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  • US State Dept and YouTube on Japan’s Int’l Child Abduction

    Posted by arudou debito on July 14th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Two things I’ll combine into one blog post, since it’s right on the heels of the Colin Jones law journal article.

    First, excellent video by Eric Kalmus on the irony of Japan’s child abductions (in the face of all the international rules against this, not to mention the political capital gained by the GOJ over the DPRK abductions of Japanese) after the breakdown of international marriages. Courtesy of YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzwzGxJfN8s

    But more importantly, the US State Department has included on its site a warning re Japan’s negligence regarding divorce, child custody, and abduction.

    We’re getting through, on an international level. A series of referential links follows the State Department entry (so skip the minutiae and page down to the bottom if you want more beef). Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

    US DEPARTMENT OF STATE
    TRAVEL.STATE.GOV BUREAU OF CONSULAR AFFAIRS

    Original at:
    http://travel.state.gov/family/abduction/country/country_501.html#
    (NB: Live links within original article are not included below)

    Travel Warnings | Travel Public Announcements | Travel Information by Country
    Saturday July 14, 2007

    International Parental Child Abduction: Japan

    DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific foreign laws should be addressed to foreign legal counsel.

    Japan is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

    Japanese civil law stresses that in cases where custody cannot be reached by agreement between the parents, the Japanese Family Court will resolve the issue based on the best interests of the child. However, compliance with Family Court rulings is essentially voluntary, which renders any ruling unenforceable unless both parents agree.

    The Civil Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Justice states that, in general, redress in child custody cases is sought through habeas corpus proceedings in the court. There is no preferential treatment based on nationality or gender. Although visitation rights for non-custodial parents are not expressly stipulated in the Japanese Civil Code, court judgments often provide visitation rights for non-custodial parents.

    In practical terms, however, in cases of international parental child abduction, foreign parents are greatly disadvantaged in Japanese courts, both in terms of obtaining the return of children to the United States, and in achieving any kind of enforceable visitation rights in Japan. The Department of State is not aware of any case in which a child taken from the United States by one parent has been ordered returned to the United States by Japanese courts, even when the left-behind parent has a United States custody decree. In the past, Japanese police have been reluctant to get involved in custody disputes or to enforce custody decrees issued by Japanese courts.

    In order to bring a custody issue before the Family Court, the left-behind parent will require the assistance of a Japanese attorney. A parent holding a custody decree issued in U.S. courts must retain local Japanese counsel to apply to the Japanese courts for recognition and enforcement of the U.S. decree.

    Lists of Japanese attorneys and other information are available on the web at http://www.tokyoacs.com or from the Office of Children”s Issues at the address shown below. Links to the web sites of our other consulates in Japan can also be found at this web site.

    U.S. consular officers are prohibited by law from providing legal advice, taking custody of a child, forcing a child to be returned to the United States, providing assistance or refuge to parents attempting to violate local law, or initiating or attempting to influence child custody proceedings in foreign courts. They generally cannot obtain civil documents (such as marriage registrations and family registers) on behalf of a parent, although an attorney can.

    The American Embassy in Tokyo and the Consulates in Naha, Osaka-Kobe, Sapporo, Fukuoka and Nagoya are able to provide other valuable assistance to left-behind parents, however, including visits to determine the welfare of children. If a child is in danger or if there is evident abuse, consular officers will request assistance from the local authorities in safeguarding the child”s welfare.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: In view of the difficulties involved in seeking the return of children from Japan to the United States, it is of the greatest importance that all appropriate preventive legal measures be taken in the United States if there is a possibility that a child may be abducted to Japan.

    CRIMINAL REMEDIES

    For information on possible criminal remedies, please contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Information is also available on the Internet at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention , at http://www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org. Contact the country officer in the Office of Children”s Issues for specific information.

    New Law on Passport Applications for Minors:

    On July 2, 2001, the Department of State began implementation of the new law regarding the passport applications for minor U.S. citizens under age 14. Under this new law, a person applying for a U.S. passport for a child under 14 must demonstrate that both parents consent to the issuance of a passport to the child or that the applying parent has sole custody of the child. The law covers passport applications made at domestic U.S. passport agencies in the U.S. and at U.S. consular offices abroad. The purpose of the new requirement that both parents’ consent be demonstrated is to lessen the possibility that a U.S. passport might be used in the course of an international child abduction.

    Children’s Passport Issuance Alert Program (CPIAP):

    Separate from the two-parent signature requirement for U.S. passport issuance, parents may also request that their children’s names be entered in the U.S. passport name-check system, also known as CPIAP. A parent or legal guardian can be notified by the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues before a passport is issued to his/her minor child. The parent, legal guardian or the court of competent jurisdiction must submit a written request for entry of a child’s name into the Passport Issuance Alert Program to the Office of Children’s Issues. The CPIAP also provides denial of passport issuance if appropriate court orders are on file with the Office of Children’s Issues. Although this system can be used to alert a parent or court when an application for a U.S. passport has been executed on behalf of a minor, it cannot be used to track the use of a passport. If there is a possibility that your child has another nationality you may want to contact the appropriate embassy or consulate directly to inquire about the possibility of denial of that country’s passport. There is no requirement that foreign embassies adhere to U.S. regulations regarding issuance and denial of passports. For more information contact the office of Children’s Issues at 202-736-9090. General passport information is also available on the Office of Children’s Issues home page on the Internet at children’s_issues.html.

    The State Department has general information about welfare/whereabouts visits, hiring a foreign attorney, service of process, enforcement of child support orders, and the international enforcement of judgments, which may supplement the country-specific information provided in this flier. In addition, the State Department publishes Consular Information Sheets (CIS’s) for every country in the world, providing information such as location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. If a situation in a country poses a specific threat to the safety and security of American citizens that is not addressed in the CIS for that country, the Department of State may issue a Public Announcement alerting U.S. citizens to local security situations. If conditions in a country are sufficiently serious, the State Department may issue a Travel Warning that recommends U.S. citizens avoid traveling to that country. These documents are available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov or by calling the State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizen Services at (202) 647-5225. Many of these documents can also be obtained by automatic fax back by calling (202) 647-3000 from your fax machine.

    Address Information – Correspondence and documents can be submitted to:

    By FEDEX, DHL, Express Mail, etc.

    Office of Children”s Issues
    SA-29
    U.S. Department of State
    2201 C Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20520-2818
    Phone: (202) 736-9090
    Fax: (202) 312-9743

    By Regular Mail*

    Office of Children”s Issues
    SA-29
    U.S. Department of State
    2201 C Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20520-2818
    Phone: (202) 736-9090
    Fax: (202) 312-9743

    (*–As of February 2002, the State Department is experiencing considerable delays of at least three to four weeks in the delivery of regular mail due to mandated irradiation against harmful substances. We strongly recommend that important correspondence be sent by courier such as FEDEX, DHL, Express Mail, etc. to ensure prompt delivery.)

    Tel: 1-888-407-4747 (Recorded Information, access to officers) or (202) 736-9090
    Fax: (202) 312-9743
    Internet: children”s_issues.html

    Toll Free Hotline: Overseas Citizens Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA/OCS) has established a toll free hotline for the general public at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444. Persons seeking information or assistance, in case of emergency, outside of these hours, including on weekends or holidays should call 1-202-647-5225.

    The OCS hotline can answer general inquiries regarding international parental child abduction and will forward calls to the appropriate Country Officer. For specific information and other services available to the searching parent, please call the Office of Children’s Issues public phone number at 1-202-736-9090 during normal working hours.

    Complete original at:
    http://travel.state.gov/family/abduction/country/country_501.html#
    STATE DEPT. ENTRY ENDS

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

    REFERENTIAL LINKS

    CHILDREN’S RIGHTS NETWORK JAPAN
    http://www.crnjapan.com/en/

    SF CHRONICLE Aug 27 06: “CHILD CUSTODY IN JAPAN ISN’T BASED ON RULES”
    http://www.debito.org/?p=23

    Crnjapan’s Mark Smith:”Protest Against Japanese Postdivorce Child Abductions” in Portland, Oregon
    http://www.debito.org/?p=196

    Metropolis Magazine on J int’l child abductions
    http://www.debito.org/?p=180

    CRNJapan’s Mark Smith with linked articles on J divorce int’l child abductions
    http://www.debito.org/?p=131

    DIVORCE IN JAPAN–WHAT A MESS
    http://www.debito.org/?p=9

    http://www.debito.org/thedivorce.html
    =======================================
    ENDS

    4 Responses to “US State Dept and YouTube on Japan’s Int’l Child Abduction”

    1. Japan related links of the day | The Yin Yang Report Says:

      [...] US govt. and Youtube on Japan’s Intl Child Abduction issue [link] You can view the video about this article here. [...]

    2. Joe Says:

      Not a bad video, but its opening argument (that Japan does not deserve a Security Council seat because of its child abduction policy) is quite flawed–China has the same problem (and so does Korea). It’s an aversion to letting international law mess with the sanctity of the [flawed] family register system. I reckon the focus on Japan is mainly because international marriages are so common here.

      –HI JOE. THIS IS A TAD FACILE. JAPAN IS HELD UP TO HIGHER STANDARDS (AND HAS WANTED FOR DECADES TO BE TREATED SPECIALLY BY FELLOW DEVELOPED COUNTRIES) AS ASIA’S LEADER AND RICHEST NATION (THE SECOND RICHEST IN THE WORLD). JAPAN HAS BEEN VYING FOR A UNSC SEAT FOR QUITE SOME TIME NOW (UNLIKE KOREA; IT’S UNCLEAR WHY ROK IS EVEN BROUGHT UP IN THIS CONTEXT), AND IF JAPAN WANTS TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT, IT HAS TO DO AS IT SAYS IT WILL DO IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY. LIKE TAKE ALL MEASURES, INCLUDING PASSING LAWS AGAINST RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, AS IT PROMISED TO DO MORE THAN TEN YEARS AGO WHEN IT EFFECTED THE ICERD.

      ANYWAY, WE AS PART OF JAPAN’S CIVIL SOCIETY ARE PERFECTLY WITHIN OUR RIGHTS TO REVIEW JAPAN’S RECORD AND POINT OUT JAPAN’S BROKEN PROMISES. JUST SAYING THAT OTHER COUNTRIES DON’T NECESSARILY KEEP THEIR TREATY PROMISES IS NO ARGUMENT FOR EXONERATING ANYONE OF THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR DOING SO. IF YOU WANT TO POINT OUT CHINA’S BROKEN PROMISES TOO, GO AHEAD (AND THERE ARE MANY REASONS TO BE CRITICAL OF CHINA’S SIGNATORY STATUS UNDER THE ICERD, STARTING WITH TIBET). BUT DON’T BRING UP CHINA AS AN EXAMPLE OF A “FLAWED ARGUMENT”–AS IF IT IS SOME SORT OF EXCUSE TO LET JAPAN OFF THE HOOK. DEBITO

    3. Joe Says:

      No, Debito, not at all. This is certainly a problem which needs to be addressed. I am only criticizing the specific argument raised at the opening of the video, not the general argument that the Japanese family law system needs to be changed dramatically.

      –THAT WAS A FAST REPLY! I GOT YOUR ANSWER WHILE I WAS ON THE FIFTH DRAFT OF MY REPLY, BEFORE I EVEN APPROVED THE COMMENTS FOR PUBLIC DISPLAY. GOTCHA. THANKS. DEBITO

    4. Mark Smith Says:

      Firstly, let me point out that the State Dept does NOT say the same thing about China and Korea. Where does either of the links you gave say,

      In practical terms, however, in cases of international parental child abduction, foreign parents are greatly disadvantaged in Japanese courts, both in terms of obtaining the return of children to the United States, and in achieving any kind of enforceable visitation rights in Japan. The Department of State is not aware of any case in which a child taken from the United States by one parent has been ordered returned to the United States by Japanese courts, even when the left-behind parent has a United States custody decree. In the past, Japanese police have been reluctant to get involved in custody disputes or to enforce custody decrees issued by Japanese courts.

      Although there are similarities, the State Dept is clearly making a much more critical and severe statement about Japan than either China or Korea.

      Secondly, a major point in this case is that Japan has signed the UN CRC treaty (and the CERD) yet will not actually follow their requirements. We don’t see it as a problem with the argument in the video, because we do not talk about China or Korea, much less compare Japan to either. China is already on the security council and Korea does not seem to be asking to be put on. This is apples vs. oranges. FYI, the US has not signed the UN CRC treaty either, but

      If you want to attack the current makeup of the UNSC, you would have to find different arguments. But beware, because those arguments may not fall in Japan’s favor either….

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