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
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.
Campbell’s remarks irk kin of Japanese victims of abduction
Mainichi Shimbun May 08, 2012
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.
JAPAN TIMES CITES SAME KYODO ARTICLE
西日本新聞 2012年5月8日 Courtesy of CS
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