’t like it, don’t marry our citizens”? Or, is it better for a nation-state to sign it, not enforce it, and face the (geopolitically mild) pressure of a broken promise? I know which route the GOJ has taken so far. Arudou Debito

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Rocky, extended Diet session over; bills, treaties left in lurch
Hague, vote-value, deficit bond measures fail to clear grudge fest
The Japan Times, September 8, 2012
By MASAMI ITO Staff writer
Excerpt, rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120908a2.html

The extended 229-day Diet session closes with a whimper Saturday, with piles of important bills and treaties left unaddressed and voters left only with an image of lawmakers engaging in political maneuvering for their own goals — particularly those over the contentious sales tax hike and over the next Lower House election.

And now both the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party are focused on one thing — the presidential elections for both parties to be held this month to choose the leaders who will guide their parties in that next general election…

During the current Diet session, which started in January, only 66 percent of newly submitted government-sponsored bills cleared both chambers.

Political squabbling took center stage last month when the nonbinding censure motion against Noda was approved by the Upper House, stopping almost all Diet deliberations.

Thus the government also failed to live up to its promise to the international community to pass a bill to endorse the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to prevent estranged parents from spiriting a couple’s children across borders.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120908a2.html

USG Asst Sec of State links post-divorce Japan child abductions with DPRK abductions of Japanese

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Some news on the Japan Child Abductions Issue, where Japan has long set itself up as a safe haven for one parent to abscond with their child following separation or divorce (regardless of whether the marriage was international or domestic), what with no joint custody and no guaranteed child visitation in Japan.  Thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system, the divorced couple becomes strangers to each other, and children go on only one parent’s koseki (with the other parent losing all legal title and access to their kids unless the custodial parent approves).  In cases of international/intercontinental separation or divorce, the Japanese partner can abduct their child to Japan (since Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, and the Japanese embassy does not enforceably require the permission of both parents to issue a Japanese child a Japanese passport), and that’s it — the kids are gone.  Japanese courts have always ruled that the absconder has established “habitual residence” in Japan by dint, so who dares wins.  Meanwhile, despite international protests about the GOJ not being a signatory to the Hague, Japan has been dragging its feet for years now on signing (and as I have argued in the past, will probably caveat its way out of enforcing it anyway, as it has done with other treaties (like the CERD and the ICCPR)).

Finally, enough has become enough for sensible people.  According to articles below, US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has once again come out in public making a link between the irony of all the tragedymaking regarding Japanese being kidnapped decades ago by the DPRK (which is indeed a tragedy, yes), yet the lack of tragedy over Japanese still kidnapping international kids.  Good.  We’ve made that comparison before here on Debito.org, and were roundly condemned by the usual suspects for doing so.  (And, as a related tangent, I’ve probably criticized the most by people misquoting me as advocating that foreigners shouldn’t marry Japanese.  No, for the record, I’m saying NOBODY, Japanese or NJ, should get married and have children under the insane family law system in Japan; the risks are too great if parents separate).

As per articles below, the Japanese press is of course rallying the public behind the home team via editorial camouflaged as news (it’s hard to discern even what Campbell actually said).  It’s even trying to instruct the Japanese public how English is different than Japanese.  You see, if a North Korean kidnaps a Japanese, its “abduction” (rachi).  But if a Japanese kidnaps an international child, its “tsuresari” (taking along and disappearing).  But you see, the English language is inflexible — it only has one word for this action:  “abduction”.  So it’s all one big “linguistic misunderstanding”.  Even though, in either case, abduction is what it is.

And if you really want to take this issue to the next level of linkage, consider this comment from a friend:

As noted in Wikipedia, “In 1944, the Japanese authorities extended the mobilization of Japanese civilians for labor to the Korean peninsula. Of the 5,400,000 Koreans conscripted, about 670,000 were taken to mainland Japan . . .”  And the Japanese have the audacity to complain about 20 or so Japanese abducted to North Korea?  The Japanese government should apologize and compensate the 5 million Koreans conscripted 70 years ago before uttering a single word about the actions of North Korea 35 years ago.

So underlying all of this is an issue of hypocrisy, and now the GOJ is probably going to have to resort to its only real defense when cornered on an issue:  agonistic posturing and outrage — trying to derail the issue in favor of maintaining “The Relationship”.  People have fallen for this before (after all, the US wants to keep its military bases and its market to sell inter alia weaponry).  But I’m not sure this issue is really big enough (I think Masumoto has an inflated sense of his own power) to do that.  Let’s keep our eyes on this one, since it’s a good case study of gaiatsu and GOJ policy in the making.  Arudou Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////

Abductees’ families protest Campbell’s remarks
NHK World Tuesday, May 08, 2012 14:31 +0900 (JST) Courtesy of CS
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/20120508_22.html

Families of Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korea have protested an attempt by a senior US diplomat to link that issue to parental child abductions.

The families met with Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell in Washington on Monday. They say Campbell discussed parents who take their children to Japan without permission after the collapse of their marriages to US partners. They add that Campbell told them he wanted the 2 abduction issues simultaneously resolved and called for Japan’s cooperation.

After the meeting, a senior member of the group, Teruaki Masumoto, told reporters that they strongly rejected Campbell’s comments. He called it unacceptable to regard North Korea’s abductions, in which lives are at risk, in the same light as the custody of children between couples.

The US side reportedly explained that whether they are by a state or by parents after a failed relationship, they are still abductions, highlighting a difference in how the North Korean abductions issue is perceived.
ENDS

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

Campbell’s remarks irk kin of Japanese victims of abduction
Mainichi Shimbun May 08, 2012
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120508p2g00m0dm011000c.html

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) — The families of some Japanese victims of abduction by North Korea said they were upset by remarks by Kurt Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat on East Asian policy, in their meeting Monday at which he urged Japan to address the issue of parental child abduction.

Campbell devoted nearly half of his time at the meeting at the State Department to stressing the importance of the parental child abduction issue, according to Teruaki Masumoto, whose sister Rumiko was abducted by North Korean agents.

The United States and other countries are currently pressing Japan to sign an international treaty on dealing with cases of parental child abductions.

Campbell brought the issue up despite saying it was not related to the abductions of Japanese by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s, Masumoto said.

“I told the U.S. side that the parental child abduction is an issue that should be basically resolved between parents, while the abduction (of Japanese by North Korea) is a state crime and the abductees’ lives are at stake,” he told reporters in Washington.

“We cannot accept” that the two issues were raised at the same time, Masumoto added.

Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, was meeting with a Japanese group comprising family members of abduction victims and a cross-party group of Diet members dealing with the issue.

After Campbell later left the room, his deputy Jim Zumwalt explained to the Japanese side that Washington will continue to take up the abduction issue appropriately, Masumoto said.

If the Japanese pubic believed that Washington was linking the two issues, the relationship of trust that has been built between the two countries could collapse, he said.

“We will urge the United States to firmly understand that the abductions (by North Korea) are a vital matter,” he said.

Takeo Hiranuma, who heads the Diet members’ multiparty caucus, said he has no intention of raising the U.S. response in the meeting as a political issue.

U.S. officials with whom the families of the Japanese abductees and supporting lawmakers met included Robert King, special envoy for North Korean human rights, Glyn Davies, special representative for North Korean policy, and David Cohen, deputy secretary of treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.

The Japanese group also provided the U.S. government with “convincing information” about David Sneddon, a native of Utah who was possibly abducted by North Korea while in China in 2004.

The group said they plan to meet with U.S. lawmakers from Utah on Tuesday.

Japan will seek Diet passage of a bill to ratify the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction during the current session through June.

Japan is the only member of the Group of Eight developed countries yet to join the treaty.

ENDS

/////////////////////////////////////////////////
 JAPAN TIMES CITES SAME KYODO ARTICLE
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120509a9.html
/////////////////////////////////////////////////

拉致と親権同一視と抗議 被害者家族、米高官に
西日本新聞 2012年5月8日 Courtesy of CS
http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/item/301021

【ワシントン共同】訪米中の拉致被害者家族会の増元照明事務局長は7日、ワシントンで記者団に、キャンベル国務次官補(東アジア・太平洋担当)と同日面会した際、国際結婚が破綻した夫婦の一方が無断で子どもを日本に連れ帰る事例と、北朝鮮による拉致問題とを同一視するかのような発言があったため強く抗議したと述べた。

米側は日本政府に対し、国際的な親権問題に対処する「ハーグ条約」早期批准を要請。英語では親権問題でも子どもを一方的に連れ帰ることを「拉致」と表現する。このため米国内では北朝鮮による拉致問題を訴える日本側に対し、親権問題も同じ「拉致」問題だと主張する声がある。
ENDS

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

ハーグ条約 子の連れ去りと同一視」 拉致家族会、抗議
東京新聞 2012年5月8日 夕刊 Courtesy of CS
http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/world/news/CK2012050802000236.html

【ワシントン=竹内洋一】訪米中の拉致被害者家族会の増元照明事務局長は七日、ワシントンの国務省で複数の同省高官と面会した際、キャンベル国務次官補(東アジア・太平洋担当)が、外国人と離婚した日本人の親が子どもを連れ帰る問題と、北朝鮮による拉致問題を同一視するかのような発言をしたとして、強く抗議したことを明らかにした。

面会では、家族会の飯塚繁雄代表らが拉致問題解決への協力を米側に要請。家族会側によると、キャンベル氏は拉致問題とは別の問題と断った上で、国際結婚が破綻した夫妻の子どもの扱いを定めた「ハーグ条約」を日本政府が早く批准するよう促したという。増元氏は「拉致は北朝鮮による国家犯罪であり、夫婦の親権問題とは違う」と反論した。

日本政府は米政府の要請を踏まえ、ハーグ条約加盟に向け関連法案と条約承認案を国会に提出。面会には拉致議連の平沼赳夫会長ら衆参議員も同席しており、キャンベル氏は国会の審議促進を求めたとみられる。英語では国際結婚が破綻した親が、子どもを連れ去ることを「拉致」と同じ意味の「アブダクション」と表現する。
ENDS

ENDS

Asahi & AFP on GOJ proposals re observing Hague Child Abduction Treaty, more loopholes such as NJ DV, and even bonus racist imagery

mytest

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Hi Blog. On what looks to be the end game regarding Japan signing the Hague Treaty on International Child Abductions, here’s a quickie article saying Japan’s probably gonna do it.

Japan moves closer to child custody pact
(AFP) – March 9, 2010, courtesy of this Google link, h/t to TA

TOKYO — Japan’s government on Friday approved a bill to join a pact on settling cross-border child custody rows, opening the way for its adoption after years of foreign pressure.
The cabinet approved the bill that would mean Japan signing the 1980 Hague Convention. It would extend custody rights to non-Japanese parents whose children are moved to Japan by their former spouse.
The bill is now set to be debated in parliament.
Japan is the only major industrial nation that has not signed the treaty and has been pressured in recent years by the United States and other countries to do so.
Japanese courts almost never grant custody to foreign parents, particularly fathers, when international marriages break up.  ENDS

Nice how it’s pretty much background information by now that “Japanese courts almost never grant custody to foreign parents, particularly fathers“, which in fact can be grounded in statistics.  Now contrast that with the invective that one sees time and again in the Japanese media and GOJ debates, where we have the appearance of victimized Japanese females being harassed by NJ males (including even the threat of domestic violence), when in fact child abduction and parental alienation happens between Japanese too, given that there is no joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights in Japan. Check out this article below from the Asahi last January. Bonus:  The newspaper’s pictorially racist portrayal of the non-Distaff Side of the international couple.  And that’s before you even get to the unlikely prospect of Japan actually ever enforcing the Hague (see here also), just like it never enforces the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination.  The discourse will continue as such.  Arudou Debito

=================================

Child-custody procedures proposed, but conditions apply
Asahi Shimbun, January 12, 2012
By TSUYOSHI TAMURA / Staff Writer

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201201240044

In an outline of procedures for the Hague Convention on international child-custody disputes, a government panel has proposed allowing court officials to forcibly remove a child from a Japanese parent to return him or her to the country of habitual residence.

In its draft proposal on Jan. 23, a subcommittee of the Legislative Council, an advisory panel to the justice minister, also said the child will not have to be returned if he or she may face violence from the parent back in the other country.

Japan has been under pressure to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is designed mainly to deal with cross-border “abductions” by parents following broken international marriages.

The government plans to draw up a bill for domestic procedures based on the panel’s proposal and seek Diet approval during the ordinary session that opened on Jan. 24.

The United States and European countries have been pressing Japan to join the Hague Convention. Passage of the bill will pave the way for Japan’s accession.

But it is still unclear whether the bill will pass the Diet because some lawmakers, both in the ruling and opposition parties, are opposed and the government has other priority legislation, such as the consumption tax hike.

The convention stipulates that it is not necessary to return a child if there is a significant risk that the child will suffer damage physically and/or mentally.

The subcommittee proposed that factors, such as the risk that the child will face violence back in the country of habitual residence and a situation in which it is difficult for the parents to take custody of the child, be considered.

Specific cases cited include: the parent demanding custody of the child commits acts of violence against the other parent in front of the child; the parent in a foreign country is addicted to drugs or alcohol; and the Japanese parent who returns with the child may be arrested.

A family court, in Tokyo or Osaka, will be responsible for deciding whether a child will have to be returned. Hearings will be held behind closed doors.

If a Japanese parent refuses the decision to return the child to the country of habitual residence, the court will order him or her to make a monetary payment. If the parent refuses to comply, the court will seize his or her property.

If the parent refuses to hand over the child for two weeks, court execution officers may forcibly remove the child from the parent.

The execution officers will be authorized to persuade parents to obey the court order and search for children. If they encounter resistance from parents, they can ask for support from the police.

These procedures will only cover cases that occur after Japan joins the Hague Convention and will not apply retroactively.

The Justice Ministry estimates that Japan will handle several dozen cases a year.

“I am afraid that children might be returned unconditionally unless detailed standards are established, including consideration of psychological violence,” Michiko Kanazumi, a lawyer familiar with domestic violence cases, said.

Kanazumi also said experts will have to be present when execution officers remove the child from the parent.

“When they suddenly try to remove the child, he or she will cry and resist,” she said.
ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 47: 2011’s Top 10 Human Rights Issues affecting NJ in Japan

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justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE, Column 47

Kim to ‘flyjin,’ a top 10 for 2012

Illustrations by Chris Mackenzie
Version with links to sources

Here’s JBC’s fourth annual roundup of the top 10 human rights events that affected Japan’s non-Japanese (NJ) residents last year. Ranked in ascending order of impact:

10.  Kim Jong Il dies

News photo

This might rank higher with the benefit of hindsight, but right now it’s unclear how things will settle after the succession. Still, potential regime change in Asia’s most wild-card country might improve things for NJ in Japan. The biggest counterargument to granting NJ more rights has been, “If resident Chinese or North Koreans get any power over Japanese, Japan will be lost.”

Kim’s demise may not silence the alarmists (China will still be seen as a threat, especially now; more below), but even a tamping down of the standard foaming-at-the-mouth invective was impossible while “Dear Leader” was still around.

9.  Child abductor Emiko Inoue nicked

News photo

Emiko who? You might not know this case because Japanese media have intentionally omitted her name (even pixelating out her face in photographs) — and the fact she is a convicted felon in America — in their reports. But Inoue is one of the many Japanese who, following a separation or divorce, have abducted and then attempted to alienate their children from their former spouse. In the case of international relationships (because Japan is still not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction), no child, according to activists, has ever been extradited from Japan and reunited with an NJ parent.

But check this out: After abducting daughter Karina in 2008 to Japan from husband Moises Garcia (who was then awarded custody in America), Inoue had the nerve to drop by Hawaii last April and try to renew her green card. Arrested and sent to Wisconsin to face trial, Inoue was given a choice in November by the court: spend a decade or so in jail, or return Karina to Garcia by Christmas. Inoue chose the latter, and Karina was back by Dec. 23 (the mother, incidentally, will remain in the U.S. with visitation rights — a better deal than NJ in Japan ever get in custody battles).

The Karina Garcia case brought further attention to Japan’s insane system of child custody (see Zeit Gists, Aug. 9, 2011Sept. 21 andSept. 28, 2010Jan. 26 , and Feb. 2, 2010; and Just Be Cause Oct. 6, 2009), and made it clear to Japanese abductors that outstanding arrest warrants will be enforced.

Unfortunately, the Japanese public is again getting the pixelated version (e.g., Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 24): Poor Karina, who reportedly wants to live in Japan, is forced to live in America to “save her mother” (never mind that her irresponsible mother put everyone in this position in the first place). A victory for the rule of law is yet again spun into victimhood for Japanese.

8.  Olympus whistle-blowing

News photo

The slimy practices of Olympus Corp. garnered a great deal of press this year, thanks to former CEO Michael Woodford’s refusal to go quietly. After raising questions about odd corporate expenditures, Woodford was sacked in October for “a management style incompatible with traditional Japanese practices” — meaning Woodford, whose superhuman tenacity got him from entry level in 1980 to corporate head, was fired for not abdicating his responsibilities.

That an international company would immediately invoke culture to defend their criminality is testament to so much of what is wrong with Japanese corporations. But also consider the plight of NJ employees like Woodford, promised during the bubble years that fluency in Japanese, hard work, sacrifice and company loyalty would bring opportunities. Decades later, it turns out their contributions matter not one whit if they ever speak up with integrity; in the end, they’re just another gaijin out on their ear. “Tradition,” indeed.

As it is unlikely this scandal will lead to any cleanup of Japan’s tribal (and consequently corrupt) corporate culture, the unfortunate lesson is: Don’t work for a Japanese company as an NJ and expect equality and upward mobility.

7.  Death during deportation

News photo

Whatever you might think of visa overstayers, few would argue it is a capital offense. Yet the death of Abubakar Awadu Suraj (ZG, Nov. 1) in March 2010, while being bundled onto an airplane back to Ghana, raised eyebrows not only because of the brutality of his treatment by government officials, but also because of the predictable results when it went to court this year: The domestic media either downplayed or ignored it, foreign media were stonewalled, and investigations by both police watchdogs and the judiciary stalled.

This horrific event confirmed, along with the suspiciously unsolved deaths of Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey (ZG, Sep. 6), that foreigners’ lives are essentially held in low regard by Japan’s police forces (ZG, March 24, 2009) and media (in contrast to the hue and cry when a Japanese is murdered overseas, or by a foreigner in Japan). The point is, once Japan’s unaccountable police get their hands on you, your very life is potentially in jeopardy.

6.  Oita denial of benefits overturned

News photo

In 2008, Oita Prefecture heartlessly rejected a welfare application from a 78-year-old Chinese (a permanent resident born in Japan) because she is somehow still a foreigner. Then, in a shocking ruling on the case two years later, the Oita District Court decreed that NJ are not automatically eligible for social welfare. Finally, in November, this stubborn NJ, in her 80th year, won a reversal at the Fukuoka High Court — on the grounds that international law and treaty created obligations for “refugees (sic) (to be accorded) treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to their nationals.”

What caused the confusion was that in 1981, the Diet decided that revising the public welfare law to eliminate nationality requirements was unnecessary, since practical application already provided NJ with benefits. Three decades later, Oita Prefecture and its district court still hadn’t gotten the memo.

Bravo for this NJ for staying alive long enough to prize her case away from xenophobic local bureaucrats and set congruent legal precedents for all NJ.

5.  Japan as No. 3

News photo

2011 was the year that China’s GDP conclusively rose to second place behind the United States’, meaning Japan had to deal with no longer being the largest, richest and apparently most attractive economy in Asia. Marginalization sank in: More NJ studying Mandarin than Japanese, world media moving offices to Beijing, rich Chinese starting to outspend Japanese worldwide, and the realization that a recessionary/deflationary spiral for two (yes, now two) full decades had enabled others to catch up, if not surpass Japan.

It was time for a rethink, now that Japan’s mercantilist economy, largely intolerant of any standards but its own, was being seen as an untenable modern Galapagos. But fresh ideas from long-ignored resident NJ weren’t forthcoming. For they seemed to be leaving.

News photo

 4.  NJ population drops, again

After an unbroken rise between 1961 and 2009, it was announced last June that the total population of registered foreign residents dropped again in 2010, by another 2.4 percent.

Brazilians, once the workhorses of Japan’s most competitive exporters, fell the most in raw numbers (more than 16 percent), while Chinese, already the largest NJ contingent in Japan, still managed to grow a smidge. But that was before the events of last March . . .

 

News photo

3, 2, 1.  The Fukushima nuclear disaster

A no-brainer, this. The chain reactions set in motion on March 11 illuminated so many things that are wrong with Japan’s current system.

Let’s start with the obvious examples: The unwillingness of TEPCO to come clean with their data, of politicians to forsake petty political games of interference, and of administrators to give proper guidance to people in danger- all of this devastated public faith and trust.

Then the abdication of accountability of people supposedly in charge reached new heights as irradiated land and water spread (e.g., Tepco claimed in court (Aera, Nov. 24) that it no longer “owned” the radiation, and was therefore not liable for decontamination).

Meanwhile, despite a huge amount of volunteer work at the grassroots, official relief efforts were so bungled and corrupted that reconstruction funds were even proposed for free tourist plane tickets and whaling!

Then we get to the outright nastiness and hypocrisy of Japan’s media (and the self-hating gaijin toadies) who accused NJ residents (aka “flyjin”) of deserting their work stations ( JBC, May 3). Never mind that under the same conditions Japanese do the same thing (even encourage others to do so; remember, Japan imported Thai workers during Bangkok’s floods), and that NJ contributions before and during the Tohoku disasters were insufficiently reported and praised.

But the most profound realization of 2011 — arguably the worst year for Japan in my lifetime — is how this society cannot fix itself. As I have argued before ( JBC, April 5 and Oct. 4), the culture of ganbatte (do your best), flippantly said to victims by people largely unaffected by the disaster, is once again giving way to expectations of their gaman (silent endurance). Backed up by a dynamic discouraging people from “spoiling things for everyone else” by daring to speak out or complain, activism gets hamstrung.

Meanwhile, the muzzling of investigative journalism, independent academic research and credible criticism outside of official channels further disempowers the public of their right to know.

Conclusion: Generations under Japan’s control-freak “nanny state” have accustomed people to being told what to do. Yet now the public has been deserted, with neither reliable instructions nor the organization to demand them.

Nothing, short of a major revolution in critical thinking and public action (this time — for the first time — from the bottom up), will change Japan’s destructive system of administration by unaccountable elites.

========================

2011 was the year the world realized Japan has peaked. Its aging and increasingly-conservative public is trapped in a downward spiral of economic stagnation and inept governance. It is further burdened by an ingrained mistrust of the outsider ( JBC, Oct. 7, 2008) as well as by blind faith in a mythology of uniqueness, powerlessness as a virtue, and perpetual victimhood.

Japan has lost its attractiveness as a place for newcomers to live and settle, since they may be outright blamed for Japan’s troubles, if not ostracized for daring to fix them. Now, thanks to the continuous slow-burn disaster of Fukushima, anyone (who bothers to listen anymore) can now hear the doors of Japan’s historically cyclical insularity slowly creaking shut.

ARUDOU Debito’s novel “In Appropriate” is now on sale (www.debito.org/inappropriate.html) Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Twitter @arudoudebito. Send comments on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

MOFA offers public comments on signing Hague Convention on Child Abductions; not much there

mytest

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Hi Blog. Related to Japan’s future signing of the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, here we have an official report about a public forum held on November 22, 2011 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (something I attended before and incidentally considered a very flawed and biased format).  Present were academics, lawyers, the Ministries of Justice, Health and Welfare, Education, Internal Affairs, plus the Cabinet and the National Police Agency.

In the course of discussions about setting up a central agency to handle the enforcement of the Hague, 168 public comments were collected since the end of September and were brought up at this meeting.  That report follows in full below, courtesy of TS.  A few things I found noteworthy within it:

1) The term LBP (Left-Behind Parent) is now part of the Japanese lexicon.

2) In discussions about the right of both parents to have information about (if not access to) their children, the same old saws about DV (domestic violence, however unclearly defined, and in Japan that matters) came up, and the GOJ is as usual being called in to do something about it (apparently more than just mediate, which the GOJ gets all control-freaky and nanny-state about) — seesawing between the LBP’s right to know about their children and the custodian’s right to be safe from the violent boogeyman ex-spouse.  This seesawing was also visible in an even more vague discussion about the GOJ holding onto passports of potential abductors and abductees, except under exceptional circumstances that were mentioned but left undeveloped.

3) The GOJ, regarding contact between LBP and child, plans to “support the respect of visitation rights”, but it also leaves measures vague and expresses caution about doing much of anything, really.

All told, this level of discussion was pretty low. I found little concrete here to sink one’s teeth into regarding advising toward future policies guaranteeing the lynchpins to this discussion: joint custody and guaranteed visitation that goes beyond an hour a two a month.  Not to mention return of internationally abducted children to their habitual residence as per the Hague.  Others are welcome to read the text below and squeeze out whatever interpretations I may have missed.  But given how much duplicity has taken place regarding the rights of LBPs in Japan up until now, I sadly remain unhopeful.  Arudou Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////////

http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/hague/kondankai04_gy.html

人権・人道

「ハーグ条約の中央当局の在り方に関する懇談会」第4回会合

平成23年11月22日

22日,外務省において開催されたハーグ条約の中央当局の在り方に関する懇談会第4回会合の概要は以下のとおり。

1.出席者

座長:
小早川光郎・成蹊大学法科大学院教授
出席者:
棚村政行・早稲田大学法科大学院教授
藤原靜雄・中央大学法科大学院教授
相原佳子弁護士(日弁連)
杉田明子弁護士(日弁連)
関係府省庁(法務省,内閣府,厚生労働省,総務省,
文部科学省,警察庁)等

2.議事要旨(議事録は,別途掲載予定)

(1)パブリックコメントのとりまとめ結果の報告

事務局から,外務省として9月30日から1か月間実施した,ハーグ条約を実施するための中央当局の在り方に関するパブリックコメント(意見募集)の結果に関し,計168件の意見が寄せられ,中央当局の権限や中央当局としてとるべき措置等につき様々な立場からの意見が寄せられた旨報告を行った。(詳細については,3.(1)パブリックコメントのとりまとめ結果及び概要を参照)

(2)子の所在の確知のための情報提供義務

  • 中央当局が得た情報がLBP側に渡らないことが明確であれば,たとえば民間の団体たる私立学校と公立学校の間で情報提供義務に差をつける必要はなく,また差が出ることによる問題が生ずるのではないか。その一方で,情報提供義務を負う機関が広がることとのバランスで慎重な検討も必要。いずれにせよ,民間機関への情報の提供を求める場合,その範囲,方法については,政省令やガイドライン等で明確に定めることが必要。
  • 関係機関が中央当局に対して情報提供する際にDV被害のおそれがあるか否かについても併せて中央当局に通知することに関し,現場が何をどこまでやらねばならないのか,どう責任を取るのかが不明確なままでは,現場が委縮するので,そうならないように情報の流れが確保される具体的な通知の在り方について,今後関係機関内での実務的な検討が必要。他方,この点は,相手方の同意があった場合に情報を外部に提供するとの前提であったので中央当局としてDVのおそれの有無の情報が必要であったが,その必要がなくなったのであればそもそも中央当局にその情報を通知しなくても差支えないのではないか。
  • 情報提供を行う機関等が,「現に子を監護すると思われる者」か否かを判断することは難しく,外観上判断しやすい文言がより適当ではないか。なお,法制審で議論されている相手方適格の要件とは必ずしも同じ用語である必要はない。実態上,関係機関が,子を監護している者であるかどうかの判断を行うことは非常に困難であることからも,「監護する者」を「同居している者」としてはどうか。
  • 相手方となるべき「子を現に監護する者」の氏名(祖父母も含む)を申請者に開示後,相手方にその旨を知らせるべきか否かについては,さらに子が隠避されるといった事態を惹起するおそれもある一方で,DV被害者の居所の判明につながりかねないため,通知が必要とも考えられる。この点については,法律に明記せずとも対応できるのではないか。
  • 中央当局が集めた情報につき,行政機関個人情報保護法第8条第1項の「法令に基づく場合」により目的外提供できるとすることでは,弁護士法に基づく照会も該当することにならないか。その範囲が広くなりすぎるおそれもある。目的外提供の範囲につき絞ることも検討すべきではないか。

(3)子の任意の返還その他の問題の友好的な解決の促進

  • 条約に定める友好的な解決の促進のために,外務省として仲裁等の任意解決を外部団体に委託したいと考えるが,そのような団体の発掘・育成が検討課題。
  • 友好的な解決のために双方の合意があった場合に,返還手続の前後に関わらず中央当局が旅券を保管することは問題ない。ただし,返還に係る裁判手続が始まったら,合意がなくなったものとして保管を中止して,当事者に返付するケースもあるだろう。いずれにせよ,当事者の合意に基づく措置に過ぎず,合意の撤回があれば返付するということかと思われる。
  • 返還手続における保全的な処分との関連で,出国を差し止めるためにいかなる手段が可能かは今後の法制審にて引き続き検討。

(4)子の社会的背景に関する情報の提供

  • 当事者が自らの裁判に必要と判断する情報を提供されるべきとの観点から,我が国中央当局から他の条約締約国の中央当局に,子の社会的背景に関する情報の提供を求める際は,裁判所からの求めだけでなく,申立人及び相手方からの依頼による場合も認めるべきではないか。
  • 他方,上記については,我が国中央当局及び他の締約国中央当局の事務的負担との関係から困難がある他,我が国と他の締約国との間で片務的な関係とならざるを得ないこと,相手国中央当局がどこまで社会的背景に関する情報収集に協力するか不明であること,相手国中央当局の情報収集結果を待っていれば迅速な裁判を確保できないおそれがあること等,現実的な問題として限界があることも事実。

(5)接触の権利に関する中央当局の措置

  • 中央当局による援助の対象となる事案の範囲,及び中央当局がとるべき措置の範囲については,論点ペーパーの整理とすることで特段の意見なし。特に,援助の対象となる事案の範囲としては,他の締約国で認められた接触の権利を我が国において尊重されることを支援する(その逆も然り)と整理。
  • ただ,接触の権利についての支援は,当事者の協力が前提となることから,接触の権利の実施体制の確立(中央当局から当事者に紹介する実施団体の発掘及び育成含む)は大きな課題。
  • 他の条約締約国は条約締結後20~30年の年月をかけ,接触の権利の実施体制を整えてきた経緯がある。我が国も締結後,直ちに十分な体制を確立するのは難しくとも,関係行政機関が連携しつつ,面会交流を支援する団体等の育成に努めて欲しい。

(6)事務局からの謝辞

鶴岡総合外交政策局長から,今回のパブリックコメントに意見を寄せていただいた方々に対する謝辞を述べた。

3.配布資料

  1. (1)パブリックコメントのとりまとめ結果及び概要パブリックコメントで寄せられた意見(PDF)PDF
  2. (2)論点ペーパー(PDF)PDF
  3. (3)参考資料

ENDS

UPDATE: Post-divorce J child abductor Inoue Emiko DOES get book thrown at her in Milwaukee court, will return abducted child to custodial NJ father

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

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Hi Blog. As was reported on Debito.org last October 28 regarding the issue of Japan as safe haven for international child abductions, the US courts looked like they actually might start enforcing their arrest warrants against Japanese child abductors.  In this case, against a Japanese woman named Inoue Emiko who reportedly whisked the kid off to Japan despite a US court awarding the father, Moises Garcia, custody.  Then Inoue used the time-honored tactic of abducting the kid anyway and getting a Japanese court to award her the kid instead regardless (with a gracious 30-day per year visitation allowed; thanks a heap).  Then she presumptuously decided to have her cake and eat it too, coming back to Hawaii last April to renew her Green Card, whereupon the authorities honored the arrest warrant against her and sent her to stand trial in Wisconsin (leaving the kid in limbo with the grandparents in Japan).

Back in October I said that enough is enough, and that the American judiciary should throw the book at her.  Well, guess what — they did, and it looks as though the mother will return the child to the custodial father.  Bravo!  Read on.  Let that be a lesson to you, child abductors, and let that be an incentive for Japan to sign the Hague Convention. Note, however, the update regarding the J-media’s domestic spin after the article. Arudou Debito

///////////////////////////////////////////////////

Plea agreement reached in international custody case

Mother agrees to have daughter returned from Japan to Wisconsin
Nov. 21, 2011, Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), courtesy of SC
http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/plea-deal-may-be-struck-in-custody-case-3135858-134270968.html

Karina Garcia’s mother agreed in court Monday to have the girl home in Fox Point by Christmas.

If she makes it, the 9-year-old would be the first of what advocates say are more than 300 children around the U.S. abducted to Japan in violation of American court orders to be returned through legal intervention.

She also could become a poster child for how to solve a growing problem as international marriages increase in the global economy.

The girl’s father, Moises Garcia, was pleased but cautious in talking to reporters after the hearing, where his ex-wife, Emiko Inoue, pleaded no contest to the felony charge of interfering with child custody by other parent. She was found guilty, but a plea agreement could leave her with only a misdemeanor conviction if Karina returns and Inoue completes other conditions.

Garcia has been working to bring his daughter home since Inoue fled with her to Inoue’s native Japan in February 2008, shortly after Garcia, 39, filed for divorce.

“Divorces are tough for everybody, but when there are cultural differences, it’s very hard to deal with that,” said Garcia, a physician and native of Nicaragua. The couple’s daughter was born in Wisconsin.

He said Inoue, 43, has brainwashed his daughter and alienated her affections for him during the time in Japan, but he’s confident that if the child comes home, she will be able to get the help she needs to deal with the psychological impact of the ordeal.

Japan is the only G7 country not part of an international compact about child abduction. Japan does not assist in returning children to parents with legal custody in other countries, nor does it extradite Japanese charged with crimes related to child abduction or custody interference elsewhere, such as Inoue.

Global Future, a group that advocates for parents whose children have been taken by their other parent to foreign countries, claims Japanese officials in the United States assist in such crimes by granting new passports and visas to Japanese trying to flee with their children.

The group’s founder and secretary, both Californians trying to get children back from Japan, attended Inoue’s hearing in Milwaukee. So did officials from the foreign ministry office of the Japanese consulate in Chicago. They declined to comment on the Global Future claims, or about Inoue’s case.

“We’ve had children returned from South Korea, Iran, Cameroon, Libya and Egypt, but we can’t get any back from a supposedly friendly country, Japan,” said Patrick Braden, CEO and founder of Global Future. His 11-month-old daughter was kidnapped and taken to Japan in 2006.

“This case really does have worldwide implications,” Braden said.

Fuji TV, a Japanese network, also was covering Monday’s hearing.

Inoue was arrested in April when she visited Hawaii to renew her U.S. permanent residency status. She was extradited to Wisconsin and was being held in the Milwaukee County Jail. She appeared in court Monday with her attorney, Bridget Boyle, wearing a dark blue jail suit and glasses.

In response to questions from Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Mel Flanagan, Inoue said she didn’t agree that she had committed all the elements of the crime, but agreed the state could prove her guilty. The felony is punishable by up to 7½ years in prison. If Inoue ultimately were convicted of a misdemeanor, she would likely be sentenced to the time she’s served since her arrest.

District Attorney John Chisholm noted that a felony conviction would probably also have prevented Inoue from remaining in the U.S. He said he thinks Inoue’s prosecution may still deter others, while allowing a chance for Karina to benefit from contact with both parents.

Inoue still has the option to seek visitation rights or changes in custody through family court.

Monday was to have been the continuation of a nonjury trial that began in October, but Boyle told the judge that during nearly four hours of discussion with her client, she agreed to the plea arrangement.

“Hopefully, this is an action in the best interests of the child,” Flanagan said.

Karina is currently living with her maternal grandparents in Japan. Garcia was granted full legal custody in Milwaukee County Circuit Court in 2008. He’s gone further than most people in his situation, said his attorney, James Sakar, and won legal custody from Japanese courts.

The problem, Sakar and Braden explained, is that the centuries-old Japanese civil legal system does not give those courts any enforcement powers.

Sakar said the particulars of Karina’s return to Wisconsin had not yet been worked out.

Braden, who has lobbied dozens of high-ranking officials in Washington, D.C., about the problem, said Monday’s deal was “almost there.” He said advocates for left-behind parents would have preferred a guilty plea and really would like to see U.S. authorities prosecute Japanese diplomatic officials and anyone else who assists noncustodial parents in taking children abroad.

“It’s a great step in the right direction,” he said.

ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////

UPDATE: Here’s what I’m hearing on my Facebook as feedback:

“A quick search on youtube came up with a great news report of her in cuffs as well http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeUqio_GDdw

“Some of the Japanese media (like the Mainichi) didn’t bother mentioning her name while I heard Fuji pixled out her face.”

“TBS report says the mother is claiming domestic violence as the reason for the abduction.”

So then there’s this whole other dimension about how the Japanese press is going to encircle and protect their own, as has been mentioned here both above and before, I haven’t found any Japanese media which will call this event a “kidnapping”, despite the ruling by this American court. Yomiuri’s NNN TV has even blocked out her face and refused to mention her name at all as a felon:

Well, for the record, here is a picture of Inoue Eriko in all her glory, courtesy Sentinel Journal. Including handcuffs. Live with it, Japan — child abduction is a crime and those who engage in it are criminals, even if they are Japanese. Trying to reflexively make a victim out of a criminal just makes our media look biased and incongruous.


ENDS

UPDATE TWO:  Convicted felon Inoue Emiko returns the child and gets released from the clink.  Bravo.  And of course, the Japanese media still refuses to use her name in the domestic press. Or even call what she did a crime. Check out the wording below: “arrested on suspicion of taking her 9-year-old daughter to Japan in violation of the father’s parental rights, the father’s lawyer said“. Those pesky lawyers and their allegations; never mind the conviction and sentencing by a judge. She abducts the kid, tries to game the USG by coming back to renew her Green Card, and after all that still has visitation rights in America. All right for some, isn’t it? Try getting this fair a deal in Japan. But again, fairness is not a highly-prized cultural conceit for Team Japanners. Now how about that biased and incongruous reportage.  As can be expected, the disingenuous slant is that the Japanese are the victims and sacrificers.  The Japanese article claims the daughter “wanted to live in Japan”, but once told of the situation, “went to America to save her mother” according to the very different headline.  What a trooper!  Especially after being put in this position by her irresponsible mother in the first place!

////////////////////////////////////////////

Japan woman freed in U.S. after returning daughter
The Yomiuri Shimbun, December 25, 2011, courtesy of AR
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111224002655.htm

A Japanese woman has been released from custody in the United States as a result of a plea bargain after being arrested on suspicion of taking her 9-year-old daughter to Japan in violation of the father’s parental rights, the father’s lawyer said Saturday.

Based on the plea bargain, the 43-year-old woman from Hyogo Prefecture returned the daughter to the girl’s 39-year-old Nicaraguan father. The girl had been staying at the home of the woman’s parents in the prefecture.

The woman took the girl to Japan from the United States during divorce proceedings in a U.S. court. The court later granted the divorce and gave custody of the girl to the man.

According to lawyers for the man and the woman, the girl left Japan with her grandmother on Friday and was handed over to the man at a U.S. airport.

The girl said at first that she wanted to live in Japan. However, when she was told about the plea bargain, she understood her return to the United States would “save her mother,” the lawyers said.

The woman will continue to live in the United States and will have visitation rights, according to the lawyers.

The woman was arrested in the United States in April after the father filed a criminal complaint in the case. After realizing she faced a possible long prison sentence if found guilty, she agreed to the plea bargain in November, lawyers said.
(Dec. 25, 2011)

====================================

9歳長女、母を助けに米へ…司法取引で釈放
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20111224-OYT1T00472.htm
米国でニカラグア出身の男性(39)と離婚した兵庫県の女性(43)が、離婚訴訟中に長女(9)を日本に連れ帰ったとして米国州法の親権妨害罪に問われ、身柄拘束されていた問題で、男性側の日本での代理人弁護士は24日、女性が釈放されたことを明らかにした。

同県内の女性の実家にいた長女を、米国の男性側に引き渡すことなどを釈放の条件にした米国の検察側と女性側との間で成立していた司法取引に基づき釈放された。

男性、女性双方の日本の代理人弁護士によると、長女は23日、祖母に付き添われて出国し、米国の空港で男性に引き渡された。長女は当初、「日本で暮らしたい」と訴えたが、司法取引を理解し、「ママを助けに行く」と納得したという。女性は釈放後米国で暮らすため、長女に面会できるという。

女性は4月に米国で身柄を拘束され、刑事裁判で無罪を主張してきたが、有罪なら刑務所に長期間収容される恐れがあり、11月下旬に司法取引に合意していた。
(2011年12月24日15時05分 読売新聞)

ENDS

Mainichi & Yomiuri: Japanese ex-wife arrested in Hawaii on suspicion of abducting child from custodial father

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s some good news for Left-Behind Parents.  The Americans are (unusually, according to the Mainichi and Yomiuri below) enforcing their arrest warrants against Japanese child abductors.  In this case, against a Japanese woman who reportedly absconded with the kid off to Japan and, despite a US court awarding the father custody, then used the time-honored tactic of abducting the kid anyway and getting a Japanese court to award her the kid instead regardless (with a gracious 30-day per year visitation allowed; thanks a heap).  Then she carelessly decided to have her cake and eat it too, by coming back to the US to renew her Green Card, whereupon the authorities honored the arrest warrant against her, leaving the kid in limbo with the grandparents in Japan.

Not an unusual story (especially since the Japanese media once again refuses to use the word “abduction” in conjunction with any of this — just “taking without permission”; sounds much better), except that the Americans are now finally taking action regarding child abductions to Japan, honoring court decisions despite Japan’s vehemently guarding its safe-haven status for international child abduction.

Let’s see how the Japanese media further spins this; I doubt it’ll run against Team-Japanism.  But already the editorial slant in the articles below is that signing the Hague Treaty will (somehow) prevent this, in defiance of all the Japanese safe-haveners that want to either not sign it, or caveat it with DV provisions into meaninglessness.

Anyway, throw the book at her.  This sort of thing has gone on long enough.  Arudou Debito

///////////////////////////////////////

Japanese ex-wife arrested in U.S. on accusation of making off with child
(Mainichi Japan) October 27, 2011, Courtesy EK
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20111027p2a00m0na010000c.html

A Japanese woman has been arrested in Hawaii on accusations she took her 9-year-old daughter with a Nicaraguan ex-husband back to Japan without permission, it has been learned.

The 43-year-old Japanese mother and her 39-year-old ex-husband, who lives in the United States, have custody disputes over the child ongoing in both Japan and the U.S. The Foreign Ministry says that it is highly unusual for a Japanese national to be arrested abroad during a custody dispute with a foreign ex-partner.

According to legal officials and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the woman married and bore the child in February 2002. She lived in the state of Wisconsin in the U.S., but in February 2008 she returned to Japan with the child. In June 2009 her divorce was finalized, but the father was given custody rights.

The woman went to court in Japan to have the custody rights changed, and in March this year the court awarded them to the woman, giving the father just 30 visitation days a year in the U.S. Both sides immediately appealed the ruling, and the case is now being deliberated at the Osaka High Court.

The woman flew to Honolulu on April 7, 2011 local time to renew her permanent U.S. resident status. However, an arrest warrant for the woman was on issue from Wisconsin authorities for violating the father’s custody rights by taking the child to Japan without permission, and the woman was arrested by Hawaii authorities. She remains in custody, and a trial is ongoing in Wisconsin. Prosecutors suggested a plea bargain where she would be given a suspended sentence in exchange for returning the child, who currently lives with the woman’s grandparents in Japan, but she has refused and maintains her innocence.

The ex-husband has reportedly said that if the woman will return the child, he does not want her held further, and he wants the child to be able to meet both parents. A lawyer for the woman, however, says that she fears that if she returns the child once, the child will never be able to come back to Japan.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, records of Japanese international marriages since 1992 show a peak in 2006 of around 44,700, after which they have been declining, with around 32,000 in 2010. On the other hand, Japanese international divorces have increased, peaking at about 19,400 in 2009. International divorces are accompanied by unique problems like differences in national law, children’s nationality and parental custody rights, and people leaving the relevant countries.

Professor Takao Tanase of Chuo University’s law school says, “The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction’s primary objective is to get the child in such disputes returned to the country they were taken from, and therefore civil-level procedures to return the child are prioritized. If the child is returned, criminal legal action is often not pursued. If Japan joins the convention, I think that there will be fewer cases that lead to arrests.”

ENDS

///////////////////////////////////////////

The original Japanese story

国際離婚:親権妨害容疑 米国で日本人女性逮捕
毎日新聞 2011年10月27日 15時0分 更新:10月27日 17時0分
http://mainichi.jp/select/today/news/20111027k0000e040059000c.html

米国に住むニカラグア国籍の元夫(39)との国際結婚で生まれた女児(9)を無断で米国から日本に連れ出したとして、日本人女性(43)が親権妨害容疑で米国ハワイ州保安局に逮捕されていたことが分かった。女性と元夫は親権を巡って日本で係争中で、外務省によると、国際結婚した日本人が親権の問題で係争中に海外で逮捕されるのは異例。専門家は、日本がハーグ条約に加盟すれば民事的な子供の返還手続きが優先されるため、逮捕まで発展する事案は少なくなるとみている。

法曹関係者と外務省によると、女性は02年2月に結婚して女児を出産。米国ウィスコンシン州で暮らしていたが、08年2月に子供を連れて日本に帰国した。09年6月に米国で離婚が成立し、元夫に親権が認められた。一方、関西に住んでいた女性は、親権の変更を求めて神戸家裁伊丹支部に家事審判を申し立てた。同支部は今年3月、女性の親権を認め、元夫と子供に米国で年間約30日間面会することを認める審判を下した。双方が即時抗告したため現在、大阪高裁で審理が続いている。

女性は今年4月7日(現地時間)、自分の永住権を更新しようと、米国ハワイ州ホノルル市に日本から空路で入国。しかし、父親に無断で子供を日本に連れ出し親権を妨害したとして、ウィスコンシン州から親権妨害容疑で逮捕状が出ており、ハワイ州保安局に逮捕された。

女性は現在も身柄を拘束されたままで、ウィスコンシン州で裁判が続いている。検察側は、執行猶予判決を条件に、日本で女性の両親と暮らす子供を米国に返すよう司法取引を提示したが、女性は拒絶。無罪を主張しているという。

子供は日本に住む母方の祖父母の下で暮らしており、両親ともに会えない日々が半年以上も続いている。

元夫は「子供を米国に返してくれれば、拘束は望まない。子供が両親と会える環境にしたい」と訴えているという。一方、女性の代理人弁護士は「(女性は)子供を一旦、米国に返せば帰ってこられないのではないかと心配している」と話している。

厚生労働省によると92年以降、国際結婚は06年の約4万4700件をピークに減少に転じ、10年は約3万200件。一方、国際離婚は増加傾向にあり、09年は最多の約1万9400件に上った。国際離婚には法律の違い、子供の国籍や親権、出国などで日本とは違った問題が伴う。

中央大法科大学院の棚瀬孝雄教授(法社会学)の話 ハーグ条約は、原則として子供をとりあえず元の国に返すことが第一目的で、民事的な返還手続きが優先される。子が返りさえすれば刑事訴追しないことが多い。加盟すれば、逮捕まで発展するような事案は少なくなると思う。【岡奈津希】

◇ハーグ条約
国際結婚が破綻した夫婦間の子供(16歳未満)の扱いについて、国際協力のルールを定めた「国際的な子の奪取の民事面に関する条約」の通称。子供を連れ出された親が返還を申し立てた場合、相手方の国の政府は原則として元の国に返す協力をするよう規定している。日本政府は今年5月、加盟する方針を閣議了解した。返還手続きなどの整備を検討している法相の諮問機関「法制審議会」は、手続きは家庭裁判所が担当し、非公開の審理で3審制とする中間まとめを9月30日に発表。来年2月に最終答申する見通し。
ENDS

///////////////////////////////////////////////

長女連れ帰り、国際離婚の日本女性が米で拘束

読売新聞 2011年10月27日(木)15時41分配信 Courtesy of Getchan

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20111027-00000695-yom-soci

長女連れ帰り、国際離婚の日本女性が米で拘束
拡大写真
読売新聞

米国でニカラグア出身の男性(39)と離婚した兵庫県の女性(43)が、離婚訴訟中に長女(9)を日本に連れ帰ったとして渡米時に身柄を拘束され、男性の親権を妨害した罪に問われて刑事裁判を受ける異例の事態となっていることがわかった。

米国の裁判所は離婚訴訟で男性に長女の親権があるとしたが、日本の裁判所は条件付きで女性を親権者と認定。日米の裁判所で判断が相反する中、日本がハーグ条約に加わる前に起きた国際間の親権争いがどう展開するか注目される。

日本の裁判での双方の代理人弁護士らによると、男性と女性は2002年に結婚したが、08年2月、男性が米国の裁判所に離婚を申し立て、女性は直後に長女を連れて日本に帰国した。米国の裁判所は09年6月、離婚を認め、長女の親権者を男性とした。

一方、女性は同月、親権者を自分とするよう神戸家裁伊丹支部に申し立て。同支部は今年3月、「長女を男性と米国で1年に30日間面会させる」などの条件を付け、女性を親権者と認めた。双方が抗告し、大阪高裁で審理が続いている。

こうした中、女性は翌4月、永住権の更新手続きのため渡米した際、空港で身柄を拘束された。米国州法の親権妨害罪で起訴されて9月から刑事裁判が始まり、女性は「帰国時点では離婚訴訟を起こされていることを知らなかった」と無罪を主張している。有罪の場合、最長で12年6か月間、刑務所に収容される可能性があるという。

最終更新:10月27日(木)15時41分

読売新聞

MOFA invites public comment on Japan re the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, until Oct 31

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  Glad to see the GOJ wants public comment on this (and kindly made this bilingual).  Not so hopeful given the MOFA’s treatment of public input on issues in the past.  Courtesy of many people.  Arudou Debito

////////////////////////////////////////

Ministry of Foreign Affairs September 30, 2011
http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/announce/2011/9/0930_01.html
Official Japanese below

Invitation of Public Comments Regarding the Modality of the Central Authority for the Implementation of the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (The Hague Convention)

From Friday, September 30, to Monday, October 31, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will invite public comments on the modality of the Central Authority for the implementation of the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (The Hague Convention).

The details will be made available on the electronic government (e-GOV) web portal for public comments (http://search.e-gov.go.jp/servlet/Public).

Based on the Cabinet Approval of Friday, May 20, to move forward with the preparations toward the conclusion of the Hague Convention, the Government of Japan has been taking necessary steps for the aforementioned preparations as well as the drafting of the necessary domestic legislation (The Ministry of Justice is responsible for compiling the whole bill and drafting the aspects related to the procedures for return of children , while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for drafting the aspects related to the functions of the Central Authority).

The proposal put up for public comments by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs includes issues for further consideration, based on the points approved by the Meeting of Relevant Ministers regarding the Hague Convention as well as the discussions held so far at the meetings of the Round Table on the Modality of the Central Authority for the Implementation of the Hague Convention to date.

(*The foregoing is a provisional translation. The date indicated above denotes the date of issue of the original press release in Japanese.)

ENDS

///////////////////////////////////////////

「国際的な子の奪取の民事上の側面に関する条約(仮称)」(ハーグ条約)を実施するための中央当局の在り方に関するパブリックコメントの実施

外務省 平成23年9月30日
  1. 9月30日(金曜日)から10月31日(月曜日)まで,外務省では,「国際的な子の奪取の民事上の側面に関する条約(仮称)」(ハーグ条約)を実施するための中央当局の在り方について,広く国民等からの意見を公募(パブリックコメントを実施)します。
  2. 内容については,電子政府(e-GOV)の総合窓口(http://search.e-gov.go.jp/servlet/Public)のパブリックコメント欄に掲載されます。
  3. 5月20日(金曜日),我が国がハーグ条約の締結に向けた準備を進めることが閣議了解されたことを受け,現在政府は、右準備とともに、同条約を締結するために必要な国内法の作成を進めています(法務省は、同国内法の法案とりまとめ及び子の返還手続き部分を、外務省は中央当局の任務に関する部分を担当しています)。
    今回外務省がパブリックコメントに付す案は,ハーグ条約に関する関係閣僚会議における了解事項及びこれまでに開催されたハーグ条約の中央当局の在り方に関する懇談会での議論(下記リンクを参照)を踏まえ,論点を整理したものです。(http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/hague/index.html

(添付資料)
(1)意見募集要領(PDF)PDF
(2)「国際的な子の奪取の民事上の側面に関する条約(仮称)」(ハーグ条約)を実施するための中央当局の在り方について(PDF)PDF

 

(参考)なお、以下の関連資料も合わせ上記意見募集ページに掲載されます。
(1)「国際的な子の奪取の民事上の側面に関する条約(仮称)」(ハーグ条約)を実施するための中央当局の在り方について(補足説明)
(2)ハーグ条約の中央当局の在り方に関する懇談会第二回会合概要
(3)ハーグ条約の中央当局の在り方に関する懇談会第二回会合主要論点
(4)ハーグ条約の中央当局の在り方に関する懇談会第二回会合議事録
(5)ハーグ条約テキスト(英文)及び検討中の仮訳文
(6)ハーグ条約の概要

CRN: Left Behind Parents launch expert witness, consulting services to prevent International Parental Abduction

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

Hello Blog.  Here we have news of people, who have lost their children to the Japanese system of no joint custody/no guaranteed visitation rights after divorce, helping each other out.  Good news indeed, and a development I am happy to support.  Arudou Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////////

Left Behind Parents launch expert witness and consulting services to assist parents in preventing International Parental Abduction.

http://crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/itn-ewspblbp.html

Left Behind Parents who have been dealing with Government, and Judiciary decide to help those with ongoing cases of parental abduction:

—————————————————————

Parental Abduction Support Services (PASS) (R)

Now offering assistance to those with cases of Parental Abduction.  Over 50 years combined experience.

PASS provides testimony in order to educate the courts, and put “safe-guards” into place to protect children from being wrongfully removed from the USA.  Effective testimony can assist parents in their court cases by educating attorneys and judges about the risks of parental abduction and the dangers associated with it.   PASS assists you in making sure that high risk cases are carefully examined by the courts. When needed PASS assists the courts in implementation of supervised visitation and port closure to protect at risk youth. 

Testimony includes –

★ Training courts on the factors that indicate an individual is likely to commit an international child abduction

★ Assisting Judges in assessing the degrees of the risk of international child abduction 

★ Presenting arguments regarding the sufficiency proposed custody order in preventing a potential international child abduction

★ Supplying Data on the likelihood that a foreign country will return an abducted child, and / or allow continued visitation 

Parental Abduction Support Experts…

More information at http://crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/itn-ewspblbp.html

ENDS

Patrick McPike on USG’s underestimated numbers re Japan’s abducted children (only about 2.6% of J kids see both parents after divorce), plus online petition to Obama Admin

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

Hi Blog.  Dovetailing with the current thread on Child Abductions in Japan, here is an argument made by Patrick McPike that the US State Department is grossly underestimating the numbers of children abducted from one parent following separation and/or divorce in Japan.  Read on.  The most staggering statistic is, “only about 2.6% of the 245,000 children affected by divorce [in Japan] will be allowed visitation” with their second parent.  That’s unhealthy for a society as a whole, to say the least.  Arudou Debito

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

Child Abduction in Japan… The REAL Numbers – part 1.

Posted on September 1, 2011 by pmcpike

(excerpt)

Unfortunately, child abduction in Japan is a major epidemic. Equally unfortunate is the fact that so few people are aware if it. Part of the reason for this could be the fact that the “official numbers” reported by the US Department of State are so wrong – and they know it.

According to the US Department of State [DoS], the current number of cases are as follows:

  • Since  1994, the Office of Children’s Issues has opened  230 cases involving 321 children abducted to or wrongfully retained in Japan.
  • As of January 7, 2011, the Office of Children’s Issues has  100 active cases involving 140 children.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo reports an additional 31 cases in which both parents and the child(ren) reside  in Japan but one parent has been denied access to the child(ren).

The DoS further acknowledges on their website that, “To date, the Office of Children’s Issues does not have a record of any cases resolved through a favorable Japanese court order or through the assistance of the Japanese government.”

So question number 1 that arises: What is behind the missing 130 cases?

Wait, did you catch that?  DoS has admitted to opening 230 cases.  Has acknowledged that Japan has never returned any children.  But somehow only has 100 active cases.  We will get back to this…

Another interesting “official number” is 31.  The number of cases “acknowledged” by the Department of State, where the foreign parent is being denied access to their child after separation or divorce has occurred within Japan.  This number, frankly, is just completely shameful.

Based on research done by both Law Professors in Japan and by Left-Behind Parents, we know that these cases number into the thousands.

In the english translation (Translation by Matthew J. McCauley of University of Washington’s Law School) of a paper written by Professor Tanase in 2009  (who has also been used as a consultant by DoS) he states, using statistics provided by various Japanese sources, that:

“ Over 251,000 married couples separated in 2008, and if this number is divided by the 726,000 marriages in the same year, roughly one out of every 2.9 marriages will end in divorce. Out of all divorcing couples, 144,000 have children, equaling about 245,000 children in all. Seeing as roughly 1.09 million children were born this year, about one out of every 4.5 children will experience divorce before reaching adulthood. Even with the increase in visitation awards, only about 2.6% of the 245,000 children affected by divorce [in Japan] will be allowed visitation. “

To simplify it:  Out of 245,000 children who’s parent’s are divorced in Japan ONLYabout 6300 children will be allowed to maintain some level of contact with their “non-custodial parent” (We’ll get back to how custody is determined).  The remaining 238,700 children have one parent ceremoniously cut completely and suddenly from their life – often being punished, either emotionally or physically, by the “custodial parent” if they ask to continue to see the removed parent.

In addition, based on statistics provided by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (and gathered by Left-Behind Parent: John Gomez):

  • From 1992 to 2009, there have been 7,449 divorces between an American and a Japanese in Japan.
  • Of those Americans, 6,208 were men, and 1,241 were women.
  • According to the statistics, there is, on average, one child per divorce in Japan

So when you take 7,449 divorces (each with an average of 1 child based on the above statistics) and use Professor Tanase’s 2.6% estimate (which should be expected to be higher than would actually apply to foreign parents), that leaves you with approximately 7,255 children of US citizens (just counting data up to 2009) that are being denied access to their US parent.

On top of that there are at least four “X-factors”:…

Read the rest of the site at:

http://letterstomysons.com/2011/09/01/child-abduction-in-japan-the-real-numbers-part-1/

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////

From: Patrick McPike

Subject: White House Petition Regarding Japan and International Child Abduction
Date: September 22, 2011

I just started a petition on the White House Petitions site, We the People.
Will you sign it? http://wh.gov/gKV And then share it?

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

PUBLICLY press Japan for the return of Abducted US Children and provide transparent dialogs with Japan on this issue.

Hundreds, if not thousands (Child Abduction in Japan… The REAL Numbers – http://bit.ly/pteCAe ), of US Citizen Children have been abducted to, or retained in, the country of Japan.

Japan has never returned a single child, has no legal concept of “joint-custody”, no enforcement of visitation, no requirement for rules of evidence on claims of DV.

The US Congress, in HR1326, has publicly condemned Japan and demanded the immediate return of this children.

However, the Executive Branch has only held back-room discussions. Additionally, there are persuasive claims the DoS is significantly downplaying the number of actual cases.

There needs to be complete transparency into this process, and public condemnation of Japan. These are our country’s children. We the people deserve to know if they are being traded for bases or other government goals.

Go to: http://wh.gov/gKV

ENDS

BAChome.org: President Obama addresses Japan Child Abduction Issue with Japan’s PM Noda, demands preexisting abduction cases be included

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

Hi Blog.  Got this last night from Paul Toland at BAChome.org.  Very proud of you all.  You’ve turned individual feelings of pain and powerlessness into a social movement, with negotiations at the highest echelons of international relations.  Well done!  Arudou Debito

///////////////////////////////////////////////

From: Paul Toland
Subject: Historic Day – President Obama addresses Japan Child Abduction
To: crc-japan@yahoogroups.com
Date: Thursday, September 22, 2011, 1:48 PM

Hello all,

Yesterday was an historic day. For the first time ever, the Japan Child Abduction issue reached the highest levels of our government. President Obama addressed the issue, to include both the Hague Convention and resolution of existing cases, in his meeting with Prime Minister Noda in New York yesterday.

This you tube link will take you directly to the remarks made by Assistant Secretary Campbell in the State Department briefing regarding the President’s meeting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsAI3C_1zOY

For those who cannot view the link, the exact statement is here:

AS Campbell: “The President also very strongly affirmed the Japanese decision to enter into The Hague Convention – asked that this – on Child Abduction – asked that these steps be taken clearly and that the necessary implementing legislation would be addressed. He also indicated that while that was an important milestone for Japan, that – he also asked the Japanese prime minister and the government to focus on the preexisting cases, the cases that have come before. The prime minister indicated that very clearly, he knew about the number of cases. He mentioned 123. He said that he would take special care to focus on these particular issues as we – as Japan also works to implement the joining of The Hague Convention, which the United States appreciates greatly.”

Many thanks to ALL who have worked this issue for the past 15 years to get us to this point. You all contributed in some way. From Walter and Brian, who co-founded CRC 15 years ago, to all who continue that work today.

Attached is a letter from BAC Home to the President, delivered last week to the White House on behalf of BAC Home by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

Additionally, I have attached a letter sent to the President by Congressman Chris Smith asking that the President address the issue. We all owe a great deal of thanks to Congressman Smith, and the members of BAC Home wish to personally thank him for referring to the BAC Home organization in his letter to the President.

Letters as PDFs:

Mr President (BAChome)_2011_09_15

Pres Obama (Congressman Smith) Japan

 

JPG versions:

It is now our duty and obligation to keep this issue at this high level, and push for further public discussion of this issue by our government officials, until we are reunited with our children.

Sincerely, Paul Toland
BAChome.org, P.O. Box 16254, Arlington, VA 22215 • www.BAChome.org • BAChome@BAChome.org

ENDS

BAChome.org: Official correspondence re nonfeasance and negligence by US Consulate Osaka regarding the Mary Lake Child Abduction Case (allegations of USG refusing assistance to US citizen child)

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

Hi Blog. Today’s entry is regards to the Mary Lake Case, which was covered on Debito.org some weeks ago, and caused some controversy (including trolling emails) regarding differing accounts of treatment of a US citizen minor who unsuccessfully asked for protection and sanctuary from US Consulate Osaka.  Here is a followup series of emails between concerned Left-Behind Parents at BAChome.org and the US State Department. Reproduced with permission. Arudou Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////////

From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@…]
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 8:04 AM
To: Campbell, Kurt M; Loi, James L; Jacobs, Janice L; Kennedy, Patrick F; Burns, William J; Steinberg, James B; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Posner, Michael H; Busby, Scott W; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; MacLeod, Margaret G; Payne, Beth A; vvause@state.gov; Eye, Stefanie B; Jacobs, Susan S
Subject: Incident at Osaka Consulate

Two days ago, a kidnapped child in one of the most high-profile Japan abduction cases (Mary Victoria Lake) showed up at a US Consulate in Japan asking to be rescued and sent home to her lawful parent in the United States. The consuate denied her request and sent her back to her kidnapper. This action was beyond incompetent. It was reprehensible, disgraceful,disgusting,and un-American.

This is the third time State has failed this parent. Twice previously, State illegally issued passports for his daughter without obtaining the father’s signature, even after it had been established that her father was the lawful parent and the mother was a wanted kidnapper.

I am at a loss for words. I can only say that it is very clearly apparent now to all parents victimized by the crime of parental child abduction that the State Department clearly places relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being and lives of American citizen children. Absolutely sickening.

Paul Toland
Commander, US Navy
Only living parent of Erika Toland, Abducted to Japan 2003.

//////////////////////////////////////////////

From: Jacobs, Janice L
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate
To: “Paul Toland” Cc: “Campbell, Kurt M” , “Loi, James L” , “Kennedy, Patrick F” , “Burns, William J” , “Steinberg, James B” , spower@nss.eop.gov, sduncan@nss.eop.gov, “Posner, Michael H” , “Busby, Scott W” , cpowell@nss.eop.gov, “MacLeod, Margaret G” , “Payne, Beth A” , vvause@state.gov, “Eye, Stefanie B” , “Jacobs, Susan S”
Date: Friday, August 26, 2011, 8:12 AM

Dear Commander Toland:
We have received your e-mail regarding the Lake case. The information you are reporting regarding recent events at Consulate Osaka is factually incorrect. While we cannot provide details to you due to statutory requirements in the Privacy Act, we have been in contact with the child’s father, who is aware of what actually transpired. I can assure you that U.S. Consulates in Japan, along with all other consular facilities around the world, stand ready to assist any child wrongfully removed from parental custody and do so on a regular basis.
Sincerely,
Janice L. Jacobs
Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Consular Affairs
SBU
This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

//////////////////////////////////////////////

From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@]
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 1:02 PM
To: Jacobs, Janice L
Cc: Campbell, Kurt M; Loi, James L; Kennedy, Patrick F; Burns, William J; Steinberg, James B; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Posner, Michael H; Busby, Scott W; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; MacLeod, Margaret G; Payne, Beth A; vvause@state.gov; Eye, Stefanie B; Jacobs, Susan S
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate

Assistant Secretary Jacobs, My information comes from the father. I have emails from him and have spoken to him. I would tend to believe his story. While I was not actually at the Consulate, I tend to believe what William is telling me, because he has not lied to me before.

Here is the email from Mr. Lake:

Wednesday Morning I got a email from Virginia Vause my newest case worker (#7 so far.) She told me that Mary had showed up at consulate and asked to be sent home. She also told me that Mary had asked them to put her up in a hotel. They refused. They apparently called my ex and got some sort of agreement that Mary could spend the night with her and then return to the consulate the next morning. Ms Vause said that the Osaka consulate had tried to call me. They called my land line instead of my cell. They didn’t leave a message because I only had a generic message on the machine and they were worried about so called privacy issues. So they sent Mary home. They also failed to send me an email.

I had several calls from Ms Vause and State that day. I was upset about Mary being sent home. I was worried that her mother had gotten physical with her again and that she might run away. I mean they must have some sort of accommodations at these places. Ms Vause informed me that the consulate could not get Mary a room because she was a minor. She also stated that the State department could not legally take custody of Mary without my written permission and that if they had taken Mary in someone from the consulate would have to be with her at all times. Her voice gave me the impression that this would have been an outrageous imposition to the consulate staff. According to her this is the law regarding these situations. At no time during the 4 plus years I have had a case with OCI has anyone, including the 7 different case workers I have had, ever told me that I need to give them written permission to take custody of my daughter.

In the afternoon the cost of the ticket became an issue. Apparently NCMEC is out of money for tickets. Then there was an issue raised by the consulate in Osaka, that the cost of a one way ticket was more than the guidelines allowed them to spend and that they couldn’t purchase a ticket without permission of Washington.

Note 1, I was asked to write a form letter saying that I was unable to afford the cost of the tickets. That is true. I have been unemployed since early June.

Note 2, The consulate was looking at the cost of a one way ticket. Approximately $3500. That is what their guidelines dictate and the maximum they could spend is $3000. However the cost of a roundtrip ticket is $2500.

Note 3, there was never any discussion about sharing the cost. It was over there guidelines so no ticket.

Now all this occurred between 0830 am and 900pm Wednesday. There were other calls to and from NCMEC. I got the Pensacola Police involved. Sgt Donohoe PPD is a wonderful man that alerted NCMEC and other law enforcement agencies. 845 pm Ms Vause called and said that Mary had not shown up at the consulate but had called and asked for a week to think about coming back. There was also the issue of the cost of the tickets which I could not afford. She suggested that I contact friends and relatives to see if I could round up the money for a ticket.

Today Thursday she called to talk to me about a repatriation loan. That I would have to submit these forms to State and that once they were processed they would be on file and that if Mary EVER DID THIS AGAIN then the forms would be in my file and the ticket could be bought with no problem. She told me that it would take a week or more to process this. She did mention that I should keep my receipts and that there was a chance NCMEC would reimburse me at a later date.

This is just another example of how the State department has mishandled my case.

ENDS

//////////////////////////////////////////////

From: Payne, Beth A Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
To: “Paul Toland” , CAPTLAKE@MCHSI.COM
Cc: “Campbell, Kurt M” , “Loi, James L” , “Kennedy, Patrick F” , “Burns, William J” , “Steinberg, James B” , spower@nss.eop.gov, sduncan@nss.eop.gov, “Posner, Michael H” , “Busby, Scott W” , cpowell@nss.eop.gov, “MacLeod, Margaret G” , vvause@state.gov, “Eye, Stefanie B” , “Jacobs, Susan S” , “Jacobs, Janice L” , Allison.Hollabaugh@mail.house.gov, bac-home@googlegroups.com, Ariana_Reks@boxer.senate.gov, brianna.keilar@cnn.com, RoosJV@state.gov, Sarah.M.Netter@abc.com, Sharon.Santurri@mail.house.gov, JDonohoe@ci.pensacola.fl.us, dbergsan@gmail.com
Date: Thursday, September 1, 2011, 5:25 AM

Dear Mr. Lake and Cdr. Toland:

Thank you for your emails of August 26 regarding your concerns about Mary Lake and the Department of State’s response to her request for assistance last week in Osaka. While our policy is to discuss case-specific questions and concerns only with the parent and his or her designated representatives, Mr. Lake’s most recent Privacy Act Waiver allows us to speak about his case with other people and we can, therefore, respond simultaneously to your inquiries in order to clarify the status of this case. We regret that Mr. Lake has misunderstood many of the facts concerning the events of last week, and we hope this email helps to clarify what took place, and reassures you both that consular staff in Osaka and in the Office of Children’s Issues responded to Mary’s requests and offered to provide her the assistance she initially requested.

I reiterate that the Consular Officer in charge of American Services in Osaka and the Office of Children’s Issues together report a very different version of what happened. I have examined the steps and action taken since Mary first contacted the Consulate, and I can confirm that all action was proper, thorough, and responsive.

To ensure that I address all of your stated concerns, I am responding below with interlinear comments to the email that Mr. Lake wrote ([formatted in bold and] in italics) and which Cdr. Toland forwarded to me on August 26:

Wednesday Morning I got a email from Virginia Vause my newest case worker (#7 so far.) She told me that Mary had showed up at consulate and asked to be sent home. She also told me that Mary had asked them to put her up in a hotel. They refused. They apparently called my ex and got some sort of agreement that Mary could spend the night with her and then return to the consulate the next morning.

Mary called the Consulate at 5:00 p.m. on August 24 and requested that a consular officer contact her father to ask him to either fly her home or pay for long-term hotel accommodations in Japan. She did not visit the consulate. A consular officer in Osaka spoke with Mary at length and confirmed that she felt safe with her mother for the evening, that she was not in danger, and that she did not wish to leave her mother’s house that evening. Mary told the consular officer she would call again in the morning. The Consulate immediately notified the Office of Children’s Issues and began coordinating travel arrangements for the next day. The next morning, Mary called the consulate to report she would remain in Japan with her mother for the time being.

I had several calls from Ms Vause and State that day. I was upset about Mary being sent home. I was worried that her mother had gotten physical with her again and that she might run away. I mean they must have some sort of accommodations at these places. Ms Vause informed me that the consulate could not get Mary a room because she was a minor. She also stated that the State department could not legally take custody of Mary without my written permission and that if they had taken Mary in someone from the consulate would have to be with her at all times. Her voice gave me the impression that this would have been an outrageous imposition to the consulate staff. According to her this is the law regarding these situations. At no time during the 4 plus years I have had a case with OCI has anyone, including the 7 different case workers I have had, ever told me that I need to give them written permission to take custody of my daughter.

As soon as Ms. Vause in the Office of Children’s Issues received word from the Consulate that Mary was trying to reach her father, she called Mr. Lake and relayed Mary’s message. At that point, Mr. Lake stated that he could not pay for her airline ticket and that he would soon depart the country for a six-week work assignment. In her phone call with Mr. Lake, Ms. Vause was focused on the primary objectives of passing Mary’s message, determining if someone would be available to receive her in Florida, and determining if Mr. Lake could purchase her ticket home. The question of hotel lodging and/or refuge was not her focus because Mary did not request refuge or an alternative place to stay that evening. We are very concerned with Mary’s well-being and if there had been any indication that Mary’s welfare was in jeopardy, I assure you both that the Consulate would have taken immediate action to protect her. When necessary, consular officials will allow U.S. Citizen children in need of protection to stay at our facilities until appropriate lodging can be arranged.

In the afternoon the cost of the ticket became an issue. Apparently NCMEC is out of money for tickets. Then there was an issue raised by the consulate in Osaka, that the cost of a one way ticket was more than the guidelines allowed them to spend and that they couldn’t purchase a ticket without permission of Washington.
Note 1, I was asked to write a form letter saying that I was unable to afford the cost of the tickets. That is true. I have been unemployed since early June.
Note 2, The consulate was looking at the cost of a one way ticket. Approximately $3500. That is what their guidelines dictate and the maximum they could spend is $3000. However the cost of a roundtrip ticket is $2500.
Note 3, there was never any discussion about sharing the cost. It was over there guidelines so no ticket.

Upon learning that Mr. Lake was unable to pay for his daughter’s travel home, both Consulate and Children’s Issues officers began searching for alternate funding sources, including funding from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and a possible repatriation loan. While we were moving forward on this request in order to facilitate travel that day, Mary called the Consulate and reported that she wished to remain in Japan with her mother for the time being. Ms. Vause relayed this message to Mr. Lake immediately and continued to discuss funding options and procedures in case Mary did decide that she wished to travel to Florida.

Please allow me to clarify how the repatriation loan program works. The cost of a child’s travel to the United States, even in abduction cases, is the responsibility of the parent. In the event that a parent cannot cover the cost of the airline ticket, the U.S. government is able to provide a repatriation loan through a program that includes certain criteria that must be met in order to demonstrate need and to ensure eventual repayment. I regret that a repatriation loan cannot be set up in advance. Ms. Vause suggested to Mr. Lake, after Mary decided not to travel, that she’d check in after a week, and that Mr. Lake proceed with the paperwork required for a repatriation loan so that it could be quickly issued if Mary changes her mind again, thus enabling us to act very quickly to provide a plane ticket. Please let me emphasize that a repatriation loan is intended to provide emergency financial assistance when no other funds are available. We did consider Mary’s desire to return home to be an emergency and were prepared to assist Mr. Lake with obtaining such funds. We would also be happy to facilitate a transfer of funds if Mr. Lake is able to cover the costs of a plane ticket.

Now all this occurred between 0830 am and 900pm Wednesday. There were other calls to and from NCMEC. I got the Pensacola Police involved. Sgt Donohoe PPD is a wonderful man that alerted NCMEC and other law enforcement agencies. 845 pm Ms Vause called and said that Mary had not shown up at the consulate but had called and asked for a week to think about coming back. There was also the issue of the cost of the tickets which I could not afford. She suggested that I contact friends and relatives to see if I could round up the money for a ticket.

Today Thursday she called to talk to me about a repatriation loan. That I would have to submit these forms to State and that once they were processed they would be on file and that if Mary EVER DID THIS AGAIN then the forms would be in my file and the ticket could be bought with no problem. She told me that it would take a week or more to process this. She did mention that I should keep my receipts and that there was a chance NCMEC would reimburse me at a later date.

We feel we must reiterate at this point the fact that a repatriation loan was offered, and would have been available if Mr. Lake had been unable to pay for Mary’s return flight home.

This is just another example of how the State department has mishandled my case.

While we regret that Mr. Lake does not feel that he has been well-served by the Department of State, the U.S. Consulate in Osaka and Children’s Issues continue to have Mary’s well-being at the top of our priorities. At this point, the Consulate in Osaka strongly wishes to facilitate a phone call between Mary and Mr. Lake, as they have done in the past, to allow for further discussion about Mary’s future. As always, we stand ready to assist any child wrongfully removed from his or her home of habitual residence. I trust this information is useful to both of you.
Sincerely,

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

//////////////////////////////////////////////

From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@]
Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 5:20 PM
To: CAPTLAKE@MCHSI.COM; Beth APayne
Cc: Kurt MCampbell; James LLoi; Patrick FKennedy; William JBurns; James BSteinberg; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Michael HPosner; Scott WBusby; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; Margaret GMacLeod; vvause@state.gov; Stefanie BEye; Susan SJacobs; Janice LJacobs; Allison.Hollabaugh@mail.house.gov; bac-home@googlegroups.com; Ariana_Reks@boxer.senate.gov; brianna.keilar@cnn.com; RoosJV@state.gov; Sarah.M.Netter@abc.com; Sharon.Santurri@mail.house.gov; JDonohoe@ci.pensacola.fl.us; dbergsan@gmail.com
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor

Ms. Payne, We are very disappointed with the answers provided in your email below and have prepared the attached response. We hope you and everyone else you included on this email string will read it. We look forward to your response. Sincerely, Commander Paul Toland, US Navy

ATTACHED RESPONSE

===========================================
September 15, 2011
Beth Payne, Director Office of Children’s Issues U.S. Department of State, SA-29 2201 C Street NW, SA-29 4th floor Washington, DC 20520-2818

Ms. Payne,
Mr. Lake has indicated that he is willing to provide a sworn affidavit that Ms. Vause told him his daughter Mary appeared in person at the Osaka consulate. However, even taking you at your word that Mary Lake called the consulate, we are simply distraught that the consulate employees did not do more to facilitate her rescue and return to her lawful parent.

Imagine that William Lake’s wife had abducted their daughter from Florida to Arizona instead of from Florida to Japan, and Mary Lake had called the authorities in Arizona asking them to “fly her home.” Those authorities would have kept Mary on the phone until they facilitated her rescue and brought the felon criminal abductor to justice. Now we understand that in an overseas environment, the State Department does not have the authority to physically go to the child in Japan to facilitate the rescue, but the State Department certainly had both the DUTY and OBLIGATION to obtain the same end result… to facilitate the rescue Mary Lake by asking the child victim of this felony crime to come to the consulate so they could then coordinate her rescue, yet this was never done.

You state that Mary “did not request refuge or an alternative place to stay that evening.” Are you seriously trying to place the burden and responsibility of having to request refuge upon a minor child who has been kidnapped and held in a foreign country for six years? She may not even understand such a concept. She called and reached out to the only American refuge she could find at the US Consulate, and they burdened her with an adult responsibility, eventually turning her away back to her captor?

And how, exactly, did you “confirm that (Mary) felt safe” with her felon kidnapper, and that she “was not in danger”? Your own Foreign Affairs Manual, Chapter 7, states “children involved (in abduction) have almost always been subjected to a traumatic experience.” What mental health worker counseled Mary Lake to determine her mental and emotional well being following six years of being held captive as a kidnapped child in a foreign land? If no mental health worker was available, then it was the State Department’s duty and obligation to err on the side of caution for Mary’s protection and proceed as if she was subjected to severe mental and physical trauma until a professional could determine otherwise. The consular officer was in no position to act as a medical provider in determining Mary’s physical and emotional state over the phone.

The State Department’s inability (or unwillingness) to try to talk Mary Lake into traveling to the consulate appears to be a failure of the State Department to acknowledge that the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) makes parental child abduction a felony crime and makes the perpetrator of that crime a felon criminal. The very fact that Mary is a child victim of a felony crime being held in a foreign land by a felon criminal is, in and of itself, enough to put Mary Lake “in danger.”

The State Department’s failure to act during the brief window of time available to rescue Mary allowed her to disappear again into the black hole abyss of Japan, to join the other 374 children abducted to Japan since 1994, none of whom has ever been returned.

We ask you to answer one simple question…if Mary Lake were kidnapped by a STRANGER and held in Japan for six years, and then contacted the US Consulate asking them to “fly her home”, would the consulate actions have been any different, and if so, why? The State Department’s DUTY to Mary Victoria Lake is no different than to any other victim of a felony crime, and for you to treat it otherwise is simply a flagrant disregard for the law.

We notice you also cc’d some of the press on your email response, yet you did not address our concerns about the fact that the State Department illegally issued a passport to William’s felon criminal wife, without obtaining William’s signature in violation of Public Law 106-113, Section 236. This, at least, tells us that IPKCA is not the only law that the State Department is in the habit of ignoring when it suits your purposes.

The State Department has conducted years of meetings, talks, meetings, talks, meetings and talks, but not a single parent has been able to even see their child as a result. This latest incident with William Lake’s daughter only further exacerbates the left-behind parent community’s total and complete loss of confidence in the State Department’s ability to protect our children. What happened to Mary Victoria Lake could have happened to any of our children, and this incident fills us with fear and anxiety that if a window of opportunity someday opens for the rescue of our children, State Department will simply shut that window, as they did with Mary Lake, rather than actually try to return our children.

Sincerely,
Paul Toland, National Coordinating Director
Douglass Berg, Eastern Regional Director
Randy Collins, Southwest Regional Director
Jeffery Morehouse, Pacific Northwest Regional Co-Director
Brett Weed, Pacific Northwest Regional Co-Director
Dr. Christopher Savoie, Midwest, Regional Director
P.O. Box 16254, Arlington, VA 22215 • www.BAChome.org • BAChome@BAChome.org
ENDS

//////////////////////////////////////////////////

UPDATE:

From: Payne, Beth A (payneba @state.gov)
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
To: “Paul Toland” (pptoland @)
Date: Friday, September 30, 2011

Dear Commander Toland:

Thank you for your letter of September 15, on behalf of the BACHome organization, expressing your disappointment with the information I provided to you on September 1, regarding the Department of State’s actions in the active abduction case involving Mary Lake. I regret that our response left you unsatisfied.

The Office of Children’s Issues, in coordination with U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, is committed to protecting the welfare of abducted children. Facilitating their return to the United States is one of our top priorities. We recognize the emotional pain that left-behind parents face while separated from their children, and we will be ready to discuss additional details of Mary’s case with her father, should he wish to resume contact with our office.

For more information about the Department of State’s role in International Parental Child Abduction, please visit our website at http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction/abduction_580.html .

Yours Sincerely,
Beth Payne
Director, Office of Children’s Issues

ENDS

BAChome: US Consulate Osaka refuses to aid American citizen child abducted in Japan who came to them for help

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s the USG demonstrating how much it cares for the welfare of its American citizens abroad (despite being one of the few countries that taxes its citizens abroad).  One might make the case that the USG’s missions abroad are basically to project hegemony and maintain weapons sales.  I wouldn’t, though, never ever.  But this case is a nonsense and the State Department’s negligent Office of Children’s Issues should hang its head in shame and make people accountable for refusing to help.  Arudou Debito

////////////////////////////////////

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

U.S. Consulate in Japan Gives Kidnapped Child Back To Her Captor
Osaka, Japan – August 31, 2011 BAChome.com, courtesy EK and TK
Different version at http://www.crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/itn-mltabsd.html

On August 24, 2011, 14 year-old Mary Victoria Lake, a U.S. citizen, who was kidnapped by her mother and taken to Japan in 2005, in one of the most high-profile international kidnapping cases in the United States, walked into the U.S. consulate in Osaka, Japan. She asked to be rescued from her kidnapper, an act of enormous bravery by a teenager who has been cut off from her father and held captive overseas for the past six years. Indifferent and incompetent U.S. Consular officials refused to aid or rescue her and instead sent her back to her kidnapper.

Her father, William Lake, was later informed of his daughter’s attempted return by caseworker Virginia Vause from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (OCI). During the multiple conversations with Ms. Vause that day, he learned that the consular officials had made a single attempt to call him at his residence. They did not to leave him a voicemail nor did they attempt to contact him on his cell phone or send an email. When Mr. Lake brought up the issue of why his daughter was turned away from the consulate, he was told that the consulate would not assist in his daughter’s rescue because they needed to have his written authorization to take her into custody. Furthermore, if Mary was taken into custody the Consulate would have to assign a staff member to stay with her until her return to the U.S., an inconvenience that the State Department refused to accept. They also needed him to sign an agreement, in advance, to repay any airline costs. These documents would take at least a week to process once OCI sent and received them.

None of the other parents we have checked with, who have been fighting for the return of their children for years, were aware of these consular requirements. State Department caseworkers had failed to inform them either out of negligence or purposeful deception, which leaves all internationally abducted children exposed to the same risk.

According to U.S. Department of State figures there are 268 cases involving 374 American citizen children who have been kidnapped to Japan since they started keeping track in 1994. OCI Division Chief Stefanie Eye has acknowledged “that our data is based entirely on proactive reporting and that because our database was designed primarily as a case management tool, it is difficult to provide statistical data with complete accuracy.”

Based on our statistical analysis, Bring Abducted Children Home (BACHOME.org) has estimated 4,417 American children have lost significant, meaningful access to their parent after divorce in Japan and by international abduction. Each one of these is a human rights violation.

This is third and latest episode of gross negligence by the Department of State toward Mr. Lake and his daughter. Twice previously, they illegally issued passports for his daughter without obtaining the father’s signature, even after it had been established that her father was the lawful parent and the mother was a wanted kidnapper.

Almost all of the existing cases involve at least one parent who is Japanese. This case however is a clear exception. Neither one of the victims nor the kidnapping mother are of Japanese ancestry. There is simply no reason for Mary to be held in Japan. However, no one from the White House or The State Department is publicly demanding the return of Mary Victoria Lake or any of the other 374, and more realistically, thousands of American children held captive there.

It has become starkly apparent to the parents victimized by the crime of parental child abduction that the Department of State clearly values the relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being and lives of U.S. citizen children being held captive in Japan.

Bring Abducted Children Home
BACHOME.org

Contact:
Paul Toland
ptoland@BAChome.org
ENDS

Excellent Japan Times article on GOJ reforms (and probable non-reforms) of child custody system post-divorce

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  An article came out today in the Japan Times that is so good it merits breaking holiday silence, from legal scholar Colin P.A. Jones on legal reforms to the post-divorce child custody system.  It mentions something we’ve talked about on Debito.org before:  How the signing of the Hague Convention on Child Abductions will probably be ineffectual, as both the legislative and judicial branches find ways to exceptionalize Japan from it, maintaining Japan’s status as a safe haven for international abductions.  Excerpted below, please go to the JT site and read the whole thing.  Now for me it’s back outside and on the bike.  Arudou Debito

==========================================

Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011

The Japan Times

THE ZEIT GIST

Upcoming legal reforms: a plus for children or plus ca change?

Domestic revisions designed to ease fears over Hague Convention could actually encourage parental abduction

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110809zg.html

By COLIN P. A. JONES

Those focused on the government’s stumbling efforts to protect the children of Fukushima from radioactive contamination may find this hard to believe, but Japanese family law just got more child-friendly — maybe. If Japan finally signs the Hague Convention on child abduction, as it appears it will, it could become even more so. There is a big “maybe” here too, so it remains to be seen whether these two steps taken by the Diet will steer the country away from its status as a black hole for parental abduction or leave it treading the same sorry path.

On May 27 a law was passed amending a number of provisions in the Civil Code relating to children and their parents. First, Article 766 of the code was revised to require parents seeking a cooperative (i.e., nonlitigated) divorce to decide upon visitation, child support payments and other matters relevant to their children’s upbringing after divorce. Furthermore, the new provision says that the welfare of the children must be the primary consideration when these matters are decided….

Another significant change in the law will make it possible for public authorities to suspend for up to two years the parental authority of those who abuse or neglect their children. The supposed inability of child welfare officials to act aggressively has been cited in recent high-profile child abuse cases. Under prior law the termination of parental authority was permanent, rendering it a very blunt instrument.

Of course, any change that clarifies the principles underlying the laws relating to children in Japan is certainly a welcome step forward. Yet at the same time, I believe that the character of these amendments reflects a continuation of what I see as the core problem with Japanese family law.

Both the amendments described above approach the problem by addressing deficiencies in Japanese parents. Other amendments to the Civil Code making it clear that even nondivorcing parents must exercise their parental rights and responsibilities for the benefit of their childrenfurther reinforce this impression…

Meanwhile, on the Hague Convention front, a legislative committee appears to be considering domestic legislation that will ensure no abducted child ever has to be returned after Japan signs it. A basic premise of the convention is that judicial determinations about children after their parents separate should be made in the country where the children have been living. Children who are unilaterally removed to another country should thus promptly be located and returned to their country of habitual residence.

The convention does contain an exception that says a child does not have to be returned if there is a “grave risk” that doing so “would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place him or her in an intolerable situation.” The Japanese government appears poised to drive truckloads of abducted children through this very limited exception.

Based on current proposals that I have seen, Japanese authorities may be allowed to refuse to return a child if (a) either the child or taking parent have been subject to abuse (including “violent words”), (b) the taking parent cannot return to the child’s home country because of fear of criminal prosecution upon return, (c) the taking parent is the primary caregiver but cannot raise the child in the home country for financial or other reasons, or (d) the helpfully vague “there are other circumstances” making return potentially harmful to the child.

This may seem well-intentioned, but it is important to understand that the Hague Convention is not about “keeping” children in their home countries. It is about parents respecting the law of the countries in which their children live before they unilaterally change their residence…

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110809zg.html

Related article:

The Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011
News photo
Act now: Rep. Chris Smith (center), standing with relatives of American children abducted to Japan, urges swift action by Washington on the issue last September on Capitol Hill. AP PHOTO

 

Hague campaigners doubt Japan’s sincerity

By WILLIAM HOLLINGWORTH
Kyodo

LONDON — Campaigners in Britain welcome Japan’s plans to sign up for a treaty on settling cross-border child custody disputes but feel new procedures are needed to effectively implement the agreement.

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110809a4.html

DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2011: FCCJ Book Break on IN APPROPRIATE, June 28, 2011

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

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debitopodcast

In this podcast:

Book Break at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan on my new book “IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan“.  June 28, 2011, Tokyo Yurakucho, with a large discussion on child abductions after divorce in Japan.

The presentation and Q&A in its entirety.  1 hour 20 minutes.  No cuts.  Enjoy!

If you would like to download the powerpoint I used and follow along, click here.

[display_podcast]

Weekend Tangent: The euphoria of collective attack and parental alienation syndrome

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  As a Weekend Tangent, and a corollary to yesterday’s blog post about the debate on definitions of Domestic Violence in Japan, here is a discussion from a psychologist on what sort of person will probably be most likely to take advantage of “violence” that is not physically violent in nature: a bully, who uses collective attack and parental alienation as a means to extract revenge on a spouse.  Under Japan’s increasingly blurry definitions of serious matters of violent behavior, this means that bullies will also be able to enlist the authorities’ help in carrying out their bullying. Courtesy AS, excerpted from http://mensnewsdaily.com/2010/02/26/why-parental-alienation-is-the-act-of-an-emotionally-abusive-bully/ Arudou Debito

===================

EXCERPT FOLLOWS

The emotionally abusive bully who engages in mobbing (or parental alienation) revels in the excitement produced by their animosity. It produces a pleasurable buzz or rush in them. Westhues (2002) refers to this as “the euphoria of collective attack.”

Parental Alienation and Personality Disorders

People that have no compunction about using their kids to hurt their exes seem to fit the profile of the emotionally abusive Cluster B personality disorders (Borderline Personality DisorderNarcissistic Personality DisorderAntisocial Personality Disorder). These individuals play the professional victim as they emotionally bully anyone who confronts, challenges, or criticizes them. They don’t recognize appropriate boundaries, won’t accept personal responsibility for their actions—in fact, they blame you for the horrible things they do and always have an excuse to justify their indefensible behaviors.

If your ex is actively or passively alienating your child(ren)’s normal affection toward you, he or she was probably emotionally abusive while you were together. Parental alienation is her or his way of continuing to abuse and hurt you via remote access. Generally, most bullies don’t see themselves as such. If you confront your ex about this behavior, they’ll deny it and blame you for your deteriorating relationship with your child(ren), even as you make every effort to be a present and involved parent.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

ENDS

Child Abductions Issue: How Japan’s debate on defining “Domestic Violence”, the loophole in enforcing the Hague Treaty, is heading in the wrong direction

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog.  Here is a report from a Debito.org reader who translates how the debate on Domestic Violence in Japan (being cited as a reason to create loopholes in Japan’s enforcement of the upcoming signatory status with the Hague Treaty on Child Abductions) is being stretched to justify just about any negative behavior (including non-tactile acts) as “violent”.  And note how the checklist of “violent” acts below approaches the issue with the woman as perpetual victim and the man as perpetrator.  If accepted as the standard definition, imagine just how much further this will weaken the fathers’ position in any Japanese divorce negotiation.  Yet another example of how clueless Japanese social scientists are when dealing with issues of human rights.  Courtesy of Chris Savoie, used with permission.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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June 16, 2011

Here is my cut of a translation that is being circulated by an influential NGO in Japan as the standard for recognizing Domestic Violence (“DV”) in Japan. Thanks CJ for finding and posting this!

Note that these standards or substantially similar standards will likely be applied under the new Hague implementation law to deny access and/or return of children to foreign (and Japanese) parents who are victims of parental abduction to and within Japan. Similar standards are already applied in Japanese family courts at present.

The original URL is below and this was a rushed translation, so if someone can clean it up or correct it, please do. Please feel free to forward this to folks involved with Congressional approval if HR1940.

http://saya-saya.net/toujisha/checklist.html

Please note for the avoidance of doubt that I am very much for the protection of both males and females from legitimate partner abuse and certain forms of behavior (like slapping) on this list are SERIOUS infractions, represent CRIMINAL acts and are to be condemned in the STRONGEST possible terms. However, certain of the conduct described below is a given even in otherwise healthy relationships and to include such conduct alongside actual physical violence or serious verbal abuse dilutes the very necessary efforts needed to protect actual abuse victims and for this reason, such ridiculous crap science does more to endanger domestic violence victims than to help them. For these reasons, such a list is highly contemptible. Best, CJS

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CITATION BEGINS

The DV Checklist

“He is kind of scary. Is this even a ’DV’?” “’DV’ I mean, I often hear the term, but I do not know specifically what ‘DV’ is!”…

Often we hear about DV in daily life. If you do too, try completing the following checklist.

We have published this checklist by Dr. Numazaki Ichirou. The survey was designed for men and women, but for sexual minorities, please complete the exercise according to one’s role in the relationship.

Checklist for Women

Please check any of these if you have experienced them:

He sulks if I deviate in any way from what he has requested of me.

He quickly blames me whenever something goes wrong.

When I go out alone, he calls my cell phone regularly.

He is reluctant to associate with my friends and parents.

He is angry if I come home late.

He says I am “stupid” or “incompetent”.

He cops an attitude so that I don’t refuse to comply with his whims.

I do not want him to be angry so I reluctantly listen to him.

I always try to wear clothes that he likes.

He has not problem pointing out my shortcomings in front of other people.

He ignores me when I want to talk with him.

Also complains vocally about my idiosyncrasies.

I am relieved when he is not around.

If I have a temper tantrum, he responds by hitting walls, or throwing objects.

I have been slapped by him.

After he hits me, he is quickly kind and gentle to me and apologizes.

In order not to offend him I have given up a lot.

He insists on sex without taking care of my needs.

Source: by Numazaki Ichirou “Why Do Men Choose Violence?”

========================

Checklist for Men

Please check any of these if you have experienced them:

I have yelled at her.

I wish that she would only have eyes for me.

Sometimes I don’t answer her when she wants to talk to me.

While speaking with her, I have stood up and got close to her.

She has thought that I made fun of her.

I think a woman should look up to her man.

I may have silently stared at her.

I am concerned when she is speaking with other men.

I have secretly checked her cell phone.

I have cheated on her.

I have told her “Don’t get smart with me.”

I may have lifted a hand to her.

I am annoyed when she talks back to me.

I have cussed at her.

I have called her a big mouth.

I feel restless if I am not with her all the time.

I feel hurt if she pushes back at me.

She incurred a debt for me without my permission.

Source: Dr. Numazaki Ichirou “Why Do men choose violence?”

According to Professor Numazaki, the producer of this list, a check mark next to even ONE item indicates a DV event. (For women who checked off one item, they have been a victim of DV and, for men, any checks indicate that that man was a perpetrator of DV.)

One of the items in the men’s list is “I wish that she would only have eyes for me.” One might question “How can ‘wishing’ or “thinking” something amount to violence?” Indeed, “just thinking” does not amount to violence. But if the thought “I think so” represents a strong belief, it is often followed by action. If one thinks “I want her only to have eyes for me” strongly, then the expression of power and domination (violence) is possible.

According to the results of a survey in 2008 by the Cabinet, “33,2% of married women over the age of 20 have been victims of DV.”

Defining DV:  http://saya-saya.net/dv.html

ENDS

///////////////////////////////////////

JAPANESE ORIGINAL:

http://saya-saya.net/toujisha/checklist.html

DVのチェックリスト

「なんだか彼といると恐い。でもこれって『DV』なの?」 「『DV』っていう言葉はよく聞くけど、具体的にどういうのが『DV』なのかわからない」・・・。

私たちが活動をしていく中でよく聞く声です。そんな場合は、下記の「チェックリスト」をやってみてください。

このチェックリストは、沼崎一郎教授によるチェックリストを掲載させていただきました。女性用、男性用となっていますが、セクシャルマイノリティの方は、それぞれの関係の中での役割に応じて、チェックリストをやってみてください。

女性用チェックリスト

あなたが体験したことのある項目に、○をつけてください。

□ 彼の注文に少しでも疑問を示すと、すぐに不機嫌になる。

□ うまくいかないことがあると、すぐに私のせいにする。

□ 私が1人で外出すると、しょっちゅう携帯に電話してくる。

□ 私が友人や両親と交際するのを嫌がる。

□ 私の帰宅が遅くなると怒る。

□ 私に「バカ」とか「能無し」とか言う。

□ いつも彼の機嫌をそこねないように気を配っている。

□ 彼に怒られるのがいやで、言うことを聞いてしまう。

□ ついつい彼好みの洋服を選んでしまう。

□ 人前でも平気で私の欠点を指摘する。

□ 彼と会話がしたくても、非難されたり、無視されたりする。

□ 私のちょっとしたしぐさにもうるさく文句を言う。

□ 彼がいないと、なぜかホッとする。

□ 癇癪を起すと、壁をなぐったり、物を投げたりする。

□ 彼に平手打ちにされたことがある。

□ 私をたたいた後は、急に優しくなり、私に謝ってくる。

□ 彼を怒らせないために、あきらめたことがいろいろある。

□ 彼は、私の気分などおかまいなしにセックスを求める。

出典:沼崎一郎著「男は何故暴力を選ぶのか」より転載。

チェックリスト結果について

男性用チェックリスト

あなたが体験したことのある項目に、○をつけてください。

□ 彼女に大声を上げたことがある。

□ 彼女には自分だけを見ていて欲しいと思う。

□ 彼女が話しかけても返事をしないことがある。

□ 話の最中、立ち上がって彼女に近づいたことがある。

□ 彼女にバカにされたと思ったことがある。

□ 女は男を立てるべきだと思っている。

□ 黙って彼女をにらんだことがある。

□ 彼女が他の男と話していると気になる。

□ 彼女の携帯をこっそりチェックしたことがある。

□ 浮気をしたことがある。

□ 彼女に「なまいき言うな」と言ったことがある。

□ 彼女に手を上げたことがある。

□ 彼女に何か言い返されると腹が立つ。

□ 彼女をののしったことがある。

□ 彼女は口うるさいと思ったことがある。

□ いつも彼女と一緒でないとイライラする。

□ 彼女に反発されると、とても傷つく。

□ 彼女に無断で借金をしたことがある。

出典:沼崎一郎著「男は何故暴力を選ぶのか」より転載。

チェックリスト結果について

チェックリストの結果

このリストの製作者である沼崎教授によると、上記のチェックリストのうち「一つでも」チェックのついた人はDVとなっています(女性用でチェックがついた方は、DVの被害をうけており、男性用でチェックがついた方はDVの加害をしていることとなります)。

男性用チェックリストの中に「彼女には自分だけを見ていて欲しいと思う」という項目があります。「『思う』だけなら暴力ではないのでは・・・?」と反論があるかもしれません。たしかに「思うだけ」では暴力にはならないでしょう。でも「そのように思う」という強い信念は、しばしば「行動」となって現れます。「彼女に自分だけを見ていて欲しい」と強く思うことが、彼女に対する力と支配の行使(暴力)となる可能性があります。

「20歳以上の既婚女性のうち、33,2%の女性がDVの被害を受けたことがある」という結果が、内閣府によるアンケート調査(2008年度)で出ています。

DVについて、もっと詳しく知りたい方は「DVとは?」をご覧ください。

ENDS

YouTube and Facebook on Nathanael Teutli Retamoza, Mexican national, detained in Niigata Prison since November 2010 on suspicion of “domestic abuse, forced entry, and kidnapping his child”

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Got this recently from submitter SL who wrote:

//////////////////////////////////////////////

hello debito. we have never met but i wanted to make you aware of a friend of mine who has been imprisoned in japan for the last 5 months without being charged. it’s a bit of a long story, but i met nathan about 4 years ago when he first came to japan from the states to pursue his photography. to make a long story short, he met a japanese woman, got her pregnant, they got married then all hell broke loose. he has been in prison for apparently trying to abduct his child and take her back to the states. until recently i had had no contact with him except a letter in which he asked me to donate money to japan’s relief effort, then i saw this video…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rWJgfnoOdo&feature=related

i am leaving japan at the end of may, so until then i will try to get his case some more attention. i hope that this message does not fall on deaf ears nor blind eyes. any suggestions are welcome, but this is more to make you aware of his situation.

all i ask is that you watch the video and perhaps forward it to anyone you think might be able to help him. thanks! sl

//////////////////////////////////////////////

Also, according to a Facebook site devoted to his case:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002323963541

//////////////////////////////////////////////

“Nathan was arrested in Nov,2010 and is being held in a prison in Niigata charged with kidnapping his daughter Yukari. We are a group of his friends in Niigata who are trying to get the word about the injustice Nathan is suffering everyday as he awaits his fate in Niigata Prison. Please look at the Youtube video titled Free Nathan. Also as Nathan has no internet or telephone access if anyone would like to send Nathan any words of encouragement a letters can be sent c/o

Nathanael Teutle Retamoza
Niigata Prison 381-4-A Yamafutatsu,
Konanku,Niigata City
Niigata, Japan
950-8721

Nathan’s next hearing is May 31st ,2011, 09:30-12:00 at the Niigata District Court . In this hearing the closing arguements from both sides will be heard.

Hearings are open to the public and if anyone is interested in attending there will be transportation provided from Niigata Station to the court house. Let’s show Nathan our support!!

The courthouse address is
Niigata District Court Gakko-cho dori 1-1 Chuo-ku, Niigata City
phone number 025-222-4175
This is the website for the court house with the address in Japanese and a very limited web site in English.

http://www.courts.go.jp/niigata/

For the people who have promised to come to Nathan’s hearing on May 31st Nathan will be so grateful and overwelmed by your kindness. Thank-you in advance.

It is extremely important to remember that if someone decides to attend Nathan’s hearing on May31st, it goes without saying that you must respect the courtroom and the process because if not the judges have the right to clear the courtroom. We definitely don’t want that. So let’s support Nathan respectfully and quietly. If you have never attended a Japanese hearing or have any questions what so ever I will answer and/or try to find the answer asap. Attending the hearing is an anonymous in that your name is not registered anywhere and no one will ask why you are there. There are many random people in the courtroom; law students, professors, retired individuals who are interested in the law etc. Obviously if you are not Japanese you will stand out but because there is no conversation among the spectators what so ever, there is no worry that you will be singled and questioned. I have been asked about this many times so I hope that it will put some people at ease.”

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COMMENT: I know no more about this case than what is on YouTube and Facebook. Those who wish to make enquiries can do so there or at freenathan@ymail.com. FYI. Arudou Debito

AFP: Britain now supports Japan’s bid for UN Security Council seat: How eyeblinkingly blind of GOJ history re unfollowing international agreements.

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Here’s some news dovetailing with Japan’s unwillingness to abide by international treaty.

Japan, one of the United Nations’ largest financial contributors, has been pushing hard for decades now for a seat on the U.N. Security Council (last time in 2006), effectively to have a place at the table and more powerful voting rights with fellow big, rich, powerful nations. The GOJ has even signed treaties and created domestic laws, according to scholar John M. Peek (see below), just to make it look better internationally, i.e., more like a modern, responsible nation in the international arena. However, after signing these treaties, Japan has been quite constant in its unwillingness to actually create domestic laws to enforce international agreements (cf. the CERD), or when laws are created, they have little to no enforcement power (cf. the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, which has done little after more than a quarter century to ameliorate the wide disparity in wages between men and women in Japan).

The fact is, the GOJ does this stuff for window dressing.  Now once it accomplishes its goal of getting an UNSC Seat, it will have no further incentive to sign, abide by, or obey international treaties at all. We have stated this to the United Nations at every opportunity.

Which is why Britain’s sudden turnaround to support Japan’s bid is so eye-blinkingly blind. It seems we are milking our disasters (partially caused by our government’s malfeasance in the first place) to get an international sympathy vote now. How cynical and opportunistic.

Read on for an excerpt of a research paper I wrote citing Dr. Peek above, regarding the GOJ’s history of insincere negotiations vis-a-vis international human-rights agreements. I believe Japan will similarly ratify yet unfollow the Hague Convention on Child Abductions as well. And not even bother to ratify much else once it gets on the UNSC.  Arudou Debito

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Britain pushes for Japan UN security seat after meeting
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110503/wl_asia_afp/britainjapandiplomacy
Yahoo News  Tue May 3, 2011, courtesy of CB

LONDON (AFP) – Britain on Tuesday backed Japan’s claim for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and promised to support its economic integration with the EU after the two nations’ foreign ministers met in London.

Foreign Secretary William Hague also told Takeaki Matsumoto, his Japanese counterpart, that Britain had “great admiration” for Japan’s response to the March earthquake and tsunami which devastated the country’s northeast coast.

“Japan is unquestionably our closest partner in Asia,” Hague said in a statement.

“Japan is a like-minded partner and a positive force in international peace and security and I repeat our support again today for an enlarged United Nations Security Council with a permanent seat for Japan,” he added.

Britain in March urged the European Union to ease barriers between the bloc and its outside trading partners, and used Tuesday’s meeting to repeat its demands.

“The removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers could deliver over 40 billion euros ($59.2 billion) of additional European exports to Japan and more than 50 billion euros of additional exports from Japan to the EU,” argued Hague.

The pair agreed to “support the people of Libya in their aspiration to be rid of a dictator” and on the “vital need to achieve a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”.

Addressing the quake, Hague said: “We feel great friendship and affinity with the Japanese people in this hour of tragedy… and we have great admiration for the resilience and dignity and courage of the people of Japan.”
ENDS

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EXCERPT OF ARUDOU DEBITO PAPER (Copyright ARUDOU Debito)

3. Historical context of the GOJ’s behavior

Japan has a long history of lack of initiative regarding its obligations under U.N. agreements in regards to human rights.  Peek (1992) notes, “Tokyo holds that human rights issues are a domestic matter and, therefore, beyond the mandate of the U.N…. [Japan] has generally responded defensively to human rights proposals at variance with Japanese law or practice” (219).  In his view, Japan’s lack of participation in the incipient stages of the U.N.’s formation (including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948) led to the lack of “significant national stake in the U.N.’s existing principles and structures” (ibid), a relative inattention in the political sphere, and an understaffing in the relevant domestic bureaucratic organs.  The high-profile tenure of Ogata Sadako as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees notwithstanding, for decades Japan refused to even join the UNHCR in the 1960’s and 1970’s despite several direct appeals from other countries; the GOJ “feared being drawn into a public denunciation of the human rights policies of any particular state”; even after joining the UNHCR, Japan’s interest was in “protecting itself from unwanted or highly politicized criticism” (both 220), and kept its participation “low-key” and abstemious from ruling on the majority of resolutions within its mandate.

After Japan ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in 1979, it still opposed, as it had since the 1960’s the establishment of a specific high commissioner to review issues of human rights, arguing the office would be “highly politicized” and lead to bureaucratic inefficiency; Peek noted, “At the core of Japan’s position was its objection to any further encroachment on the internal affairs of sovereign nation-states” (221).  It also added “reservations” to parts of the covenants (such as the review powers of the ICCPR’s Human Rights Committee), expressed objections to individuals being able to report claims directly to the HRC (arguing that U.N. relations are state-to-state), and emphasized the need for “further study” of contentious issues.

The conclusion that can be drawn from this:  Postwar Japan’s leadership could not, and most likely still cannot, accept a fundamental tenet of the UN Charter — that there exists a “universal set of human rights”.  This cultural relativism at first led to an attitude of, “leave us alone, we’ll leave you alone”.  However, this became less tenable with the ascendancy of Japan as the number two economic power in the 1980’s, and Japan’s own repeated demand for acceptance as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.  With greater international power came the expectation of greater international accountability, responsibility, and initiative.

Ironically, an argument can be made that some of Japan’s more liberal laws were created as a matter of opportunistic timing vis-à-vis international attention, not grassroots pressure.  Peek provides the example of the Equal Employment Opportunity Law, passed in 1984, legally guaranteeing equal pay for equal work regardless of gender.  It was passed into law despite the opposition of women’s groups and the opposition parties, who objected to its lack of enforceability.  Peek writes, “The intent of the law seems to have been more than a symbolic bone tossed to domestic and international critics in anticipation of the upcoming 1985 world conference ending the U.N. Decade for Women” (224).  Peek also notes the GOJ concurrently passed a revised Nationality Law (now granting citizenship through mother as well as father), and ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  Thus, it would seem that for Japan to pass a law against RD, one would need a high-profile event (such as a Decade against Racism or a International Conference for Migrants) to trigger it, or a quid pro quo of sorts (such as a UNSC seat).  Even then, this author anticipates that any RD law will contain built-in safeguards (such as a lack of fines or incarceration for miscreants) to ensure that it allays international critics but does not have statutes for enforcement.

It is clear that from a historical perspective, the GOJ works on its own timetable, is largely impervious to repeated criticism both internationally and domestically, and makes reforms that do not overwhelmingly affect Japan’s “sovereignty”, however Japan’s domestic arbiters determine it.  As Peek (1991) notes, the GOJ “has used the defensive tactics of denial of legitimacy, special interpretations, reservations, and symbolic change.  It seeks to justify its tactics on the basis of culture differences.  In essence, the Japanese government portrays its policy in terms of protecting the traditional ethic of harmonious human relations against the impersonal ethic of universalism contained in the covenants” (10).

There is of course the political dimension. Although pressure from the U.N. does, as Peek notes (1992: 226-9), lead to domestic human rights reforms, the Realpolitik of the situation indicates that NJ in Japan, a tiny minority (1.7% of the population, as opposed to women comprising half), disenfranchised without even suffrage (this will not change in the near future; the opposition to the Democratic Party of Japan’s proposal to grant suffrage in local elections to NJ Permanent Residents led to its suspension in 2010 (Mainichi Daily News 2010)), have a great uphill climb to achieving anti-discrimination legislation.

//////////////////////////////////////////////

EXCERPT ENDS

TWO MAJOR SOURCES:

  1. Peek, J. M. 1991.  “Japan and the International Bill of Rights.”  Journal of Northeast Asian Studies, Fall 1991 10(3): 3-16.
  2. _____________. (1992). “Japan, The United Nations, and Human Rights.” Asian Survey 32(3): 217-229.

Japan, The United Nations, and Human Rights

Author(s): John M. Peek

Source: Asian Survey, Vol. 32, No. 3 (Mar., 1992), pp. 217-229

Published by: University of California Press

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2644935

ENDS

GOJ says it will schedule joining Hague Convention on Child Abductions this month. Wowee. Why I doubt that’ll mean anything even if signed.

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  In light of Chris Savoie’s U.S. court victory the other day, where his ex-wife was ruled guilty of inter alia false imprisonment of their kids in Japan, let’s look at the bigger picture — whether or not there will be official measures taken to stop this sort of thing happening again.  One means is the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, to which Japan is not a signatory, and it shows.

Japan has once again made intimations (see JT article below) that it has plans to not only consider but even perhaps join the Convention, with a schedule for when it will perhaps join being announced this month.

This should be good news, but I’m not hopeful.  Japan made similar intimations about joining this Convention more than three years ago (see Asahi article below that), so has clearly been less than keen.  Moreover, during the domestic debates since then, lots of other intimations have been made that Japan will sign but will then create domestic laws and other loopholes so it doesn’t have to follow it.

This is within character.  Japan has done precisely the same thing with other international agreements, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (signed by Japan all the way back in 1995), which has similarly been exceptionalized to the point where we still have no national law in Japan’s criminal code outlawing or forbidding racial discrimination and hate speech.

The point is, I’m not hopeful.  And I’ll say it again:  Nobody, Japanese or NJ, should get married to a Japanese and have children under the current system in Japan.  Divorce in Japan generally means one parent loses the kids.  And I believe that will continue regardless of Japan’s agreeing to the Hague.  Arudou Debito

ADDENDUM MAY 27:  One clarification that is unclear upon rereading this post:  I believe that Japan SHOULD sign the Hague.  I have never argued that it shouldn’t.  It is a step in the right direction.  I am just questioning whether it will mean much in practice and enforcement, given the GOJ’s record regarding other treaties, and advising against getting one’s hopes up for a solution to the present situation. AD

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Plan to join Hague pact on custody due in May

Japan Times/Kyodo
Thursday, April 28, 2011

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110428a2.html

The government will announce in May a plan to join the Hague Convention, which deals with cross-border child custody rows, official sources said Wednesday.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government is expected to instruct the Justice and Foreign ministries to develop the necessary bills, with the aim of approving the plan to join the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction during a regular Diet session next year.

Japan has been under international pressure to join the child custody pact, which is designed to help resolve cases in which foreign parents are prevented from seeing their children in Japan after their marriages with Japanese nationals fail.

If Tokyo remains out of the pact, it could mar international confidence in Japan, the sources said. Prime Minister Naoto Kan is expected to relay Japan’s policy at a Group of Eight summit in late May in Deauville, France.

The Hague Convention sets procedures for resolving child custody cases in failed international marriages. As Japan has yet to join, non-Japanese cannot see their children if their Japanese spouse takes them to Japan from the country where the family has been residing.

There has been heated debate over whether to join the treaty, as it is customary for mothers to take sole care of children after divorces and it is not unusual for kids to stop seeing their fathers after their parents break up. Critics have raised concerns over joining the pact, saying it could endanger Japanese parents and kids who have fled abusive relationships.

ENDS

====================

Japan to Sign Hague Child Abduction Convention
05/10/2008
BY MIAKO ICHIKAWA
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Japan will sign a treaty obliging the government to return to the rightful parent children of broken international marriages who are wrongfully taken and kept in Japan, sources said Friday.

 

The Justice Ministry will begin work to review current laws with an eye on meeting requirements under the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, the sources said. The government plans to conclude the treaty as early as in 2010.
The decision was reached amid criticism against Japan over unauthorized transfer and retention cases involving children. The governments of Canada and the United States have raised the issue with Japan and cited a number of incidents involving their nationals, blasting such acts as tantamount to abductions.

In one case, a Japanese woman who divorced her Canadian husband took their children to Japan for what she said would be a short visit to let the kids see an ailing grandparent. But the woman and her children never returned to Canada.

Once parents return to their home countries with their children, their former spouses are often unable to find their children. In Japan, court rulings and custody orders issued in foreign countries are not recognized.

Under the convention, signatory parties are obliged to set up a “central authority” within their government. The authority works two ways.

It can demand other governments return children unlawfully transferred and retained. But it is also obliged to find the location within its own country of a child unlawfully taken and retained, take measures to prevent the child from being moved out of the country, and support legal procedures to return the child to the rightful parent.

Sources said the Japanese government will likely set up a central authority within the Justice Ministry, which oversees immigration and family registry records. The ministry has decided to work on a new law that will detail the procedures for the children’s return.

In 2006, there were about 44,700 marriages between Japanese and foreign nationals in Japan, about 1.5 times the number in 1996. Divorces involving such couples more than doubled from about 8,000 in 1996 to 17,000 in 2006.(IHT/Asahi: May 10,2008)

 

 

ENDS

Chris Savoie wins US court award of $6.1 million against ex-wife for breach of contract, emotional distress, and false imprisonment of his children in Japan

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

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Hi Blog. Congratulations to Chris Savoie on his massive U.S. court victory against his ex-wife for, inter alia, false imprisonment of his children in Japan.

Debito.org has talked about the Savoie Case for quite some time now (do a search), but I devoted a Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column to it back in October 2009. I’m personally glad he’s staying the course, and seeking judicial recourse that is amounting to legally-binding agreement. This is setting an important precedent regarding the issue of international child abduction, and drawing attention to a long-neglected problem. Arudou Debito

PS: Note the lame (if not just plain inaccurate) headline by the Japan Times/Kyodo News on this, “Wife fined for taking children to Japan“; makes it sound like she got punished for being a tourist. Get on the ball. Call it what it is: Child abduction.

//////////////////////////////////////////

Order for ex-wife to pay millions doesn’t make up for time lost with kids, says Franklin father
Court rules mom who took kids to Japan owes $6.1M
The Tennesseean, May 10, 2011
http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110510/NEWS03/305100033/Dad-whose-ex-wife-moved-kids-to-Japan-says-6M-win-bittersweet-

A mother who left Middle Tennessee with her two young children to live permanently in her native Japan — leaving behind an ex-husband with joint custody rights — has been ordered to pay the father $6.1 million in damages.

But Christopher J. Savoie of Franklin said the money alone is a hollow victory. He hopes the ruling will help end a battle he has waged since 2009 to bring the children home.

“Anything about this just reopens a lot of wounds. It’s bittersweet,” said Christopher Savoie, who said he hasn’t been allowed even to speak to Isaac, 10, and Rebecca, 8, in more than a year. “At the end of the day, I’d much rather have one afternoon in the park with my kids than one penny of this judgment.”

Shortly after Noriko Esaki Savoie permanently moved with the children to Japan, a Williamson County court gave Christopher Savoie full custody, and the Franklin Police Department issued an arrest warrant for Noriko Savoie charging her with custodial interference. But because of domestic laws pertaining to custody and divorce, Japan will not help the United States resolve parental abductions to the country. The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues reports that it “does not have a record of any cases resolved through a favorable Japanese court order or through the assistance of the Japanese government.”

In March, Noriko Savoie was charged in federal court with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, and an arrest warrant was issued. That effort also has failed so far.

“My understanding is we don’t have an extradition agreement with Japan as it relates to parental kidnapping,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Carrie Daughtrey said. “As far as I know, nothing has been done.”

Christopher Savoie believes Monday’s ruling may open a door. His attorney, Joseph A. “Woody” Woodruff of Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, said that while Japan won’t enforce U.S. judgments that pertain to custody or otherwise order Japanese citizens to “do the right thing,” they will enforce money judgments.

“They will enforce orders that assess damages for breach of contract and civil wrongs,” Woodruff said. “This is a tool we’re going to try to use to convince Noriko Savoie she needs to do the right thing.”

Williamson County Chancery Court Judge Tim Easter announced the damages Monday, having previously found Noriko Savoie guilty of three crimes in September. Easter ordered Noriko Savoie to pay Christopher Savoie more than $1 million for breach of contract and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. She was ordered to pay Christopher Savoie $1.1 million, to be held for the benefit of the children, for falsely imprisoning them since August 2009. Easter ordered Noriko Savoie to pay additional damages for each day she continues to falsely imprison the children up to a maximum of $4 million.

“Every day, she has another chance to lower the amount of damages,” Christopher Savoie said. “Noriko is not an enemy here. She’s just got to do the right thing here.”

Noriko Savoie was not represented at the hearing. Marlene Moses, an attorney who represented Noriko Savoie in 2009, said she no longer represents her and is unfamiliar with the latest developments.

“She chose to ignore these proceedings,” Woodruff said. “She was served in person in Japan.”

In a related proceeding, Savoie is suing Williamson County Judge James G. Martin III for negligence and violations of his constitutional rights. Martin was the judge who lifted a restraining order on the children’s passports so that Noriko Savoie could take them on a six-week trip to Japan. He did so after Noriko Savoie promised at a hearing that she would not permanently move there. She returned from the trip as scheduled, but left again shortly thereafter and has remained in Japan since.

U.S. District Court Judge Aleta A. Trauger dismissed the case in December after ruling that Martin has judicial immunity. Savoie has taken the case to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Woodruff said Christopher Savoie’s lawyers in Japan are working to “domesticate” Easter’s orders. Christopher Savoie said he is frustrated the laws of Japan have left him with no other choice than to seek a large money judgment against his ex-wife, but hopes it will compel her to at least talk to him.

“I would much rather her return the kids than see 1 cent of this money,” he said. “I feel disappointed that the only thing we can do is ask for money. Even God can’t buy me back the year and a half I’ve missed. I feel bad for the judge even having to put a number on it.”

Contact Brandon Gee at bgee@tennessean.com

ENDS

//////////////////////////////////////

Ex-R.I. man wins $6.1 million in custody case
The Providence Journal, Tuesday, May 10, 2011
By Richard C. Dujardin, Journal Staff Writer
http://www.projo.com/news/content/JAPAN_CUSTODY_05-10-11_3JO0LTA_v14.348c536.html

Christopher Savoie, a former Rhode Islander who drew international attention when he was thrown into a Japanese prison in 2009 for trying to recover his two children from his Japanese ex-wife by grabbing them as they walked to school, has won a $6.1-million judgment against his former wife.

But in an interview from his home in Franklin, Tenn., the University of Rhode Island and Bishop Hendricken High School graduate called the award issued by Franklin Chancellor Timothy Easter a “two-edged sword” in that it gives his ex-wife a strong financial incentive “to do the right thing” and allow him to see his two children, but there is no guarantee that he’ll see his 10-year-old son, Isaac, and 8-year-old daughter, Rebecca, before they reach 20, the age of majority in Japan.

“It’s bittersweet, because rather than getting any money, I’d much rather be in the park playing with my kids. No amount of money can compensate for that time with the kids,” said Savoie.

Along with his second wife, Amy, another former Rhode Islander who began a career in immunology at URI, Savoie, 40, became enmeshed in an international custody battle that unfolded two years after Christopher, who had achieved international stature as an innovator in biotechnology, returned to the United States with his children and Japanese wife, Noriko, in the hope of starting another business.

Not long after the couple arrived, Christopher sued for a divorce, and two months after being granted the divorce decree in January 2009, married Amy, whom he had known since his days at URI. Savoie says that, as part of the settlement, his ex-wife agreed to provide him custody of the children in exchange for a monthly payment of $5,500 along with other payments for their education.

Then, just days after Christopher and Amy gathered with friends and relatives and their two young children at a waterside restaurant in East Greenwich to celebrate their six-month wedding anniversary, Noriko told Savoie and the judge in Tennessee that she wanted to take the children on a brief vacation in Japan before they resumed school in the United States. It was only when the Savoies saw that there was no planned trip back that they began to suspect that their children had been abducted.

Savoie says that contrary to some reports in the media, his two children had always been brought up in an English-speaking environment. Isaac, who was born in California and went to preschool in the United Kingdom, scored in the 98th percentile on the standardized English test in Tennessee, and Rebecca was doing well, also.

In fact, he says, when he came upon their children on the street in Japan, their mother was walking closely behind because she needed to interpret for them because they were not fluent in Japanese. Savoie thought he could whisk them off the street, carry them off to the U.S. Consulate and bring them back to the U.S., only to see his plan foiled when officials at the consulate did not open the door and allowed him to be arrested by Japanese police.

Despite the exposure provided by his nearly three-week imprisonment, Savoie said he has not seen his children again. Every time he attempts to reach the children by phone, their grandparents hang up on him.

Savoie said his anxieties increased significantly after the Japanese earthquake and nuclear disaster. He said that while he was told the children are safe, by his calculations, “they are within the nuclear fallout zone.”

Savoie said the events of the last few days have given him some new hope. The judgement issued by a Tennessee court on Monday is designed to get his ex-wife’s cooperation by cutting off any future financial payments by her as soon as she agrees to return the children.

Although the court system in Japan recognizes that he has been awarded custody of the children by a Tennessee court, the problem is that Japan has no way of enforcing the custody settlement, Savoie said, but it does have a method of enforcing the financial penalties. “We have a set of lawyers waiting in the wings” to put in the mechanism to see the judgment implemented.

Savoie said he has also been buoyed by what he says is a recent announcement by Japan that it plans to sign the Hague Convention on international child abduction, a move that would make it easier for international parents to recover their children who have been taken in custody disputes.

In the meantime, Savoie said the international custody battle has caused him and Amy to reconsider their calling. Instead of immunology, both are now students at Nashville School of Law in the hope that they may be able to help parents of other children — including some 300 in Japan alone — who have been abducted by spouses and are being held in Japan.

rdujardi@projo.com
ENDS

ARUDOU Debito’s new book on sale: “IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan”

mytest

INFORMATION SITE FOR ORDERING ARUDOU DEBITO’S FIRST NOVEL

“IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan”

NOW ON SALE

PLOT SYNOPSIS

Gary Schmidt, a small-town American boy, meets a Japanese girl in college and follows her to Japan to start a family.  Little does he know that her conservative Japanese clan has hidden agendas and secret intentions. Gary eventually realizes that he must escape their clutches – and convince his family to do the same before it’s too late!

More plot synopsis for Debito.org Readers:

IN APPROPRIATE  is a book about child abductions in Japan, where after a divorce, a non-Japanese man comes back to Japan to retrieve his children back to America.  Although a work of fiction, it is an amalgam of several true stories of divorce and Left-Behind Parents in Japan.

Preview the first 11 pages of IN APPROPRIATE by clicking here.
Under book cover, click “Preview”.

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR NOVEL “IN APPROPRIATE”

  • “ARUDOU Debito’s depiction of how quickly life gets turned upside down by the crazy family rules in Japan will do more than just grab your attention.  It will make you cry at the strange and deplorable tale of love lost in Japan. IN APPROPRIATE sheds necessary light on the twisted norms and laws in Japan that not only allow, but also encourage parents to abduct their children from one another.  A must-read primer on the issue.” — Eric Kalmus, Children’s Rights Network Japan (www.crnjapan.net), and Left-Behind Parent.
  • “ARUDOU Debito, or David Aldwinckle as I know him, has written an unbelievable novel called IN APPROPRIATE. I say ‘unbelievable’ because if you haven’t experienced a divorce in Japan, you would simply not believe this sort of thing could happen.  Drawing on true stories, Debito has managed to weave together a heartbreaking tale around the injustice that sadly exists in modern Japan.  Perhaps this will be a legacy for those of us who lived through this experience, and for our children who suffered
    under this system.”
    John Evans, Left-Behind Parent

ORDERING OPTIONS FOR AMAZON PAPERBACK, EBOOK, AND ONLINE DOWNLOAD BELOW

BOOK SPECS

“IN APPROPRIATE:  A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in Japan”

ISBN for paperback version: 978-1-257-02640-1

ISBN for ebook: 978-1-257-02648-7

Author: ARUDOU Debito

Language: English

Publisher: Lulu Enterprises Inc., New York

Date of Publication:  March 15, 2011

Length: 149 pages

Price: USD$10.00 (downloadable eBook), USD$14.00 (paperback, plus postage)

Anchor site at publisher:  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/arudoudebito


ORDERING OPTIONS

(NB: The author suggests that readers who are not aesthetically wedded to paper-bound books consider downloading electronic versions online.  It’s far cheaper, more ecologically friendly, and you get a copy within minutes.  This is the future of publishing. Give it a try.)

If you would like to order a copy of IN APPROPRIATE, you have several options:

1) PAPERBACK VERSION FROM AMAZON and other online stores (at prices they assess)

You will soon be able to order a paperbound copy via Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. This may take a few weeks to come online.  I will have links to Amazon etc. here as they become available.

2) PAPERBACK VERSION FROM PUBLISHER (at USD$14.00 plus postage)

AVAILABLE NOW.
Lulu.com has a site devoted to this book, from which you can order immediately as a print-on-demand paperbound copy (more ecologically sound than traditional first-run printing systems, with no stocks to take care of).  Click below to purchase:

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

3) ELECTRONIC DOWNLOAD FROM PUBLISHER (at USD$10.00)

AVAILABLE NOW.
If you are not hidebound to actual paper books, you can download one as a pdf from Lulu.com and read it on your computer screen (information about reading platforms and Adobe Digital Editions software available here for free). Click below to purchase:

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

4) EBOOK (at USD$10.00)

This will be downloadable at Lulu.com soon, as soon as it is converted to epub format (it takes a while), as well as downloadable from Amazon and other iBookstores, for reading on your iPad, Kindle, etc.

5) REGULAR BOOKSTORES (at prices they assess).

The book has an ISBN (978-1-257-02640-1), so it can be ordered from any brick-and-mortar bookstore.  Take the number to the clerk and put it on order.


I hope you enjoy my novel IN APPROPRIATE.

I enjoyed writing my first fiction work.

If you like it, please consider recommending it to others.

Your support will enable me to write more novels and continue on in this direction.

ARUDOU Debito (debito@debito.org)

Read my other nonfiction books here.

also see

www.debito.org/inapproppriate.html

UPDATE on my new novel: It’s done.

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog.  This is just an update to tell you that after two weeks of intensive writing and revising, I have successfully written my first novel.

What’s it about?  Well, right now, about 141 pages.

Sorry, old joke zone.

No, actually it’s about child abductions in Japan.

I’ve already sent out a preliminary draft to several readers to for some feedback.  Once that’s back in, I think I should have the book on sale sometime in March.

More information as it comes available!  Thanks you for reading Debito.org!  Arudou Debito

Kyodo: MOFA Survey shows divided views on GOJ signing of child custody pact, despite best efforts to skew

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog. Here’s some news on a MOFA survey that was skewed (by dint, for one thing, of it being rendered in Japanese only, effectively shutting out many opinions of the NJ side of the marriage) linguistically to get results that were negative towards the signing of the Hague Convention on Child Abductions. Even then, MOFA got mixed results (as in, more people want the GOJ to sign the Hague than don’t, but it’s a pretty clean three-way split). Nice try, MOFA. Read the survey for yourself below and see what I mean.

In any case, the bureaucrats, according to Jiji Press of Feb 1 (see bottom of this blog post), seem to be gearing up to join the Hague only if there is a domestic law in place for Japan to NOT return the kids.  I smell a loophole in the making.

NHK’s “Close Up Gendai” gave 28 minutes to the issue on February 2, 2011 (watch it here), in which they gave less airtime than anticipated to portraying Japanese as victims escaping to Japan from NJ DV, and more instead to the Japanese who want Japan to sign the Hague so they can get their kids back from overseas. Only one segment (shorter than all the others) gave any airtime to the NJ side of the marriage — but them getting any airtime at all is surprising; as we saw in yesterday’s blog entry, NJ don’t “own the narrative” of child abductions in Japan. Arudou Debito

////////////////////////////////////////////

Survey shows divided views on Japan’s signing of child custody pact
Kyodo News/Japan Today,  Thursday 3rd February 2011, courtesy AW

http://japantoday.com/category/national/view/survey-shows-divided-views-on-japans-signing-of-child-custody-pact

TOKYO — An online survey by the Foreign Ministry showed Wednesday that people who have directly been involved in the so-called parental ‘‘abductions’’ of children as a result of failed marriages were divided on Japan’s accession to an international treaty to deal with child custody disputes.

Of 64 respondents to the questionnaire posted on the website of the Foreign Ministry and its 121 diplomatic missions abroad between May and November last year, 22 were in favor of Japan joining the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, while 17 were against the idea.

The remaining 25 respondents did not make their stance clear, said Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Ikuo Yamahana at a press conference.

The convention provides a procedure for the prompt return of children to their habitual country of residence when they are wrongfully removed or retained in the case of an international divorce. It also protects parental access rights.

Those seeking Japan’s accession to the convention said Tokyo should no longer allow unilateral parental child abductions as the country is perceived overseas as an ‘‘abnormal’’ nation for defending such acts.

People opposed to Japan’s signing of the treaty said the convention ‘‘doesn’t fit with’’ Japanese culture, values and customs and urged the government to protect Japanese nationals fleeing from difficult circumstances such as abusive spouses and problems in foreign countries.

Some pointed to the disadvantages faced by Japanese parents seeking a local court settlement on child custody abroad, such as expensive legal fees and the language barrier.

Yamahana said the government led by the Democratic Party of Japan will further examine the possibility of joining the convention based on the results of the online survey. ‘‘We will discuss what we can do to ensure the welfare of children,’’ he said.

International pressure on Tokyo to act on the parental abduction issue has been growing, with legislative bodies in the United States and France recently adopting resolutions that call for Japan’s accession to the treaty.

At present, 84 countries and regions are parties to the Hague Convention. Of the Group of Seven major economies, only Japan has yet to ratify the pact.

Of the 64 respondents, 18 said they have abducted children and 19 said their children have been taken by their former spouses. A total of 27 said they have been slapped with restrictions on traveling with their children because Japan is not a party to the Hague Convention.

By country, 26 respondents were linked to parental abduction cases in the United States, followed by nine in Australia and seven in Canada.
ENDS

///////////////////////////////

Reprising a Debito.org Blog entry from May 27, 2010, when this survey first hit the news:

Debito:  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just started asking for opinions from the public regarding Japan’s ascension to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (which provides guidelines for dealing with cases of children being taken across borders without the consent of both parents, as well as establishing custody and visitation; all past Debito.org articles on the issue here.).

Sounds good until you consider the contexts.  We’ve already had a lot of Japanese media portraying the Japanese side of an international marriage as victims, fleeing an abusive NJ.  Even the odd crackpot lawyer gets airtime saying that signing the Hague will only empower the wrong side of the divorce (i.e. the allegedly violent and-by-the-way foreign side), justifying Japan keeping its status as a safe haven.  Even the Kyodo article below shies away from calling this activity “abduction” by adding “so-called” inverted quotes (good thing the Convention says it plainly).

But now we have the MOFA officially asking for public opinions from the goldfish bowl.  Despite the issue being one of international marriage and abduction, the survey is in Japanese only.  Fine for those NJ who can read and comment in the language.  But it still gives an undeniable advantage to the GOJ basically hearing only the “Japanese side” of the divorce.  Let’s at least have it in English as well, shall we?

Kyodo article below, along with the text of the survey in Japanese and unofficial English translation.  Is it just me, or do the questions feel just a tad leading, asking you to give reasons why Japan shouldn’t sign?  In any case, I find it hard to imagine an aggrieved J parent holding all the aces (not to mention the kids) saying, “Sure, sign the Hague, eliminate our safe haven and take away my power of custody and revenge.”  That’s why we need both sides of the story, with I don’t believe this survey is earnestly trying to get.  Arudou Debito

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Japan conducts online survey on parental child abductions
Kyodo News/Japan Today Wednesday 26th May, 06:29 AM JST

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-conducts-online-survey-on-parental-child-abductions

TOKYO — Japan began Tuesday soliciting views via the Internet on the possibility of the country ratifying an international convention to deal with problems that arise when failed international marriages result in children wrongfully being taken to Japan by one parent.

The online survey by the Foreign Ministry asks people who have been involved in the so-called parental ‘‘abductions’’ to Japan of children of failed marriages what they think about Japan’s accession to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Complaints are growing over cases in which a Japanese parent, often a mother, brings a child to Japan without the consent of the foreign parent, or regardless of custody determination in other countries, and denies the other parent access to the child.

The convention provides a procedure for the prompt return of such ‘‘abducted’’ children to their habitual country of residence and protects parental access rights.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has suggested that he is considering positively Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention and ratifying it during the next year’s ordinary Diet session.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said at a regular news conference Tuesday that the government will examine opinions collected through the online survey in studying the possibility of joining the convention. The questionnaire will be posted on the website of the Foreign Ministry and its 121 diplomatic missions abroad, he said.

At present, 82 countries are parties to the Hague Convention. Of the Group of Eight major powers, Japan and Russia have yet to ratify the treaty.
ENDS

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

TEXT OF THE MOFA SURVEY

Courtesy http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/event/files/ko_haag.doc

「国際的な子の奪取の民事面に関する条約(ハーグ条約)」に関するアンケート

【問1】 国境を越えた子供の移動に関する問題の当事者となり、以下のような経験をしたことはありますか。なお、回答に当たり、個人名などは挙げていただく必要はありません。

●国境を越える形で子供を連れ去られたり、やむなく子供と一緒に移動せざるを得なかったこと (その事情も含めて教えてください。) (回答)

●外国で裁判をして、裁判所の命令等により国境を越える移動に制限が加えられたこと (回答)

●差し支えなければ、以下の事項についても教えてください。 -子供の年齢: -父母の別: -子供に対する親権の有無: -関係ある国の名前:

【問2】 ハーグ条約の存在やその内容をご存知でしたか。 (回答)

【問3】 これまで我が国がハーグ条約を締結していないことについてどのようなご意見をお持ちですか。 (回答)

【問4】 日本がハーグ条約を締結することになれば、ご自身又は類似の境遇に置かれている方々にどのような利益・不利益があると思いますか。 (回答)

【問5】 その他ハーグ条約や国際的な子の連れ去り問題についてご意見があれば、お書きください。 (回答)

お名前(       )

ご連絡先(      )

場合によって当方からさらに詳細についてお伺いするために連絡をとらせていただくことは,

(1)差し支えない (2)希望しない

ご協力に感謝申し上げます。

//////////////////////////////////////////

UNOFFICIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION

SURVEY REGARDING THE HAGUE CONVENTION ON THE CIVIL ASPECTS OF INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION

Question 1:  Have you ever had an experience like the ones below regarding the problem of children being moved across borders? You do not have to reveal anyone’s names in your answers:

— There was a child abducted across an international border / you had no choice but to move with your children (please give details):
— You had a court trial in a foreign country and your border movements were restricted by a court order. (Response space)

— If convenient, please tell us about the following conditions:  Age of the child: — Whether you are the mother or the father — Whether you had custody of the children / The name of the relevant country (Response space)

Question 2: Did you know the existence and the content of the Hague Convention? (Response space)
Question 3: Do you have an opinion about Japan not becoming a party to the Hague Convention so far? (Response space)
Question 4: If Japan were to sign the Hague Convention, you think there would be any advantages or disadvantages given to people in similar circumstances, or yourself? (Response space)
Question 5: If you have any comments about the issues – child abduction and the Hague Convention and other international issues, please state them below: (Response space)

Name

Contact details

There may be cases where we need to contact you to receive more details on your case.  Would contacting you be possible? (Yes/No)

Thank you for your cooperation.

ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////////////

Jiji Press — the loophole in the making

子の返還拒否、法的に担保=ハーグ条約締結で検討―政府
時事通信 2011年2月1日(火) Courtesy of Chris Savoie
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20110201-00000065-jij-pol

政府は1日の閣議で、国際結婚が破綻した場合の親権争いの解決ルールを定めたハーグ条約について「締結の可能性を真剣に検討している」とする答弁書を決定した。締結する場合の対応に関しては「条約の規定を踏まえ、国内法で子の返還拒否事由を規定することを検討したい」との方針を示した。自民党の浜田和幸参院議員の質問主意書に答えた。
政府は1月25日の副大臣級会議で条約加盟の検討を始めたが、加盟すれば家庭内暴力から逃れて帰国した子どもを元の国に返還することになりかねないとの慎重論も強い。政府としては、こうした子どもの返還制限を法的に担保することで、懸念を取り除く狙いがあるとみられる。
最終更新:2月1日(火)12時53分
ends

Hollywood Reporter: JT “Richard Cory” child abduction story optioned as possible movie/TV production

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  Hollywood Reporter said last month that the story of Richard Cory will be optioned for development into a media event (movie or TV).  This is a pseudonymous story of a NJ father in an international marriage in Japan, who reported in a series of articles for the Japan Times Community Page about his hardships getting access to his children — after his wife went AWOL, then nuts.  His case particularly highlights the systematic barriers that fathers and NJ face trying to get a fair shake in custody hearings, even when the J spouse is certifiable.

The optioning is good news, in the sense that the issue of “Left-Behind Parents” (LBP, to those of us who are) deserves plenty of exposure.  Systematic Child Abduction and Parental Alienation after separation and divorce in Japan affects not only NJ, but LBPs who are Japanese as well.

A reality check at this juncture, however.  Something being optioned does not necessarily mean something gets made.  Especially when the market concerns the darker aspects of Japan:  Robert Whiting’s best book, TOKYO UNDERWORLD, has languished for many years in production hell.  SOUR STRAWBERRIES got made in part thanks to German government funding.  FROM THE SHADOWS is still looking for investors.  And even the goofy airy-fairy movies about NJ in Japan, such as Oguri Saori’s MY DARLING IS A FOREIGNER, was a flop — grossing  less than $7 million bucks to become only the 71st-grossing movie in Japan last year.  The more successful yet serious-in-tone movies about foreign treatment in Japan, like LOST IN TRANSLATION, are anomalous.  Good luck to Richard Cory.  Arudou Debito

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Winery Productions Prepares for 2011 Film, TV Vintage
6:29 AM 12/14/2010 by Gavin J. Blair
Optioned Two U.S.-oriented Japan Stories for Feature Production

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/winery-prepares-2011-film-tv-59592
Courtesy Children’s Rights Network Japan

TOKYO – Entertainment consultancy Winery Productions is making moves into film and TV production in 2011.

After providing consultancy services to overseas entertainment companies since 1998, Winery is working on realizing a number of projects next year. The company is aiming to leverage its local knowledge and connections to produce Japan-related TV and film content for the domestic and international markets.

“We’ve gotten a lot of encouragement from our clients and friends and we’re all really excited about this. We’ve got a nice niche and we’re looking to leverage that niche to explore new opportunities,” Winery Productions president Daren Afshar told The Hollywood Reporter.

Winery has optioned the film rights to the story of Richard Cory, whose children were kidnapped by his Japanese wife – a topical tale about the lack of rights for foreign spouses in Japan.

The company has also secured the rights to Field of Spears: The Last Mission of the Jordan CrewGregory Hadley details what happened to the airmen after their capture and the subsequent cover-up of the events. the story of the fate of a B-29 crew shot down over rural Japan near the end of the war. The book by professor

Both movies are to be aimed at the U.S. market, though shot in Japan.

In addition, a celebrity talk show to feature Western talent being interviewed in the city of Nagoya, in central Japan, is under development.

Afshar said that he is currently talking to domestic TV networks about realizing the project, working title Q&A.
ENDS

MOFA now requiring consent of both parents for their child’s J passport renewal

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog.  It looks like the GOJ has pinched off one of the essential avenues for Japanese overseas looking to abduct their children back to Japan after separation or divorce — the ability for a Japanese citizen to get their child’s J-passport renewed at any Japanese embassy or consulate without the consent of both parents.  Somewhat good news, although commenter Getchan below points out that there are still loopholes in this development.  Courtesy of SF.  Arudou Debito

/////////////////////////////////////////

To Parents with Children of Japanese Nationality:
Notice: Passport Application for Japanese Minors

http://www.mofa.go.jp/announce/info/pdfs/notice_for_parents.pdf

Under Japanese civil law, those under the age of 20 are regarded as minors. When a Japanese minor applies for a Japanese passport, one parent/guardian must sign the “Legal Representative Signature” section on the back of the passport application. An application signed by one parent will be accepted under the assumption that the signature is a representation of consent from both parent(s)/guardian(s).

However, if one parent/guardian submits a written refusal to passport offices in Japan or Japanese Embassies and Consulates-General abroad, a passport will be issued only after it has been confirmed that there is consent from both parents/guardians. (This refusal should be written, signed, and attached an identification document proving parental custody of the minor applicant.) The passport for the minor will be approved and issued once the parent/guardian that did not consent submits a letter of agreement to issue a passport for the minor applicant to a passport office in Japan or Japanese Embassy/Consulates-General abroad.

Please note that in some countries, when both parents/guardians have custody of the child, and the child is taken out of the country by one of the parents without consent of the other parent, it is punishable by criminal law. There have been cases where a parent taking a child was arrested and charged with child abduction when he/she reentered the country, or that parent was placed on the International Wanted List of International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO). To protect Japanese citizens residing in countries with the above laws, the Japanese Embassy and Consulates-General in these countries will verbally ask the parent (s)/guardian(s) submitting the application if both custodial parents/guardians have consented for passport issuance of the minor applicant, even if there is no expression of refusal from the other parent.

If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact the Consular Section at your nearest Japanese Embassy, Consulate General, Passport Office in Japan, or the Passport Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

Passport Division, Consular Affairs Bureau
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan
April, 2010

http://www.mofa.go.jp

//////////////////////////////////

日本国籍者である未成年の子を養育する親権者の方へ
お知らせ
未成年者の旅券発給申請における注意点

未成年の子に係る日本国旅券の発給申請の際には、親権者である両親のいずれか一方の申請書裏面の「法定代理人署名」欄への署名をもって、両親の同意を代表するものとみなして申請書を受け付けています。

ただし、旅券申請に際し、もう一方の親権者から子の旅券申請に同意しない旨の意思表示が、あらかじめ日本国内にある都道府県旅券事務所や海外にある日本国大使館、総領事館に対して提出されているときは、旅券の発給は、通常、当該申請が両親の合意によるものとなったことが確認されてから行うことになります(不同意の意思表示は、親権者であることを証明する書類(戸籍など)を添付の上、書面(自署)で行うことが原則になります。)。
その確認のため、都道府県旅券事務所や在外公館では、通常、子の旅券申請についてあらかじめ不同意の意思表示を行っていた側の親権者に対し、同人が作成(自署)した「旅券申請同意書」の提出意思をお尋ねし、同意書の提出が行われた後に旅券を発給しています。

また、国によっては、父母の双方が親権を有する場合に、一方の親権者が、子を他方の親権者の同意を得ずに国外に連れ出すことを刑罰の対象としていることがあります。実際に、居住していた国への再入国に際し、子を誘拐した犯罪被疑者として逮捕されたり、ICPO(国際刑事警察機構)を通じて国際手配される事案も生じており、そのように国内法で子の連れ去りを犯罪としている国に所在する在外公館では、在留邦人の皆様がこのような不利益を被ることを予防する観点から、子の旅券申請の際には、他方の親権者の不同意の意思表示がない場合であっても、旅券申請に関する両親権者の同意の有無を口頭にて確認させていただいておりますので、あらかじめご承知ください。

本件に関するご質問等については、最寄りの都道府県旅券事務所、日本国大使館、総領事館、又は外務省旅券課までお寄せください。

平成22年4月
外務省領事局旅券課
http://www.mofa.go.jp
ENDS

FCCJ No.1 Shimbun: A killing separation: Two French fathers suicide 2010 after marital separation and child abduction

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog.  Amid rumblings that Japan will sign the Hague Convention on Child Abductions this year (the Yomiuri says it’s currently being “mulled”), here’s another reason why it should be signed — child abductions after separation or divorce are driving parents to suicide.  Read on.  The Yomiuri articles follow.  Arudou Debito

////////////////////////////////////////////

A Killing Separation
by Regis Arnaud, courtesy of PT
FCCJ No.1 Shimbun, Mon, 2010-12-20 13:20

http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/6293

The life and career of Arnaud Simon once could have exemplified the excellent relationship between Japan and France. A young French historian teaching in Tokyo, Simon was preparing a thesis on the history of thought during the Edo Period. He was married to a Japanese woman. They had one son.

But on Nov. 20, Arnaud Simon took his own life. He hanged himself. He did not need to leave an explanatory note; his closest friends knew he had lost the appetite for living because his wife would not allow Simon to see his son after their marriage broke up. Simon apparently tried on multiple occasions to take his boy home from school, but the police blocked the young father each time.

“The lawyers he met were trying to appease him, not help him,” one of his former colleagues remembers.

Another Frenchman in the same situation, Christophe Guillermin, committed suicide in June. These two deaths are terrible reminders of the hell some foreign parents inhabit in Japan – and because of Japan. When a couple separates here, custody of any children is traditionally awarded to the mother. After that, the children rarely have contact with the “other side”; they are supposed to delete the losing parent from their lives.

There is no tradition of visitation rights in Japan, and even when those rights are granted, the victory generally comes at the end of a long and costly judicial battle fought in Japanese courts. The visitation rights given are also typically very limited – sometimes just a couple of hours per month. Worse yet, the mother ultimately decides whether she wants to abide by the agreement. The police will not intervene if she refuses, on the grounds that this is a private matter. While there are exceptions, Japanese fathers seem to have basically accepted this practice. For foreign fathers, it is almost universally impossible and unbearable.

France is particularly touched by these tragedies. There have been many unions between Japanese women and French men, and many breakups. Simon’s death was shocking enough to the French community for the French ambassador to issue a stern and in many ways personal press release afterward: “Mr. Simon recently told the Consulate of the hardships he endured to meet his son, and it is most probable that to be cut off from his son was one of the main reasons (for his suicide). This reminds us, if necessary, of the pain of the 32 French fathers and of the 200 other (foreign cases involving) fathers known to foreign consulates as deprived of their parental rights.”

During a recent trip related to this subject in Japan, French judge and legal expert Mahrez Abassi said: “Japan has not ratified the Hague Convention on civil aspects of international children’s abductions. There is no bilateral convention on this topic, and our judicial decisions are not recognized in Japan.” Tokyo is in a precarious position on this issue, since one of the main topics of Japan’s diplomacy is the case of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea, for which Japan requires international solidarity.

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs seems preoccupied by the problem, which only promises to grow because of the constant rise of international divorces in Japan – now at 6 percent – and of Japanese-foreign births (20,000). Various diplomatic delegations have visited Japan to discuss the issue. France and Japan set up a “consulting committee on the child at the center of a parental conflict” in December 2009. But the National Police Agency, the Justice Ministry, and Japanese civil society in general care little about the issue.

“There is no system better than another for the child after a breakup,” says a foreign psychiatrist who has followed cases of foreign fathers that have lost access to their children in Japan. “The French and American systems have deep flaws as well. But it is simply unbearable for a French father, for example, to be unable to meet his child.”

A French lawyer based in Tokyo, adds: “The principle of joint custody as it is known in France does not exist in Japan. To implement such a principle here, we would have to amend the Civil Code, which is very hard for family law matters in this country. If this change is enacted, the police should then compel Japanese families to hand over the ‘disputed’ child to the foreign father. This seems pretty hard to achieve.”

Regis Arnaud is the Japan correspondent of leading French daily Le Figaro and has been covering Japan since 1995. He is also a movie producer. His next project, called CUT, laments the decline of the Japanese movie industry.
ENDS

/////////////////////////////////////////

Govt to mull joining child custody pact

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 11, 2011)

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T110110004062.htm

The government has decided to set up a council to weigh joining the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which pertains to disputes over parents’ custodial rights to children born in international marriages, sources said.

The council of senior vice ministerial-level officials, to be set up by the end of this month, is to compile a report by the end of March.

That would allow Prime Minister Naoto Kan to make an announcement on joining the convention during his visit to the United States in spring.

The move comes as the government works to mend ties with the United States, which have been strained by the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture and other issues.

The U.S. government has repeatedly urged Japan to join the Hague convention.

Despite the fast-track timeline for the council’s report, some in the government and the Democratic Party of Japan remain cautious about joining the convention.

The convention stipulates that children born in international marriages should be returned to their original country of residence in cases where parental rights are in dispute.

The convention came into effect in 1983. As of December, 82 countries, including most Western nations, were party to the convention.

Among Group of Eight countries, only Japan and Russia have not joined the convention.

There have been many cases in which Japanese whose international marriages failed have brought their children to Japan without notifying their spouses or former spouses.

Non-Japanese parents in such cases who want to meet with their children are unable to take any legal action because Japan has not joined the convention.

Many such cases therefore become seriously problematic.

Western countries have urged Japan to join the convention as soon as possible.

The U.S. Congress in September last year adopted a resolution demanding Japan join the convention. The pressure from Washington has been mounting and the issue has become a point of tension between the two nations.

On Thursday, when Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met in Washington, Clinton asked for Japan to act expeditiously to join the convention. Maehara replied that the Japanese government would discuss it seriously.

In February last year, then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama instructed the Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry to examine joining the convention as quickly as possible, but a decision was put off due to resistance within the ministries.

Some voiced concern that joining the convention could mean Japanese wives who had escaped with their children from abusive husbands would be forced to return to an unhealthy or dangerous environment.

At the time, a senior Justice Ministry official said there was no public consensus on the issue.

A number of DPJ members have expressed reservations about Japan joining the convention.

ends
/////////////////////////////////////////////////

国際結婚の親権ルール、ハーグ条約加盟表明へ

(2011年1月10日03時02分  読売新聞)

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/news/20110110-OYT1T00003.htm
政府は9日、国際結婚で生まれた子供の親権争いの解決ルールを定めた「ハーグ条約」加盟に向け、月内にも関係省庁による副大臣級会議を設置する方針を固めた。

米国が再三求めてきた同条約の締結により、米軍普天間飛行場移設問題などで揺れた日米関係の立て直しの一助にする思惑があるとみられる。政府・民主党内にはなお、慎重論が根強くあるが、菅首相の春の訪米の際に加盟方針を表明することを視野に検討を進め、3月中に政府見解をまとめる予定だ。

同条約を巡っては、国際結婚が破綻した日本人の親が結婚相手に無断で子供を日本に連れ帰り、外国人の親が面会を求めても、日本は条約非加盟のために法的に対応できず、トラブルになる事例が相次いでいる。欧米諸国は日本の早期加盟を求め、とくに米国は昨年9月に下院が日本政府に加盟を求める決議を採択するなど圧力を強めていて、日米間の摩擦になっている。6日(日本時間7日)のワシントンでの日米外相会談でも、クリントン国務長官が前原外相に早期加盟を求め、前原氏は「真剣に検討する」と応じた。

日本では昨年2月、鳩山首相(当時)が外務、法務両省に早期加盟に向けた結論を出すよう指示。しかし、条約加盟により、DV(家庭内暴力)や虐待から逃れて子連れで帰国した日本人の妻を夫のもとに戻す事態なども想定され、「世論の合意ができていない」(法務省幹部)との慎重論、消極論も根強く、結論が先送りされてきた。民主党内でも、同条約加盟に関する小委員会が昨年11月にまとめた文書で、「『子の迅速な返還』が過度に強調され、利益にかなっていない事例がある」と問題点を指摘するなど、慎重な対応を求める声がある。

ends

French Embassy reports French father of abducted child in Japan commits suicide

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.  The latest in a series of tragedies through child abductions by Japanese because Japan’s laws and Family Court do not prevent them (more at crnjapan.net):  The tragedy is clearly not only that of children being deprived of a parent.  On November 19, a Left-Behind Parent deprived himself of his life.  As reports the French Embassy in French and Japanese on November 24.  English translation first, then official texts from the Embassy.

We’ve had government after government denouncing this practice, GOJ, as the French Embassy puts it so eruditely below.  How much longer must it go on?  Arudou Debito

/////////////////////////////////////////////

35 Year – old French Father kills self after loss of children in Japan.
Ambassade de France au Japon, November 24, 2010

http://www.ambafrance-jp.org/
Translation to English, courtesy of crnjapan.net
http://crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/itn-fdksij.html

Our compatriot Arnaud Simon killed himself Friday, November 19. The French teacher in Tokyo, he was 35 years old and lived in Japan since 2006.

Separated from his wife since last March, he was the father of a boy of 20 months he had sought unsuccessfully to gain custody. Our community is in mourning and I present on behalf of all our condolences to his family and loved ones.

Nobody can speak with certainty about the reasons why a man so young to commit an act so terrible. Mr. Simon, however, had recently expressed to the consular section of our embassy in Tokyo of its difficulties to meet his son and it is very likely that the separation from her child was a determining factor. This reminds us all if need be suffering fathers of the 32 French and two hundred other cases identified by consular authorities as being deprived of because of their parental rights.

It is clear that our words and deeds are little face a dramatic situation, but I wanted to remind the determined action of the French authorities and the Embassy in connection with its German partners, American, Australian, Belgian, British, Canadian, Colombian, Spanish, Hungarian, Italian and New Zealand calling on Japan to ratify the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and expedite a review of individual records to find appropriate solutions where they are possible, depending on circumstances.

It is the interests of children, that nobody has the right to deprive one of their parents. It is also to take into account the suffering of the fathers we have today is a tragic event.
ENDS

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

ORIGINAL FRENCH
Décès de M. Arnaud Simon – Message de condoléances de l’Ambassadeur
Ambassade de France au Japon, 24 novembre 2010

http://www.ambafrance-jp.org/spip.php?article4220

Notre compatriote Arnaud Simon s’est donné la mort vendredi 19 novembre. Enseignant le Français à Tokyo, il était âgé de 35 ans et vivait au Japon depuis 2006.

Séparé de sa femme depuis mars dernier, il était père d’un petit garçon de 20 mois dont il avait cherché en vain à obtenir la garde. Notre communauté est en deuil et je présente en son nom toutes nos condoléances à sa famille et à ses proches.

Personne ne peut se prononcer avec certitude quant aux raisons qui ont poussé un homme aussi jeune à commettre un geste aussi terrible. M. Simon avait toutefois fait part récemment à la section consulaire de notre ambassade à Tokyo des difficultés qu’il éprouvait pour rencontrer son fils et il est très probable que la séparation d’avec son enfant a été un des facteurs déterminants. Ceci nous rappelle à tous s’il en était besoin la souffrance des 32 pères français et des deux cents autres cas recensés par les autorités consulaires comme étant privés de fait de leurs droits parentaux.

Il est bien évident que nos paroles et nos actes sont peu de choses face à une situation aussi dramatique, mais je tenais à rappeler l’action déterminée des autorités françaises et de cette Ambassade en lien avec ses partenaires allemands, américains, australiens, belges, britanniques, canadiens, colombiens, espagnols, hongrois, italiens et néo-zélandais pour demander au Japon de ratifier la Convention de La Haye sur les aspects civils de l’enlèvement international d’enfants et procéder rapidement à un examen individuel des dossiers afin de trouver des solutions appropriées là où elles sont possibles, en fonction des circonstances.

Il s’agit de l’intérêt des enfants, que personne n’a le droit de priver de l’un de leurs parents. Il s’agit également de prendre en compte la souffrance des pères dont nous avons aujourd’hui une tragique manifestation.

Service d’Information et de Communication (24 novembre)
ENDS

/////////////////////////////////////////////////

OFFICIAL JAPANESE VERSION

アルノー・シモン氏の訃報 に対する 駐日フランス大使のお悔やみ
在日フランス大使館
http://www.ambafrance-jp.org/spip.php?article4221

私たちの同朋であるアルノー・シモン氏が11月19日(金)、自ら命を絶ちました。享年35歳、2006年から日本に滞在され、東京でフランス語教師をしていらっしゃいました。

シモン氏には生後20ヶ月の男の子がおり、本年3月のパートナーとの別離以来、親権を得ようと努力しましたがかなえられませんでした。フランス人コミュニティーを代表して、ご親族の皆様方に深い哀悼の意を表します。

若くしてこれほどまでに恐ろしい行為に及んだ理由について、確信を持って断言できる人は誰もいません。しかしシモン氏は最近、ご子息との面会が非常に難しい旨、当館の領事部に訴えており、お子さんとの別離が決定的な原因のひとつである可能性は非常に高いと言えます。このことは、同じような境遇にある32人のフランス人の父親たちや、世界中の領事関係部局が把握している限り約200名存在する、親としての権利を行使できていない方々の苦悩を、私たちに想起させます。

これだけの悲劇に対して私たちが発言や行動をもってできることは限られています。しかしフランス当局および当館は、ドイツ、アメリカ、オーストラリア、ベルギー、イギリス、カナダ、コロンビア、スペイン、ハンガリー、イタリア、そしてニュージーランドと共に、日本国に対し、国際的な子の奪取の民事面に関するハーグ条約を批准し、早急に個々の案件を検討に付し、可能な場合には、それぞれの置かれた状況に即した適切な解決法を見出すよう、断固として要請しております旨、ここに改めて確認致します。

焦点となっているのは子供たちの利益であり、片方の親との接触を妨げる権利は誰にもありません。また、この悲劇的な例が物語るように、父親たちの苦悩も考慮しなければならないのです。

Service d’Information et de Communication (11月24日)
ENDS

Japan Times Amy Savoie on int’l child abductions and the manufacturing of consent for it within Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog. Thoughtful letter to the editor in the Japan Times on the International Child Abductions Issue. Excerpting the most interesting part for me — the rhetoric the media uses to keep the public unconsciously supporting the “home team” as their apparent members keep kidnapping kids to Japan with impunity. Well taken. More on the issue at the Children’s Rights Network Japan site. Arudou Debito

///////////////////////////////////

The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010
HOTLINE TO NAGATACHO
Japan must end the scourge of parental child abduction
AMY SAVOIE, Tennessee

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101109hn.html

(Dr. Amy Savoie is the wife of Christopher Savoie. In August 2009, Savoie’s children were abducted from the U.S. to Japan by his ex-wife. A few weeks later, he was arrested while trying to reclaim his children. Last month marked the one-year anniversary of his release from Yanagawa prison in Fukuoka Prefecture. Send submissions of between 500 and 600 words to community@japantimes.co.jp)

To the government of Japan:

For years, the Japanese government refused to acknowledge that parental child abduction was even a problem, but this issue has finally become too big to ignore. In September, Virginia Rep. Jim Moran warned Japan that Congress “is watching and expecting action.” Now the Japanese authorities are, at long last, talking about child abduction to the media and to foreign governments, although they are unfortunately doing so in a highly guarded and disingenuous manner, often with the complicity of the Japanese press, who use “quotes” when discussing “abduction” in order to minimize the “issue.”…

• Excuse #4: These are not really abductions. The parents are merely coming home to Japan.

Perhaps Japan was the abducting parent’s original home (where the abductor grew up), but “home” for the children was the country where custody had already been decided, i.e. where the children had been living at the time of the abduction. So this “coming home” argument is specious and hypocritical.

The government tries to convey that it is justifiable for Japanese parents to “take kids home to Japan” (tsure-kaeri or tsurete-kikoku), but when a foreign parent takes the children to another country (that parent’s home country), the Japanese call it kidnapping (tsure-sari) or abduction (rachi). The Japanese government and media behave duplicitously every time they pretend these unilateral relocations (relocating without permission from the other parent) are not the same thing.

Instead of describing both situations only as tsure-sari (or only as tsure-kaeri), the Japanese government cleverly (and intentionally) uses different sets of words that convey two totally different meanings depending on who the kidnapper is…

Rest of the letter at

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101109hn.html

CRNJapan’s checklist for avoiding J child abductions during marital problems

mytest

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Hi Blog.  CRNJapan.net contacted me yesterday with a very useful checklist of things to do to legally protect yourself against child abductions IN .  Along the lines of Debito.org’s “What to do if…?” page, this is one-stop shopping (if not a little paranoia-inducing) info site if you feel your relationship with a Japanese spouse is on the rocks.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because it is a harsh reality:

As Japan’s Family Laws stand now, nobody — regardless of nationality — should get married to a Japanese and have kids.  Because if you divorce — or even separate — somebody will quite likely lose them completely.

Remember, in Japan there is no protection against abduction, no joint custody thanks to the koseki Family Registry system, no real guarantees of child visitation, and generally whoever kidnaps the kids gets to keep them even if you go to Family Court here. More at crnjapan.net.

Excerpt sans links follows:

http://www.crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/res-jicck.html

Just In Case:  A Parental Abduction Preparedness Checklist

The Japan Children’s Rights Network in response to the ever increasing number of International Parental Abductions to Japan has released a preparation guide for all of those in intimate relationships / Marriage with a Japanese citizen.  This guide is the “get your affairs in order” guide to making sure that when and if your Japanese significant other abducts your child you are prepared.  Please email webmaster@crnjapan.net with any questions / additions.

Here is a checklist of things to do if you are about to get a divorce, or if you are worried that the Japanese parent might try to take your children at some time in the future.  (Some of this applies generally to all kinds of child abduction and is advisable to do anyways, even if you are not worried right now.)  Some applies only if you are in Japan, and some applies only if you are not.

Make sure to store all information in a safe place where the child’s other parent cannot get to it, such as a safe deposit box that only you can enter, or a friend or relative’s home.  Also, to help ensure that others do not misuse this information, you as the parent should be the only person to keep this information about your child. You should be wary of gadgets and gimmicks that purport to protect your child or any sort of data-collection or registration services that store information about your child.  There is no substitute to collecting and storing this information yourself.

The List (a pre-divorce checklist)

1.Make sure that your marriage is registered on your Japanese spouse’s Family Registry. (koseki).

2.Make sure that you are registered on the Japanese spouse’s Family Registry. (koseki) as the parent of each of your children.  (You can order these from outside Japan with forms from here.)

3.Get copies of Japanese spouse’s Family Registry. (koseki) and a current Residency Registration (juminhyou) from the appropriate local government office.  Note that foreign spouses are never listed on the actual juuminhyou, but if you ask, they may list you in the remarks section.  Make sure to request this so that you have proof that you were living together.  (Some government offices still wont do it, but many will.)…

Rest at

http://www.crnjapan.net/The_Japan_Childrens_Rights_Network/res-jicck.html

ENDS

Paul Toland on US House of Representatives vote against child abductions to Japan 416-1

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Hi Blog.  Busy day today speaking today and tomorrow at the University of British Columbia, so no commentary.  Important news.  Arudou Debito in Vancouver

September 29 2010

Paul Toland writes:

I know coincidences happen, but the coincidence of timing of today’s date seems almost too significant to be simple coincidence. It was one year ago today, on September 29, 2009, that major networks throughout the United States picked up on the story of a Tennessee man (Chris Savoie) who had been arrested in Japan for trying to recover his children. On that date, a number of parents appeared on major news programs throughout the US to discuss Christopher’s case.

As important as that day was for bringing the child abduction issue into the national spotlight, today was even more significant. In fact, from beginning to end, today was perhaps the most significant day ever for advancing the issue of returning abducted children from Japan. Here is how the day unfolded:

The day started with a press conference at the House Triangle at 11:00 AM. Present were CNN, the Associated Press, Kyodo News Service and others. Congressman Moran began with a passionate speech condemning Japan for Child Abduction. He then introduced parents. First up was Chris Savoie, followed by Paul Toland. At that point, Congressman Chris Smith showed up and as always, he was able to speak eloquently of the abduction issue without the assistance of any notes. Congressman Smith is so vested in our issue that he can simply speak from the heart when speaking of our issue. Next up was Nancy Elias, followed by Doug Berg, William Lake and Patrick Braden. All of the parents spoke eloquently, and the common factor among all of us was the love for our children. Each of us had something different to add. From Chris’ discussion of how the Resolution has already been used to prevent abductions, to Doug’s discussion of his bedtime talks with his kids that are now only memories, to Nancy’s tears that brought the rest of us to tears, it was a great opportunity to get our stories out to the world.

After having a quick lunch, we headed over to the House Floor to watch the vote, but Congressman Smith’s staffer sent us an email informing us of a 2 PM Foreign Affairs Hearing at which Assistant Secretary Campbell would be testifying and that Congressman Smith would then be asking questions at the hearing about Japan Child Abduction. We immediately left the House and headed over to the Rayburn Building for the Hearing. Upon entering the hearing room, Assistant Secretary Campbell saw the lineup of Bring Abducted Children Home (BAC Home) members in the second row and immediately came back and spoke to us, holding up the hearing for a few minutes. He told us about some recent White House involvement in our issue. Congressman Smith once again gave an amazing opening speech about child abduction in Japan (there was a large Japanese press contingent). Assistant Secretary Campbell then opened his speech with an extended discussion of Japan Child Abduction. Later in the question and answer session, Congressman Smith asked some pointed and direct questions about whether or not President Obama discussed the abduction with Prime Minister Kan at the recent UN General Assembly in New York. Assistant Secretary Campbell was somewhat evasive in his answer, stating that Secretary Clinton addressed the issue, but not discussing whether President Obama addressed the issue.

Immediately after the Q&A, Congressman Smith had to depart for the floor vote on H.Res 1326, so we accompanied him to Congress and sat in the “Member’s guests” section of the House Gallery to watch the vote. As we walked into the gallery, the entire Congress was cheering and looking up at the gallery to exactly where we were. As we looked around we realized that we were surrounded by New York City Firefighters and Police Officers. Congress had just passed the 911 First Responder’s Bill to pay for the variety of heath conditions incurred by the brave firefighters and police who were the first to respond on 9/11/2001. It was an honor to be in their presence.

Soon after, the vote came on H. Res 1326. 416-1, with only Ron Paul of Texas voting against it. Randy Collins has already been in touch with Ron Paul’s opponent in this November’s election and they are VERY interested in Ron Paul’s vote in favor of the abduction of US Citizen children to Japan. Additionally, there were some Congressmen who voted for both the bill preceeding and the bill immediately after H.Res 1326, leading me to believe that those Congressmen “abstained” from voting on H.Res 1326 due to some possible Japanese influence.

From there we went back to the House offices to thank both Congressman Smith and Congressman Moran’s offices. While we were in Congressman Moran’s office, he walked in and a big cheer went up. He presented BAC Home members with the poster he used at the Press Conference earlier in the day, and signed the poster for us, writing “your children would be very proud of you” on the poster. We concluded the day with a visit to Ron Paul’s office, but, as we figured, they would not see us, so we left a BAC Home book with them.

Overall, it was a whirlwind day, and without a doubt our biggest day yet. However, as we have said again and again, today was only the “first step” and we still have a way to go before we are reunited with our children. As mentioned in my speech today, there is an old Irish Proverb that states “Hope is the physician of each misery.” While hope alone can never fully heal us, hope is the physician that provides us with the daily medicine we need to remain standing, with our heads held high, and carry on to fight another day for our children. Today, Congressman Jim Moran, Congressman Chris Smith and their colleagues in the House of Representatives have provided us with hope. Hope that Japan can change its’ ways and join the family of nations that understands that children require love from both parents to grow up healthy in body and mind. Hope that President Obama and Secretary Clinton will address this problem forcefully and demonstrate to the world that they truly care about the security and well-being of abducted American children. Hope that someday soon we may again be able to share the love of our children. Hope that Erika Toland may someday meet the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who are waiting for her with open arms, and hope that Erika and I are reunited once again, so she may know and feel the love I so wish to give to her. Thank you all. Sincerely, Paul

www.bachome.org
ENDS

MEDIA:

U.S. lawmakers pressure Japan on child custody rights
Thursday 30th September 2010, 05:47 AM JST

http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/us-lawmakers-push-japan-on-child-custody-rights

WASHINGTON —
The U.S. House of Representatives turned up the pressure Wednesday on Japan, strongly urging Tokyo to return immediately half-Japanese children that lawmakers say have been kidnapped from their American parents.

The House voted overwhelmingly for a nonbinding resolution that “condemns the abduction and retention” of children held in Japan “in violation of their human rights and United States and international law.”

The resolution, which passed 416 to 1, also calls for Japan to allow Americans to visit their children and for Tokyo to join a 1980 international convention on child abduction that would allow for the quick return of the children to America.

Democratic Rep Jim Moran told reporters that the resolution sends a strong signal to Japan that the U.S. Congress “is watching and expecting action.”

Republican Rep. Chris Smith said, “Americans are fed up with our friend and ally Japan and their pattern of noncooperation.”

The Japanese Embassy said in a statement that Japan is sympathetic to the plight of children caught in custody battles between Japanese and American citizens and “is continuing to make sincere efforts to deal with this issue from the standpoint that the welfare of the child should be of the utmost importance.”

The United States often calls Japan its lynchpin ally in Asia, and tens of thousands of U.S. troops are stationed in Japan. But Japan’s stance on custody rights has been a source of friction. U.S. lawmakers say that at least 121 American children currently are being held in Japan.

Japanese law allows only one parent to have custody in cases of divorce, usually the mother. Activists say the court system in Japan is tilted against fathers and foreigners.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, told lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday that the issue is a priority, with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton raising it in meetings with her Japanese counterpart.

Campbell said that he would also raise the matter when he travels to Tokyo next week and that Japan should act urgently.

“We’re going to need to see some progress on this,” Campbell said.

Christopher Savoie, a father who was arrested last year after going to Japan in a failed attempt to reclaim his two children, joined lawmakers and other fathers at a news conference before the House vote. Japan, Savoie said, should be ashamed for keeping parents from seeing their children.

However, the problem is not only restricted to abductions by Japanese citizens, according to William Lake, whose daughter was taken without his knowledge by his ex-wife, who is not Japanese, to Osaka.

In several cases like Lake’s, non-Japanese parents have fled to Japan with their children so as to take advantage of permissive child custody laws that have led some to describe Japan as a ‘‘black hole’’ for abducted children, a fact that illustrates the depth and seriousness of the problems with the current system.

‘‘Neither I, my ex-wife, or my daughter are Japanese in any way shape or form,’’ Lake noted, adding ‘‘The Japanese government should have no say in this issue whatsoever, other than to choose what airline they’re going to send the children home on.’

Wire reports
ENDS

Japan Times “Richard Cory” on child custody woes part 2: Who abducts wins

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As part two to yesterday’s excerpt, here’s how Richard Cory managed to save one of his children from a cheating, insane, abusive mom — by simply abducting her. Too bad for the other two. Godspeed. Arudou Debito in transit

THE ZEIT GIST
Behind the facade of family law
Having been reunited with his daughter, Richard Cory faces a tougher battle for custody of his sons
By Richard Cory
The Japan Times Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010

(excerpt): Look at my case (and what the judge wrote in her custody ruling in July). My wife had admitted to the following:

• More than three years of ongoing adultery (“The reason for the breakup of the marriage was the respondent’s adultery”); Giving large sums of money (¥7.7 million) to her lover to help him pay off his gambling debt (“Respondent lent a large sum of money to her colleague”);

• Taking my children on dates to bet on horse racing;

• Being currently on medication for various disorders (“Respondent became mentally ill and started seeing a doctor in or around January 2010 and worried about her insufficient communication with the children”);

• Physically abusing her own spouse and children (“Respondent attacked petitioner . . . and used physical power that cannot be justified as discipline against the children”).

Her own daughter fled from her after being abducted, and then testified against her. Moreover, my wife did not even petition for custody of the children until four months after I filed for divorce and custody. I even submitted a video showing my wife with not one of the bruises or injuries she claimed to have sustained the day before the video was taken. And we even had eyewitness testimony of her trying to injure herself. Could my case be any stronger?

Nevertheless, when the judge awarded me physical custody of my daughter, she also awarded physical custody of the boys to their mother. The reason: “There’s no big problem (with the boys staying where they are).”

Based on such reasoning, you can bet the bank that this judge would have awarded custody of all three children to my wife had I not been able to rescue one. And the judge would probably have given me custody of them all had they all been able to get free.

Japan’s family court is simply a facade designed to make an unevolved system appear civilized.

Let’s not kid ourselves. In Japan, “possession of the children” trumps the “best interests of the children” every time, particularly when the “best interests of the children” are never even addressed. And when you have a country that is pouring great sums of money into a system that shuffles children off to hidden locations whenever a parent makes an unverified DV claim, the state, in essence, becomes complicit in the abduction of the children…

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100928zg.html

Japan Times “Richard Cory” updates us on child custody woes and systematic bias against NJ fathers

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Here’s the first part of a sad story from a friend whose marriage broke down, and how the system is geared against NJ (particular fathers) who want custody of and access to their children.  This came out last week, and part two came out today.  You can also read about it in Japanese here.  Wow.  May more stories like these get into print and offer cautionary tales.  Arudou Debito in Calgary.

////////////////////////////////////////////////

The Japan Times THE ZEIT GIST
Battling a broken system
A left-behind father tells the story of his fight to find and win custody of his lost daughter
By RICHARD CORY
September 21, 2010

(excerpt) In December 2009, shortly after I detailed my fears in this column (Zeit Gist, Nov. 3, 2009) about my wife’s ongoing affair potentially resulting in me losing custody of my children, family life got even worse as she became increasingly physically abusive toward our children. In fact, the police visited my home after one incident in December and recommended that I take my daughter to the Child Guidance Center (jidosodanjo) so that we could determine how to best handle her mother’s violent behavior. Over the next few months, my daughter was interviewed twice at the Child Guidance Center and a few times at her public elementary school.

Unfortunately, as we neared the abduction date, bias against her American father started to become evident. Exactly two weeks before her abduction, her female school principal met privately with my daughter, who summarized her principal’s comments as follows: “Your mother might be violent, but we know she’s a very nice mother on the inside. She will change one day. She’s just stressed right now.”

Two days before the abduction, the school principal and two child welfare officers met with my daughter in the principal’s office, and just hours after returning home, my daughter reported the following exchange between her and one of the welfare officers, an older Japanese woman: “And then she said, ‘Who are you going to choose?’ And I said, ‘Because Mama beats me, I want to go to Daddy’s side. I’m going to choose Daddy.’ Then she said, ‘Your mother does all the stuff at home, like cooking and doing the clothes and stuff like that, so I think it would be better if you choose your mother.’ “

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100921zg.html

Kyodo: Japan to join The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Uncertain when.

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Hi Blog.  The GOJ just said it will join the Hague Convention (on Child Abductions, not child custody, as entitled below; guess that’s more palatable to readers), something sorely needed in in a society which acts as a haven for international child kidnapping after divorce.  It’s an important announcement, with a couple of caveats:  1) It hasn’t happened yet (or it’s uncertain when it will happen, so it’s not quite news), and 2) it’s unclear, as the article notes (and many Debito.org Readers believe, according to a recent poll here) that Japan will properly enforce it if it does ratify (as it has done in the past with, say, the Convention on Racial Discrimination) with laws guaranteeing joint custody and/or visitation rights.  Good news, kinda.  Wait and see.  More on the issue from Debito.org here.  Arudou Debito on holiday.

/////////////////////////////////////////

Japan to join The Hague convention on child custody
Kyodo News/Japan Today Sunday 15th August, 2010, courtesy of JK

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-to-join-the-hague-convention-on-child-custody

TOKYO — Japan has decided to become a party to a global treaty on child custody as early as next year amid growing calls abroad for the country to join it to help resolve custody problems resulting from failed international marriages, government sources said Saturday.

The government will develop domestic laws in line with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides a procedure for the prompt return of ‘‘abducted’’ children to their habitual country of residence and protects parental access rights, the sources said.

Complaints have been growing over cases in which a Japanese parent, often a mother, brings a child to Japan without the consent of the foreign parent, or regardless of custody determination in other countries, and denies the other parent access to the child.

Japan has come under pressure from the United States and European countries to join the 1980 treaty aimed at preventing one of the parents in a failed international marriage from taking their offspring across national borders against an existing child custody arrangement.

The government has judged it necessary to resolve the issue as soon as possible, given that leaving it unresolved for a long term would undermine Japan’s international standing, the sources said.

However, the government has yet to determine when to ratify the treaty, as it is expected to take time to develop related domestic laws because of differences in the legal systems of Japan and other signatory nations.

For example, on parental rights, Japan’s law gives a single parent full custody of children in a divorce, virtually allowing the custodial parent to take the children away without the consent of the noncustodial parent, while the United States and Europe allow joint custody.

Japan’s Civil Code also does not mention visitation rights for noncustodial parents and many Japanese parents awarded custody are known to refuse the other parent access to the child.

Many civic groups active on the issue urge the Japanese government to amend the Civil Code to allow joint custody but the government is set to forgo such an amendment at this stage, according to the sources.

In January, ambassadors of the United States and seven other nations urged Japan to sign the Hague convention in a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in Tokyo.

Amid growing global concerns over the so-called child abductions, the Japanese government set up a division in the Foreign Ministry to specifically deal with the issue in December last year, while then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in February suggested that he was considering Japan’s accession to the treaty.

Japan and Russia are the only two countries among the Group of Eight industrialized nations that are not a party to the Hague Convention.
ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Aug 3 2010: “The victim complex and Kim’s killer con”

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justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010
JUST BE CAUSE
The victim complex and Kim’s killer con
By DEBITO ARUDOU

Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100803ad.html

It’s fascinating whenever someone cons people out of pots of money — doubly so when someone cons a whole government. Take, for example, Japan’s biggest news story two weeks ago: Kim Hyon Hui’s four-day visit to Japan.

You might recall that in 1987 this North Korean spy, traveling on a fake Japanese passport, blew up a South Korean commercial airliner, killing 115 passengers.

Last July 20, however, this agent of international terrorism was allowed into Japan for a reception worthy of a state guest. Bypassing standard immigration procedures, Kim had her entry visa personally approved by our justice minister, boarded a chartered flight that cost Japan’s taxpayers ¥10 million, and was whisked by helicopter to former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s private dacha to eat with political elites.

Then, flanked by a phalanx of 100 cops (who made sure nobody raised any uncomfortable questions), Kim got to meet the parents of Megumi Yokota, the cause celebre of North Korean kidnappings of innocent Japanese citizens decades ago. Next, at her request, Kim boarded another helicopter (at around ¥800,000 an hour) for an aerial tour of Mount Fuji. As a parting gift, she got an undisclosed amount of “additional remuneration.” Sweet.
http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201007230525.html

And what did Japan get? Kim said she had information for the Yokotas about their missing daughter and other Japanese abductees who trained her to be a multilingual spy — even though, way back when, she said she had never met Megumi. So suddenly Kim has a quarter-century-old brain fart and gets the red carpet?

The Megumi Yokota tragedy has for the past decade been a political football in Japanese politics, a means for Japan as a whole to claim victimhood status. That is to say, by portraying itself as a victim of North Korea, Japan gets brownie points at the geopolitical bargaining table and audiences with American presidents. It also creates a villain to mobilize and scare the Japanese public, justifying bunker-mentality policing powers. (Not to mention outright xenophobia. Remember some of the arguments against suffrage for non-Japanese permanent residents (JBC, Feb. 2)? “How dare we give the vote to potential North Korean agents!” We’ll get no national law protecting universal human rights in Japan while the current regime is in place in Pyongyang.)

Yet ironies abound. After decades of virtually ignoring the abductions issue, the government has now firmly entrenched it as one of those “international sympathy” chestnuts, along with “Japan is the only country ever bombed by nuclear weapons,” “Our nation as a whole was a victim of a rapacious military junta during World War II,” and just about any claim of “Japan-bashing” rolled out whenever somebody needs to win a domestic or international argument.

Never mind the hypocrisies, such as Japan’s own wartime atrocities and public complicity, the officially sponsored bashing of non-Japanese residents, and the kidnappings (both international and domestic) of children under Japan’s insane laws covering divorce, child custody and visitation. Portraying Japan as the perpetual “victim of circumstance or historical conspiracy” keeps our past unexamined, the status quo unchallenged, and our society blissfully inculpable.

But as I said earlier, the Kim visit showed how victimhood can be used — even against the pros — for fun and profit.

Think about it. Kim should be the poster child for all that’s bad about North Korea. Masquerading as a Japanese in her attempt to kill as many innocent people as possible, she was a fundamental part of the system that abducted innocent Japanese, and a beneficiary of their captive services. Yet she so effectively converted herself into a “victim of the North” that South Korea commuted her death sentence, and her memoir even became a best seller.

So last month, by joining hands with Japan against a putative common enemy, Kim played our government like a shamisen. She essentially got the trip to Disneyland that fellow North Korean elite Kim Jong Nam (son of the Dear Leader) tried to get when he smuggled himself into Japan on a false passport in 2001. He should have pretended to be a victim, not a Dominican.
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,108692,00.html

In sum, Kim Hyon Hui pulled off an awesome con. But consider the damage done.

What was had for this Kim visit? We taxpayers were. “Little information to help solve the long-standing abduction issue was obtained,” according to the Asahi Shimbun. Yet this rot has become even more bureaucratically entrenched: The fiscal 2010 budget allots ¥1.2 billion for “abduction-related activities,” double that of 2009. More money into the sinkhole while other programs are facing cuts?
http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201007230525.html

Worse still is the political precedent that has been set. Taking office last year from the corrupt Liberal Democratic Party on the promise of reform, the Democratic Party of Japan has now squandered political capital and goodwill.

This columnist has supported the DPJ mostly because we need a viable alternative to the LDP — an opposition party that can force Japanese politics out of its crapulence and decrepitude. Yet here the DPJ has shown itself unwilling to break the mold of Japan’s elite potentates. Not only are they just as susceptible to the same con that double-agents such as Kim specialize in; they are also just as willing to bend the rules to suit the will of a privileged few.

We saw this happen before spectacularly in the Alberto Fujimori case (JBC, May 5, 2009): An international criminal suspect wanted by Interpol could resign his Peruvian presidency, flee to Japan and get treated as a celebrity. He could even enjoy a safe haven from, yes, being “victimized” under Peru’s allegedly unfair judiciary. “Give us your huddled victims yearning to get rich …”

So I guess the moral is that the new boss is turning out the same as the old boss. Who cares about the rule of law, or cutting deals with international terrorists? We’re hosting a smashing party for our victims, and we don’t want you bounders and oiks to spoil it! Oh, and the bureaucrats want to justify their budgets too, so let’s make like we’re doing something about the abductions. Thus the con is not Kim’s alone.

But spare a final thought for the ultimate victims in this case: the abductees’ families, such as the Yokotas. Lured by false hopes of any news of their loved ones, they got entangled in this political stunt and lost enormous public sympathy for their cause. In the end, they were suckers for a self-proclaimed victim who is in fact a spy, a con artist and a mass murderer.

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp

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REFERENTIAL ASAHI SHINBUN ARTICLE, for the archives:

Critics say ex-spy treated too well
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 2010/07/24

http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201007230525.html

Kim Hyon Hui arrived in Japan on a government-chartered jet, was given a full police escort to the vacation home of a former prime minister and enjoyed a helicopter tour over the capital. All her expenses were paid for by taxpayers in Japan, plus some additional remuneration.

The official treatment of this former North Korean spy once sentenced to death for blowing up a South Korean airliner and killing 115 people has been likened to that for a state guest.

Despite the huge tab and long list of exceptions made for this to happen, relatives of Japanese who were abducted by North Korea said they were encouraged by what she had to say and now have renewed hopes of seeing their kin again.

Kim’s four-day visit to Japan started Tuesday and ended Friday. In the end, however, most agree that little information to help solve the long-standing abduction issue was obtained.

The extent of the exceptional treatment stunned some foreign media. The British newspaper The Independent reported on the story Wednesday under the headline “Former North Korean spy who bombed jet welcomed by Japan.”

The South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo said Kim, who was pardoned for the 1987 bombing of a South Korean passenger jet, received “state guest” treatment.

Critics including the president of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, Sadakazu Tanigaki, slammed the event as a public-relations feat by the government to impress the public.

However, Hiroshi Nakai, state minister in charge of the abduction issue, countered by saying that if it were merely a political performance, “we would have done it before the Upper House election.”

A source close to the government said, “I heard the government fixed the date (now), to attract public attention to the news after the soccer World Cup finished.”

Japan’s official stance is that 17 of its citizens were abducted by North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In 2002, Pyongyang admitted to having abducted 13 Japanese citizens and returned five, claiming the rest were dead. Some of the missing abductees are believed to be alive.

The Japanese government had thought that prospects were dim to obtain new information from the former spy that would help solve the abduction issue. Thus, Kim’s visit might have been aimed at showing the public that it was still working on the issue, a government official said.

Kim, 48, should have been barred from entering Japan because she was carrying a fake Japanese passport at the time of the 1987 Korean Air jet bombing. That problem was taken care of by Justice Minister Keiko Chiba, who granted Kim special permission under the immigration control law.

According to a source close to the government, the chartered jet alone cost 10 million yen ($114,810). Add to that several millions of yen more for Kim’s motorcade from Tokyo to Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, which mobilized 100 police officers. It was “comparable to that of U.S. ministerial or deputy ministerial level officials,” the source said.

The helicopter sightseeing tour was a request by Kim, who reportedly wanted to see Mount Fuji. A helicopter flight of that type would cost 800,000 yen an hour, according to an industry source.

For fiscal 2010, 1.2 billion yen was allotted for abduction-related activities, twice the amount in fiscal 2009.

Even amid all the criticism, family members of abductees viewed Kim’s visit in a positive light. Kim met families of the abductees during her visit.

Shigeo Iizuka, who heads the association of the Japanese abductees’ families, said: “She said she was looking forward to seeing (my sister Yaeko Taguchi). I am sure she will continue to help us.”

Sakie Yokota, the mother of Megumi Yokota, who was abducted in 1977 at the age of 13, said, “I was encouraged by (Kim’s) words, ‘I believe she is still alive.'”
ENDS

UPDATE: Additional thoughts on the DPRK Spy Kim Hyon Hui Japan Visit: The Big Con

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. As an addendum to this morning’s blog on the Kim Hyon Hui Japan Visit, more food for thought from a friend. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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THE BIG CON

TOKYO –Japan’s government took its “Yokoso Japan!” campaign to a new level Tuesday, throwing out the welcome mat for a foreigner who murdered 115 people, providing her with an entrance visa no questions asked, whisking her through customs, and offering her a ride to a former Prime Minister’s summer home.

Kim Hyon Hui, a wannabe actress-turned-terrorist who blew up a 747 filled with 115 people back in 1987 when she was a North Korean agent and who got the death penalty, only to see it revoked for reasons that are still unclear, arrived at Haneda airport Wednesday by special charter plane from her home in South Korea. Ms. Kim saw Japan’s fine hospitality at its best, and was even given her own motorcade to former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s summer home in Karuizawa. No delays at train stations or red lights for our Ms. Kim!

Ms. Kim had agreed to her Japanese vacation to discuss what she says she knows about Megumi Yokota, who was kidnapped to North Korea in 1977, and Yaeko Taguchi, another abductee who trained Ms. Kim in Japanese. Showing that Japan’s love for Korean actors continues, the stylish Kim is quite a celebrity among the families of the abductees and their political and bureaucratic supporters. Gushing like a schoolboy, Mr. Yokota admitted to reporters Wednesday that Ms. Kim was quite a looker, while Mrs. Yokota noted men always like a pretty face. Good looks, svelte figure, fashionable suit, an air of mystery and sophistication. . .who cares if she’s a cold-blooded killer (the bereaved relatives of those she killed?-Ed.)

For her part, Ms. Kim was nothing but diplomatic during her visit. Demonstrating the kind of social grace her hosts no doubt appreciated, one of her demands before coming to Japan was a room with a kitchen so should could make some Japanese meals for her Japanese friends—the same kind of meals Yaeko Taguchi taught her to make (presumably at gunpoint–Ed.). But a thorough search of all homes, restaurants, and hotels between Narita and Karuizawa failed to turn up a kitchen capable of whipping up a proper meal for Ms. Kim. So Hatoyama stepped in and graciously offered to have her over to his place for dinner.

While relaxing in luxury and surrounded by a phalanx of police security to guard against terrorist threats (such as panels advocating cuts in the police budget–Ed ), the woman who murdered 115 people to please her “Great Leader”’ was feted by not only the families of the abudctees but also Japanese government officials anxious to learn from Ms. Kim about the fate of a few Japanese like Megumi Yokota who were abducted to North Korea. Obviously, former spy Kim’s motives for her first-class trip to Japan cannot be questioned, as her memory of alleged sightings of Megumi Yokota nearly a quarter century ago are, of course, ironclad, crystal clear, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Yes, Ms. Kim did suffer a memory loss when she originally told Japanese officials she’d never met Megumi Yokota. But that was then and this is now. The Japanese government is quite happy to learn she has regained her memory, calling it a miracle and dismissing cynics who wonder whether Kim’s memory loss was restored with the aid of both hypnosis and secret bank accounts in Switzerland, Macau, or the Cayman Islands.

So busy were Japanese officials with their one-woman “Yokoso Japan!” on behalf of Ms. Kim and her testimony about children abducted from Japan by foreigners in violation of domestic and international law that readers will surely sympathize with our nation’s overworked and understaffed bureaucracy when they insist they have no time to meet with Americans, Canadians, British, Germans, French, Indians, or anyone else who would like–just a few minutes, if you please — to discuss the issue of children abducted to Japan by Japanese in violation of domestic and international law.

It makes perfect sense, of course. Not even the Prime Minister’s summer home could accommodate the number of people who would have to be invited to that backyard BBQ, so why risk damaging Japan’s reputation internationally by running short on yakuniku, ice, and Pokki sticks? We certainly don’t want that.

Tomorrow, Ms. Kim will conclude her excellent adventure with a helicopter tour of Mt. Fuji. Once she offers her final bows to her Japanese hosts in the departure lounge of Haneda airport, the rest of the world will be left wondering if the would-be thespian-turned-spy-turned-mass-murderer-turned-grand-tourist has just concluded a performance worthy of an Oscar. For Ms. Kim may be grounded in Stalinist-Marxist dogma and the philosophy of juche. But look over your shoulder. That’s the ghost of P.T. Barnum, winking at Ms. Kim in admiration and approval for her thorough understanding of his business philosophy.
ENDS

North Korean spy and terrorist skirts Immigration, gets to stay in Hatoyama summer home, due to Yokota Megumi Case

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  As a friend most poignantly pointed out to me yesterday evening, something’s very wrong with Japan’s current top news story:

“Have you been following the reaction to the treatment given that ex-North Korean spy who blew up a plane and murdered 115 people, yet came to Japan as a VIP and is now staying at Hatoyama’s Karuizawa retreat? David McNeil and Justin McCurry did pieces with a hint of outrage, especially David, who noted that, if Japanese authorities had bothered to follow the immigration law, she would have been arrested. To be fair, some Japanese journalists noted last night (on TBS, I think) that something isn’t quite right.

“You may be interested to know that the group “Bring Abducted Children Home” is pretty upset as well, noting that the Japanese government rolls out the red carpet for a mass murderer just because she might have some information on Japanese children who were kidnapped out of Japan but doesn’t want to deal with anybody seeking a meeting about Japanese children kidnapped back to Japan by a Japanese parent.”

Quite.  As far as I recall, not a peep about the terrorism on NHK 7PM last night.  Only the meeting with the Yokotas and all the smiles.  Elite politics indeed trumps all.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Former North Korean spy who bombed jet welcomed by Japan
By David McNeill in Tokyo
The Independent, Wednesday, 21 July 2010

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/former-north-korean-spy-who-bombed-jet-welcomed-by-japan-2031254.html

It has all the ingredients of the most far-fetched spy story: a beautiful North Korean woman destined to become an actress opts instead for a career in espionage. Brainwashed to despise the North’s southern neighbour, she bombs a Korean Air jet in 1987 reportedly on the direct orders of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, killing 115 people. When captured, she attempts to kill herself by biting into a cyanide pill but is stopped by a guard. Her accomplice dies from the same method.

Yesterday, this exotic product of the Cold War touched down in Tokyo under heavy police guard. Kept isolated from media scrutiny by government handlers, Kim Hyon-hui will spend the next few days briefing them on her extraordinary career and facing the families of Japanese people who were abducted by Pyongyang in a bizarre military programme to train spies. Among them is the son of Yaeko Taguchi, her Japanese teacher who was whisked away by North Korean spies in 1978 and never returned home.

Ms Kim’s story, her direct connection to the Japanese abductees and her unlikely redemption, enthrals Japan. Such is the interest in her here that the authorities have waived rules that should have prevented her from setting down in the country at all. She will spend much of her time here staying in the holiday home of the former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama.

ENDS

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Ex-North Korea spy to help solve Japan’s abduction mystery
Kim Hyon-hui may have information on Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korean spies during the cold war
guardian.co.uk Tuesday 20 July 2010 16.26 BST
By Justin McCurry

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/20/north-korea-spy-japan-abductions

A former North Korean spy who carried out one of the deadliest plane bombings of the cold war has arrived in Tokyo to help solve the mystery surrounding Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang.

Kim Hyon-hui was sentenced to death after being convicted of bombing a South Korean airliner in 1987, killing all 115 people on board, but was later pardoned and went on to write a bestselling autobiography about her life as a secret agent.

She flew in to Tokyo after the Japanese authorities waived strict immigration controls to allow her to meet the relatives of two Japanese citizens snatched by North Korean agents in the late 1970s.

Hyon-hui says she was tutored by a woman who is among several Japanese abducted by North Korean spies at the height of the cold war. She may also have information about Megumi Yokota, who was taken from near her home, aged 13, in the late 1970s.

Kim’s visit comes at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, coinciding with reports that a North Korean cabinet official who led talks with the South, has been executed, and as Seoul and Washington announced a joint naval exercise designed to remind Pyongyang of the formidable military forces it would confront should a conflict break out.

Kwon Ho-ung, who headed the North’s negotiating team from 2004-07, was executed by firing squad, according to the Dong-a Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper. His death appears to be part of a purge of “impure” officials connected with policy failures. In March, the regime executed two officials responsible for a botched currency revaluation.

Next week’s naval exercise will send a “clear message” to the North following the sinking in March of a South Korean naval vessel, the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, told reporters in Seoul .

“These defensive, combined exercises are designed to send a clear message to North Korea that its aggressive behaviour must stop, and that we are committed to together enhancing our combined defensive capabilities,” he said.

Gates and the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, will tomorrow visit the demilitarised zone, the heavily fortified border separating the two Koreas, in a show of support for Washington’s ally.

Hyon-hui, who arrived in Japan before dawn under tight security, was due to meet the parents of Yokota, who was snatched as she walked home from badminton practice near her home on the Japan Sea coast in 1977. Her parents refuse to believe North Korean claims that she suffered from a mental illness and committed suicide in 1994.

Kim was also due to meet the relatives of Yaeko Taguchi, who was abducted in 1978, aged 22. Hyon-hui claims that Taguchi subsequently became her live-in Japanese teacher for more than a year-and-a-half in the early 1980s.

Critics denounced this week’s visit as a stunt designed to deflect attention from Japan’s failure to establish the fates of Yokota and other abductees. Hyon-hui has already spoken to some of the victims’ families and is not expected to offer any new information.

During a 2002 summit with Japan’s then prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, admitted that the regime had abducted 13 people and used them to teach spies how to pass themselves off as Japanese. It allowed five of them to return home later that year, but insisted the remaining eight had died.

Hyon-hui quickly gained notoriety for the attack on the Korean Air jet, which came as Seoul was preparing to host the 1988 summer Olympics. She and Kim Seung-il, a male spy, posed as a Japanese father and daughter and boarded KAL flight 858 from Baghdad to Seoul, planting a time bomb in a luggage rack before getting off at Abu Dhabi. The plane later exploded over the Andaman Sea near Burma.

They were arrested two days later in Bahrain, where they tried to kill themselves by swallowing cyanide capsules hidden in cigarettes. Kim Seung-il died, but Kim’s cigarette was snatched from her before she could ingest a lethal dose.

Kim was extradited to Seoul, where she was sentenced to death in March 1989. She was pardoned the following year after the then South Korean president, Roh Tae-woo, accepted she had been brainwashed into carrying out the bombing on the orders of communist North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung.

Kim, 48, married one of the South Korean intelligence officers who investigated her and donated the proceeds from her autobiography to the families of the bombing’s victims.

Last year, she told Taguchi’s relatives in a meeting in South Korea that the abducted woman may still be alive, contradicting Pyongyang’s claim that she died in a traffic accident in 1986.

The former spy, who is due to return to South Korea on Friday, is reportedly staying at the mountain retreat of the former prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, who resigned last month.
ENDS

Yet another story of child-custody misery thanks to Japan’s insane family laws and enforcement

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Forwarding the below from a friend.  This is just another case of many where we have people (regardless of nationality, but thanks to the Koseki System NJ are in a particularly weak situation, particularly regarding international child abduction) doing awful things to their children after divorce simply because they can, and the authorities will do little or nothing to stop it.  I have of course written on the subject of divorce and post-divorce before (here and here, for example), but let me say at this juncture that for me it has gotten much, much worse over the past few years.  (I still myself have seen my kids maybe six times over the past six years, but now there is a development that someday I’ll tell you about, when I have drawn some conclusions and have some lessons from it.)

Meanwhile, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because it is a harsh reality:

As Japan’s Family Laws stand now, nobody — regardless of nationality — should get married to a Japanese and have kids.  Because if you divorce — or even separate — somebody will quite likely lose them completely.

Read on for yet another example of that.  Even more examples and case studies at the Japan Children’s Rights Network here.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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(日本語は英語の後)

(Please forward this message to everyone you know in Japan.)

On 25 March 2010, three children were abducted from their Tokyo home … by their own mother. All three were taken against their will.

Twenty days later, one child escaped, phoned for help, and was rescued. The abusive and mentally unstable mother immediately moved again and changed the remaining two children’s names … again.

The police consider this a family issue and will not help. The slow-moving family court has not made one ruling since this occurred, even though a petition for a return of physical custody was filed immediately after the children’s abduction.

More than 100 days has already passed, and your help is now being requested to find the abducted boys and return them to the home, neighborhood, school, friends, and family they have known their entire life –a  family that embraces all aspects of their mixed heritage.

Please look over the photos at the website below and keep an eye out for these two boys.

http://www.savetheboys.net

e-mail: Contact@savetheboys.net

If you are tired of these primitive grab-and-runs quietly sanctioned by Japan’s ineffective family court structure, help us stop this one by keeping an eye out for these boys so that they can be returned home.

You can help. We NEED your help.

Please.

======================

COLLATED PERSONAL NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR, A PERSON I MET IN PERSON YEARS AGO AND CAN VOUCH FOR HIS CHARACTER:

July 7 and 8, 2010

Dear Debito, I would like to request your help finding my two sons, who will be 10 and 7 this year.

Here’s a brief summary of what happened. I have been in Japan for nearly 20 years (married for 17), and I filed for divorce in January when I could no longer accept my wife’s increasing abuse of my three children (I have a daughter who just turned 13). My wife has also been in an ongoing affair since 2007. My wife and I began mediation, and at the end of March, she suddenly abducted all three children and disappeared.

After 20 days, my daughter was able to escape and phone for help, and I was able to rescue her. Her mother then immediately moved again. She has taken a leave of absence from work and even changed the boys’ names, but we do know that the boys are enrolled in a public school (1st and 4th grade) and are probably in or around Tokyo.

The family court has been incredibly ineffective (they won’t even interview the boys, and haven’t made any rulings), so after over 100 days of trying to go through the system to return these boys to their home, it appears that the only hope for doing so is to make this happen on our own…

The savetheboys website has been created, and I would like to ask for your help and the help of everyone possible to find these boys so that they can be safely returned to their home. Feel free to blog what I sent you in the initial e-mail or the text below. My only request is that you try to keep my family name out of it for the moment.

I certainly do appreciate your assistance.

Last weekend, my daughter and I saw “The Cove,” and the producer began the movie by announcing that their team initially desired to obtain footage by going through all the proper channels, but eventually had to resort to more extreme measures after encountering such staunch resistance.

That is the way I feel about this website and my actions now. I did not want to put that website up, and I resisted for quite a while. After nearly 20 years in Japan, I wanted to let this play out and give the system the opportunity to carefully examine this case and fix an obvious wrong. Instead, so many within the system have exhibited behavior that is unprofessional, biased, and outright dishonest. In particular, I find the dishonesty of so many “adults” to be troubling, and it leaves me with a really bad taste in my mouth.

If I did not actually go out and rescue my own daughter–against the advice of many, by the way–she would still be captive, even though she phoned begging for help.

Thank you again, Debito. Thank you so much. ENDS

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(これを日本に住んでいる人、誰でも良いので転送してください。)

お願いします。私の弟達を助けてください。

2010年3月25日、私達3人兄弟は母によって東京都の自宅・・・から連れさられ、私 達3人とも自らの意思で連れていかれたわけではありませんでした。

20日後、私1人は自宅に電話をし、助けてもらいました。その事を知った母親はすぐ に残りの2人・・・を連れて引越しました。

警察はこれを親の問題だと考え、助ける事はしませんでした。のんびりと進む家庭 裁判所は母が子供を誘拐したというのに何も進歩を遂げません。

子供達が消えてから長い3ヶ月が過ぎました。そした今、私の弟達を探してください という事を皆さんにお願いしています。あの弟達を彼らの思い出の家、近所、学 校、友達、それと家族のもとへ戻してあげるのを手伝ってください。

下のリンクから弟達の写真などを見てください。もしかしたら彼らを町で見かける かもしれません。もし見つけたら連絡してください。お願いします。

http://www.savetheboys.net

e-mail: Contact@savetheboys.net

もしあなたが今、この日本の家庭裁判所や日本国にウンザリしているのなら私の弟 達が家に戻れるように探す事で私達に力を貸してください。お願いします。

あなたが私達を助けられます。私達はあなたの助けが必要です。

お願いします。どうか助けてください。

(これを日本に住んでいる人、誰でも良いので転送してください。)

ENDS