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  • Asahi Shinbun Jan 8 “Japan edges closer to signing Hague Convention” on Child Abductions issue, still mentions NJ “DV concerns”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on January 12th, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  New article in the Asahi re the GOJ and the Child Abductions Issue re signing the Hague Convention.  As submitter PT comments:

    “Note the Red Herring of Domestic Violence thrown out by Justice Minister Chiba in the last sentence.  Interesting how the Japanese Government refuses to involve their justice ministry in talks with the US, yet they are quick to put forward a quote from the Justice Minister when pushing back on reasons against signing the Hague.”

    Article follows.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

    Japan edges closer to signing Hague Convention
    THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
    2010/1/8, Courtesy of PT

    http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY201001080120.html

    Criticism of Japan over its handling of international child abduction disputes has prompted the Foreign Ministry to look closely at signing a convention designed to protect children caught in the middle.

    The Hague Convention on international child abduction stipulates that if a parent from a broken international marriage takes a child out of his or her country of residence without the other’s consent, the child must be returned to that country.

    The ministry established a task force on child custody last month and will shortly hold talks about the issue with the United States–the country with which Japan has the most disputes on this issue.

    Critics in some countries say Japan has become a haven for “child abductors,” usually Japanese women who bring their children to this country and deny their spouses further custodial access.

    In a high-profile case, an American father was arrested in Fukuoka Prefecture last September for trying to snatch back his two children, whom his Japanese ex-wife had brought to Japan without his consent. His arrest drew criticism from within the United States, a signatory to the Hague Convention.

    As international marriages and divorces have increased, so, too, has the number of child abduction disputes.

    Eighty-one countries are signatories to the 1980 convention. Japan is the only Group of Seven member that is not.

    Signatory nations have urged Japan to join to resolve those disputes, and the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended in 2004 that Japan ratify it.

    Soon after he assumed the office in September, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada made clear his intention to study Japan’s participation “in a positive manner.”

    The Division for Issues Related to Child Custody, the task force of nine officials who specialize in treaty and regional matters, addresses specific disputes while studying whether Japan should sign it.

    Also in December, the ministry held the first meeting of the Japan-France consultative committee in Tokyo. The French delegation presented a list of 35 disputes, including eight “serious” cases.

    In one case, a Japanese woman who brought her offspring to Japan refuses contact with her French ex-husband. Japanese officials have promised to extend liaison and other help, officials said.

    According to the division, the United States had informed Japan of 73 “child abduction” cases, Canada 36 and Britain 33 as of last October.

    There are hurdles to clear, however, before Japan can sign the convention. Specifically, officials want to ensure there will be protection for mothers and children who flee abusive ex-husbands.

    “Victims of domestic violence have concerns,” said Justice Minister Keiko Chiba.

    ENDS

    11 Responses to “Asahi Shinbun Jan 8 “Japan edges closer to signing Hague Convention” on Child Abductions issue, still mentions NJ “DV concerns””

    1. Jon Says:

      Is the DV mention in this article really such a red herring? Unlike other stories we’ve seen, there’s no vague, unsupported claim about the number of cases in which a domestic parent would be at risk of returning children to an abusive ex-spouse overseas. It’s just a statement of one concern related to child abduction, and I think it’s a reasonable concern.

      The real problem, I think, is that the conversation (or maybe the reporting) needs to go further. The status quo needs to be confronted directly: How are children currently protected from abusive parents if one (or both) are Japanese citizens? How would this change after ratifying the Hague Convention? Is it better for these children if the Japanese government does nothing than if it ratifies the Hague Convention in its current state?

      What about children in other situations that would be affected by the convention? Do things get better or worse for them?

      Can a law to protect children of abusive parents not be passed alongside the Hague Convention? What kind of further study is necessary? How long will it take? Are there additional laws for children in other situations that should be considered at the same time as well?

      If ratifying the Hague Convention will improve the circumstances of abducted children, how long is an acceptable amount of time to wait before ratifying it?

      How have other countries (particularly those that have signed the Hague Convention, if only to streamline the discussion) protected children from being returned to abusive parents? How are their laws different from Japan’s? How specifically can children be legally protected from being returned to abusive parents?

      Incidentally, why is this all about foreign pressure? What are Japanese citizens’ beliefs about the rights of abducted children, and how can Japanese law be adapted to fit their beliefs?

      – Er, it’s not all about foreign pressure. Tool around this site under the “Child Abductions” tag and you’ll see a lot of it.

    2. jim Says:

      its looks to me like the GOJ, is making these false DV claims so they can justify the postponement of having to deal with this treaty. just another example of the unaccountablity over here.

    3. Level3 Says:

      “American father” gets the criminal verb “snatch”

      “Japanese ex-wife” gets the soft, innocent, oops-sounding verb/term “had brought to Japan without his consent” like she merely forgot to get his signature on a permission slip or something?!

      This is how a lot of bias in media works. With a thesaurus.

    4. Jon Says:

      Sorry, I should’ve been more clear. By “all this” I meant the way that the article framed the discussion, as if “foreign pressure” is the only reason for Japan to take action on child abductions rather than, you know, protecting kids.

    5. Graham Says:

      I thought that it’s a good thing when both sides are mentioned rather than being one-sided. You prefer the article to completely ignore the DV issue? If you think it’s a non-issue or even a blatant lie, then you have the freedom to debate it, but the writer in this case shouldn’t have to take sides.

      – I prefer the article not keep linking DV to NJ spouses, which is what the J media keeps on doing. Or haven’t you been noticing that every time I point it out here on Debito.org?

    6. jonholmes Says:

      This bit caught my attention:

      -In one case, a Japanese woman who brought her offspring to Japan refuses contact with her French ex-husband.

      Two thoughts on this: 1. this is about access to kids not about having to meet or even contact an ex spouse who she probably hates the sight of.

      2. Conversely, and just my unscientific two cents here, when a relationship is over in Japan, it tends to be really OVER. Just my experience, and that of a few hundred bloggers on Japan on the net, but some Japanese seem to have a habit of, or preference for, “disappearing” from a relationship rather than having to explain the reason to their ex partner.

      Ring any bells with anyone here?

      “Cultural differences”?

      – Doesn’t ring any bells with me. How about the immaturity of certain adults to face up to the fact that a child has two parents, taking advantage of Japan’s weak family laws to deny access of a parent to his or her child out of spite and need for revenge?

      The close relationship between the parents might be over, but that should not necessarily preclude a close relationship between parents and children. Duh.

      Just putting things into the box of “culture” is to me an escape clause from giving a serious issue any deeper and considered thought. Wean yourself off that filthy habit, whydon’tcha?

    7. Taylor Says:

      Good post, even with the final comment linking DV to foreign parents. The only reason the GOJ would even consider this is if the number of Japanese parents trying to get access to their kids overseas increases….

      IF Japan, by some miracle, does sign this agreement, I fully expect no change in Japan domestic laws regarding access to children by both parents. This will take even more time to change.

    8. IGOTCHU Says:

      If Japan signs the Hague nothing will change because the Japanese Parent simply has to say the words “I was abused by….”. We need (1) the Government of Japan and its Supreme Court to state clearly that a parents rights to maintain contact with his/her child is guaranteed after the divorce and (2) an enforcement mechanism.

      Below is a draft of an enforcement mechanism that I’ve written. Let’s discuss this at the same time! I believe its the most important issue.

      Enforcement Mechanism

      Should a non-custodial parent be unlawfully denied contact with his/her child by the custodian or guardian of the child the non-custodial parent may request the Family Court to put him/her back in contact with the child.

      When a non-custodial parent has been unlawfully denied contact to his/her child the Family Court shall, without delay, take the necessary actions to immediately put the bereaved parent back in contact with his/her child.

      The Family Court shall restore the bereaved parents contact with the child within seven (7) days. The term contact means physical contact.

      Should the Family Court not be able to restore the bereaved parents contact with the child within fourteen (14) days a warrant will be issued for the child and the person holding the child, the custodian or guardian of the child, and anyone involved in obstructing contact with the child.

      Upon issuance of a warrant the custodial parent or guardian of the child will have his/her rights of custody to the child automatically transferred to the bereaved parent.

    9. Getchan Says:

      There are hurdles to clear, however, before Japan can sign the convention. Specifically, officials want to ensure there will be protection for mothers and children who flee abusive ex-husbands

      And Japanese husbands are never ever ever eeeever getting violent, right??? There are no J/J DV cases, or are there???

      Has anyone in the Japanese Justice Ministry ever had the idea, that foreign husbands can be arrested and convicted for DV? And that, if proper procedures are followed, the foreign countrie’s court can and will grant a divorce and award custody to the abused Japanese parent???

      Apparently not, as this would make their argument useless…

    10. Christopher Savoie Says:

      Thanks to Level3 for catching the verbal gymnastics in saying “snatch” instead of “reunite” or “retrieve”, or more appropriately under Japanese law, “pick up my own kids”, which would be much more appropriate verbiage, given the fact that I had equal parental custody in Japan, 100% full custody in the U.S. and thus any other country besides Japan on the planet; that she had LOST her parental rights (also in every country outside Japan on the planet) due to her crimes against the children; and that I was never even indicted (for MANY reasons that did not even make it into the press), while my ex-wife, in contrast, came to Japan without my “consent” for her to kidnap my biological kids but thus violated her own signed agreement, a court order, state law and federal law, as well as Japanese law under Article 3 of the Japanese penal code, with reference to Articles 224-229. I want to ask the editors of this article where I might have acquired the “Permission to Kidnap Children and Take Them Away from their Other Parent Illegally Forever with Impunity” form to sign? The local ward offices and koban in the U.S. don’t seem to offer such a document, or I might have considered signing it for her. ;-) The other real problem with the word “consent” is that (very surprisingly!) she never actually *requested* any permission from me. Or from the court. Or anyone else. Even though there *is* a form to request a relocation to Japan properly through the court. She never afforded any of us an opportunity to say “yes” or “no” to the abduction. We should be more proactive in asking potential child abductors (in the U.S. domestically and internationally) to request permission first. Maybe we should propose the kidnapping consent form to our legislatures? That should clear this up.

    11. Bill Says:

      On January 25, 2013, the Asahi Shimbun posted an article on the Hague Convention in both English and Japanese (Japan finally signs Hague convention governing international child custody disputes; ハーグ条約、政府が署名 国際結婚破綻、子の扱い規定 4月加盟), complete with info-graphic showing big-nosed, irate, gesticulating foreigner and sad, downtrodden Japanese spouse (links below). (One would think Asahi might avoid using this sort of racist caricature given the current ANA television commercial debacle.)

      Also, the Japanese version contains the following little gem on debate over domestic violence concerns to blame for Japan’s delayed signing of the convention, but the English version makes no mention of domestic violence whatsoever: “外国人の夫による家庭内暴力(DV)を訴えて帰国した日本人女性も多く、議論が遅れていた” .

      Anyway, it is pretty clear where Japan is headed in terms of ‘implementation.’

      Links to article:
      English: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/AJ201401250061
      Japanese: http://www.asahi.com/articles/DA3S10943777.html

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