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  • BAChome.org: Official correspondence re nonfeasance and negligence by US Consulate Osaka regarding the Mary Lake Child Abduction Case (allegations of USG refusing assistance to US citizen child)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on September 22nd, 2011

    IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

    New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=「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 Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

    Hi Blog. Today’s entry is regards to the Mary Lake Case, which was covered on Debito.org some weeks ago, and caused some controversy (including trolling emails) regarding differing accounts of treatment of a US citizen minor who unsuccessfully asked for protection and sanctuary from US Consulate Osaka.  Here is a followup series of emails between concerned Left-Behind Parents at BAChome.org and the US State Department. Reproduced with permission. Arudou Debito

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

    From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@...]
    Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 8:04 AM
    To: Campbell, Kurt M; Loi, James L; Jacobs, Janice L; Kennedy, Patrick F; Burns, William J; Steinberg, James B; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Posner, Michael H; Busby, Scott W; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; MacLeod, Margaret G; Payne, Beth A; vvause@state.gov; Eye, Stefanie B; Jacobs, Susan S
    Subject: Incident at Osaka Consulate

    Two days ago, a kidnapped child in one of the most high-profile Japan abduction cases (Mary Victoria Lake) showed up at a US Consulate in Japan asking to be rescued and sent home to her lawful parent in the United States. The consuate denied her request and sent her back to her kidnapper. This action was beyond incompetent. It was reprehensible, disgraceful,disgusting,and un-American.

    This is the third time State has failed this parent. Twice previously, State illegally issued passports for his daughter without obtaining the father’s signature, even after it had been established that her father was the lawful parent and the mother was a wanted kidnapper.

    I am at a loss for words. I can only say that it is very clearly apparent now to all parents victimized by the crime of parental child abduction that the State Department clearly places relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being and lives of American citizen children. Absolutely sickening.

    Paul Toland
    Commander, US Navy
    Only living parent of Erika Toland, Abducted to Japan 2003.

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

    From: Jacobs, Janice L
    Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate
    To: “Paul Toland” Cc: “Campbell, Kurt M” , “Loi, James L” , “Kennedy, Patrick F” , “Burns, William J” , “Steinberg, James B” , spower@nss.eop.gov, sduncan@nss.eop.gov, “Posner, Michael H” , “Busby, Scott W” , cpowell@nss.eop.gov, “MacLeod, Margaret G” , “Payne, Beth A” , vvause@state.gov, “Eye, Stefanie B” , “Jacobs, Susan S”
    Date: Friday, August 26, 2011, 8:12 AM

    Dear Commander Toland:
    We have received your e-mail regarding the Lake case. The information you are reporting regarding recent events at Consulate Osaka is factually incorrect. While we cannot provide details to you due to statutory requirements in the Privacy Act, we have been in contact with the child’s father, who is aware of what actually transpired. I can assure you that U.S. Consulates in Japan, along with all other consular facilities around the world, stand ready to assist any child wrongfully removed from parental custody and do so on a regular basis.
    Sincerely,
    Janice L. Jacobs
    Assistant Secretary
    Bureau of Consular Affairs
    SBU
    This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

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

    From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@]
    Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 1:02 PM
    To: Jacobs, Janice L
    Cc: Campbell, Kurt M; Loi, James L; Kennedy, Patrick F; Burns, William J; Steinberg, James B; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Posner, Michael H; Busby, Scott W; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; MacLeod, Margaret G; Payne, Beth A; vvause@state.gov; Eye, Stefanie B; Jacobs, Susan S
    Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate

    Assistant Secretary Jacobs, My information comes from the father. I have emails from him and have spoken to him. I would tend to believe his story. While I was not actually at the Consulate, I tend to believe what William is telling me, because he has not lied to me before.

    Here is the email from Mr. Lake:

    Wednesday Morning I got a email from Virginia Vause my newest case worker (#7 so far.) She told me that Mary had showed up at consulate and asked to be sent home. She also told me that Mary had asked them to put her up in a hotel. They refused. They apparently called my ex and got some sort of agreement that Mary could spend the night with her and then return to the consulate the next morning. Ms Vause said that the Osaka consulate had tried to call me. They called my land line instead of my cell. They didn’t leave a message because I only had a generic message on the machine and they were worried about so called privacy issues. So they sent Mary home. They also failed to send me an email.

    I had several calls from Ms Vause and State that day. I was upset about Mary being sent home. I was worried that her mother had gotten physical with her again and that she might run away. I mean they must have some sort of accommodations at these places. Ms Vause informed me that the consulate could not get Mary a room because she was a minor. She also stated that the State department could not legally take custody of Mary without my written permission and that if they had taken Mary in someone from the consulate would have to be with her at all times. Her voice gave me the impression that this would have been an outrageous imposition to the consulate staff. According to her this is the law regarding these situations. At no time during the 4 plus years I have had a case with OCI has anyone, including the 7 different case workers I have had, ever told me that I need to give them written permission to take custody of my daughter.

    In the afternoon the cost of the ticket became an issue. Apparently NCMEC is out of money for tickets. Then there was an issue raised by the consulate in Osaka, that the cost of a one way ticket was more than the guidelines allowed them to spend and that they couldn’t purchase a ticket without permission of Washington.

    Note 1, I was asked to write a form letter saying that I was unable to afford the cost of the tickets. That is true. I have been unemployed since early June.

    Note 2, The consulate was looking at the cost of a one way ticket. Approximately $3500. That is what their guidelines dictate and the maximum they could spend is $3000. However the cost of a roundtrip ticket is $2500.

    Note 3, there was never any discussion about sharing the cost. It was over there guidelines so no ticket.

    Now all this occurred between 0830 am and 900pm Wednesday. There were other calls to and from NCMEC. I got the Pensacola Police involved. Sgt Donohoe PPD is a wonderful man that alerted NCMEC and other law enforcement agencies. 845 pm Ms Vause called and said that Mary had not shown up at the consulate but had called and asked for a week to think about coming back. There was also the issue of the cost of the tickets which I could not afford. She suggested that I contact friends and relatives to see if I could round up the money for a ticket.

    Today Thursday she called to talk to me about a repatriation loan. That I would have to submit these forms to State and that once they were processed they would be on file and that if Mary EVER DID THIS AGAIN then the forms would be in my file and the ticket could be bought with no problem. She told me that it would take a week or more to process this. She did mention that I should keep my receipts and that there was a chance NCMEC would reimburse me at a later date.

    This is just another example of how the State department has mishandled my case.

    ENDS

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

    From: Payne, Beth A Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
    To: “Paul Toland” , CAPTLAKE@MCHSI.COM
    Cc: “Campbell, Kurt M” , “Loi, James L” , “Kennedy, Patrick F” , “Burns, William J” , “Steinberg, James B” , spower@nss.eop.gov, sduncan@nss.eop.gov, “Posner, Michael H” , “Busby, Scott W” , cpowell@nss.eop.gov, “MacLeod, Margaret G” , vvause@state.gov, “Eye, Stefanie B” , “Jacobs, Susan S” , “Jacobs, Janice L” , Allison.Hollabaugh@mail.house.gov, bac-home@googlegroups.com, Ariana_Reks@boxer.senate.gov, brianna.keilar@cnn.com, RoosJV@state.gov, Sarah.M.Netter@abc.com, Sharon.Santurri@mail.house.gov, JDonohoe@ci.pensacola.fl.us, dbergsan@gmail.com
    Date: Thursday, September 1, 2011, 5:25 AM

    Dear Mr. Lake and Cdr. Toland:

    Thank you for your emails of August 26 regarding your concerns about Mary Lake and the Department of State’s response to her request for assistance last week in Osaka. While our policy is to discuss case-specific questions and concerns only with the parent and his or her designated representatives, Mr. Lake’s most recent Privacy Act Waiver allows us to speak about his case with other people and we can, therefore, respond simultaneously to your inquiries in order to clarify the status of this case. We regret that Mr. Lake has misunderstood many of the facts concerning the events of last week, and we hope this email helps to clarify what took place, and reassures you both that consular staff in Osaka and in the Office of Children’s Issues responded to Mary’s requests and offered to provide her the assistance she initially requested.

    I reiterate that the Consular Officer in charge of American Services in Osaka and the Office of Children’s Issues together report a very different version of what happened. I have examined the steps and action taken since Mary first contacted the Consulate, and I can confirm that all action was proper, thorough, and responsive.

    To ensure that I address all of your stated concerns, I am responding below with interlinear comments to the email that Mr. Lake wrote ([formatted in bold and] in italics) and which Cdr. Toland forwarded to me on August 26:

    Wednesday Morning I got a email from Virginia Vause my newest case worker (#7 so far.) She told me that Mary had showed up at consulate and asked to be sent home. She also told me that Mary had asked them to put her up in a hotel. They refused. They apparently called my ex and got some sort of agreement that Mary could spend the night with her and then return to the consulate the next morning.

    Mary called the Consulate at 5:00 p.m. on August 24 and requested that a consular officer contact her father to ask him to either fly her home or pay for long-term hotel accommodations in Japan. She did not visit the consulate. A consular officer in Osaka spoke with Mary at length and confirmed that she felt safe with her mother for the evening, that she was not in danger, and that she did not wish to leave her mother’s house that evening. Mary told the consular officer she would call again in the morning. The Consulate immediately notified the Office of Children’s Issues and began coordinating travel arrangements for the next day. The next morning, Mary called the consulate to report she would remain in Japan with her mother for the time being.

    I had several calls from Ms Vause and State that day. I was upset about Mary being sent home. I was worried that her mother had gotten physical with her again and that she might run away. I mean they must have some sort of accommodations at these places. Ms Vause informed me that the consulate could not get Mary a room because she was a minor. She also stated that the State department could not legally take custody of Mary without my written permission and that if they had taken Mary in someone from the consulate would have to be with her at all times. Her voice gave me the impression that this would have been an outrageous imposition to the consulate staff. According to her this is the law regarding these situations. At no time during the 4 plus years I have had a case with OCI has anyone, including the 7 different case workers I have had, ever told me that I need to give them written permission to take custody of my daughter.

    As soon as Ms. Vause in the Office of Children’s Issues received word from the Consulate that Mary was trying to reach her father, she called Mr. Lake and relayed Mary’s message. At that point, Mr. Lake stated that he could not pay for her airline ticket and that he would soon depart the country for a six-week work assignment. In her phone call with Mr. Lake, Ms. Vause was focused on the primary objectives of passing Mary’s message, determining if someone would be available to receive her in Florida, and determining if Mr. Lake could purchase her ticket home. The question of hotel lodging and/or refuge was not her focus because Mary did not request refuge or an alternative place to stay that evening. We are very concerned with Mary’s well-being and if there had been any indication that Mary’s welfare was in jeopardy, I assure you both that the Consulate would have taken immediate action to protect her. When necessary, consular officials will allow U.S. Citizen children in need of protection to stay at our facilities until appropriate lodging can be arranged.

    In the afternoon the cost of the ticket became an issue. Apparently NCMEC is out of money for tickets. Then there was an issue raised by the consulate in Osaka, that the cost of a one way ticket was more than the guidelines allowed them to spend and that they couldn’t purchase a ticket without permission of Washington.
    Note 1, I was asked to write a form letter saying that I was unable to afford the cost of the tickets. That is true. I have been unemployed since early June.
    Note 2, The consulate was looking at the cost of a one way ticket. Approximately $3500. That is what their guidelines dictate and the maximum they could spend is $3000. However the cost of a roundtrip ticket is $2500.
    Note 3, there was never any discussion about sharing the cost. It was over there guidelines so no ticket.

    Upon learning that Mr. Lake was unable to pay for his daughter’s travel home, both Consulate and Children’s Issues officers began searching for alternate funding sources, including funding from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and a possible repatriation loan. While we were moving forward on this request in order to facilitate travel that day, Mary called the Consulate and reported that she wished to remain in Japan with her mother for the time being. Ms. Vause relayed this message to Mr. Lake immediately and continued to discuss funding options and procedures in case Mary did decide that she wished to travel to Florida.

    Please allow me to clarify how the repatriation loan program works. The cost of a child’s travel to the United States, even in abduction cases, is the responsibility of the parent. In the event that a parent cannot cover the cost of the airline ticket, the U.S. government is able to provide a repatriation loan through a program that includes certain criteria that must be met in order to demonstrate need and to ensure eventual repayment. I regret that a repatriation loan cannot be set up in advance. Ms. Vause suggested to Mr. Lake, after Mary decided not to travel, that she’d check in after a week, and that Mr. Lake proceed with the paperwork required for a repatriation loan so that it could be quickly issued if Mary changes her mind again, thus enabling us to act very quickly to provide a plane ticket. Please let me emphasize that a repatriation loan is intended to provide emergency financial assistance when no other funds are available. We did consider Mary’s desire to return home to be an emergency and were prepared to assist Mr. Lake with obtaining such funds. We would also be happy to facilitate a transfer of funds if Mr. Lake is able to cover the costs of a plane ticket.

    Now all this occurred between 0830 am and 900pm Wednesday. There were other calls to and from NCMEC. I got the Pensacola Police involved. Sgt Donohoe PPD is a wonderful man that alerted NCMEC and other law enforcement agencies. 845 pm Ms Vause called and said that Mary had not shown up at the consulate but had called and asked for a week to think about coming back. There was also the issue of the cost of the tickets which I could not afford. She suggested that I contact friends and relatives to see if I could round up the money for a ticket.

    Today Thursday she called to talk to me about a repatriation loan. That I would have to submit these forms to State and that once they were processed they would be on file and that if Mary EVER DID THIS AGAIN then the forms would be in my file and the ticket could be bought with no problem. She told me that it would take a week or more to process this. She did mention that I should keep my receipts and that there was a chance NCMEC would reimburse me at a later date.

    We feel we must reiterate at this point the fact that a repatriation loan was offered, and would have been available if Mr. Lake had been unable to pay for Mary’s return flight home.

    This is just another example of how the State department has mishandled my case.

    While we regret that Mr. Lake does not feel that he has been well-served by the Department of State, the U.S. Consulate in Osaka and Children’s Issues continue to have Mary’s well-being at the top of our priorities. At this point, the Consulate in Osaka strongly wishes to facilitate a phone call between Mary and Mr. Lake, as they have done in the past, to allow for further discussion about Mary’s future. As always, we stand ready to assist any child wrongfully removed from his or her home of habitual residence. I trust this information is useful to both of you.
    Sincerely,

    This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

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

    From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@]
    Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 5:20 PM
    To: CAPTLAKE@MCHSI.COM; Beth APayne
    Cc: Kurt MCampbell; James LLoi; Patrick FKennedy; William JBurns; James BSteinberg; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Michael HPosner; Scott WBusby; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; Margaret GMacLeod; vvause@state.gov; Stefanie BEye; Susan SJacobs; Janice LJacobs; Allison.Hollabaugh@mail.house.gov; bac-home@googlegroups.com; Ariana_Reks@boxer.senate.gov; brianna.keilar@cnn.com; RoosJV@state.gov; Sarah.M.Netter@abc.com; Sharon.Santurri@mail.house.gov; JDonohoe@ci.pensacola.fl.us; dbergsan@gmail.com
    Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor

    Ms. Payne, We are very disappointed with the answers provided in your email below and have prepared the attached response. We hope you and everyone else you included on this email string will read it. We look forward to your response. Sincerely, Commander Paul Toland, US Navy

    ATTACHED RESPONSE

    ===========================================
    September 15, 2011
    Beth Payne, Director Office of Children’s Issues U.S. Department of State, SA-29 2201 C Street NW, SA-29 4th floor Washington, DC 20520-2818

    Ms. Payne,
    Mr. Lake has indicated that he is willing to provide a sworn affidavit that Ms. Vause told him his daughter Mary appeared in person at the Osaka consulate. However, even taking you at your word that Mary Lake called the consulate, we are simply distraught that the consulate employees did not do more to facilitate her rescue and return to her lawful parent.

    Imagine that William Lake’s wife had abducted their daughter from Florida to Arizona instead of from Florida to Japan, and Mary Lake had called the authorities in Arizona asking them to “fly her home.” Those authorities would have kept Mary on the phone until they facilitated her rescue and brought the felon criminal abductor to justice. Now we understand that in an overseas environment, the State Department does not have the authority to physically go to the child in Japan to facilitate the rescue, but the State Department certainly had both the DUTY and OBLIGATION to obtain the same end result… to facilitate the rescue Mary Lake by asking the child victim of this felony crime to come to the consulate so they could then coordinate her rescue, yet this was never done.

    You state that Mary “did not request refuge or an alternative place to stay that evening.” Are you seriously trying to place the burden and responsibility of having to request refuge upon a minor child who has been kidnapped and held in a foreign country for six years? She may not even understand such a concept. She called and reached out to the only American refuge she could find at the US Consulate, and they burdened her with an adult responsibility, eventually turning her away back to her captor?

    And how, exactly, did you “confirm that (Mary) felt safe” with her felon kidnapper, and that she “was not in danger”? Your own Foreign Affairs Manual, Chapter 7, states “children involved (in abduction) have almost always been subjected to a traumatic experience.” What mental health worker counseled Mary Lake to determine her mental and emotional well being following six years of being held captive as a kidnapped child in a foreign land? If no mental health worker was available, then it was the State Department’s duty and obligation to err on the side of caution for Mary’s protection and proceed as if she was subjected to severe mental and physical trauma until a professional could determine otherwise. The consular officer was in no position to act as a medical provider in determining Mary’s physical and emotional state over the phone.

    The State Department’s inability (or unwillingness) to try to talk Mary Lake into traveling to the consulate appears to be a failure of the State Department to acknowledge that the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) makes parental child abduction a felony crime and makes the perpetrator of that crime a felon criminal. The very fact that Mary is a child victim of a felony crime being held in a foreign land by a felon criminal is, in and of itself, enough to put Mary Lake “in danger.”

    The State Department’s failure to act during the brief window of time available to rescue Mary allowed her to disappear again into the black hole abyss of Japan, to join the other 374 children abducted to Japan since 1994, none of whom has ever been returned.

    We ask you to answer one simple question…if Mary Lake were kidnapped by a STRANGER and held in Japan for six years, and then contacted the US Consulate asking them to “fly her home”, would the consulate actions have been any different, and if so, why? The State Department’s DUTY to Mary Victoria Lake is no different than to any other victim of a felony crime, and for you to treat it otherwise is simply a flagrant disregard for the law.

    We notice you also cc’d some of the press on your email response, yet you did not address our concerns about the fact that the State Department illegally issued a passport to William’s felon criminal wife, without obtaining William’s signature in violation of Public Law 106-113, Section 236. This, at least, tells us that IPKCA is not the only law that the State Department is in the habit of ignoring when it suits your purposes.

    The State Department has conducted years of meetings, talks, meetings, talks, meetings and talks, but not a single parent has been able to even see their child as a result. This latest incident with William Lake’s daughter only further exacerbates the left-behind parent community’s total and complete loss of confidence in the State Department’s ability to protect our children. What happened to Mary Victoria Lake could have happened to any of our children, and this incident fills us with fear and anxiety that if a window of opportunity someday opens for the rescue of our children, State Department will simply shut that window, as they did with Mary Lake, rather than actually try to return our children.

    Sincerely,
    Paul Toland, National Coordinating Director
    Douglass Berg, Eastern Regional Director
    Randy Collins, Southwest Regional Director
    Jeffery Morehouse, Pacific Northwest Regional Co-Director
    Brett Weed, Pacific Northwest Regional Co-Director
    Dr. Christopher Savoie, Midwest, Regional Director
    P.O. Box 16254, Arlington, VA 22215 • www.BAChome.org • BAChome@BAChome.org
    ENDS

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

    UPDATE:

    From: Payne, Beth A (payneba @state.gov)
    Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
    To: “Paul Toland” (pptoland @)
    Date: Friday, September 30, 2011

    Dear Commander Toland:

    Thank you for your letter of September 15, on behalf of the BACHome organization, expressing your disappointment with the information I provided to you on September 1, regarding the Department of State’s actions in the active abduction case involving Mary Lake. I regret that our response left you unsatisfied.

    The Office of Children’s Issues, in coordination with U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, is committed to protecting the welfare of abducted children. Facilitating their return to the United States is one of our top priorities. We recognize the emotional pain that left-behind parents face while separated from their children, and we will be ready to discuss additional details of Mary’s case with her father, should he wish to resume contact with our office.

    For more information about the Department of State’s role in International Parental Child Abduction, please visit our website at http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction/abduction_580.html .

    Yours Sincerely,
    Beth Payne
    Director, Office of Children’s Issues

    ENDS

    6 Responses to “BAChome.org: Official correspondence re nonfeasance and negligence by US Consulate Osaka regarding the Mary Lake Child Abduction Case (allegations of USG refusing assistance to US citizen child)”

    1. What is the role of an embassy? | Hoofin to You! Says:

      [...] 9/21/11: Per the debito.org website, there is new information about this occurrence.] Share this:StumbleUponDiggFacebookRedditTwitterEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this [...]

    2. Charuzu Says:

      There are facts not present that make this difficult to evaluate.

      The document says:

      “Are you seriously trying to place the burden and responsibility of having to request refuge upon a minor child who has been kidnapped and held in a foreign country for six years?”

      The interests and welfare of the child must be paramount, as a starting axiom.

      The child is 14 and so beginning a phase that will result in majority.

      14 is not adult maturity, but neither is it 6 years old.

      Further complicating the issue is that we have no information as to the linguistic and social life of the child.

      The child may be essentially fluent only in Japanese at this stage, with only rudimentary English, and with every friend in the world in Japan.

      I think we simply have insufficient information to know what truly is in the best interest of the child.

      We do know that the child has been shamefully used as a tool or pawn of adults.

      And we do know that judicial decisions were violated.

      The letter rightly asks:

      “What mental health worker counseled Mary Lake to determine her mental and emotional well being following six years of being held captive as a kidnapped child in a foreign land?”

      We simply do not know what the emotional and mental well-being of the child is, and what effect a change now would have.

      What should be demanded is that such an evaluation be competently and honestly be performed so that a meaningful decision be provided as to what lies in the child’s best interest.

      Japan’s government should be required to assure that such an evaluation occurs promptly.

      – Given the state of mental health care in Japan, I wouldn’t get your hopes up.

    3. Loverilakkuma Says:

      The US State Department’s unwillingness to respond to its’ citizens who are in desperate needs is not much different from what we see in Japanese ministry bureaucracy or corporate executives. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them behaving like an indifferent witness in order to save their own skins from so called ‘national/international embarrassment’. Their inability to address and forward the agenda as an impending problem well deserves the blame for taking sides with powers-that-be in legal and police regimes who stand in front of foreign/NJ parents and the kids to defend abductor’s misconduct.

      This time, however, I would add that an absence of comprehensive framework within the US legal system (both at state and federal level) is also responsible for the State Department’s inability to protect the rights of US citizens. Yes, the roles of US Consuls definitely need to be revised in this respect. After reviewing the left-behind parents’ testimonies—sponsored by a congressman Chris Smith(Rep. New Jersey) at the Congress in May 2011, I found that most of them had the incident occurred within the US. Obviously, the US legal system is too weak to prevent potential child abductors from obtaining (fake) passports or forged documents with fake signatures for the departure. There’s no anti-child abduction act endorsed in the US so far. Nowhere within the clauses of all 27 Amendments do the US Constitutions articulate for American father/mother’s rights to protect their children from any unlawful conduct of alienation/abduction by an estranged foreign parent/spouse.

      This is the main reason why I contend that having Japan sign the Hague Convention is not enough. Even significant revisions of Japanese legal system (i.e., abolition of family registration system, revising family court law/system)—at this time— may not be convincing to me. I think the best option for left-behind parents is to initiate the referendum sponsored by Chris Smith (and other fellows congressmen from both Democrats and Republicans) and work on the agendas to forward to the Congress for an endorsement of Anti-Child Abduction Act in the near future.

      I am not an American, but nationality doesn’t matter when it comes to child parenting. I cannot keep my mouth shut while witnessing the bullies in my country –including the US Consuls/the State Department– condone the demeaning practice of racism and alienation in a way to defend the citizens who shamelessly commit this disgraceful crime, days in and days out.

    4. jim Says:

      This story really doesn’t surprise me at all because if you take a look at the us consulates track record on this type of thing then you will see that’s its not very good at all. And this type of thing will happen again until the US consulate changes the way they treat Americans overseas.I have been to this same office several times in the past and I have been made to feel like a second class citizen because I was told by there vice counsul that their number 1 mission and priority is to promote american business overseas. This was back in 2004, but im sure that their mission has not changed at all since then. Business first, Americans second maybe

    5. Charuzu Says:

      Debito:

      Your comment:

      “Given the state of mental health care in Japan, I wouldn’t get your hopes up.”

      is probably the most important.

      Rather than new laws, new treaty obligations, etc. there would need to more importantly be a real commitment to the welfare of children in Japan and their mental health.

      Inasmuch as the well-being of the child is paramount, no steps can be taken without determining that state of well-being.

      It may well be that Japanese intransigence on treaty laws is an enormous problem, and equally so for American bureaucratic incompetence.

      However, the most important problem is that one does not have a strong sense of the state of the child, and what would be in the child’s best interest.

      The focus on law and bureaucracy may well benefit society, and the well-being of the American parent.

      But, the well-being of the parent or the adherence to international legal norms is not what should be paramount.

      Rather, the well-being of the child should be paramount.

      And, by not being able to assess and create findings regarding the mental well-being of this child, it would show that Japan can also not provide mental health services to its own, wholly Japanese population.

      As such, the incapacity of Japan’s health sector is not isolated to this single case or the small number of similar cases.

      Instead, it would seem to be a failing for ALL Japanese.

    6. debito Says:

      UPDATE:
      From: Payne, Beth A Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
      To: “Paul Toland” Date: Friday, September 30, 2011

      Dear Commander Toland:

      Thank you for your letter of September 15, on behalf of the BACHome organization, expressing your disappointment with the information I provided to you on September 1, regarding the Department of State’s actions in the active abduction case involving Mary Lake. I regret that our response left you unsatisfied.

      The Office of Children’s Issues, in coordination with U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, is committed to protecting the welfare of abducted children. Facilitating their return to the United States is one of our top priorities. We recognize the emotional pain that left-behind parents face while separated from their children, and we will be ready to discuss additional details of Mary’s case with her father, should he wish to resume contact with our office.

      For more information about the Department of State’s role in International Parental Child Abduction, please visit our website at http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction/abduction_580.html .

      Yours Sincerely,
      Beth Payne
      Director, Office of Children’s Issues

      ENDS

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