BAChome: US Consulate Osaka refuses to aid American citizen child abducted in Japan who came to them for help


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

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Hi Blog.  Here’s the USG demonstrating how much it cares for the welfare of its American citizens abroad (despite being one of the few countries that taxes its citizens abroad).  One might make the case that the USG’s missions abroad are basically to project hegemony and maintain weapons sales.  I wouldn’t, though, never ever.  But this case is a nonsense and the State Department’s negligent Office of Children’s Issues should hang its head in shame and make people accountable for refusing to help.  Arudou Debito



U.S. Consulate in Japan Gives Kidnapped Child Back To Her Captor
Osaka, Japan – August 31, 2011, courtesy EK and TK
Different version at

On August 24, 2011, 14 year-old Mary Victoria Lake, a U.S. citizen, who was kidnapped by her mother and taken to Japan in 2005, in one of the most high-profile international kidnapping cases in the United States, walked into the U.S. consulate in Osaka, Japan. She asked to be rescued from her kidnapper, an act of enormous bravery by a teenager who has been cut off from her father and held captive overseas for the past six years. Indifferent and incompetent U.S. Consular officials refused to aid or rescue her and instead sent her back to her kidnapper.

Her father, William Lake, was later informed of his daughter’s attempted return by caseworker Virginia Vause from the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues (OCI). During the multiple conversations with Ms. Vause that day, he learned that the consular officials had made a single attempt to call him at his residence. They did not to leave him a voicemail nor did they attempt to contact him on his cell phone or send an email. When Mr. Lake brought up the issue of why his daughter was turned away from the consulate, he was told that the consulate would not assist in his daughter’s rescue because they needed to have his written authorization to take her into custody. Furthermore, if Mary was taken into custody the Consulate would have to assign a staff member to stay with her until her return to the U.S., an inconvenience that the State Department refused to accept. They also needed him to sign an agreement, in advance, to repay any airline costs. These documents would take at least a week to process once OCI sent and received them.

None of the other parents we have checked with, who have been fighting for the return of their children for years, were aware of these consular requirements. State Department caseworkers had failed to inform them either out of negligence or purposeful deception, which leaves all internationally abducted children exposed to the same risk.

According to U.S. Department of State figures there are 268 cases involving 374 American citizen children who have been kidnapped to Japan since they started keeping track in 1994. OCI Division Chief Stefanie Eye has acknowledged “that our data is based entirely on proactive reporting and that because our database was designed primarily as a case management tool, it is difficult to provide statistical data with complete accuracy.”

Based on our statistical analysis, Bring Abducted Children Home ( has estimated 4,417 American children have lost significant, meaningful access to their parent after divorce in Japan and by international abduction. Each one of these is a human rights violation.

This is third and latest episode of gross negligence by the Department of State toward Mr. Lake and his daughter. Twice previously, they illegally issued passports for his daughter without obtaining the father’s signature, even after it had been established that her father was the lawful parent and the mother was a wanted kidnapper.

Almost all of the existing cases involve at least one parent who is Japanese. This case however is a clear exception. Neither one of the victims nor the kidnapping mother are of Japanese ancestry. There is simply no reason for Mary to be held in Japan. However, no one from the White House or The State Department is publicly demanding the return of Mary Victoria Lake or any of the other 374, and more realistically, thousands of American children held captive there.

It has become starkly apparent to the parents victimized by the crime of parental child abduction that the Department of State clearly values the relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being and lives of U.S. citizen children being held captive in Japan.

Bring Abducted Children Home

Paul Toland

22 comments on “BAChome: US Consulate Osaka refuses to aid American citizen child abducted in Japan who came to them for help

  • Will Crowbourne says:

    That’s a really good question Dr. H. All we know about are the active cases on file at each of the consulates or embassies. Plus those only date back to 1994. These cases are only about children who have been abducted.

    This article has highlighted the fact that many children, given a free choice, want to return home or to their other parent.

    Whether a child wants to return depends on many factors including the nature of the kid, how much time they spent abroad and whether their Japanese parent has tried to indoctrinate them against their non-Japanese parent’s country.

    Debito, have you heard of any children trying to return home before? or when they’ve reached legal adult status?

    — I have, but the more authoritative reference to ask is the Children’s Rights Network.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    This is so terrible. The blunder by a local US Consulate gives us a message that the US State Dept. is indeed backing up the bullies who chant “there ain’t no civil liberties for NJs in Japan.” I wonder how the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sees the issue.

    — I wonder if she sees it at all.

  • The fact that the consulate won’t even help one of its own citizens is diabolical.. lesson for all, if you happen to be kidnapped in a foreign country and somehow manage to escape your captors, don’t expect help if you are american.

    I wonder if the other consulates would behave in a similar matter.

    very disappointing

  • @Peter:
    Yes, the UK is exactly the same. The article says, “It has become starkly apparent to the parents victimized by the crime of parental child abduction that the Department of State clearly values the relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being and lives of U.S. citizen children being held captive in Japan.”
    Well, the former British vice-consul in Osaka told me outright that diplomats hate expats because we have a nasty habit of demanding our rights, which can impede the real purpose of consulates, which is to encourage foreign investment in the home country. Consequently, he favours the idea that only diplomats and businessmen should be allowed to travel outside their home country. There is nothing new in this; “Murder in Samerkand” was a book written by a former diplomat who quit in disgust at the collusion of Western countries in torture and mass murder by central Asian despots.
    It’s all about the oil.

  • @Peter,

    yes they do!! German “diplomats” would be the same (they screw up not only with Libya…).
    I heard the French are different and help their own citizens.
    Japan doesn’t have oil, so don’t expect the Marines…

  • I asked my wife if she lived abroad and had an issue with anything could she contact the Japan embassy and the answer, as I suspected was “of course”. Unfortuanetly, I dont have the same confidence when it comes to my embassy. I dont know if its all about the oil as kimpatsu said, but I agree with sometimes I think they just would rather us not be here. Visa fees seem to quadruple every year or so, you cant get a live person on the phone and you had to pay just to speak to somebody. A better attitude and service would be nice.

  • It would be worth it to hear what the follow-up to this incident has been. Especially, if anyone has contacted Congressman Chris Smith or the numbers of activists and victims who have been fighting about the child kidnapping issue.

    The reason these sorts of things continue in the U.S. state department is that the issue gets dropped the next month, or the month after that.

    The consulates are really there to serve American citizens—not to serve the American business elite. What happens is that Republican administrations, rather corruptly, introduce this notion that the embassy system is really a trade show or convention event for American business. Like how you see trade shows at the Tokyo International Forum. When a Democrat takes over, no one issues the new memo to change it back into a representative office of ALL the American people.

    This is why this nonsense continues.

  • “On August 31, 2006, 15 year old Chris Gulbraa, with assistance from the US State Department, the FBI, and other federal agencies, bravely escaped from his abducting parent in Japan and traveled back to the United States on his own. He is now living with his father. This case was heavily documented on CRN Japan and other places on the internet as well as in the press. The father reports that this internet documentation played a significant role in his recovery.”

  • “The consulates are really there to serve American citizens—not to serve the American business elite.”

    The American Citizen Services is there to supposedly help the US citizentry. I never get through to them and when I finally get passed the run around, I end up talking to a Japanese employee, who, believe it or not, is more helpful than the US type. There are many agencies/services in the embassy, so its a bit of a generalization to say the consulates are there to serve the US citizens here, thats not really true. thats ony ACS job, the other services and agencies have nothing to do with it.

  • @Scuzzy (12):

    I would agree with you if you modified it to say that some units within the Embassy are specifically set up to serve US citizens, like American Citizen Services. The fact remains that the consulates are there to serve American citizens—all of America. Not some of America. Not the connected business people in Japan who happen to be American (and their tag-along friends like what goes on in ACCJ.)

    This is purposely lost in Republican administrations because of business/wealth ties. There is no excuse why it continues in Democratic ones.


    Can anyone post and say if there has been stateside follow-up about the incident in Debito’s post?

  • @hoofin,

    Nah, thats not entirely correct. Those other agencies serve the US “interest” and you and I are not part of that. They are there to grant visas to Japanese who want to study/work in the US or negotiate with the Japanese gov. They are also there to advise the J gov on crime and other issues. Basically they are there to help the Japanese.

  • Maxabillion Slartibartfast says:

    >”This is purposely lost in Republican administrations because of business/wealth ties. There is no excuse why it continues in Democratic ones.”

    Yeah, because everybody knows Democratic politicians have no ties to business or wealth.

    — We’ll stop discussions of American politics here with this rejoinder, thanks.

  • @scuzzy,

    I am grabbing this off the Wikipedia for Diplomatic Mission, which is what an embassy is:


    The role of such a mission is to protect, in the receiving State, the interests of the sending State, and of its nationals, within the limits permitted by international law; negotiating with the Government of the receiving State as directed by the sending State; ascertaining by lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving State, and reporting thereon to the Government of the sending State; promoting friendly relations between the sending State and the receiving State, and developing their economic, cultural and scientific relations.

  • I should explain when I said “it’s all about the oil” I meant in the case of the former Soviet central Asian republics, not globally.
    That said, try visiting the British consulate in Osaka. From the moment you step off the elevator until you actually enter the main reception area at the end of the corridor, there are huge cardboard cut-outs of the sort seen at trade conventions, declaring that the UK is a great place to do business and is business-friendly, etc., etc. There is not one word about actual consular services such as lost passports, what to do when stopped by the police, etc. It’s a trade show, as said above.

  • Thats a general explaination of a diplomatic mission, it doesnt come from Dept of State. The US role in Japan is unique, since they have US bases here and still influence the J gov. Its not like a mission in France, for example. Its just a fact of reality that this alliance with the Japan/US security agreement must be protected first. If this were upset, things would get nasty.

    — We are starting to get far away from the original blog post point about helping citizens in times of need. Let’s bring it back.

  • Can somebody explain why the original article (much like the earlier abduction tale involving a “Mick Hogan”) has now been deleted from both CRNjapan and BAChome?

    — Oh there you are, Eido. I thought you weren’t participating on anymore (you’ve said so on at least two occasions, here’s one). Clearly you’ll only drop by if you can make some kind of stink or blame me for something.

    Anyway, I don’t know what you’re talking about on one count. It’s still up at CRN Japan.

    Anyway, I can’t explain. They’re the source, and if the source won’t back something up, then that’s that. It’s their responsibility, like any source, to back up their claims. Waiting for final confirmation about what happened.

  • debito I think some might be considering jumping ship from the tepido site. Recently he posted one of his more daring stalking tatics for everybody to see, but latter removed it due to some of his mosthard followers commenting on it.


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