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  • Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on February 10th, 2010

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    Hi Blog.  I think this is probably the good news of the month.  The US seems to have formally linked and exposed the cognitive dissonance found in the GOJ’s victimhood status regarding the abductions of Japanese by North Korea and the abductions of children into Japan by Japanese citizens after an international divorce.  (Note the GOJ even resorted to the ultimate excuse, “Japanese culture”, below.  Was that the last straw?)  Bravo.  Submitter PT puts it best, so I’ll include his commentary.  Arudou Debito in Calgary.

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    PT writes (February 8, 2010):  Another breakthrough today. For years now, going back to the release of the Megumi Yokota movie back in late 2006/early 2007, we have been trying to point out the hypocrisy of the Japanese government in insisting that the United States support their efforts to get back their 17 citizens abducted to North Korea between 27 and 33 years ago, while continuing their ongoing state sponsored kidnapping of hundreds of American children to Japan. Well, it looks like we have finally reached the point where the United States Government has once and for all pointed this hypocrisy out to the Japanese Government.

    An article in Kyodo news service was released [February 6] titled “U.S. warns Japan of effect of custody treaty on N. Korea abductions.” The article states that Assistant Secretary Campbell, in meetings with Japanese counterparts, warned that failure to sign the Hague “may have adverse effects on Washington’s assistance to Tokyo in trying to resolve the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals.” The article also states that Campbell “noted that there is something in common in the sorrows felt by Japanese people whose children were abducted by North Korea and by Americans whose children were taken away by their Japanese spouses.”

    Although the article contains much of the common Japanese verbage that we don’t like, including putting the word abduction in quotations and that Noriko Savoie, “allegedly” took the children from the United States to Japan against a U.S. court decision.” There’s no “allegedly” involved in that situation. Anyway, the important point is that this represents a policy shift in United States foreign policy toward Japan that is likely to make waves throughout Japan. This is good news in moving forward.  PT

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    U.S. warns Japan of effect of custody treaty on N. Korea abductions
    Kyodo News/Breitbart, Feb 6 2010, Courtesy of PT.

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9DMQV380&show_article=1

    TOKYO, Feb. 7 (AP) – (Kyodo)—A senior U.S. government official has warned Japan that its failure to join an international treaty on child custody may have adverse effects on Washington’s assistance to Tokyo in trying to resolve the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals, diplomatic sources said Saturday.

    Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, made the remarks to senior Japanese Foreign Ministry officials during his visit to Japan in early February and strongly urged the Japanese government to become a party to the treaty, the sources said.

    The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is aimed at preventing one of the parents in a failed international marriage from taking their child across national borders against an existing child custody arrangement.

    The U.S. government has urged Japan to join the treaty due to an increasing incidence of Japanese parents “abducting” their children to Japan even though their spouses of different nationality have custody over the children in the United States.

    Other countries such as Britain and France are also stepping up their calls on Japan to join the international convention.

    Japan has been largely reluctant to do so, with a senior Foreign Ministry official saying, “It does not suit Japanese culture to treat parents, who have brought back their children to the country, as criminals.”

    But the government has begun considering the possibility of becoming a party to the treaty in response to the urgings from other countries.

    According to the sources, Campbell explained to Japanese officials that taking children from those who have custody over them is called “abduction” in the United States and criticism against Japan over such cases is increasing in the country.

    He noted that there is something in common in the sorrows felt by Japanese people whose children were abducted by North Korea and by Americans whose children were taken away by their Japanese spouses, the sources said.

    While reaffirming that the U.S. administration and Congress have made clear their positions on seeking a resolution of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese, Campbell expressed hope that the Japanese government would give consideration to the child custody issue so as not to damage this willingness to support Japan.

    Japanese officials responded that they need to think carefully about the question of whether to join the treaty while keeping in mind Japanese public opinion, but the U.S. side was not convinced, the sources said.

    Late last month, Campbell met in Washington with about 30 people seeking to see their children who have apparently been “abducted” by their Japanese spouses and promised them that he will express his concerns over the situation to the Japanese government.

    The issue drew attention last year when a man from the United States was arrested in Japan after trying to take his children back from his divorced Japanese wife, who allegedly took the children from the United States to Japan against a U.S. court decision.
    ENDS

    10 Responses to “Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty”

    1. jim Says:

      great news, well it seems that the heat is getting turned up on this issue. and i say keep up the pressure on this until the GOJ croonies sign the damn thing..

    2. Laura Says:

      That`s a whole lot of `allegedly`(s) put in there, like the other non-Japanese side just doesn`t understand the need for the Japanese parent to raise the child `normally` ie., the `Japanese` way. Well, it was released by Kyodo after all. Still, any progress is good. I hope that it doesn`t turn into an America vs. Japan government type of thing and that the discussions can get down to the personal level they need to be at to understand the heartwrenching pain that the abductions cause the left behind parents.
      Best of luck for both foreign AND Japanese parents who want to see their children after divorce.

    3. Jair Says:

      Hurray!!!

    4. Another John Says:

      Wow – a rare stroke of common sense coming from the Americans. It will be interesting to see the reaction in the J media to the linking.

    5. Jerry Says:

      While it’s a good move (any move is a good move) it’s important to remember that even after they sign it (and I’m sure they will eventually sign the Hague convention) there still needs to be a mechanism for enforcing it. Given Japans inability to enforce it’s family court decisions it could be years or decades after they sign it before an enforcement mechanism is finally put in place.

    6. debito Says:

      The public is being prepared. Debito

      http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/e/ac/TNKS/Nni20100209D09HH997.htm
      EDITORIAL: Japan Needs To Join Child-Abduction Treaty Soon
      Courtesy of Ken

      TOKYO (Nikkei)–Japan is the only Group of Seven country that has failed to sign a set of international rules formulated in 1980 to address child custody disputes arising from the divorce of transnational couples. But Tokyo now faces a pressing need to join the Hague Convention.

      The multilateral treaty — formally known as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which 81 nations have signed — requires the prompt return of children taken by a parent from their country of habitual residence.

      The number of marriages between Japanese and foreign nationals has risen to about 40,000 a year, leading to increased disputes over such parental abductions.

      Supporters of the Hague Convention distribute leaflets in Tokyo.

      According to foreign government data on Japanese parents who have abducted their children, about 70 cases have flared into issues in the U.S., with more than 30 cases each in Canada, France and the U.K. As well, there are some 30-plus cases in which non-Japanese parents have abducted their children from Japan.

      Japan’s absence from the Hague Convention blocks such disputes from being effectively resolved, leaving many estranged parents unable to see their children.

      In North America and Europe, Japanese women taking their children to Japan without their former partners’ consent is often regarded as criminal, “forceful abduction.”

      Different cultures

      Japanese authorities cite cultural differences, including legal discrepancies, as the reason for refusing to sign the treaty. Indeed child custody works differently in Japan and Western countries.

      In Japan, only one parent is given child custody rights after a divorce. But in the U.S. and Europe, joint custody, in which both parents share custody of their children, is widely awarded.

      That said, it is logical for custody disputes to be resolved based on international rules when such issues involve transnational couples.

      Some Japanese experts note that a number of Japanese women have returned to Japan, taking their children from the country where they were resident, because they wanted to flee domestic violence by their partners.

      But it should be noted that the treaty contains a provision that exempts a parent from repatriating children to the original place of residence in cases where doing so would put the child in grave danger.

      Late last year, under mounting pressure from the U.S., the U.K., France and other countries to join the Hague Convention, Japan’s Foreign Ministry set up a special office charged with handling the issue of child custody, starting a joint study with other ministries, including the Ministry of Justice, about the conditions required for Japan to sign the treaty.

      To be a signatory, the government needs to revise domestic laws and other regulations and the structure of administrative organizations involved. The government should soon start work on these processes, as it is expected to take time.

      (The Nikkei Feb. 9 morning edition)
      ENDS

    7. Jerry Says:

      And they have their judicial out, “But it should be noted that the treaty contains a provision that exempts a parent from repatriating children to the original place of residence in cases where doing so would put the child in grave danger.”

    8. IGOTCHU Says:

      People please, keep fighting for the right. We are closer than we have ever been. We have to make them guarantee the right of the parent and child to maintain contact and an enforcement mechanism. Make it clear to them their cultural norms doesn’t take preference over the rights of parents.

    9. Alexander Says:

      Absolutely great news – this is what they have to do.

    10. jay Says:

      Japan is really getting quite a bit of bad publicity in the US over these abduction cases and it has tarnished Japan’s image. If Japan wants to continue to be considered a developed country it needs to sign the treaty.

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