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Hi Blog. As was reported on Debito.org last October 28 regarding the issue of Japan as safe haven for international child abductions, the US courts looked like they actually might start enforcing their arrest warrants against Japanese child abductors. In this case, against a Japanese woman named Inoue Emiko who reportedly whisked the kid off to Japan despite a US court awarding the father, Moises Garcia, custody. Then Inoue used the time-honored tactic of abducting the kid anyway and getting a Japanese court to award her the kid instead regardless (with a gracious 30-day per year visitation allowed; thanks a heap). Then she presumptuously decided to have her cake and eat it too, coming back to Hawaii last April to renew her Green Card, whereupon the authorities honored the arrest warrant against her and sent her to stand trial in Wisconsin (leaving the kid in limbo with the grandparents in Japan).
Back in October I said that enough is enough, and that the American judiciary should throw the book at her. Well, guess what — they did, and it looks as though the mother will return the child to the custodial father. Bravo! Read on. Let that be a lesson to you, child abductors, and let that be an incentive for Japan to sign the Hague Convention. Note, however, the update regarding the J-media’s domestic spin after the article. Arudou Debito
Plea agreement reached in international custody case
Mother agrees to have daughter returned from Japan to Wisconsin
Nov. 21, 2011, Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), courtesy of SC
Karina Garcia’s mother agreed in court Monday to have the girl home in Fox Point by Christmas.
If she makes it, the 9-year-old would be the first of what advocates say are more than 300 children around the U.S. abducted to Japan in violation of American court orders to be returned through legal intervention.
She also could become a poster child for how to solve a growing problem as international marriages increase in the global economy.
The girl’s father, Moises Garcia, was pleased but cautious in talking to reporters after the hearing, where his ex-wife, Emiko Inoue, pleaded no contest to the felony charge of interfering with child custody by other parent. She was found guilty, but a plea agreement could leave her with only a misdemeanor conviction if Karina returns and Inoue completes other conditions.
Garcia has been working to bring his daughter home since Inoue fled with her to Inoue’s native Japan in February 2008, shortly after Garcia, 39, filed for divorce.
“Divorces are tough for everybody, but when there are cultural differences, it’s very hard to deal with that,” said Garcia, a physician and native of Nicaragua. The couple’s daughter was born in Wisconsin.
He said Inoue, 43, has brainwashed his daughter and alienated her affections for him during the time in Japan, but he’s confident that if the child comes home, she will be able to get the help she needs to deal with the psychological impact of the ordeal.
Japan is the only G7 country not part of an international compact about child abduction. Japan does not assist in returning children to parents with legal custody in other countries, nor does it extradite Japanese charged with crimes related to child abduction or custody interference elsewhere, such as Inoue.
Global Future, a group that advocates for parents whose children have been taken by their other parent to foreign countries, claims Japanese officials in the United States assist in such crimes by granting new passports and visas to Japanese trying to flee with their children.
The group’s founder and secretary, both Californians trying to get children back from Japan, attended Inoue’s hearing in Milwaukee. So did officials from the foreign ministry office of the Japanese consulate in Chicago. They declined to comment on the Global Future claims, or about Inoue’s case.
“We’ve had children returned from South Korea, Iran, Cameroon, Libya and Egypt, but we can’t get any back from a supposedly friendly country, Japan,” said Patrick Braden, CEO and founder of Global Future. His 11-month-old daughter was kidnapped and taken to Japan in 2006.
“This case really does have worldwide implications,” Braden said.
Fuji TV, a Japanese network, also was covering Monday’s hearing.
Inoue was arrested in April when she visited Hawaii to renew her U.S. permanent residency status. She was extradited to Wisconsin and was being held in the Milwaukee County Jail. She appeared in court Monday with her attorney, Bridget Boyle, wearing a dark blue jail suit and glasses.
In response to questions from Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Mel Flanagan, Inoue said she didn’t agree that she had committed all the elements of the crime, but agreed the state could prove her guilty. The felony is punishable by up to 7½ years in prison. If Inoue ultimately were convicted of a misdemeanor, she would likely be sentenced to the time she’s served since her arrest.
District Attorney John Chisholm noted that a felony conviction would probably also have prevented Inoue from remaining in the U.S. He said he thinks Inoue’s prosecution may still deter others, while allowing a chance for Karina to benefit from contact with both parents.
Inoue still has the option to seek visitation rights or changes in custody through family court.
Monday was to have been the continuation of a nonjury trial that began in October, but Boyle told the judge that during nearly four hours of discussion with her client, she agreed to the plea arrangement.
“Hopefully, this is an action in the best interests of the child,” Flanagan said.
Karina is currently living with her maternal grandparents in Japan. Garcia was granted full legal custody in Milwaukee County Circuit Court in 2008. He’s gone further than most people in his situation, said his attorney, James Sakar, and won legal custody from Japanese courts.
The problem, Sakar and Braden explained, is that the centuries-old Japanese civil legal system does not give those courts any enforcement powers.
Sakar said the particulars of Karina’s return to Wisconsin had not yet been worked out.
Braden, who has lobbied dozens of high-ranking officials in Washington, D.C., about the problem, said Monday’s deal was “almost there.” He said advocates for left-behind parents would have preferred a guilty plea and really would like to see U.S. authorities prosecute Japanese diplomatic officials and anyone else who assists noncustodial parents in taking children abroad.
“It’s a great step in the right direction,” he said.
UPDATE: Here’s what I’m hearing on my Facebook as feedback:
“A quick search on youtube came up with a great news report of her in cuffs as well http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeUqio_GDdw ”
“Some of the Japanese media (like the Mainichi) didn’t bother mentioning her name while I heard Fuji pixled out her face.”
“TBS report says the mother is claiming domestic violence as the reason for the abduction.”
So then there’s this whole other dimension about how the Japanese press is going to encircle and protect their own, as has been mentioned here both above and before, I haven’t found any Japanese media which will call this event a “kidnapping”, despite the ruling by this American court. Yomiuri’s NNN TV has even blocked out her face and refused to mention her name at all as a felon:
Well, for the record, here is a picture of Inoue Eriko in all her glory, courtesy Sentinel Journal. Including handcuffs. Live with it, Japan — child abduction is a crime and those who engage in it are criminals, even if they are Japanese. Trying to reflexively make a victim out of a criminal just makes our media look biased and incongruous.
UPDATE TWO: Convicted felon Inoue Emiko returns the child and gets released from the clink. Bravo. And of course, the Japanese media still refuses to use her name in the domestic press. Or even call what she did a crime. Check out the wording below: “arrested on suspicion of taking her 9-year-old daughter to Japan in violation of the father’s parental rights, the father’s lawyer said“. Those pesky lawyers and their allegations; never mind the conviction and sentencing by a judge. She abducts the kid, tries to game the USG by coming back to renew her Green Card, and after all that still has visitation rights in America. All right for some, isn’t it? Try getting this fair a deal in Japan. But again, fairness is not a highly-prized cultural conceit for Team Japanners. Now how about that biased and incongruous reportage. As can be expected, the disingenuous slant is that the Japanese are the victims and sacrificers. The Japanese article claims the daughter “wanted to live in Japan”, but once told of the situation, “went to America to save her mother” according to the very different headline. What a trooper! Especially after being put in this position by her irresponsible mother in the first place!
Japan woman freed in U.S. after returning daughter
The Yomiuri Shimbun, December 25, 2011, courtesy of AR
A Japanese woman has been released from custody in the United States as a result of a plea bargain after being arrested on suspicion of taking her 9-year-old daughter to Japan in violation of the father’s parental rights, the father’s lawyer said Saturday.
Based on the plea bargain, the 43-year-old woman from Hyogo Prefecture returned the daughter to the girl’s 39-year-old Nicaraguan father. The girl had been staying at the home of the woman’s parents in the prefecture.
The woman took the girl to Japan from the United States during divorce proceedings in a U.S. court. The court later granted the divorce and gave custody of the girl to the man.
According to lawyers for the man and the woman, the girl left Japan with her grandmother on Friday and was handed over to the man at a U.S. airport.
The girl said at first that she wanted to live in Japan. However, when she was told about the plea bargain, she understood her return to the United States would “save her mother,” the lawyers said.
The woman will continue to live in the United States and will have visitation rights, according to the lawyers.
The woman was arrested in the United States in April after the father filed a criminal complaint in the case. After realizing she faced a possible long prison sentence if found guilty, she agreed to the plea bargain in November, lawyers said.
(Dec. 25, 2011)