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  • Japan Times, NHK, Terrie’s Take & Mainichi on Japan’s child abductions from broken marriages, and Hague Treaty developments

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on July 15th, 2009

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    Hi Blog. I received word from Paul Wong yesterday that NHK would be doing a segment this morning on child abductions after divorce, and Japan’s negligence towards signing the Hague Convention on this.






    As the Japan Times reports:
    Japan’s allies urge government to sign Hague convention on child abduction
    Friday, May 22, 2009
    Full article at

    The United States, Canada, France and the U.K. jointly urged the Japanese government Thursday to sign the Hague Convention on international child abduction, which is aimed at preventing parents from wrongfully keeping or taking their children to their countries before and after they divorce.

    “Our joint statement demonstrates that very clearly Japan’s allies are united in their concern regarding this tragic issue of international child abduction,” said Michele Bond, a deputy assistant secretary for consular affairs for overseas citizen services at the U.S. Department of State, at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. “We are acting together at this point to ensure that our concern for the children is heard.”

    Diplomats from the U.S., Canadian, French and British embassies attended the press conference.

    The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a multilateral treaty that entered into force between signatory members on Dec. 1, 1983.

    The convention states that children who are abducted from their country of residence, or retained in a state that is not their country of normal residence, must be returned promptly to their original country of residence.

    More than 80 countries have signed the convention, but Japan is the only nonsignatory state among the Group of Seven nations.

    Among abductions involving Japanese whose parents have wrongfully taken or kept their children, Britain has reported 36 cases since 2003, with none of them resolved. There are currently 11 active cases, said David Fitton, deputy head of mission to the British Embassy in Japan. France has had 26 cases, half of which are still active, and the U.S has 73 active cases.
    Full article at

    I watched the NHK report this morning, and was, frankly, gravely disappointed. After giving some stats on international divorce (around 20,000 cases last year, about double that ten years ago), NHK gave three case studies in brief:

    1) One of an an American father in America who had lost his child to his abducting Japanese ex-wife. Point: How he loves his child and would like to be part of her life.

    2) One of a Japanese mother with custody of kids trapped in America working waitress jobs because her Japanese passport has been impounded by an American court ruling (which is bullshit, as she can go to any Japanese consulate in the US and get new passports without the permission of both parents; the converse is not true), with bonus time devoted to how much she and her daughters would like to return home, see relatives, and eat Japanese food.

    3) One of a Japanese mother from an international divorce who abducted her kids to Japan; she opposes Japan signing the Hague Convention because of her violent American husband (which she somehow blamed on differing cultures), and wouldn’t want to give up custody to him.

    Then we had a Hitotsubashi prof who said Japan must sign because child abduction was unjust. And a lawyer named Onuki (who has represented these cases before, and claimed in the international media that somehow 90% of these abductions are due to NJ domestic violence.)

    It even concluded with the typical relativities (i.e. how everyone’s doing it, therefore Japanese can too), mentioning in passing alleged cases of how NJ mothers were abducting Japanese kids overseas (meaning that now suddenly Japanese fathers were kawaisou; the bottom line was that Japanese are being kawaisoued). The MOFA was quoted as not being able to comment on whether Japan would be able to sign Hague.

    No mention at all was made by NHK that there has not been a single case of children being returned to the NJ parent by Japanese courts (the converse is untrue), that Japanese are committing crimes (and not honoring overseas court custody rulings, such as the Murray Wood Case), or that (and I speak from experience of not seeing my kids for about five years now) the Koseki system will deny all title and access to Japanese parents too after divorce.

    NHK tried too hard to be sympathetic to either abducting Japanese mothers, or the position of Japanese in general (not the kids and how they’re affected by not having both parents in their lives). What a crock.

    Consider that biased coverage in light of the following articles. If you find the NHK report online, please feel free to send a link to the Comments section.

    Other links on
    Arudou Debito in Sapporo


    * * * * * * * * * T E R R I E ‘S T A K E * * * * * * *

    A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.
    General Edition Sunday, May 24, 2009 Issue No. 518

    After the U.S. presidential election, the first foreign trip by his new Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was to Japan. This was presumably to send a symbol to the Japanese that the U.S. values their relationship and not to cash in all those U.S. Treasuries that they are holding! Then in a symbolic action within a symbolic trip, Clinton visited with the Japanese families whose children and relatives were abducted by the North Koreans over a 30-year period since the 1970’s.

    Clinton told reporters, “On a very personal and, you know, human basis, I don’t know that I’ll be meeting as a secretary of state any more than I will be meeting with them as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister.” This was the right thing to say in response to a situation that has the Japanese public outraged.

    But there was one segment of the population in Japan that felt Clinton’s words were more like daggers than bandages. That segment is the foreign parents of children from international marriages, who have had their children kidnapped by the Japanese parent back to Japan, never to see them again. For these people the North Korean abductions of possibly 70 or 80 people pales into insignificance when compared to the hundreds (yes, that’s the number the CRC-Japan people are stating) of kids abducted to Japan.

    And while there have been a handful of those North Korean abductees returned to Japan, there has NEVER been a successful return of a mixed nationality child to the foreign parent through diplomacy or court action. Further, U.S. officials say they only know of 3 cases where mutually agreed returns have occurred. And yet many court actions have been brought against Japanese abductors over the years.

    This unbelievable state of affairs has started to cause major headaches for both legal and diplomatic agencies of Japan’s allies, and the U.S. in particular appears to be looking for ways to pressure Japan to mend its ways and to institute the necessary legal changes needed so as to support and enforce an eventual signing of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Japan is the only member of the Group of Seven not to have signed this important treaty.

    The pressure ratcheted up several weeks ago when the embassies of the U.S., Canada, Britain, and France, along with various representatives from other nations and foreign parents trying to get their kids back, participated in a joint conference to discuss the issue and taking action that will precipitate change. While similar conferences have happened in previous years without much more than a bout of hand-wringing, this time, the U.S. and the other Japanese allies held a rare press conference to urge Japan to sign the treaty. Furthermore, they provided information on cases where foreign parents have been cut off from their kids.

    The U.S. said it has been informed of 73 abduction cases of 104 kids with a U.S. parent but where that parent is not resident in Japan, and another 29 cases where the U.S. parent is here. The other allied nations reported an additional 95 cases. As this writer can testify, these cases are just the tip of the iceberg. Most foreign parents give up after going through the farcical proceedings of the Japanese Family Courts — realizing that there is no justice when there is no law to even enact justice in the first place.

    For, above all, we need to remember that Japan has no concept of joint child custody and that abduction by one parent is not a crime. The judiciary in its wisdom still follows the feudal “Iie system” (House system) whereby it believes that the child should belong to one house only. Certainly, having a child undergo emotional surgery by cutting off one of the parents is a lot cleaner than the bickering and fighting that many western parents go through in their shared custody divorces. But for those parents adult enough to share their kids civilly, the law offers only heartbreak and no compromise. Officially, of the 166,000 children involved in divorces in Japan every year, less than 20% of them wind up with the father, and of course in the case of foreign fathers, the number is zero. One particularly poignant case of child abduction does not even include the Japanese parent absconding with the child, but rather her parents — who were able to convince a Japanese judge to give the child to them based on trumped up charges, rather than return her to her foreign father.

    The story of Paul Wong is a story that epitomizes the problem — that of the judiciary and their slanted views on untrustworthy foreigners versus nice decent Japanese. Wong was happily married in the U.S. to a Japanese women, Akemi, and after many years of partnership, they finally had a daughter, Kaya. Unfortunately, his wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor before the birth in 2004 and this got much worse following the birth. Akemi and daughter Kaya went to stay with the grandparents in Japan one last time before she died in 2005. Akemi on her death bed asked Wong to leave Kaya in Japan with her parents for a while, so that Kaya could learn something about her heritage. Wong kept his promise, and after his wife died he made the decision to settle down in Japan so that Kaya could continue seeing her grandparents. He left Kaya with the grandparents while working his lawyer job in Hong Kong and looking for a transfer to Japan. He commuted back and forth for a year and eventually found a position in Japan.

    After returning to Japan, he found that the grandparents wouldn’t let Kaya return to him, and they eventually claimed to the police that Wong had sexually molested Kaya during a visit — something which has since been disproven after a medical exam. Wong took the case to court, and despite evidence that contradicted the grandparents claims, the Judge decided that “The grandparents would have no reason to not make such claims,” so he sided with them and awarded custody to them, despite them being in their 70’s. After they die, Kaya will become a ward of the state.

    And thus Wong was arbitrarily banned from access to his own daughter. He knows where she lives and where she goes to school, but thanks to trespass laws, he is unable to visit her. Wong reckons one of the grandparents’ motives for taking Kaya is the monthly government stipend they get for her, given that they are desperately poor themselves — and of course now they have a small piece of their dead daughter, so the emotional ties must be strong as well. So what to do? Wong has since spent millions of yen trying to work with the Japanese legal system, but has been stymied at every step. As other foreign parents quickly find out, there is no pre-trial disclosure of evidence and no cross-examination rights. Further, there is no ability to bring in outside counselors and child psychology experts to testify for either side. In the end, the judge makes their own decision, based on serial presentations, with little apparent interest in whether each side is telling the truth. Indeed, several years ago, this writer interviewed a retired Family Court judge who intimated that he expected both sides in a child custody dispute to be lying, so “evidence” didn’t really mean much.

    So there really isn’t much that Wong can do, except hope that the recent pressure for Japan to sign the Hague convention will start a legal review of the current family law system. There are over 15 domestic NPO groups who are hoping for the same changes — since these outmoded laws also affect Japanese parents as much as foreign ones. But we think change will be unlikely. So perhaps Wong should take the advice of an old friend of this writer, who had a single piece of advice to counter the Japanese condition…

    “…Get yourself another family, and next time don’t get divorced in Japan!”

    For more on this subject, go to

    Japan urged to sign treaty against parental child abductions
    (Mainichi Japan) June 2, 2009, Courtesy of Jeff K.
    Diplomats from the U.S., France, Canada and the U.K. are pressing Japan to sign an international treaty against parental child abductions.

    The number of cases of parental child abduction being committed by Japanese is rising sharply. Officials from the four embassies say there have been 168 reported cases to date involving 214 children, and that there could be many more.

    As a result, they are urging Japan to sign the Hague Convention, which came into force in 1983 and provides a legal means for returning abducted children. The country’s refusal to sign means that the government is not legally required to release any information in such cases and prevents it from soliciting help in repatriating children to Japan.

    “If the well-being of the child is given top priority, he or she should be brought up with links to both parents. For a situation to not be addressed at all is a big problem,” said the officials during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on May 21.

    The U.S. Embassy reported one case of a Japanese woman divorcing her American husband, taking their child back to Japan with her and preventing her former husband from seeing the child. In another case, letters sent by a foreign father living abroad were returned, and all contact was effectively severed.

    In the U.S., such parental abductions are considered a crime, with suspects placed on international watch lists by the FBI in some cases.

    However, critics say that signing the convention will prevent Japan from protecting its citizens fully.

    “The attitude of the government is non-involvement in civil affairs,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ International Legal Affairs Bureau.

    “However, with the number of international marriages and divorces rising, the possibility of signing is under consideration.”


    毎日新聞 2009年5月31日 22時59分











    35 Responses to “Japan Times, NHK, Terrie’s Take & Mainichi on Japan’s child abductions from broken marriages, and Hague Treaty developments”

    1. Peter Says:

      My sympathies to you Debito, I hope sometime in the future you can finally have a semblance of a relationship with your daughters and here’s hoping that their minds haven’t been poisoned beyond recovery.

      Its so typically NHK or perhaps most of the J-media, really playing down the foreign parent’s plight and making them seem its all their fault while nice, sensible Japanese are “escaping” from broken marriages, violence and child abuse. I would love to see statistics if this is actually the case.. especially when that lawyer claims that 90% of these cases are the fault of the NJ. Why NHK had to report that the woman ‘trapped’ in the USA wants to eat japanese food has absolutely no journalistic relevance. Is that just filler for the viewers to feel sorry about her? What a joke.

      Why didn’t NHK show the story of Murray Wood where the British Columbia courts GAVE him custody but his ex-wife kidnapped the kids back to Japan and the Japanese Courts sided with her. Japan has such a laissez fair attitude when dealing with these cases.. child abduction is a crime no matter where it happens and Japan is doing nothing to stop it within this country. It doesn’t matter if other countries nationals are doing it as well, it’s still a CRIME!

      The family laws and koseki system are woefully outdated here and need to be scrapped altogether, hopefully Japan will join the rest of the G-7 in the 21st century. Exactly why is Japan having a difficult time signing the Hague Convention?

    2. debito Says:

      Debito here. Eyes peeled for an online version of that NHK broadcast. I’ll look around, everyone else too? First person to send a link gets my admiration!

    3. JP Says:


      In reference to foreign fathers getting custody of children of international marriages, I happen to know one. He was awarded custody as a PR living in Japan when his ex-wife declined to fight for custody of her son. So it seems that the family court will award custody to foreign passport holders, but only if the Japanese parent doesn’t want their children.

    4. Getchan Says:

      Since I was the one who literally woke up Debito so he could watch the news (you’re not an early bird, Debito… *ggg*), here some comments:

      Case 1) Child born out of wedlock. This is problematic not only in Japan, but also in Hague member countries. I would have preferred to see a case of a NJ father whose kid was abducted to Japan. Plenty of cases are known to the media, including NHK.

      Case 2) A pile of horse manure, and a big pile at that. As Debito said, passports can be obtained at Japanese Consulates, and they are very cooperative, to put it mildly. In light of that cooperation, no need for the mother to stay stateside. Japanese food can be bought in L.A. (that was where she lives), and her relatives can always hop on a plane to see the kids. Which leads me to the question what that woman has to hide!!!

      Case 3) Has nothing to do with the Hague Convention. The couple split in Japan, and the father then returned to the US later.

      Debito forgot to mention the closing statement of a female commentator – that cases, where foreign mothers are abducting kids of Japanese fathers to their home countries, and something must be done about that. While I don’t doubt that, it shows again the one-sidedness of the discussion in Japanese published opinion. If the Japanese parent abducts to Japan (or denies access in Japan), it’s “how we do it”, it’s justified, it’s honorable (and we stoopid gaijin just don’t know how Japanese families work). Now if a Japanese father (who would usually flat out lose custody, if the mother was Japanese!!!) is concerned, something must be done. Yeah, right!

    5. debito Says:

      Feedback from a friend in the know on this:

      Hi Debito,

      Thanks so much for the information. Professor CJ said the
      same thing about the program — very slanted and poorly done.
      (Interestingly, Ohnuki was recently removed from US Embassy’s list of
      recommended lawyers on family law matters).

      The program was suppose to include a story on Jacques Colleau, but
      apparently NHK decided to cut it out at the last minute. He’s very
      upset about it and even the French press has contacted NHK about its
      censorship. (I’ve copied Jacques so perhaps he can tell you more
      about what happened).

      Btw, thanks for the write up on your blog!!! I didn’t realize Terrie
      had mentioned my daughter’s case in the story you posted. He got some
      of the background facts wrong but the essential story is the right —
      this government (the court) sanctioned and condoned the criminal
      abduction of my daughter and subjected me and my daughter as a
      (criminal) child molester and victim, respectively.

      Also, I’ve also cc’d Thierry Consigny. I’m not sure if you know him,
      but he’s been doing a lot work with the French government and Japanese
      left behind parent groups on this issue. I know the French, US,
      Canada and the UK are continuing to pressure Japan on the Hague. I
      think they have already served 2 demarches on the Japanese and are
      planning to do another one. The Ambassadors (as soon as the US one
      arrives) are to continue the pressure.

      Again, thank you sincerely for your wonderful support.

    6. debito Says:

      Been looking over NHK’s pages (even Googled videos) for a copy of the video segment, but so far no luck.

      Segment is listed as
      国際離婚急増 相次ぐトラブル

      But as there were three total tokushuus run this morning (but only this one listed as part of the schedule), I wonder if they were added later to fill time. Probably not, but as was noted above, the segment was cut.

      Note title: “International Divorces Increase Rapidly: Troubles follow one after another”

      The trouble is not with international divorce. The trouble is with child abductions after divorce. Even the title is misleading, and in my view pandering to the commonly-held and publicized view that kokusai kekkon are somehow more fraught with difficulties.

      No, this problem with child abduction exists systematically within Japanese divorces too. Except that the NJ have no hope for a fair trial here.

    7. adamw Says:

      what do you mean by:

      the Judge decided that “The grandparents would have no reason to not make such claims”?

      shouldnt it be

      “no reason to make such claims”

    8. Johnny Says:

      Since when has NHK ever done anything balanced re anything related to Non-J?

      One more reason not to pay them a bloody single yen.

    9. Getchan Says:

      “One more reason not to pay them a bloody single yen.”

      Haven’t paid them a single friggin’ yen for the past 23 years 😉
      Told them to sue me – they wouldn’t 😉

    10. Tornadoes28 Says:

      I’m not surprised that the NHK would make such a biased news story. And you are right about the story of the Japanese women being “trapped” in America is bullshit. Not only can she get her Japanese passport anytime like you said, no doubt the reason why the courts have said she can’t take the kids back to Japan is probably because she has made threats to take them and never return.

    11. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      The only advantage to paying them would be that you could then write letters of protest that include the phrase, “As a loyal subscriber for many years, I was profoundly disappointed to see…”

      — Yeah, that’ll impress them!

    12. Jcek Says:

      Here is a recent story of an abduction from Seattle which I found deeply disturbing. I really dislike using children as some sort utility for bad marriages.

      As for the program it looks like some really spun journalism to save face for the Japanese Government not joining the Hague Convention. The reason again is unclear. The same story as with the IWC moratorium on commercial whaling, they refuse and use culture as some vague excuse. Maybe the JGOV will produce some more intriguing statistics for their decisions.

    13. Jerry Says:

      An odd question but, since it’s been 5 years and hopefully emotions have quieted down a bit, have you tried approaching your ex-wife about maybe seeing your kids? Perhaps through her parents or a mutual friend?

      — Saw them (at their invitation) last November at a restaurant for dinner for a few hours. They wanted more money (on top of the more than half of my current paycheck that already goes to them) for their education. As my lawyer advised, I said I would be happy to consider it, send me a list of costs and we’ll talk. Then my ex spent the next three hours or so bashing me in front of the kids, even bringing up things long settled by the divorce settlement. I was not there to fight or to disparage my kids’ mother in front of them, so I put up no protest. It was some of the most grueling 200 minutes I’ve ever gone through. Haven’t seen or heard from them since.

    14. Manule Says:

      This kind of bad and biassed journalism by NHK is why I don’t pay a dime for suscription and will never do, can you imagine having to pay for that crap? no way folks.

    15. John Says:

      “Tokyo in bind over treaty on child abduction”, Asahi, July 16

      “Tokyo is under pressure–from within and from outside–to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction of 1980, which now has 81 parties.

      The rise in cases involving Japanese parents as “abductors” has led to stepped-up calls from countries in North America and Europe for Tokyo’s accession.”

      — Beat me to it. This will be tomorrow’s blog entry!

    16. Jerry Says:

      I’m actually very proud of you for taking the high road, I’m sure in such an emotionally charged situation it was difficult and your children will ultimately come to understand and appreciate your restraint. Just realize that she obviously still has some unresolved issues from the divorce (these things may have been “settled” but that’s in a legal sense not in an emotional sense – sounds like she’s still hurt and is seeking some form of closure which she hasn’t gotten yet). If you want to be a part of your kids lives you should be prepared to continue showing that sort of restraint until she either works through her issues or gives up. Remember you have your blog as your therapeutic vent, she probably hasn’t found a way to express or work through her feelings about the whole situation. (and since she most likely reads the blog it would probably be a good idea to minimize any negativity and focus on the positive)

      The fact you were able to meet is a good sign even if it was just a request for more money. Perhaps you could reach out to them and try to arrange a meeting in an environment where she would be less likely to cause a scene – a school event perhaps (sports day would be good), maybe the local festival, somewhere with people who she wouldn’t want to embarrass herself in front of. Or perhaps see if you could get her to let her parents take the kids to meet you for dinner (or find some other way to take her out of the equation – if the kids have any outside interest perhaps offer to help).

      Anyway – the separation from your children is obviously something that is causing you a lot of pain, reach out and try to reestablish some sort of relationship with the children (it is probably going to be difficult, frustrating, annoying, and painful but you’re an intelligent fellow, you can figure out a solution to this.) Just be prepared to continue taking the high road where the ex is involved as she most likely won’t be making it easy for you.

      — Thanks for the advice.

    17. Mumei Says:

      The program seems to be available at NHK On-Demand:
      Apparently you need to register, though, first.

    18. The Shark Says:

      These are the Shark’s deliberations:

      1) “critics say that signing the convention will prevent Japan from protecting its citizens fully”
      ==> How can separating children from one of their parents be called ‘protecting’ them? Protecting from what? From foreign ways of thinking?

      2) If Japan always claims the U.S. is their greatest ally what exactly does alliance mean to Japan?

      3) How can Japan expect other countries to assist in the abduction isue of Japanese citizens to North Korea when at the same time Japan doesn’t do anything about child abductions by their own citizens? Doesn’t it look hypocritical?

      4) Or their might be an even darker side: maybe the Japanese government doesn’t really like children coming out of so-called mixed marriages. Maybe they prefer them to be ‘pure’ Japanese as if foreign influences can only be bad. Maybe it’s that what they mean when they use expressions like ‘what’s in the best interest of the child’.

      — I strongly doubt #4; it’s incredibly easy to marry a Japanese and just as difficult to get a divorce as it is between citizens.

      Point of order. Why do you keep referring to yourself in the third person?

    19. The Shark Says:

      About NHK:

      NHK wants to make Japanese citizens feel good about themselves: that’s why they are ‘editing’ the news.
      Germany and Japan have both lost the war. However, they have developed in different ways. Whereas Germany is not afraid of facing its past and now has good relations with the countries it once occupied, the same does not apply to Japan.
      Even though there may be neo-nazi demonstrations in Germany, there are almost always counter demonstrations by other Germans. When the far right guys in Japan turn on their speakers, I’ve never seen anybody demonstating against them. ‘Shoganai’?

      NHK should report about problems within Japanese society as well. For instance:
      *How to address the problem of around 30,00 suicides in Japan each year (which having a declining birthrate at the same time).
      *How to deal with the yakuza.
      *How to locate murderers like the one of Lindsay Ann Hawker.

      … but I guess that wouldn’t mak you feel good in the morning. So it might be better to throw one report on North Korea and one on Ichiro every other day.

      … Just think about it: if a Japanese citizen has cancer his doctor thinks it may be better not to tell him. If there are problems within Japan, NHK does it like the doctor and chooses better not to talk about it.

    20. carl Says:

      “…Get yourself another family, and next time don’t get divorced in Japan!”

      Ouch. Bit of harsh advice, isn’t it?

      I’ve been following the Wong case here on your blog and it really is heart-breaking. When the grandparents pass away the girl will become a ward of the state even though she has a perfectly fine biological father who is still alive? It just boggles the mind how anyone could possible decide that a child becoming a state ward would possibly be better than being together with her own father. Would Wong maybe have more pull if he became a citizen?

      As for you Debito-san: your daughters are both still minors, correct? They may very well come to find you when they come of age. That’s usually simply by grace of the fact that maturing and trying to make sense of your new status as an adult seems to bring out a need to understand your life and roots more. You may have to wait a while, but it’ll be worth it in the end, for sure.

      Also, a side note: Are there any estimations of how many J/NJ marriages actually do work out (I guess it would only be a matter of subtracting the percentage of divorces from the total)? I’d be interested to see if it’s a majority or not.

      — Rumor has it that half of all international marriages fail (and this is held as a cautionary tale over those pesky kids who fall in love with an NJ). But that’s hardly backed up by statistics. There are about 40,000+ international marriages (mostly JM to NJF), and 20,000+ international divorces per year, according to NHK July 15. But that does not statistically mean 50% due to the time lag.

    21. Chris Says:

      Since 1951, not one single abducted child has been returned to the US from Japan – giving Japan the worst child abduction record in the world – even worse than North Korea, Libya, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. The US is just one example. Children have been abducted from the UK, Canada, mainland Europe, Australia, New Zealand amongst many other countries – kidnapped and taken to Japan.

      Japan know very well about the trauma of international abduction since they had a handful of their own citizens abducted by North Koreans. This has made huge headlines in Japan – for over 30 years! But they do not seem to be bothered when children are abducted by Japanese and kidnapped to Japan – breaking international laws in the process. This is Japan’s dirty secret. Now with a boom in international marriage over the last 10 years between Japanese nationals and non-Japanese nationals (it has quadrupled), it simply is not possible to keep such a secret from the mainstream public consciousness.

      Kidnapping doesn’t have to be international to completely deny one parent access to their child(ren). It happens within the borders of Japan too. Japan has zero support for non-custodial parents. The Japanese family courts do not care about the relationship children have with their parents, such wreckless acts of kidnap are manifestations of a couldn’t-care-less family court system and government. Even elderly grandparents have kidnapped their grandchildren and assumed full-time custody. How is that right?

    22. E.P. Lowe Says:

      @The Shark

      Just think about it: if a Japanese citizen has cancer his doctor thinks it may be better not to tell him. If there are problems within Japan, NHK does it like the doctor and chooses better not to talk about it.

      I think it’s more related to the fact that Japan is seen as not only not being able of consciously doing wrong – and when she does do wrong it’s because of the machinations of others. A good example of this is General Tamogami’s recent ‘historical essay’ on Japan.

      On the subject of NHK, a month or so ago I was horrified to see the most blatant twisting of the WHO advice on face masks on the NHK nighttime news. They reported the main point, i.e. masks don’t protect against the flu – but they can act against the spread if used correctly. Then they cut to a graphic of two ‘sneezers’. Leftmost was an unmasked woman – bent over in full sneeze, eyes tightly closed – a veritable fountain of droplets issuing from her nose. On the right was ‘Mr Sensible’. He was sneezing too – but he was wearing a mask. A much smaller fountain of droplets was erupting out of the top of his mask.

      Looks good for masks eh?

      However – ‘Mr Sensible’ was either photographed before the ‘peak’ of his sneeze – or his sneeze was much smaller. He was still standing straight and his eyes were lightly closed.

      So, they were not comparing like with like. Scientifically speaking that’s not only flawed – but when the differences are so pronounced it’s unethical.

      Still, it was funny that when they were pushing this subterfuge that ‘Mr Sensible’ still sprayed droplets – but straight up. I cannot but think that that is not an action designed to minimize infection.

      So, in my humble opinion NHK can be pretty mendacious when it needs to be.

    23. Manule Says:

      That’s plain manipulation by the media and following a very punctual agenda, I think the appreciation made by E.P.Lowe is right, j’s tend to perceive their society as a perfect one and their citizens uncapable of doing wrong and the government agenda is to keep it that way, at least in the eyes of the rest of the world, no need to learn the true history and no need to see the true facts, negation over embarrasnent, and perpetuation of a political elite.

      — I doubt few Japanese would use the world ‘perfect’ to describe our society.

    24. Kevin Taylor Says:

      This is a very disturbing subject.

      Japanese society does not have a tradition of unbiased fairness in daily interactions, let alone court proceedings. As the majority of Japanese citizens perceive themselves to be a minority in the world, it is easy for them to justify biases towards Japanese in a J vs. NJ situation.

      I fully realize the ramifications of citing the racist tendencies of Japanese courts and public opinion, but seriously, what short of calling the system racist is going to change the status quo?

      Unlike the comments submitted to this site, I think the majority of Japanese who viewed the NHK tokushuu now consider themselves informed, and in command of all the facts they need to form an opinion on the subject – no further discussion necessary.

      * The comments from the woman ‘stuck’ in LA were an obvious emotional ploy to get Japanese viewers to identify with her situation, against the faceless NJ husband.

      Good luck with your own situation Debito. Keep up the good work in keeping us informed.

      PS: Is anyone surprised that we only hear a free exchange of ideas on a site such as this, and not on mainstream Japanese media?

    25. crustpunker Says:

      this sums things up in a nutshell.

      “The Japanese system relies on mediation and conciliation and on the pressures of social norms. It works reasonably well when the parties are reasonable and it works badly when one or both of the parties are unreasonable. It works far better when the parties are both Japanese and understand the workings of their society but it was not developed to handle issues that involve foreigners and it is entirely unable to cope with such issues. For foreigners who require the assistance of the Japanese legal system in family law situations, there is basically no law. The Japanese legal system does not provide any significant protection to the rights of the foreign parents.”

      the full text may be found here:

      Thngs need to change. Words do well to make people aware of an issue butat a certain point action is vital to change. There must be a way to band together on this and help to institute a change in these draconian laws. How long will this be allowed to continue? There comes a point that inaction becomes silent complience and that seems to be where the issue lies now.

    26. debito Says:


      Ms Mami Mochizuki

      re: Your tv report broadcasted on Ohayo Nihon on July 15, 2009

      Dear Ms Mochizuki,

      Please allow me to draw your most urgent attention as follows:

      Your first confusion

      Most shooting you made with me (and I did give you a lot of my time upon your request!!!) was supposed to highlight the crucial importance of an association like SOS PAPA, together with many others worldwide, to defend binational children’s basic rights to BOTH parents and BOTH families after split of their parents, together with BOTH cultures and countries in the case of binational kids.

      This should have been indeed used by you with the media power as a WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY to explain millions of Japanese viewers such CRUCIAL ISSUE FOR CHILDREN’S SAKE, in other words for those who are the future of a nation.

      Indeed, you even asked us as well to help you get pictures shooted in the first Tokyo demonstration of Summer 2008 to which we participated, aiming at defending children’s rights to their both parents after split of those, as well as the latest one held in Paris in the vincinity of the Japanese Embassy on June 29, 2009, the day of our sitting covered by foreign media and being organized to ask simply Japan again and again to respect basic rights of kids to their BOTH parents.

      As you know, we, together with some Senators, had even been received by one of your honorable Ministers that day.

      Your second confusion

      At all stages of preparation of your report, I, just like many social leaders of the western community, press correspondents, political heads, was there for You, all of us being ready to help you the best we could to make a GREAT report, like the evening ones of another Japanese journalist, Ms Hiroko Kuniya I like so much, being so good and so professional.

      You despised us.

      Your third confusion

      You did not make any efforts to understand how tricky the comments of Japanese child abducting mothers are, simply consisting in looking for lousy excuses to justify their awful behaviours, since they know of course what they do is just terrible and unhuman.

      Indeed, you chose instead to believe the rubbish of Japanese people who abducted their kids as well as those protecting and excusing such awful actions, just because you, like many of your compatriots, still think words of Japanese persons are more credible and valuable than those of gaijins.

      For all readers and viewers information, as well as yours once again, I have got no choice but to repeat here the reason why Japanese mothers abduct children has usually nothing to do with any couple violence whatsoever but is instead simply due to the fact those women wish to get rid of their hubands they do not love anymore (nothing wrong about their right to divorce of course) and therefore use most dirty tricks and false accusations in Court to keep selfishly the children for themselves as “uchi no mono”, ignoring the fact that children are human beings, have got rights as stated in the UN New York Convention signed by Japan, and therefore belong to noone.

      Well, you could appreciate by yourself the shameful behaviour of a nice Japanese abducting mother calling the police against a peaceful gaijin father bringing a gift to his daughter abducted since more than five years and against yourself, the day we drove to Kazo together…

      Should I mention as well you did not even explain clearly to NHK viewers the archaism of Japanese Family Law?

      Last but not least, you did not make most sadly any efforts as well to communicate on a key issue, i.e. the most terrible and usually unreversible psychological consequences of such cruel and unresponsible abudctions on victimized children, emphasized by all leading international experts.

      Your fourth confusion

      Your full approach, consisting namely on making a tasteless and useless report, remaining at the surface of things, leaning on pressure, functioning even on self censorship, proves you have obviously got a totally wrong approach of journalism, as many foreign media correspondents, foreign government representatives and NGO leaders do believe.

      Yours Sincerely,

      Jacques Colleau
      Head of International Affairs
      SOS PAPA
      An Association Member of UNAF (French Union of Family Associations)

    27. debito Says:

      Hi everyone,

      Here are some recent articles in the press on the child abduction issue.

      Seoul Times article today regarding Japan’s hypocrisy with
      international child abductions.
      (We should contact this author and thank him for writing this article.)

      Japan Times Herald. This is a multi-part series where they are
      writings about the child abduction issue all this week. There’s an
      interview with Hatoyama, where he was asked about the Hague Convention
      and the problems with Japan’s family law.

      Current legislation going through the US House on international child
      (Text of the bill can be accessed by clicking on the box on the right hand side.)

      Please pass this along to the many people I missed.

      Best regards,
      Paul Wong
      If the above links don’t work, try these:
      Seoul Times:
      Japan Herald:

      Dear all,

      A couple more stories: the last part in the series by the Japan Herald and the Seoul Times did another story also.

    28. Manule Says:

      The open letter to Ms Mochizuki of NHK is the bravest straightforward message to any j media I have ever read. It is honest, clear and straight. Something we don’t see too much in here, where more often than not hypocritical smiles are used to deal with rather embarrasing issues. I applaud your courage to openly address things as how they are actually felt by those who are directly affected by the painful fact of having their children abducted and stranged from their loving care.
      May someday we’ll find true justice into these matters.

    29. kokogahenda Says:

      I thought the NHK was egregious in a couple of respects.

      First, the segment with the Japanese mother whose passport had been put under lock and key by the US court. Her use of her children as sock-puppets to say things like “I want to eat natto and tamagoyaki”is a fine example of the sort of behavior that courts in Japan facilitate. Lady, you are living in Los Angeles; if you can’t get natto and tamagoyaki there is something wrong with you. Yes, you want to have your children meet the grandparents, but they can probably come to the US and see them any time they want. Furthermore, the court may have had a reason for locking down the passport – if the mother had a demonstrated history of interfering with the children’s contact with the other parent. The NHK’s one-sided reporting just shows the problem with these cases, which is that it is hard to get an accurate picture of what is happening by just talking to one parent.

      Second, the woman who brought her children back to Japan from the US and is now subject to an arrest warrant over there. The segment closes with her saying something “they (Americans) should understand that divorce is different in Japan.” Yeah, but you were in the United States. Why are journalists incapable of pouncing on stupid logic like this?

    30. Miles Says:

      FYI, this issue was covered by Global Voices today with a quote from Debito.

      Link is here:

    31. PW Says:

      Another story yesterday out of the US on Japan’s international child abduction. A TV news report about William Lake’s case on WEAR, the ABC affiliate in Pensacola, Florida.

      The story includes a scene from the press conference last week in Washington, DC, introducing the International Child Abduction Act of 2009 (HR 3204), sponsored by, among others, US Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey.

      There has been uptick in press coverage recently, especially in the past two weeks, although many were in smaller publications. To recap, the following stories have come out since mid-July:

      July 14: NHK TV report on International Child Abduction
      July 16: Press Conference on Capitol Hill to introduce HR 3240, hosted by Congressman Chris Smith
      July 16: Asahi Shimbun article titled, “Tokyo in Bind over Treaty on Child Abduction”
      July 19: Seoul Times article titled, “Japan Allows International Child Abduction”
      July 21: Japan Times Herald article titled, “Betrayed Fathers, their Stories”
      July 21: Seoul Times article titled, “Japan Ignores Child Abduction Because of Racism”
      July 22: Japan Times Herald article titled, “Betrayed Fathers, The Political and Legal”
      July 24: Japan Times Herald article titled, “State Department Lied to Betrayed Fathers”
      July 29: Global Voices article titled, “Japan: Parental Child Abduction”
      July 29: ABC news affiliate WEAR in Pensacola, Television story about William Lake’s case
      July 31: Seoul Times article entitled, Japanese Law and Another Victim, Kevin Brown

      That’s one story about every 1.5 days. Additionally, some of the stories were picked up and reprinted by others. The Japan Times Herald stories were reprinted by the Miyazaki Morning News, and the Global Voices article was reprinted in numerous blogs.

      Another story by the Stars and Stripes, the daily newspaper published by the US military, should be coming out soon on this issue.

    32. PW Says:

      A couple of additional new articles just came out today from the Stars & Stripes, the US military’s daily newspaper, tilted, “Bill would create support network for servicemembers in overseas custody battles” and “Overseas custody rights: American parents struggle to reunite with children in Japan.”

      The first article discusses the new legislation (the International Child Abduction Prevention Act of 2009) introduced by US representative Chris Smith, which requires the US Defense Department to set up a system to track child abduction cases of involving US servicemembers and set up uniform legal advice regarding divorces from foreign nationals.

      The second article discusses 2 child abduction cases involving US military personnel and the foreign families of their children. It reports that there are currently 118 Japanese-American children living in Japan and cut off from their American parents. Representative Chris Smith calls Japan the “most egregious abuser in this regard.” It states that the International Child Abduction Prevention Act of 2009 would allow for economic sanctions against countries like Japan that refuse to take action in international child abduction cases. Lawyer Jeremy Morley states that International pressure (not from the US alone) is the way to get Japan to change its ways.

    33. CRN Japan - Webmaster Says:

      CRN Japan is back up and covering most of the links and stories listed here. Please keep an eye on the progress legislation is making, as well as news stories in our “In The News” section of CRN Japan –

      If you know of any new articles that we have not posted, please by all means contact me directly so they can be listed.

    34. let`s talk Says:

      If, according to the Japanese law, it is fine when a J-wife, living abroad, take the kid and bring him/her to Japan, why when a NJ-father does the same in Japan, he is charged of kidnapping?

    35. Peter Says:

      Hi Arudou-san, if you have the transcript or similar on file, could you kindly let us know the name of the Hitotsubashi professor mentioned in your review of the Ohayou Nihon piece? Thanks in advance.

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