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  • Mainichi: Japan would help children of international marriages by signing child abduction convention

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on November 3rd, 2008

    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 Japan

    Hi Blog. Addendum to yesterday’s entry, complete with little needles in the article trying to poke holes in the NJ case… Wonder where Mr Onuki got the figure of 90%.  Debito in Tokyo, listening to Dalai Lama speech at FCCJ.

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    Japan would help children of international marriages by signing child abduction convention

    (Mainichi Japan) November 1, 2008

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/archive/news/2008/11/01/20081101p2a00m0na007000c.html

    Japanese women from collapsed international marriages who bring their children to Japan without their partner’s consent are facing charges of abduction — an issue that has highlighted a convention covering international child abduction.

    The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction has been signed by about 80 countries, including in Europe and the United States. Under the convention, it is illegal for one parent to take a child away from his or her country or residence without first settling issues such as custody and visitation rights.

    Signatory countries have a responsibility to return children who have unilaterally been taken out of the country by one of their parents. (There are some exceptions, such as when the child refuses to go back.) Japan, however, has not signed the convention, so this rule of returning the child does not apply. This has raised strong dissatisfaction among foreigners who cannot see their children because they have been taken to Japan.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice are giving favorable consideration to signing the convention, but the opinions of experts are split.

    Kensuke Onuki, a lawyer familiar with the issue, is opposed to Japan signing the convention, based on the viewpoint of Japan protecting its own citizens.

    “In over 90 percent of cases in which the Japanese women return to Japan, the man is at fault, such as with domestic violence and child abuse,” Onuki says. He says that when the Japanese women come back to Japan, they don’t bring with them evidence of domestic violence or other problems, making their claims hard to prove, and the voice of the man saying, “Give me back my child,” tends to be heard louder.

    Mikiko Otani, a lawyer who specializes in family law, supports Japan participating in the convention. The first reason she gives is a connection with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The U.N. committee that monitors how the Convention on the Rights of the Child is implemented advises each country to ratify the Hague convention as a pact that is integrated with the convention on child rights.

    Otani adds that joining the convention does not provide only disadvantages. There are now cases in which former foreign husbands refuse to let their child see their mother, saying that if they let their child go to Japan, he or she won’t come back. There are also cases of mothers setting aside a security deposit of 100,000 dollars (about 10 million yen) to bring their children over to Japan.

    When couples divorce in Japan, only one side has custody rights, and the family view that the child should be handed over to the mother is prevalent. Under the Hague convention, however, joint custody is maintained as long as domestic violence is not involved, and the party not living with the children has visitation rights. This stance shakes up the Japanese view of the family, but I think Japan should join the convention.

    There are the reasons given by Otani, but in addition to that, the shape of Japanese society and families is changing largely. For example, the rate of men who are taking child-care leave is still at a low level but increasing, figures by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show. Division of housework and child-rearing between the husband and wife is natural. It is not an age in which one parent takes complete responsibility for a child.

    If children in international marriages can freely go between the two countries of their mother and father, their lives will surely be greatly enriched. (By Megumi Nishikawa, Expert Senior Writer)

    14 Responses to “Mainichi: Japan would help children of international marriages by signing child abduction convention”

    1. debito Says:

      FEEDBACK FROM CYBERSPACE:


      “Kensuke Onuki, a lawyer familiar with the issue, is opposed to Japan
      signing the convention, based on the viewpoint of Japan protecting
      its own citizens.

      “In over 90 percent of cases in which the Japanese women return to
      Japan, the man is at fault, such as with domestic violence and child
      abuse,” Onuki says. He says that when the Japanese women come back to
      Japan, they don’t bring with them evidence of domestic violence or
      other problems, making their claims hard to prove, and the voice of
      the man saying, “Give me back my child,” tends to be heard louder.”

      So, apparently it is always the foreigners’ fault when these things happen.

    2. Max Says:

      It is typical of an authoritarianism system to say “we are always perfect, the others are wrong”.

      I think the gentleman, Mr. Kensuke Onuki, has been too kind to give up a tiny bit of his immense Japanese pride to say “over 90% of cases” instead of 100%. I would like to thank him for such a hard effort.

      Is domestic violence only a gaijin matter?
      Am I wrong or have I heard about murders and violence between Japanese couples in Japan?

    3. Al Says:

      “In over 90 percent of cases in which the Japanese women return to
      Japan, the man is at fault, such as with domestic violence and child
      abuse,” Onuki says.”

      I’d like to see what this is based on. If it is based simply on what the mother says wouldn’t that mean the voice of the woman tends to be heard louder in Japan.

    4. David Schlauch Says:

      Debito,

      Don’t you have any comments or editorial material about the recent SDF general sacking and his essay?

      David

      – Well, this isn’t exactly germane to this blog entry, but very quickly: He was forced to resign. Good. He did not capitulate. Fine with me (it is his opinion). But the media I’ve seen so far skirts the issue. It’s not a matter of whether what he said was appropriate for his position within the SDF. It is an issue about whether what he says is historically accurate. (It is not.) And until these historical issues are finally laid to rest (through, as UN Rapporteur Doudou Diene suggested, a history book of the region written and approved by scholars from all countries involved), this is just going to keep happening again and again. Exorcising the elephant in the room, i.e. the ghost of Japan’s wartime past (particularly as to whether it was a war of aggression or liberation), must be done sooner or later. It is still not being done and debunked, and that means the SDF person can just use “freedom of speech” as his cloaking device and compare Japan to the DPRK (as he has done) and just gain sympathy for the Rightists. There. Debito

    5. Johnny Says:

      I’ll believe it when I see it. Can’t see them signing this any time soon.

    6. TJJ Says:

      “He says that when the Japanese women come back to Japan, they don’t bring with them evidence of domestic violence or other problems, making their claims hard to prove”

      So how does he know who is at fault if there’s no evidence?

    7. Joe Jones Says:

      Based on my own (limited) experience in this realm, I would not be surprised if domestic violence and/or child abuse are alleged in 90% of cases, but it’s often (if not usually) a mutual allegation, which means that parents are either (a) being very hypocritical or (b) lying/exaggerating the facts in hopes of winning sympathy from the judge.

      It’s funny that Onuki concludes that “the man is at fault” but then admits that there is almost never any evidence. How does he know, then? These sorts of things aren’t easily corroborated, and it’s probably due, in large part, to a lot of crying wolf (possibly in retaliation to the spouse’s crying wolf).

      – What’s really ironic about Onuki’s statement is that he’s actually a lawyer representing one of my friends (a NJ male) who lost his kid to an abduction. That friend told me so last night. Onuki, he says, is fired. And I suggest other NJ clients take their business elsewhere.

    8. Andrew Smallacombe Says:

      Do you mean the foreigners who are Japanese?

      How does Onuki break down the domestic divorces? Are 90% of the men to blame in Japan too?

    9. Alexander Says:

      Debito,

      Might this one not be a good one to follow up on? This 90% figure reeks of trying to pin the blame on foreigners by portraying them as violent and criminal. I want to see if this guy actually tries to defend himself.

      The truth of the matter is that this type of problem is bound to happen to normal families. According to government statistics, a large percentage of “kokusai kekkon” end in divorce (as do normal marriages). It is only natural a certain number of Japanese women/men would consider going back to Japan in such a circumstance. It is therefore natural that this sort of problem should arise.

      What is not natural is Japan having no legal framework for this type of circumstance, and for Mr. Onuki to try to make the problem disappear by using stereotypes about foreigners.

    10. MD Says:

      What about international marriages in Japan and the foreign wife takes the kid back to Sweden or Italy? How do they feel about that? Is it the Japanese man’s fault then?

    11. Justin Says:

      He says that when the Japanese women come back to Japan, they don’t bring with them evidence of domestic violence or other problems, making their claims hard to prove

      I think he means “hard to believe.”

    12. one Says:

      Why do I have the feeling that even if they do sign the HC the local courts will not support it and when they don’t the supreme court of japan won’t care.

    13. Benjamin Says:

      I agree with Alexander. Surely this Onuki fellow shouldn’t be too hard to find. He seems fairly prominent. Googling “Kensuke Onuki” comes up with quite a number of civil-rights cases.

    14. Wendy Says:

      Of note: the most recent Sunday edition of the Nikkei had the issue of parental abduction in its weekly “legal advice” column (towards the back of the paper). While lacking in depth, it did address the fact that (1) parents taking their children “home” to Japan without the other parents’ consent risked “becoming a criminal” and (2) that legal issues needed to be addressed in Japan on this.

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