AP: US court rules Japan has jurisdiction in child joint custody case

AP: The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s courts have no jurisdiction over a custody dispute involving a 6-year-old boy, leaving the issue to a Japanese court.

In the ruling issued Friday, the court said a Douglas County district judge had no authority to grant joint custody of the boy to his divorced parents, even though the boy was born in Nebraska and had lived here while in the U.S.

The court determined that under custody law, the child’s residence is considered to be in Japan.

COMMENT: We should hope the Japanese courts would be so impartial. But they aren’t. Contrast with the Murray Wood Case, where international children kidnapped from British Columbia (whose courts granted the Canadian father custody) were deemed unremovable from Japan. And are American courts so ignorant to not know (or was Mr Carter’s legal defense so inept to not point out) that Japan does not recognize joint custody, full stop? Mr Carter will not get a fair trial in Japan. No child kidnapped to Japan as of yet has been returned to the NJ parent by a Japanese court. He’s lost his kid. Full stop.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 10, 2018

Table of Contents:
POLICY PAROXYSMS THAT HURT PEOPLE
1) JT and Nikkei: Japan to offer longer stays for “Trainees”, but with contract lengths that void qualifying for Permanent Residency
2) Kyoto City Govt. subway advert has Visible Minority as poster girl for free AIDS/STDs testing. Wrong on many levels, especially statistically.

GOOD NEWS, SOMETIMES TAMPED DOWN
3) Mainichi: Zainichi Korean’s hate speech lawsuit ends in her favor. Bravo. But Mainichi plays word games, mistranslates “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu) into “ethnic discrimination” in English!
4) Japan Supreme Court enforces Hague Convention on Int’l Child Abductions (for Japanese claimants). Yet Sakura TV claims Hague is for “selfish White men” trying to entrap women from “uncivilized countries” as “babysitters”
5) Asahi: Setagaya Ward plans to battle inter alia racial, ethnic discrimination (in specific) in a local ordinance. Progressive steps!

MORE EXCLUSIONISM
6) Sapporo Consadole soccer player and former England Team striker Jay Bothroyd refused entry to Hokkaido Classic golf course for being “not Japanese”
7) “Japanese Only” sign on Izakaya Bar “100” (Momosaku 百作) in Asakusa, Tokyo
8 ) “Japanese Only” diving and hiking tour company in Tokashikimura, Okinawa: “Begin Diving Buddies”
9) “Japanese Only” tourist information booth in JR Beppu Station

… and finally…
10) My Japan Times column JBC 111: “White Supremacists and Japan: A Love Story” (March 8, 2018)

Japan Supreme Court enforces Hague Convention on Int’l Child Abductions (for Japanese claimants). Yet Sakura TV claims Hague is for “selfish White men” trying to entrap women from “uncivilized countries” as “babysitters”

We had an important Supreme Court ruling come down earlier this month, where an international custody dispute between two Japanese divorcees living in different countries resulted in the custodial parent overseas being awarded custody of the child, as per the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions. (See Japan Times article excerpt below.)

Debito.org has commented at length on this issue (and I have even written a novel based upon true stories of Japan’s safe haven for international child abductions). Part of the issue is that due to the insanity of Japan’s Family Registry (koseki) System, after a divorce only ONE parent (as in, one family) gets total custody of the child, with no joint custody or legally-guaranteed visitation rights. This happens to EVERYONE who marries, has children, and divorces in Japan (regardless of nationality). It even happened to me.

But what makes this Supreme Court decision somewhat inapplicable to anyone but Wajin Japanese is the fact that other custody issues under the Hague (which Japan only signed kicking and screaming, and with enough caveats to lead to probable nonenforcement), which involved NON-Japanese parents, faced a great deal of racism and propaganda, even from the Japanese government.

As evidence, consider this TV segment (with English subtitles) on Japan’s ultraconservative (PM Abe Shinzo is a frequent contributor) Sakura Channel TV network (firmly established with the “present Japan positively no matter what” NHK World network). It contains enough bald-facedly anti-foreign hypotheticals (including the requisite stereotype that foreigners are violent, and Japanese are trying to escape DV) to inspire entire sociological articles, and the incredible claim that Japan’s court system is just appeasing White people and forcing a “selfish” alien system upon Japan.

The best bits were when banner commentator Takayama Masayuki claimed a) White men just marry women from “uncivilized” countries until they find better women (such as ex-girlfriends from high school) and then divorce them, capturing them as “babysitters” for once-a-week meet-ups with their kids (which Takayama overtly claims is the “premise” of the Hague Convention in the first place); and b) (which was not translated properly in the subtitles) where Takayama at the very end cites Mori Ohgai (poet, soldier, medical doctor and translator who wrote sexualized fiction about a liaison between a Japanese man and a German woman) to say, “play around with White WOMEN and then escape back home.” (Who’s being selfish, not to mention hypocritical, now?) Take yet another plunge into this racialized sexpit of debate, where the racism doesn’t even bother to embed itself.

Japan Times JBC 80 October 8, 2014: “Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents”, on MOFA propagandizing re Hague Treaty on Child Abductions

JT: After years of pressure from foreign governments, and enormous efforts by “left-behind” parents to have access to children abducted to and from Japan after marital separation or divorce, the Japanese government became a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in April.

That is, of course, good news. Now the issue becomes one of enforcement. And to that end, this column has serious doubts that the Japanese government will honor this treaty in good faith.

These doubts are based on precedent. After all, Japan famously ignores human-rights treaties. For example, nearly 20 years after ratifying the U.N. Convention on Racial Discrimination, and nearly 30 since acceding to the U.N. Convention on Discrimination against Women, Japan still has no law against racial discrimination, nor a statute guaranteeing workplace gender equality backed by enforceable criminal penalties.

We have also seen Japan caveat its way out of enforcing the Hague before signing. For example, as noted in previous JT articles (e.g., “Solving parental child abduction problem no piece of cake” by Colin P.A. Jones, Mar. 1, 2011), the debate on custody has been muddied with ungrounded fears that returned children would, for example, face domestic violence (DV) from the foreign parent. DV in Japan is being redefined to include nontactile acts such as “yelling,” “angry looks” and “silent stares” (particularly from men).

It is within this context that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) recently issued a pamphlet titled “What is the Hague Convention?” Available in Japanese (www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000033409.pdf) and English (www.mofa.go.jp/files/000034153.pdf), it offers a 12-page manga in which a Japanese father carefully explains the Hague Convention to his Japanese-French son. The pamphlet has sparked considerable controversy…

2014 MOFA pamphlet explaining Hague Treaty on Child Abductions to J citizens (full text with synopsis, including child-beating NJ father on cover & victimized J mothers throughout) UPDATE: With link to MOFA pdf and official E translation

Japan, after years of pressure from overseas, is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, where children of international marriages are to be protected against psychologically-damaging abductions and severed contact with one parent after marriage dissolution and divorce. Debito.org has covered this issue extensively in the past. What matters now is how Japan intends to enforce the treaty. Debito.org has argued that we are not hopeful about Japan following the spirit of the agreement in good faith. It has been reinterpreting sections with caveats to give the Japanese side undue advantages in negotiations, indirectly portraying the Non Japanese (NJ) party as the suspicious interloper, redefining important issues such as domestic violence (DV) to include heated arguments and “silent stares” etc., refusing to see abductions by the Japanese parent as much more than a natural repatriation, and not being self-aware that in Japan, child abduction and severed contact with one parent is quite normal (due in part to the vagaries of the Family Registration System (koseki)), but not necessarily in the best interests of the child. Japan has been, in short, a haven for international child abductions, and how the GOJ will interpret the Hague to its people is crucial for change in public mindsets and enforcement.

To that end, Debito.org is fortunate to have received a copy from a concerned reader of a 2014 Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Gaimushou) pamphlet explaining the Hague to the Japanese public. Scanned below in full, within its discourse are troubling assumptions and presumptions that bear scrutiny and exposure, as they remain along the lines of the concerns expressed above. If this is Japan’s official mindset towards international child abductions, then Debito.org remains pessimistic, if not cynical, about Japan’s intentions to enforce the Hague in good faith.

Good news: GOJ signs Hague Child Abductions Treaty. Bad news: GOJ will probably caveat its way out of ever following it

After years of pressure on the GOJ to act like its fellow advanced societies in terms of divorce and child custody, Japan earlier this week signed the Hague Convention on Child Abductions. Good. Now, I don’t want to dismiss this development out of hand, because Japan doing this is a step in the right direction (after all, if even after this I had nothing good to say, then what would EVER count as good news on Debito.org?) But as I have argued before, I think it’s been signed because enough time has passed for caveats to be put in place — so that the home team will rarely lose a custody case in Japan (furthermore, part of the argument for signing has been that Japanese would have a stronger footing overseas to pursue custody cases in Hague signatory countries — again, benefiting the home team in either case). After all, the normalized portrayal in Japanese media of NJ as violent spouses, and Japanese as victims (particularly wives, even though they are the great minority in international marriages) has expanded Japan’s definition of “Domestic Violence” to even simple heated arguments. Fight with your J-wife anytime and lose your kids. The deck is stacked.

Let me quote one submitter: “From May 13’s Japan Times. A series of articles hammering home what will evidently be Japan’s final word on the subject, that Japanese fleeing countries abroad are doing so to protect their kids and themselves from angry, violent, abusive foreign husbands. Cue standardized quotes from proclaimed “expert on the issue” Kensuke Onuki as well as lawyer Mikiko “I was for the convention but now I see it conflicts with Japanese culture” Otani and a slew of heart-wrenching stories of Japanese wives fleeing abusive marriages (one claiming that had Japan been party to the Hague Convention at the time of her escape she would have chosen killing her child and herself than risk a return to her husband. Whether these individual stories have merit of not, it’s pure one-sided sensationalism. Where are the Murray Wood stories of wife abuse and neglect?”

And to quote another anonymous legally-trained friend: “How to address DV is an issue in all Hague countries. In addition to allegations of DV, the Japanese legislation will also allow a judge to consider whether it would be difficult for EITHER the taking parent OR the parent requesting return to raise the child in the country of origin. This sounds awfully close to a full-blown custody determination, which is sort of what courts are NOT supposed to do in Hague cases.”

As for future prospects, I shall defer to the better-informed judgment of a specialist international lawyer in this field, who wrote the following shortly before the Hague was signed:

Jeremy D. Morley: “The Japanese public is being told that even if Japan signs the Convention, “The return of a child can be denied if the parent seeking it is believed to abuse the child or have difficulties raising him or her.” Daily Yomiuri, Mar. 16, 2013. If that is the gloss that Japan intends to put on the Hague Convention – even though the Convention is expressly designed to secure the expeditious return of all abducted children except in extremely unusual cases – there is little or no point in Japan’s purported ratification of the treaty. The result of Japan’s ratification of the Convention will likely be to create the appearance of Japan’s compliance with international norms but without any of the substance.”

CONCLUSION: Same as other treaties that Japan has signed but doesn’t enforce, I think the Hague will wind up as a historical footnote as another treaty Japan chooses to ignore. When we see the highly unlikely prospect of children of international marriages abducted to Japan sent back overseas by a Japanese court (in contrast to other judiciaries that DO repatriate children, see for example here and here) then I’ll think progress has been made. But it’s pretty inconceivable to me, since child abduction happens between Japanese couples too thanks to Japan’s insane marriage system, and it’s hard to imagine foreigners suddenly being granted more rights in Japanese marriages than fellow Japanese.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 59: The year for NJ in 2012: a Top 10

Debito’s Top Ten human rights issues in Japan for NJ residents in 2012:
10. DONALD KEENE’S NATURALIZATION
9. OSAKA CITY DEFUNDS LIBERTY OSAKA
8. COURTS RULE THAT MIXED-BLOOD CHILDREN MAY NOT BE “JAPANESE”
7. DIET DOES NOT PASS HAGUE CONVENTION
6. GOVERNMENT CONVENES MEETINGS ON IMMIGRATION
5. MAINALI CASE VICTORY, SURAJ CASE DEFEAT
4. JAPAN’S VISA REGIMES CLOSE THEIR LOOP
3. NEW NJ REGISTRY SYSTEM
2. POST-FUKUSHIMA JAPAN IS IRREDEEMABLY BROKEN
1. JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SWING
Links to sources included

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 1 2012

Table of Contents:
BAD POLITICS
1) Mainichi: Japan’s only human rights museum likely closing after Osaka Gov Hashimoto defunds, says doesn’t teach Japan’s “hopes & dreams”
2) Discussion: JDG, Harumi Befu et.al on the end of Japan’s internationalization and swing towards remilitarization
3) Kyodo: “Foreign caregiver program faces tightening”: Death knell of program as J media finds ways to blame the gaijin?
4) Diet session ends, Hague Convention on Int’l Child Abductions endorsement bill not passed
BAD SCIENCE
5) AP Interview: Japan Nuke Probe Head Kurokawa defends his report, also apportions blame to NJ for Fukushima disaster!
6) Success, of a sort, as a “Gaijin Mask” maker amends their racist product to “Gaikokujin Masks”. Same racialized marketing, though.
7) Kyodo: J airport “random body searches” start October. On “int’l passengers”, naturally, so not so random, considering police precedents of racial profiling
8 ) Weird “Japanese Only” advertisement in U Hawaii Manoa Ka Leo student newspaper by Covance asking for medical-experiment volunteers
… and finally…
9) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 55: Toot your own horn — don’t let the modesty scam keep you down

Diet session ends, Hague Convention on Int’l Child Abductions endorsement bill not passed

After much political gridlock (the likes of which have not been seen, since, oh, the LDP was in power and the DPJ controlled the Upper House — not that long ago), the current Diet session is over, and one bill that matters to Debito.org did not pass: The one endorsing Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions. You know — the treaty that just about everyone else in the club of rich developed nations has signed, and the one that stops you at an international border if you’re traveling single with a child, demanding proof that you’re not abducting your child from the other parent. It’s a good idea, since divorce in Japan due to the Koseki Family Registry System results in one parent (regardless of nationality) losing all legal ties to the child, and leads in many (almost all, it’s estimated) cases to the child growing up with no contact whatsoever (since Japan does not allow joint custody) with the noncustodial parent. It’s even worse for international marriages, and Japan has gotten a lot of pressure from other countries in recent years to sign. Now unsuccessfully.

Well, so Japan will remain a haven for child abductions, both domestic and international. But the interesting thing I’m seeing concrete evidence of these days is overseas Japanese taking advantage of this system, banding together to assist each other in abducting their children to Japan, and the Japanese embassies/consulates cooperating with them as they spirit them into Japan. (I’ll blog about that someday once I receive permission to make that information public.)

But as I have argued before, I’m not sure it really matters if Japan signs the Hague. The GOJ has signed other treaties before (most notably the Convention for Elimination on Racial Discrimination), and refuses to enforce them under domestic laws with criminal penalties (or in Japan’s case regarding the CERD, now signed 17 years ago, refuses to create any laws at all). In the Hague’s case, the GOJ was looking for ways to caveat themselves out of enforcing it (by creating laws of their own advantageous to Wajin spiriters of children that would trump the HCICA, or finding loopholes, such as claims of DV (that only NJ inflict upon us gentle, mild, weak, peaceful Wajin), that would allow the children to stay in Japan out of fear.) Or, true to character, we’ll have people claiming that it’s a matter of “Japanese custom” (shuukan), the last resort for any unjustifiable situation (only this time coming from elected Japanese Dietmember Ido Masae who herself abducted her kids). It’s pretty messy, by design, so visit the Children’s Rights Network Japan Website to try and untangle it.

So I guess the question I’d like to open up for discussion is: Is it better for a nation-state to be bold-faced about it and just say, “We can’t enforce this treaty due to our culture, so we’re not going to sign it, and if you don’t like it, don’t marry our citizens”? Or, is it better for a nation-state to sign it, not enforce it, and face the (geopolitically mild) pressure of a broken promise? I know which route the GOJ has taken so far.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 4, 2012

Table of Contents:
“MICROAGGRESSIONS”
1) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column May 1, 2012, “Yes, I can use chopsticks: the everyday ‘microaggressions’ that grind us down”
2) Japan Times HAVE YOUR SAY column solely devoted to the May 1 JBC column on “Microaggressions”
3) Japan Times May 1, 2012 JBC “Microaggression” column now translated into Taiwanese Chinese.

OTHER INTERESTING OPINIONS
4) Baye McNeil’s “Loco in Yokohama” blog brings up uncomfortable truths in the debate on racism in Japan
5) Iida Yumiko on the nation-state, and how it includes people in the national narrative for its own survival (or in Japan’s case, how it doesn’t)
6) USG Asst Sec of State links post-divorce Japan child abductions with DPRK abductions of Japanese
7) Discussion: Aly Rustom on “Ways to fix Japan”

DEEPLY FLAWED OPINIONS
8 ) JT Editorial: Tokyo Metro Govt fuels “Flyjin” myth with flawed survey; yet other NJ who should know better buy into it
9) Yomiuri scaremongering: Foreign buyers snap up J land / Survey shows foreigners use Japanese names to hide acquisitions
10) WSJ: “‘Expats’ Say Goodbye to Gaijin Card”, needs more research beyond “Expat” conceits
11) Kyodo: Municipalities to deny services to illegal NJ; Kuchikomi: Rising NJ welfare chiselers “social parasites”
… and finally…
12) Commemorating the Japan Times Community Page’s 10th Anniversary, a brief column by Arudou Debito, May 8, 2012

USG Asst Sec of State links post-divorce Japan child abductions with DPRK abductions of Japanese

Some news on the Japan Child Abductions Issue, where Japan has long set itself up as a safe haven for one parent to abscond with their child following separation or divorce (regardless of whether the marriage was international or domestic), what with no joint custody and no guaranteed child visitation in Japan. Thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system, the divorced couple becomes strangers to each other, and children go on only one parent’s koseki (with the other parent losing all legal title and access to their kids unless the custodial parent approves). In cases of international/intercontinental separation or divorce, the Japanese partner can abduct their child to Japan (since Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, and the Japanese embassy does not enforceably require the permission of both parents to issue a Japanese child a Japanese passport), and that’s it — the kids are gone. Japanese courts have always ruled that the absconder has established “habitual residence” in Japan by dint, so who dares wins. Meanwhile, despite international protests about the GOJ not being a signatory to the Hague, Japan has been dragging its feet for years now on signing (and as I have argued in the past, will probably caveat its way out of enforcing it anyway, as it has done with other treaties (like the CERD and the ICCPR)).

Finally, enough has become enough for sensible people. According to articles below, US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell has once again come out in public making a link between the irony of all the tragedymaking regarding Japanese being kidnapped decades ago by the DPRK (which is indeed a tragedy, yes), yet the lack of tragedy over Japanese still kidnapping international kids. Good. We’ve made that comparison before here on Debito.org, and were roundly condemned by the usual suspects for doing so. (And, as a related tangent, I’ve probably criticized the most by people misquoting me as advocating that foreigners shouldn’t marry Japanese. No, for the record, I’m saying NOBODY, Japanese or NJ, should get married and have children under the insane family law system in Japan; the risks are too great if parents separate).

As per articles below, the Japanese press is of course rallying the public behind the home team via editorial camouflaged as news (it’s hard to discern even what Campbell actually said). It’s even trying to instruct the Japanese public how English is different than Japanese. You see, if a North Korean kidnaps a Japanese, its “abduction” (rachi). But if a Japanese kidnaps an international child, its “tsuresari” (taking along and disappearing). But you see, the English language is inflexible — it only has one word for this action: “abduction”. So it’s all one big “linguistic misunderstanding”. Even though, in either case, abduction is what it is.

And if you really want to take this issue to the next level of linkage, consider this comment from a friend:

“As noted in Wikipedia, “In 1944, the Japanese authorities extended the mobilization of Japanese civilians for labor to the Korean peninsula. Of the 5,400,000 Koreans conscripted, about 670,000 were taken to mainland Japan . . .” And the Japanese have the audacity to complain about 20 or so Japanese abducted to North Korea? The Japanese government should apologize and compensate the 5 million Koreans conscripted 70 years ago before uttering a single word about the actions of North Korea 35 years ago.”

So underlying all of this is an issue of hypocrisy, and now the GOJ is probably going to have to resort to its only real defense when cornered on an issue: agonistic posturing and outrage — trying to derail the issue in favor of maintaining “The Relationship”. People have fallen for this before (after all, the US wants to keep its military bases and its market to sell inter alia weaponry). But I’m not sure this issue is really big enough (I think Masumoto has an inflated sense of his own power) to do that. Let’s keep our eyes on this one, since it’s a good case study of gaiatsu and GOJ policy in the making.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 2, 2012

Table of Contents:
SOME FALSE ALARMS:
1) Naha City now requires JETs/AETs and JTEs to provide urine sample (drug test?) for contract renewal
2) Mainichi: 23 percent of Japan’s top firms eager to employ more NJ. Why this is not newsworthy.
3) Asahi & AFP on GOJ proposals re observing Hague Child Abduction Treaty, more loopholes such as NJ DV, and even bonus racist imagery

SOME WARRANTED ALARMS:
4) Asahi: Tokyo District Court rules denying J citizenship to children born overseas with one J parent constitutional
5) Discussion: Reader Eric C writes in with an argument for “giving up on Japan”. What do you think?

BUILDUP TO MY COLUMN THIS MONTH:
6) Powerpoint presentation on the J media-manufactured Myth of “Flyjin”; stats are in, lies are exposed
7) Congratulations Donald Keene on getting Japanese citizenship. Now stop making yourself out to be somehow morally superior to NJ.
8 ) Psych Today and DailyLife.com on “Microaggression”, an interesting way to look at subtle social “othering”
… and finally…
9) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 49: “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail”

Asahi & AFP on GOJ proposals re observing Hague Child Abduction Treaty, more loopholes such as NJ DV, and even bonus racist imagery

AFP: Japan’s government on Friday approved a bill to join a pact on settling cross-border child custody rows, opening the way for its adoption after years of foreign pressure.

Asahi: In an outline of procedures for the Hague Convention on international child-custody disputes, a government panel has proposed allowing court officials to forcibly remove a child from a Japanese parent to return him or her to the country of habitual residence… The subcommittee proposed that factors, such as the risk that the child will face violence back in the country of habitual residence and a situation in which it is difficult for the parents to take custody of the child, be considered.

Specific cases cited include: the parent demanding custody of the child commits acts of violence against the other parent in front of the child; the parent in a foreign country is addicted to drugs or alcohol; and the Japanese parent who returns with the child may be arrested.

COMMENT: Love the invective that one sees time and again in the Japanese media and GOJ debates, where we have the appearance of victimized Japanese females being harassed by NJ males (including even the threat of domestic violence), when in fact child abduction and parental alienation happens between Japanese too, given that there is no joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights in Japan. Check out this article below from the Asahi last January. Bonus: The newspaper’s pictorially racist portrayal of the non-Distaff Side of the international couple. And that’s before you even get to the unlikely prospect of Japan actually ever enforcing the Hague (see here also), just like it never enforces the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination. The discourse will continue as such.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 5, 2011

Table of Contents:
1) David Slater and Yomiuri on how activism re Fukushima is being stifled, contamination efforts stymied
2) Movie about Ichihashi Tatsuya, convicted killer of Lindsay Ann Hawker, already in the works — based upon his book. Ick.
3) MOFA offers public comments on signing Hague Convention on Child Abductions; not much there
4) UPDATE: Post-divorce J child abductor Inoue Emiko DOES get book thrown at her in Milwaukee court, will return abducted child to custodial NJ father
5) Thai flood victims getting 6-month visas into Japan to maintain Japan Inc.’s supply lines, then booted back home
6) The tug of war continues: Fukuoka High Court overrules Oita District Court that doubted, then affirmed, Oita Prefectural Govt’s denial of welfare benefits to superannuated NJ Permanent Resident
7) Debito.org Dejima Award to Japan Rugby Football Union, blaming J losses on “too many foreign players”, including naturalized former NJ
8 ) Japan Times: Colin Jones on schizophrenic J constitution regarding civil and human rights of NJ residents
9) Japan Times: More NPA behavioral oddities re alleged murders of Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey Cases
10) Suraj Case of police brutality and death during Immigration deportation in Japan Times Nov 1, 2011
11) Have Your Say: Letters to the Editor re my Oct 4 2011 Japan Times JBC column, “Japan needs less ganbatte, more genuine action”

…and finally…
12) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 45 Nov 1, 2011: “The costly fallout of tatemae and Japan’s culture of deceit”

MOFA offers public comments on signing Hague Convention on Child Abductions; not much there

Related to Japan’s future signing of the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, here we have an official report about a public forum held on November 22, 2011 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (something I attended before and incidentally considered a very flawed and biased format). Present were academics, lawyers, the Ministries of Justice, Health and Welfare, Education, Internal Affairs, plus the Cabinet and the National Police Agency.

In the course of discussions about setting up a central agency to handle the enforcement of the Hague, 168 public comments were collected since the end of September and were brought up at this meeting. That report follows in full below, courtesy of TS. A few things I found noteworthy within it:

1) The term LBP (Left-Behind Parent) is now part of the Japanese lexicon.

2) In discussions about the right of both parents to have information about (if not access to) their children, the same old saws about DV (domestic violence, however unclearly defined, and in Japan that matters) came up, and the GOJ is as usual being called in to do something about it (apparently more than just mediate, which the GOJ gets all control-freaky and nanny-state about) — seesawing between the LBP’s right to know about their children and the custodian’s right to be safe from the violent boogeyman ex-spouse. This seesawing was also visible in an even more vague discussion about the GOJ holding onto passports of potential abductors and abductees, except under exceptional circumstances that were mentioned but left undeveloped.

3) The GOJ, regarding contact between LBP and child, plans to “support the respect of visitation rights”, but it also leaves measures vague and expresses caution about doing much of anything, really.

All told, this level of discussion was pretty low. I found little concrete here to sink one’s teeth into regarding advising toward future policies guaranteeing the lynchpins to this discussion: joint custody and guaranteed visitation that goes beyond an hour a two a month. Not to mention return of internationally abducted children to their habitual residence as per the Hague. Others are welcome to read the text below and squeeze out whatever interpretations I may have missed. But given how much duplicity has taken place regarding the rights of LBPs in Japan up until now, I sadly remain unhopeful.

CRN: Left Behind Parents launch expert witness, consulting services to prevent International Parental Abduction

CRN: Now offering assistance to those with cases of Parental Abduction. Over 50 years combined experience.

PASS provides testimony in order to educate the courts, and put “safe-guards” into place to protect children from being wrongfully removed from the USA. Effective testimony can assist parents in their court cases by educating attorneys and judges about the risks of parental abduction and the dangers associated with it. PASS assists you in making sure that high risk cases are carefully examined by the courts. When needed PASS assists the courts in implementation of supervised visitation and port closure to protect at risk youth.

Testimony includes –
★ Training courts on the factors that indicate an individual is likely to commit an international child abduction
★ Assisting Judges in assessing the degrees of the risk of international child abduction
★ Presenting arguments regarding the sufficiency proposed custody order in preventing a potential international child abduction
★ Supplying Data on the likelihood that a foreign country will return an abducted child, and / or allow continued visitation

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2011

Table of Contents:

TOPICS OF PERSONAL INTEREST
1) Warning to Debito.org Commenters about being cyber-stalked; don’t use your real name as moniker anymore
2) Post #2000! Special Discussion: Making “friends” in Japan, successfully?
3) FCCJ Book Break evening June 28 for my book IN APPROPRIATE in Yurakucho, Tokyo. Let me know if you want to go.
4) Review of IN APPROPRIATE and interview at JETAA-NY’s Examiner.com
5) IN APPROPRIATE now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble
6) Donald Keene to naturalize, in a show of solidarity with the Japanese people, at age 88
7) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST MAY 7, 2011: Speech at Otaru Shoudai Dec 5, 2011: “The Otaru Onsens Case, Ten Years On”
8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2011

AFTERSHOCKS OF 3/11
9) Columnist Dan Gardner: “Why Japan took the nuclear risk”: Quick-fix energy during 1973-4 Oil Shocks
10) Kansai Time Out Feb ’08 on “Power and the People: Masaki Hisane keeps watch on Japan’s nuclear industry”
11) AFP: Japan tells tourists says ‘it’s safe’ to come back, with budgets to dispel “public misperceptions about the effects of the nuclear disaster”
12) Ekonomisuto gives better articles on effects of both NJ leaving Japan and tourists avoiding Japan
13) Nikkei reports on the effect of “nihon saru gaikokujin”, aka Fly-jin, with some pretty shaky journalistic practices
14) Mainichi: “Industries left short-handed after NJ workers flee Japan following nuke accident”
15) Zakzak headlines that NJ part-time staff flee Yoshinoya restaurant chain, and somehow threaten its profitability
16) JT/Kyodo: NJ key to Japan’s recovery, says Iokibe Makoto, chair of GOJ Reconstruction Design Council. Well, fancy that.
17) Nikkei Business magazine special (May 2, 2011) on the future and necessity of NJ labor to Japan
18) Sankei: MOJ proposes easier visas for importing “higher quality” NJ labor; neglects to offer NJ stronger civil or labor rights
19) Christopher Dillon, author of “LANDED: The Guide to Buying Property in Japan”, on earthquake insurance in Japan
20) Mainichi: “American teacher in Sendai stays in Japan to help with volunteer efforts”
21) Mainichi: “Many foreign residents wish to stay in Japan despite disaster: survey”
22) Tangent: “Foreigners Looking to Adopt Japanese Earthquake Orphans Need Not Apply”

… and finally …
23) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 39: “Better to be branded a ‘flyjin’ than a man of the ‘sheeple'” (May 3, 2011)
(This is a culmination of all the articles cited above.)

Chris Savoie wins US court award of $6.1 million against ex-wife for breach of contract, emotional distress, and false imprisonment of his children in Japan

Congratulations to Chris Savoie on his massive U.S. court victory against his ex-wife for, inter alia, false imprisonment of his children in Japan.

Debito.org has talked about the Savoie Case for quite some time now (do a search), but I devoted a Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column to it back in October 2009. I’m personally glad he’s staying the course, and seeking judicial recourse that is amounting to legally-binding agreement. This is setting an important precedent regarding the issue of international child abduction, and drawing attention to a long-neglected problem. Arudou Debito

PS: Note the lame (if not just plain inaccurate) headline by the Japan Times/Kyodo News on this, “Wife fined for taking children to Japan”; makes it sound like she got punished for being a tourist. Get on the ball. Call it what it is: Child abduction.

Review of my book IN APPROPRIATE and interview at JETAA-NY’s Examiner.com

Examiner.com: Divorce is tough, but divorce in Japan—especially if you’re a foreigner with kids—is a nightmare, explains Sapporo-based author Arudou Debito in his new book, “In Appropriate: A Novel of Culture, Kidnapping, and Revenge in Modern Japan”.

Originally raised in rural upstate New York as David Aldwinckle, Debito is a 23-year resident of Japan who obtained Japanese citizenship (and a name change) in 2000. As the Just Be Cause columnist at The Japan Times newspaper, his nonfiction books include Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants, and Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan.

A longtime watchdog for foreigners’ rights in Japan, Debito’s first English-language novel takes a scalpel to the polite, friendly façade that tourists typically experience. In Appropriate examines the downright ugly aspects of Japanese life when a father is cut from all ties with his children post-divorce, which is not only common in Japan, but upheld by 19th century law. In this exclusive interview, Debito discusses his personal experiences that inspired the book, his history as an activist, and his thoughts on the future of Japan.

Q: You’ve been known as an activist for over a decade and have published non-fiction works on the subject. What inspired you to write about child abduction in Japan, and what were your goals?

DEBITO: My goal with In Appropriate was to expose a dire social problem, as usual. But this time I thought fiction would be the better medium. Doing what I do, I hear a lot of stories about broken marriages in Japan, and having gone through a nasty divorce myself (seeing my children only about six times since 2003), I know a little bit about child abduction. What goes on in Japan beggars belief, but it’s hard to zero in on one non-fiction case and expect it to cover the scope of the problem.

Although international child abductions in other countries have gotten some press, the situation in Japan is much, much worse. Child abductions and parental alienation in Japan are, in a word, systematic—meaning they are hardly uncommon between Japanese, too (former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi is a famous example; he never saw one of his sons for nearly two decades). One parent after a divorce is generally expected to disappear, and have little to no contact with the children anymore. In Appropriate was meant as a primer to the issue.

Japan has no system of joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights, and under this system I cannot recommend anyone, Japanese or non-Japanese (NJ), get married under it and consider having children. The risk is too great. We need fundamental reform of the Family Registry System and the laws governing divorce and child custody first.

Q: Give us a basic overview on the phenomenon of kidnapping and left-behind parents in Japan….

FCCJ No.1 Shimbun: A killing separation: Two French fathers suicide 2010 after marital separation and child abduction

Amid rumblings that Japan will sign the Hague Convention on Child Abductions this year (the Yomiuri says it’s currently being “mulled”), here’s another reason why it should be signed — child abductions after separation or divorce are driving parents to suicide. Read on. The Yomiuri articles follow.

FCCJ: The life and career of Arnaud Simon once could have exemplified the excellent relationship between Japan and France. A young French historian teaching in Tokyo, Simon was preparing a thesis on the history of thought during the Edo Period. He was married to a Japanese woman. They had one son.

But on Nov. 20, Arnaud Simon took his own life. He hanged himself. He did not need to leave an explanatory note; his closest friends knew he had lost the appetite for living because his wife would not allow Simon to see his son after their marriage broke up. Simon apparently tried on multiple occasions to take his boy home from school, but the police blocked the young father each time.

“The lawyers he met were trying to appease him, not help him,” one of his former colleagues remembers.

Another Frenchman in the same situation, Christophe Guillermin, committed suicide in June. These two deaths are terrible reminders of the hell some foreign parents inhabit in Japan – and because of Japan. When a couple separates here, custody of any children is traditionally awarded to the mother. After that, the children rarely have contact with the “other side”; they are supposed to delete the losing parent from their lives…

CRNJapan’s checklist for avoiding J child abductions during marital problems

Just In Case: A Parental Abduction Preparedness Checklist

The Japan Children’s Rights Network in response to the ever increasing number of International Parental Abductions to Japan has released a preparation guide for all of those in intimate relationships / Marriage with a Japanese citizen. This guide is the “get your affairs in order” guide to making sure that when and if your Japanese significant other abducts your child you are prepared. Please email webmaster@crnjapan.net with any questions / additions.

Here is a checklist of things to do if you are about to get a divorce, or if you are worried that the Japanese parent might try to take your children at some time in the future. (Some of this applies generally to all kinds of child abduction and is advisable to do anyways, even if you are not worried right now.) Some applies only if you are in Japan, and some applies only if you are not.

Make sure to store all information in a safe place where the child’s other parent cannot get to it, such as a safe deposit box that only you can enter, or a friend or relative’s home. Also, to help ensure that others do not misuse this information, you as the parent should be the only person to keep this information about your child. You should be wary of gadgets and gimmicks that purport to protect your child or any sort of data-collection or registration services that store information about your child. There is no substitute to collecting and storing this information yourself.

The List (a pre-divorce checklist)

1.Make sure that your marriage is registered on your Japanese spouse’s Family Registry. (koseki).

2.Make sure that you are registered on the Japanese spouse’s Family Registry. (koseki) as the parent of each of your children. (You can order these from outside Japan with forms from here.)

3.Get copies of Japanese spouse’s Family Registry. (koseki) and a current Residency Registration (juminhyou) from the appropriate local government office. Note that foreign spouses are never listed on the actual juuminhyou, but if you ask, they may list you in the remarks section. Make sure to request this so that you have proof that you were living together. (Some government offices still wont do it, but many will.)…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 12, 2010 (forgot to blog)

Table of Contents:
DEVELOPMENTS
1) The 2010 Japan Census from October 1: Flash GOJ multilingual site explaining what it’s all about
2) Summer Tangent: DailyFinance.com on Japan’s generation-long economic stagnation leading to a lost generation of youth
3) Keishicho Kouhou on organized crime in Japan: Places NJ gangs in context for a change
4) Wash Post: “Strict immigration rules may threaten Japan’s future”, focus on nursing program
5) Thrice-convicted crooked Dietmember Suzuki Muneo gets his: Supreme Court rejects appeal, jail time looms
6) Kyodo: Japan to join The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Uncertain when.

ACTIVISM ON BOTH SIDES
7) NYT: “New Dissent in Japan Is Loudly Anti-Foreign”
8 ) Success Story: Takamado English Speech Contest reform their “Japanese Only”, er, “Non-English Speakers Only” rules
9) Meeting with US Embassy Tokyo Sept 9, regarding State Dept. Country Reports on Human Rights
10) Asahi: Zaitokukai arrests: Rightist adult bullies of Zainichi schoolchildren being investigated
11) “The Cove” Taiji Dolphin protesters cancel local demo due to potential Rightist violence
12) Japan will apologize for Korean Annexation 100 years ago and give back some war spoils. Bravo.
13) Sendaiben digs deeper on those Narita Airport racially-profiling Instant NPA Checkpoints
14) M-Net Magazine publishes FRANCA March 2010 report to UN Rapporteur in Japanese

INTERESTING TANGENTS
15) Economist.com summary of Amakudari system
16) Coleman Japan Inc. has instructions “For Japanese Consumers Only”
17) Discussion: “If you could change one thing about a society…”

… and finally …
18) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: ‘Don’t blame JET for Japan’s bad English”

Kyodo: Japan to join The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Uncertain when.

The GOJ just said it will join the Hague Convention (on Child Abductions, not child custody, as entitled below; guess that’s more palatable to readers), something sorely needed in in a society which acts as a haven for international child kidnapping after divorce. It’s an important announcement, with a couple of caveats: 1) It hasn’t happened yet (or it’s uncertain when it will happen, so it’s not quite news), and 2) it’s unclear, as the article notes (and many Debito.org Readers believe, according to a recent poll here) that Japan will properly enforce it if it does ratify (as it has done in the past with, say, the Convention on Racial Discrimination) with laws guaranteeing joint custody and/or visitation rights. Good news, kinda. Wait and see.

Kyodo: Japan has decided to become a party to a global treaty on child custody as early as next year amid growing calls abroad for the country to join it to help resolve custody problems resulting from failed international marriages, government sources said Saturday.

The government will develop domestic laws in line with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides a procedure for the prompt return of ‘‘abducted’’ children to their habitual country of residence and protects parental access rights, the sources said.

Complaints have been growing over cases in which a Japanese parent, often a mother, brings a child to Japan without the consent of the foreign parent, or regardless of custody determination in other countries, and denies the other parent access to the child…

However, the government has yet to determine when to ratify the treaty, as it is expected to take time to develop related domestic laws because of differences in the legal systems of Japan and other signatory nations.

Mar 27 2010 NGO FRANCA Tokyo meeting minutes

Here is an abridged version of the NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) minutes I sent out today, regarding our exceptional Tokyo meeting last night in International House, Roppongi. It was a full house, with fifteen attendees, four of whom became dues-paying members. People attending were from a variety of backgrounds, from corporate to techie to journalist to academic to relative newcomer.

We got a lot discussed. We had so many voices describing their experiences in Japan (from employment issues to bike and passport checks to child abductions to domestic politics) that it was difficult to get through my powerpoint! (I did, and you can download it revised at http://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt.

We added to the list of possible FRANCA future projects:

Japan Times update on current J child abductions after divorce & Hague Treaty nego: USG still pressuring GOJ

The following Japan Times article wouldn’t normally be put up on Debito.org yet because the negotiation is ongoing (covering much the same argumentative ground as already reported here), and nothing necessarily decisive has been decided. However, a new development in the USG’s constant-looking pressure on the GOJ to sign the Hague, and do something about its citizens using Japan as a haven for child abductions after divorce, is the fact that somebody official is bothering to answer the GOJ claim that obeying the Hague would mean sending back J children to be endangered by an abusive NJ parent (I’ll take that as a slur, thank you very much). Excerpts from the JT article below.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 28, 2010

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 27, 2010
Table of Contents:

WHY THINGS DON’T CHANGE
1) Dejima Award for racist Sumo Kyoukai: Decides to count naturalized Japanese as foreigners and limit stables to one “foreigner”
(this will be the subject of my next JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE column, due out March 2, 2010)
2) Colin Jones and Daily Yomiuri on J judiciary’s usurpingly paternal attitudes re families post-divorce
3) SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record
4) Kyodo & Mainichi: 14 prefectures now oppose NJ PR suffrage (Debito.org names them)

WHY THINGS ARE CHANGING
5) International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010
6) Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty
7) Japan Times: Foreign press pulling out of Japan in favor of China
8 ) Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win Y17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”
9) DailyFinance.com: McDonald’s Japan loses big, shutting 430 outlets, thanks in part to “Mr James” campaign
10) Japan Times: Immigration dropping social insurance requirement for visa renewal
11) Comfort Hotel Nagoya unlawfully tries Gaijin Card check on NJ resident, admits being confused by GOJ directives

THEN THERE IS OUTRIGHT NASTINESS
12) Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.
13) Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document
14) Ariel updates experience with not-random Gaijin Card and Passport Checks by Narita cops
15) Day Care Center in Tokorozawa, Saitama teaches toddlers “Little Black Sambo”, complete with the epithets
16) Kyodo et.al falls for NPA spins once again, headlines NJ “white collar crime” rise despite NJ crime fall overall
17) Laura Petrescu, MEXT Scholar, update: Bowing out of Japan, reasons why.

TANGENTS
18) Olympic Tangent: US-born Reed siblings skate for “Team Japan” despite one being too old to have dual nationality
19) UK Independent: Toyota’s problems being pinned on foreign parts.
20) Debito.org Poll: “Are you rooting for Team Japan in the Vancouver Olympics?” Vote on any blog page http://www.debito.org
21) LA Times: “Korea activists target foreign English teachers”
22) Odd treatment of “naturalized” people (guess who) by Air Canada/Canadian Government at Narita Airport
23) Dentistry in Canada, wow, what a difference!

… and finally …
24) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column on Middle Age (full text)

Colin Jones and Daily Yomiuri on J judiciary’s usurpingly paternal attitudes re families post-divorce

One more piece in the puzzle about why divorces with children in tow in Japan are so problematic. As we’ve discussed here before umpteen times, Japan does not allow joint custody (thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system etc.), nor does it guarantee visitation rights. Following below is another excellent article by Colin Jones on why that is — because Japan’s paternalistic courts and bureaucrats believe they know more than the parents about what’s best for the child. It’s one more reason why I believe that without substantial reforms, nobody should marry (Japanese or NJ) and have children under the Japanese system as it stands right now.

International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010

Various media: Envoys of eight countries met the Japanese foreign minister Jan 30, 2010, to press the government to sign a treaty to prevent international parental child abductions.

Activists say that thousands of foreign parents have lost access to children in Japan, where the courts virtually never award child custody to a divorced foreign parent.

Japan is the only nation among the Group of Seven industrialised nations that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention that requires countries to return a child wrongfully kept there to their country of habitual residence.

In the latest move to urge Tokyo to sign the convention, envoys from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the United States expressed their concerns to Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada…

The envoys’ visit to Okada followed their meeting with Justice Minister Keiko Chiba in October, as they hope Japan’s new centre-left government, which ended a half-century of conservative rule in September, will review the issue.

Activist groups estimate that over the years up to 10,000 dual-citizenship children in Japan have been prevented from seeing a foreign parent.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2010

Table of Contents:
PROMISES OF REFORM
1) Asahi: MOJ & MEXT crafting “point system” for immigration policy
2) Asahi: Nagoya to withdraw from Juki Net system, while dogs (not NJ) get juuminhyou
3) Japan Times on proposal to convert Itami Airport into “International Campus Freedom City”
(Plus DEBITO.ORG POLL: What do you think about Osaka Gov’s proposal to scrap Itami Airport and create a “International Campus Freedom City”?”

THINGS THAT NEED REFORM
4) Racist statements from Xenophobe Dietmember Hiranuma re naturalized J Dietmember
5) Japan Times Colin Jones on anachronistic Koseki System, how lack of family laws affect J divorces
6) Why we fight: Media on J birth rate decrease and population decline acceleration
7) Taikibansei & Cabby on mixed experiences of visa treatment depending on location of Immigration Office. What about others?
8 ) Japan Times Amy Chavez comes unglued with weird “Japan Lite” column: “How about a gaijin circus in gazelle land?”
9) Momoyama Gakuin Daigaku blocks online campus access to Debito.org. Just like Misawa Air Force Base.

TANGENTS
10) Economist article excerpt on being foreign worldwide
11) Gallup Poll says 700 million desire to migrate permanently
12) Economist passim on “Global Creativity Index”, which ranks Japan over USA in terms of creativity
13) On the 15th anniversary of the Kobe Earthquake: My first activism in Japan: Eyewitness essays when I volunteered down there
14) Tidy free FCCJ Scholarship up for grabs, deadline Feb 15

… and finally …
15) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST FEBRUARY 1, 2010 (from Debito.org and iTunes)

Japan Times Colin Jones on anachronistic Koseki System, how lack of family laws affect J divorces

In a breathtakingly excellent article that only the Japan Times can give us, we have Colin P.A. Jones once again offering eye-opening historical research and commentary on how family law in Japan (or lack thereof) has been created so much on the fly that few accommodations are made for modern circumstances. In fact, Colin claims below, many circumstances (such as birth registries in complicated circumstances, or joint custody after divorces) are so inconceivable to this anachronistic system that people’s lives are forced to conform to it for its convenience, not the other way around. It’s so bad that even the Koreans wised up and abolished theirs recently. So should Japan. Read excerpt below.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column with my top ten NJ human rights issues for 2009

Opening: They say that human rights advances come in threes: two steps forward and one back. 2009, however, had good news and bad on balance. For me, the top 10 human rights events of the year that affected non-Japanese (NJ) were, in ascending order:

10) “Mr. James”, 9) “The Cove”, 8) The pocket knife/pee dragnets (tie), 7) “Itchy and Scratchy” (another tie), 6) “Newcomers” outnumber “oldcomers”, 5) Sakanaka Proposals for a “Japanese-style immigration nation”, 4) IC-chipped “gaijin cards” and NJ juminhyo residency certificates (tie), 3) The Savoie child abduction case, 2) The election of the DPJ, and 1) The “Nikkei repatriation bribe”.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 20, 2009

Table of Contents:
NEW PET PEEVES
1) The ludicrousness of Japan’s Salary Bonus System: How it contributes to Japan’s deflationary spiral
2) Health insurance advocate “Free Choice Foundation” is fronting US health insurance business
3) One NJ exchange student’s rotten experience as a J MOE-MEXT ryuugakusei
4) Mainichi: Senior Immigration Bureau officer arrested on suspicion of corruption
5) NPA now charging suspect Ichihashi with Hawker murder, not just “abandoning her corpse”. Why the delay?
6) Bern Mulvey JALT presentation on flawed MEXT university accreditation system

OLD PET PEEVES:
7) Kyodo: GOJ responsible for hardship facing Ainu, incl racial profiling by J police on the street!
8 ) GS on Michael Moore’s rights to complain about being fingerprinted at Japanese border
9) US Congress Lantos HR Commission on J Child Abductions issue: Letters to Obama & Clinton, my submission for Congressional Record
10) UN News: “Ending complacency key to fighting discrimination worldwide”
11) EU Observer: “Racism at shocking levels” in European Union

HOLIDAY TANGENTS:
12) Debito.org Podcast December 20, 2009 (with un-serious articles for a change)
13) Behind the scenes from Copenhagen EcoSummit (COP15), Eric Johnston blog
14) Headachingly bad Japan travelogue by Daily Beast’s “new travel columnist” Jolie Hunt. Whale on it.
15) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column out Tues January 5, 2010.
Topic: Roundup: The most significant human rights advances in Japan in 2009.

… and finally …
16) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column Dec 2009: Top 9 Things I Like about Japan (full text)

US Congress Lantos HR Commission on J Child Abductions issue: Letters to Obama & Clinton, my submission for Congressional Record

Last week I reported on the US Congress’s investigation of Japan as a haven for international child abductions, and a December 4, 2009 hearing that many of the Left-Behind Parents attended and issued statements to. The Congressman Lantos Human Rights Commission has since issued letters, signed by several Congresspeople, to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, requesting they personally meet with select representatives of the LBP and consider their issue. Scans of those letters enclosed below.

I was also invited to write a statement, as a LBP myself, for inclusion in the Congressional Record. The text of that follows the Obama and Clinton letters.

Conclusion to my statement: “In sum, it is my belief that, with Family Laws in Japan as they stand, nobody (Japanese citizen or non-Japanese) should get married and have children in Japan. The risk is just too great. Too many children are getting hurt by a system that encourages Parental Alienation Syndrome, and creates single-parent households that can be acrimonious to the point of deterring the children from becoming parents themselves.

“I urge Congress to encourage Japan not only to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, but also reform its long-outdated Family Law structure. Allow for joint custody and enforced child visitation backed up by criminal law penalties — for the sake of not only American citizens, but also us Japanese citizens.”

Dec 3 2PM Diet Lower House Symposium on GOJ signing Hague Convention on Child Abductions, do attend

Date: December 3, 2009
Time: 2 pm ~ 4 pm
Place: Second Members Office Building of the Lower House
First Meeting Room

Contents:

1. Treatment of children after divorce – Comparison between German Law and Japanese Law
Lecturer: Law Professor Hirohito Suzuki of Chuo University
2. Hague Convention and Domestic Law ( Civil law, Habeas Corpus Act and Domestic Cause Inquiries Act, etc)
Lecturer: Professor Masayuki Tanamura of Waseda Law School
3. Speakers: Professor, Diet Members, Embassy officials, Left Behind Parents
Honorary Speaker: Attorney Mamoru Isobe, former Supreme Court Probation Officer, former President of Nagoya District and Family Courts, and former President of Nagano District and Family Courts

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2009

Table of Contents:
DISCRIMINATION TOPICS
1) UN CERD Questions to GOJ re elimination of racial discrim (CERD/C/JPN/Q/3-6 Nov 17 2009)
2) NPR interview with Jake Adelstein, author “Tokyo Vice”, on how police and laws do not stop NJ human trafficking in Japan
3) “Japanese speakers only” Kyoto exclusionary hotel stands by its rules, says it’s doing nothing unlawful
4) UPDATE: Kyoto Tourist Association replies, tells Kyoto hotel “Kyou no Yado” to stop “Japanese speakers only” rules

IMMIGRATION TOPICS
5) AFP: PM Hatoyama strongly hints he wants immigration to Japan (bonus: PM Hatoyama Newsletter Nov 4)
6) Ruling coalition currently not considering NJ human rights laws beyond PR suffrage: Dietmember Aihara
7) Mainichi: DPJ split over bill to give NJ permanent residents right to vote
8 ) Mainichi: Schools for foreigners, technical colleges included in DPJ’s free high school lesson plan. IF already MOE “accredited”
9) Xinhua & Chosun Ilbo: South Korea has drafted dual nationality laws
10) Scotchneat on Fuji TV show laying blind biological claims to intellectual Asian kids abroad

UPDATED TOPICS
11) TODAY show (USA) on Savoie Child Abduction Case: father Chris’s treatment by J police, return to US, aftermath
12) Mutantfrog’s Joe Jones’s excellent discussion of rights and wrongs of divorce in Japan; causes stark conclusions for me
13) Brief essay on Nov 13 Hatoyama-Obama press conference; discussion of Obama’s Japan visit

OFFBEAT TOPICS
14) DEBITO.ORG POLL: What do you think about Obama’s “deep bow cum handshake” with the Emperor?
15) Tangent: Korea Herald: Attitudes in Korea towards budget travelers: open up love hotels?
16) Holiday Tangent: Delightful Maure Memorial Museum in the middle of nowhere, Hokkaido

DEBITO.ORG TOPICS
17) All of DEBITO.ORG’S PODCASTS are now available at iTunes, subscribe for free
18) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out Tues Dec 1, on advice to DPJ re NJ policies

… and finally …
19) Sunday Tangent: SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO Column on the power of humor and how it preserves sanity (full text)

Mutantfrog’s Joe Jones’s excellent discussion of rights and wrongs of divorce in Japan; causes stark conclusions for me

I often stop by an excellent website run by some young-Turk commentators on Japan called Mutantfrog. Full of insight and well-thought-out essays, one caught my eye a few weeks ago regarding what the Savoie Child Abduction Case has brought to the fore about divorce in Japan. It made me draw some harsh conclusions. Here they are:

NOBODY SHOULD GET MARRIED AND HAVE CHILDREN UNDER THE CURRENT MARRIAGE LAWS AND FAMILY REGISTRATION SYSTEM IN JAPAN.

NOT JAPANESE. NOT NON-JAPANESE. NOT ANYONE.

Because if people marry and have kids, one parent will lose them, meaning all legal ties, custody rights, and visitation rights, in the event of a divorce. This is not good for the children.

Japan has had marriage laws essentially unamended since 1898! (See Fuess, Divorce in Japan) Clearly this does not reflect a modern situation, and until this changes people should go Common-Law (also not an option in Japan), and make it clear to their representatives that Japan’s current legal situation is not family-friendly enough for them to tie the knot.

Some reforms necessary:

Abolition of the Koseki Family Registration system (because that is what makes children property of one parent or the other, and puts NJ at a huge disadvantage).

Recognize Visitation Rights (menkai ken) for both parents during separation and after divorce.

Recognize Joint Custody (kyoudou kango ken) after divorce.

Enforce the Hague Convention on Child Abductions and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Enforce overseas custody court decisions in Japanese courts.

Recognize “Irreconcilable Differences” (seikaku no fuitchi) as grounds for divorce.

Shorten legal separation (bekkyo) times from the current benchmark of around five years to one or two.

Stock the Mediation Councils (choutei) with real professionals and trained marriage counselors (not yuushikisha (“people with awareness”), who are essentially folks off the street with no standardized credentials).

Strengthen Family Court powers to enforce contempt of court for perjury (lying is frequent in divorce proceedings and currently essentially unpunishable), and force police to enforce court orders involving restraining orders and domestic violence (Japanese police are disinclined to get involved in family disputes).

Open Letter to Pres. Obama re Nov 12 Japan Visit and Child Abductions from Left-Behind Parent

Conclusion: When you meet with Prime Minister Hatoyama, please remind him of his statements. There is no need to wait another two years to implement the rights Japan agreed to uphold when they became signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Please walk right up to Mr. Hatoyama, look him squarely in the eye, and tell him non-custodial parents must have immediate access to their children. Let the Japanese Government know that there is no room for negotiation. Please uphold both parental and children’s fundamental human rights. The Lord knows I have done about all I can. I have fought inside and outside of Japanese Courts with everything I’ve have left. I’ve been jailed, placed in solitary confinement, and stripped of all my assets for trying be a father.

Mr. President, like so many other left behind parents, I pray every night to see my children for years. Please use your office and your voice to make this happen. There are so many parents who have renewed hopes since you have taken office. When you come to Japan for talks with the Japanese Government please make this issue an important part of the discussion. YES WE CAN!

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2009

Table of Contents:
CHILD ABDUCTION ISSUE STILL HAS LEGS
1) Letter from US Senators Boxer and Corker to Obama re Child Abductions, for his Nov 12 visit to Japan
2) Joint statement by eight governments re Japan’s untenable stance on international child abductions
3) Global Post’s Justin McCurry on Savoie Child Abduction Case. Issue isn’t passe yet.
4) Letter to Prime Minister Hatoyama regarding Child Abductions and legislative lag, from a Left-Behind Parent
5) MSNBC.com/AP on left-behind dads in Japan regardless of nationality

FALLOUT FROM ISSUES OF LABOR, HISTORY, IMMIGRATION, DOLPHIN AND OTHER SLAUGHTERS
6) Mainichi: Numerous foreign trainees forced to work under harsh conditions in Japan, even to death
7) Mainichi: Chinese trainees file complaint with labor bureau over 350 yen per hour overtime
8 ) Sakanaka Hidenori’s latest paper on assimilation of NJ now translated into English, full text
9) Economist.com BANYAN column on DPJ moves to right historical wrongs
10) Fallout from “The Cove”: TV’s “South Park” takes on Japan’s dolphin slaughters and whale hunts
11) Tangent: Microsoft apologizes for photoshopping out black man from its Poland advertising. Contrast with “Mr James”
12) Tangent: Japan Times reporter Eric Johnston on getting freelance reporting jobs in Japan
13) Tokyo International Players present “Honiefaith”, true story of NJ murder, Nov 6-7-8 in Shibuya’s OUR SPACE Theater
14) New Debito.org Poll: “What should be the DPJ’s NUMBER ONE priority policy for helping NJ in Japan?”

… and finally …
15) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Tues Nov 3 on Japan politicization of demographic science

MSNBC.com/AP on left-behind dads in Japan regardless of nationality

Slightly dated article recently published in the South China Morning Post, but still worth a read, for how the issues of Japanese family law and child abductions affect Japanese too:

AP: Yoshida has banded together with other divorced fathers to form a support group, one of several that have sprung up in recent years.

A few lawyers and lawmakers have showed support for their cause. A bar association group is studying parenting and visitation arrangements in other countries such as Australia.

Japan also faces a growing number of international custody disputes. The U.S., Britain, France and Canada have urged Japan to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which has been signed by 80 countries. It seeks to standardize laws among participating countries to ensure that custody decisions can be made by appropriate courts and protect the rights of access of both parents.

Japan’s government has argued that signing the convention may not protect Japanese women and their children from abusive foreign husbands. Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said this week that officials were reviewing the matter.

Divorced fathers say that joining the Hague convention would be a major step toward bringing the possibility of joint custody to Japan because it would require a major overhaul of the country’s family laws.

Shibuya Street Rally Sat Oct 24 lunchtime on Rights of Children and the Hague Convention

Street Rally this Saturday (Oct. 24) on Rights of Children and the Hague Convention
Dear parents, friends, and friends of the media,

In connection with UN Week 2009, and to commemorate the founding on the UN on October 24, a street rally will be held this Saturday to support the Rights of Children, Joint Custody and Visitation, and the Hague Convention.

The rally will begin at 1:30 pm from Shibuya (meeting in front of muscle theatre at 12:30 pm) and will march to Children’s Castle in Aoyama. (Please see attached flyer below).

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 22, 2009

Table of Contents:
MORE ON THE SAVOIE CHILD ABDUCTION CASE
1) CBS News interviews Chris Savoie after his return to US
2) Joseph pieces together plausible timeline in Savoie Case, finds for Christopher
3) Colin Jones in Japan Times: What the media attention from Savoie Child Abduction Case highlights
4) Colin Jones II: How J media is portraying J divorcees and child abductors as victims, NJ as perps
5) Asahi Shinbun Editorial: Child abduction in Japan, English Translation tweaks for NJ audience
6) CSM’s Kambayashi ties up Savoie Case, alludes to gender discrimination
7) The Atlantic Monthly on mercenary child-retrievers, mentions Japan
8 ) Foreign Policy.com: US Govt advised Chris Savoie to get children to Fukuoka Consulate! Plus lots more media.
9) The Toland Child Abduction Case: making waves in the wake of the Savoie Case
10) Wiegert Case of child custody awarded to NJ: In 1984! A precedent, anyway.

ASIDE FROM THE SAVOIE CASE
11) YouTube: right-wing xenophobia: rightists resort to street violence to shut people up
12) Query: Driver License schools now checking NJ visas? (UPDATE: Also Postal Savings)
13) Reuters on skater Yuko Kawaguchi: How Japan’s lack of dual nationality brands her a “traitor”
14) Sunday Tangent: China Daily on Chinese African-American girl facing racism in China
15) JK: recent moves by Japan’s Immigration Bureau that seem like loosening but not really
16) Tangent: Japanese family wants to become naturalized Korean citizens
17) McDonald’s “Mr James” in Shuukan Kin’youbi — the only Japanese press coverage the issue got
18) Contacting San Fran Human Rights Comm re Japan Times letter to the editor from exclusionary landlord

… and finally …
19) Presentation at Japan Writer’s Conference Sat Oct 17, Doshisha Women’s Univ.
On how to write quickly, concisely, and with panache (link to handout)

Asahi Shinbun EDITORIAL: Child abduction in Japan English Translation

Official English translation of the Asahi Editorial on the Child Abduction issue, with Japanese in previous entry today. There are some tweaks within, to eliminate “culture” as a factor in some places, while other places add it (as in, the lack of a “culture” of joint custody? Isn’t that a legal issue?). And how about the literal translation of Japan signing the Hague Convention now could be “as ineffective as grafting a shoot onto a different kind of tree” (I’m glad the original Japanese didn’t use an expression involving breeding dogs or something). Again, the need to “protect our own from NJ” is still too strong; the argument should be how everyone in Japan benefits regardless of nationality if you safeguard rights of custody and access a la international treaty.

In translation, the Asahi: “At present, divorced Japanese parents whose children have been taken abroad by their non-Japanese ex-spouses have no legal recourse. The ranks of Japanese citizens marrying non-Japanese are swelling steadily, and the number tops 40,000 a year. It is probably not realistic for Japan to continue avoiding the Hague Convention.”

朝日社説:「国際離婚紛争—親権や面接権の議論を」

The Asahi has this editorial from two days ago, in which it talks about the international attention being brought upon Japan for the child abductions issue. It gives a surprisingly balanced view. Although it threatens twice to devolve into issues of “differing customs and laws”, it does say that the Hague Convention should be signed, joint custody would still be an issue even if it was signed, and that abducted children should be returned. But then it falls into parroting the claim (promoted by crank lawyers like Onuki Kensuke without any statistical evidence) that “not a small number” (sukunakunai) of Japanese wives abducting their children are victims of NJ domestic violence. It also merely alludes to the fact that child abductions happen in Japan regardless of nationality, and that conditions under the Hague would help Japanese as well. Again, there’s just a little too much “Japanese as victim” mentality that somehow always manages to sneak back into any domestic-press arguments.

文化も法も異なる国の間で、離婚後の子の親権や監護権に関する紛争をどう解決するか。ハーグ条約という共通ルールに従うべきだという主張には説得力がある。現状では日本から海外へ子を連れ去られた場合も、自力救済しか手段がない。日本人による国際結婚は着実に増加しており、年間4万件を超えている。条約加盟を避け続けるのは、現実的ではないだろう。

Foreign Policy.com on Savoie Case: US Govt advised father Chris to get children to Fukuoka Consulate! Plus lots more media.

Foreign Policy.com reports something interesting, and if true, exposes a deeper grain of irresponsibility within the USG:

“Even before Savoie traveled to Japan, he contacted the State Department’s Office for Citizen Services to ask for advice on how to get his children out of Japan. State Department officials advised Savoie that because a U.S. court had awarded him sole custody on Aug. 17, he could apply for new passports for the children if he could get them to the Fukuoka consulate.”

Well, that didn’t happen. More media (not only on Savoie Case) in this blog entry, including accusations of Savoie being tortured in prison (it would be tantamount to such under international standards, as the UN has stated about Japan in the past), a divorced international family containing a child with a medical condition being financially strangled by court limbo, and Noriko Savoie reportedly complaining that she was treated “like a babysitter” and cheated out of money in the divorce settlement! Boy I’m glad I’m not a divorce lawyer.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 8, 2009

SPECIAL ON THE SAVOIE CHILD ABDUCTION CASE
Table of Contents:
THE STORY BREAKS
1) CNN and NBC TODAY Show: American Christopher Savoie attempts to recover his abducted kids,
is turned away from Fukuoka Consulate, arrested for “kidnapping”
2) CBS EARLY SHOW on the Case
3) US Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) calls for action against Japan’s child abductions, introduces legislation to US Congress
4) Brett Weed on US State Dept Human Rights Bureau’s willful ignorance of Japan’s child abduction

THINGS GET MESSY
5) Tokyo Shinbun and Mainichi weigh in on Savoie
6) More media on the Savoie (CNN, CBS, Stars&Stripes, AP, BBC, Japan Times, local TV). What a mess.
7) Court Transcripts of Christopher vs. Noriko Savoie
8 ) My final thoughts on Savoie in Japan Times column (plus more media: WSJ, NYT, CNN)

TRYING TO DISENTANGLE
9) Terrie’s Take offers the best piece yet on the Savoie Case
10) CNN on the upcoming documentary FROM THE SHADOWS re Japan’s Child Abductions issue
11) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Oct 6 column on Savoie and Japan’s “Disappeared Dads” (full text)

12) DEBITO.ORG BLOG POLL: 39% think Christopher did the right thing. But…

… and finally … something lighter
13) SOUR STRAWBERRIES Cinema Debut Oct 10th-30th every day, Cine Nouveau Osaka Kujo

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE on Savoie Child Abduction Case and Japan’s “Disappeared Dads”

Japan Times: But as with all social problems left to fester, things are only getting worse. U.S. Congressman Chris Smith announced Sept. 29 that reported child abductions have increased “60 percent in the last three years.” No doubt contributing to this rise is the grapevine effect among expat Japanese — a quick Web search shows that all a potential abductor needs do is board a plane to Japan and they’re scot-free.

Injustice breeds drastic actions. How long before a vigilante parent takes the law so far that somebody gets injured or killed?

Japan wants to avoid a demographic nightmare as its population drops. International marriage is one solution. But this threat of abduction is now a prime deterrent to marrying any Japanese. One domestic spat with a threat to kidnap the kids and conjugal trust is permanently destroyed.

But just signing the Hague convention won’t fix things. Japan has, after all, inked umpteen international treaties (like the above-mentioned UNCRC), and ignores them by not enacting enforceable domestic laws. I don’t anticipate any exception here: Japan giving more parental rights to non-Japanese through treaties than they would their own citizens? Inconceivable.

What’s necessary is more radical…

Terrie’s Take offers the best piece yet on the Savoie Child Abduction Case

Terrie’s Take offers the best piece I’ve seen yet on the Savoie Child Abduction Case. Excerpt:

HOWEVER, again, we can only speculate about what really happened, and until the facts are made public, we can probably assume that Savoie was acting logically throughout — in that he was trying to get his soon-to-be ex-wife and kids into a jurisdiction (the U.S.) where the law protects BOTH parents rights and upholds the concept of joint custody. Whether his behavior is cruel or is manipulative is beside the point. Savoie would have known that if his divorce was contested in Japan, he would have been 100% guaranteed to have lost his kids, and would have been at the whim of his wife whether or not he would be able to see them ever again as children…

Since there appears to be little will by the judiciary to change their ways or values, any change in the status quo needs to be a political one — using outside political pressure (“Gaiatsu”). This is a long-term project unfortunately, but it does give us a possible motive why an otherwise intelligent individual such as Savoie may have been driven to try kidnap his kids when such an undertaking would have such a high possibility for failure.

Finally, our take is that what he did is not right, but under the current legal system, it is understandable. We think similar incidents will happen again until things change.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 16, 2008

////////////////////////////////////////////////////
THINK OF THE CHILDREN…
1) Terrie’s Take on how NJ workers are the first to go in adverse economic conditions
2) Mainichi: Brazilian ethnic school closing due to NJ job cuts
3) Jason’s blog on next employment steps in Japan for NJ
4) Japan Times: Eric Johnston on Gunma NGO stopping ijime towards NJ students
5) AP: US court rules Japan has jurisdiction in child joint custody case
6) Sydney Morning Herald: Little Hope for Japan’s Abandoned Fathers

OTHER THINKS:
7) Grauniad: Japan comes down hard on Greenpeace whaling activists
8) Thoughts on seeing the Dalai Lama at the FCCJ Nov 3, 2008
9) Economist.com: Bilateral agreements to give US servicemen immunity from Japanese criminal procedure

… and finally…
10) Travelling around Japan in New Years’ and March. Want me to come speak?
Join me for Tokyo beers in January?
////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Mainichi: Japan would help children of international marriages by signing child abduction convention

Addendum to yesterday’s entry, complete with little needles in the article trying to poke holes in the NJ case:

“Kensuke Onuki, a lawyer familiar with the issue, is opposed to Japan signing the convention, based on the viewpoint of Japan protecting its own citizens.

“In over 90 percent of cases in which the Japanese women return to Japan, the man is at fault, such as with domestic violence and child abuse,” Onuki says. He says that when the Japanese women come back to Japan, they don’t bring with them evidence of domestic violence or other problems, making their claims hard to prove, and the voice of the man saying, “Give me back my child,” tends to be heard louder.”

I wonder where he got the figure of 90% from? From his practice of representing NJ clients (one of my friends hired him, and says he’ll fire him after this comment).

Kyodo: ‘Institutional racism’ lets Japan spouses abduct kids

Clarke, 38, who lives in central England, has since been given an order from the British courts that declares that the children are “habitually resident” in Britain, and he claims his wife would be prosecuted under English law if she returned.

However, the family judge in Ibaraki Prefecture has told Clarke informally that if his case went to court, he would not order that the children return home or give Clarke access.

The judge explained that it was “complicated” and he did not have the powers to enforce an order coming from a British court, Clarke said.

Critics claim this habitual refusal from family courts stems from the fact that Japan has not yet ratified the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction…

“The message to Japanese nationals is that they can commit crimes on foreign soil and if they get home in time they won’t face extradition,” he said.

He said he has had little help from the British Embassy or government in his fight.