crime

Japan urged to sign accord against parental abductions

54 Comments

The United States and three other western nations Thursday urged Japan to sign an accord against parental child abductions, saying scores of children are being held in the country.

U.S., French, British and Canadian diplomats launched the rare joint appeal at a U.S. Embassy press conference, listing cases of foreign parents who have been unable to see their children in Japan after a breakup or divorce.

"We do feel a sense of urgency because the number of cases is increasing very dramatically," said acting U.S. ambassador to Japan James Zumwalt.

"I think because we have more and more international marriages, we can expect in the future a further increase in the number of these cases."

The United States had received reports of 73 cases of parental abductions involving 104 children in Japan, said Michele Bond, the U.S. State Department's deputy assistant secretary for overseas citizen services.

In 29 more cases, all family members were in Japan, but the U.S. parent was denied access to a child after a separation or divorce, she said.

Britain, France and Canada between them reported 95 similar cases.

In one case, a French father "has no contact whatsoever, never ever, with his daughter," said Christophe Penot, French deputy head of mission. "It's almost unbearable for a human being to find himself in such a situation."

Japan is the only Group of Seven member country that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The Hague treaty requires a country to expeditiously return abducted children to their country of habitual residence. However, even if Japan signed the treaty, it would still have to change its civil law so that it applied.

In contrast to other developed nations, visitation rights are not enshrined in Japanese law and child abduction by one parent is not a crime.

Every year in Japan, following a break-up or divorce, 166,000 children are separated, usually definitively, from one of their parents -- the father in 80% of cases -- according to official statistics.

Eighteen Japanese associations of parents deprived of their children are fighting, alongside Japanese lawmakers, for reform of the system.

Bond said some Japanese parents were also affected in international cases.

"There are many cases of Japanese citizens' children who have been abducted to other countries -- to our own countries or to other countries," she said.

"Because Japan is not a member of the Hague Convention, even if the children are abducted to a Hague convention member state, Japan cannot benefit from that because it's not a Hague partner," she added.

Bond said she had met officials of Japan's foreign and justice ministries who had reiterated that "the government is very seriously and carefully considering accession to the Hague Convention," she said.

"We do wish to urge the government of Japan to proceed with greater speed perhaps, because it is an issue which has been under serious and careful consideration for quite some time," she said.

© Wire reports

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

54 Comments
Login to comment

“We do wish to urge the government of Japan to proceed with greater speed perhaps, because it is an issue which has been under serious and careful consideration for quite some time,” she said.

we do wish...you are wasting your time, instead international community should think of counter-measures that's quite logic considering 'quite some time' has already passed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I hope they pass this bill. I have a mate in Oz who came home from work one afternoon three years ago to find his wife and three kids had disappeared back to Japan with the aid (and intervention) of her parents. They are now living with her parents and he has no permission to see them. He has been here twice to see them and her parents call the cops every time he shows up. The way the draconian law is in Japan he can't even appeal to the courts for visitation rights unless he is living in Japan permanently. The custodial laws in Japan are only for the mother and she can do and say whatever she likes.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I hope the US and European countries understand how disfunctional Japan is in this area.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The United States had received reports of 73 cases of parental abductions involving 104 children in Japan, said Michele Bond, the U.S. State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for overseas citizen services. In 29 more cases, all family members were in Japan, but the U.S. parent was denied access to a child after a separation or divorce, she said. Britain, France and Canada between them reported 95 similar cases.

The Numbers speak very loud, no way to elude this time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Think it's going to take more than an "urging" by diplomats from 4 countries for them to change their law on this one. Bear in mind there will also be a similarly large group of people who don't want this to happen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder sometimes how Japan survives the shame of being so backwards in both legal and human rights areas. I sometimes feel I am reading about the laws of some 19th century country. Shame on you Japan.

Best wishes to those trying to get a goverment so well trained in the ancient art of obstruction to move in the right direction.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its funny how everyone in this country knows about the Korean abductions of Japanese but almost nothing about the abductions that they are also commiting. Im not sure that urging will do much. Why not sanctions? Quite the hipocracy isn`t it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The only way to pressure Japan into moving on this is to deny Japanese citizens certain rights in these countries. It would never happen though, because it would be illegal. They could up the visa ante for Japanese traveling to these countries... hmmm. That would piss off an awful lot of Japanese people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The same old song from 2 Bushes, 1 Clinton, and now Obama, stop asking, urging, and pleading from the Japanese to do what's right when they are 100% wrong. The Hell with their old outdated customary practice. You politicians need to take real actions, every year parents are hearing the same old song from you guys, please Japan , we urge, its in your best interest, no more of that begging for whats right. It makes administration after administration look weak on this issue. Obama should take stronger action.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Unfortunately, another thing a foreigner must consider before marrying a Japanese and producing children. Choose your mate wisely.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If they join in the international treaty, they'll have to considerably clean up their domestic act. I know so many Japanese divorcees who have absolutely no access to their children. Most are men, but I know one woman who left her husband because of his domestic violence and he got custody oft he kids, because he had the better lawyer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its about time someone pointed fingers here to the J-gov. This is a very embarrassing issue, which was I believe, one of the causes Japan couldn't get a permanent seat in the UN. And the audacity of all this is that the govt goes to great lengths to hush down the issue. If one does proper research I bet there will be more Japanese parental abductions than the abductions by the North Koreans.

I know people are going to argue that the North Korea cases were the cases of State sponsored abductions. Comparatively the Japanese Govt. ruthlessly protects all parental abductions, with the greatest disregard of the custodial decisions made by courts in other well-respected countries.

Just Google the phrase and you can find plenty of evidence.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I was divorced, still live in Japan, and my ex does not let me see my daughter. She made me sign the divorce papers that gave her full custody, that was written in KANJI, my not knowing how to reay Kanji, signed it under the pretext of it was a insurance application for us and BAM!!! Divorced and no right to my daughter whatsoever. And the legal aspects will ALWAYS side with the JAPANESE NATIONAL. I have no grounds to stand on being an American living in Japan. Now, all I have to hang on to is the simple fact that my daughter will eventually know she is not full Japanese and want to know where her father really is... that is why I do everything I can to stay close, so when she does, she can find me. I DO HOPE THEY PASS THIS SO I CAN FINALLY SEE HER! Its been 5 years!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A nightmare situation taht I would never want to be in. Why can they not see that themselves and sort it out? oh yeah....japan

0 ( +0 / -0 )

To illustrate how completely out of whack things are here with regards to this issue ...

there has NEVER been a SINGLE return (to its foreign parent) of a child kidnapped by its Japanese parent (at least not a return orchestrated by the Japanese authoriities.)

This system is truly part of another, darker age.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Since the Japanse Government wants to steal our seed we should send them a seed as a sign of protest. Everybody go out and buy a plant seed then mail it to the diet with a note that says "I'll give you this seed so you won't have to steal mine".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

SO if the Japanese system supports abduction why do they get so upset when the other parent takes the child.

I feel so sorry for all these kids being used as pawns in a relationship. I get sick and tired of this no matter what country, the kids have zero say in the matter, there is two sides to the story, and one is usually a lie.

PS okisurfer never sign anything you cant read. I hope you get to see your daughter one day. I been threw that myself, she's now 19 and the last time I was allowed to see here was when she was 3. Thats too many years to make up or even to explain what happened, and usually the child thinks its their fault. Now that I can see her its like meeting someone for the first time, where do you start.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Will this story be printed in a Japanese language newspaper or be on the news? mmm...

Foreign news should also be doing their part on this issue but I rarely hear anything.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Buy your wife some flowers or an LV bag every once in a while, fellas.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Solve this isssue before we even support the abduction of Japanese to Korea.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A strong protest by foreign parents would raise awareness in the media, but most parents are afraid to act because they fear the Japanese Government is kick them out of Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan wont sign it, look at previous cases and situtations, Japan thinks the children are better off living and growing up in Japan that overseas so thus supports the abduction or at least turns a blind eye and throws their hands up once it's done and says "well it's already done so we don't want to make it worse"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Half kids have a lot of value in Japan...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A strong protest by foreign parents would raise awareness in the media,

Japan Times newspaper gave special coverage for this issue last year.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Parents & organizations have been pressuring their countries to call Jpn on this horrible situation but nothing was really done out of a fear of hurting business ties & diplomatic relations because everyone knows Jpn is akin to a 12yr old!

Now that economies are hurting & Jpn is looking weaker economically as time passes I think the US UK CDA Europe see this as an opportune time to push this issue with minimal risks of Jpn throwing tantrums.

I hope it works as Jpn needs some serious GAIATSU on this issue & it wud help many J-parents also to be able to have a relationship with their kids after divorce.

When you add up the numbers of foreign abducted kids & locals who are denied access you are probably talking about kids numbering in 6figures easy I wud imagine.

SHAME ON YOU JPN!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

She made me sign the divorce papers that gave her full custody, that was written in KANJI, my not knowing how to reay Kanji, signed it under the pretext of it was a insurance application for us and BAM!!! Divorced and no right to my daughter whatsoever.

Okisurfer sorry to hear that. I never heard story about how Kanji can be very critical especially in Legal Document. The document I signed mostly the legal document from Immigration and Ward office. These document only gave me two option, sign it or leave it. For the time being I always ask my Japanese friend whenever I have some legal document to sign. I think for your case your ex-wife the one who translate the legal document for the time being, it's hard when you have translator that have their own agenda.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is a long and drawn out issue. I hope other countries take a long hard look at Japan regarding this problem, it seems like a good issue for a bit of gaiatsu. Indeed, I think other countries should form together and apply a full court press to Japan regarding this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For those who are interested, pop over to the FBI homepage and look under "Parental Kidnappings." At the moment, there are two cases of Japanese nationals having removed children from the US in breach of court orders. Arrest warrants are out for both of these individuals. The warrants for both state that the suspects are "believed to be residing in Japan" (lol). They recommend that if you sight these people, you contact the nearest US consulate or embassy. My question is this. With all the information and assistance that the US gives to Japan regarding the tracking of individuals (arrivals and departures), would it be too much to ask for the US to apply a full court press to Japan to deport these individuals back to the US (for their day in court)? Indeed, if Japan were to decline to come on board, perhaps the US might like to consider the amount of cooperation between the two countries.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The inside page of a local english newspaper article is hardly CNN, NY Times, or the BBC. In all due respects thanks JT but the foreign parents neeed not be afraid and raise their voices in protest. This blog is watched so they know exactly how we feel on this issue but they aren't going to move unless we take it to the streets.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

timorborder ... deport these individuals back to the U.S.? Never gonna happen. For the Japanese government, blood is thicker than just about anything.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The risk of losing custody of a child to the other parent: think of it as punishment to the crime of producing a child in a relationship that couldn't support one. Return or no return, by the time the situation has deteriorated thusly, it's a zero-sum game.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

mojibake said:

think of it as punishment to the crime of producing a child in a relationship that couldn't support one

Plenty of divorced parents support a child just fine. I will continue to look at the "risk of losing custody of a child to the other parent" as bad judgment on any supporting such actions; devoid of course of abuse and other similar acts upon a child being a factor. Awarding custody and visitation rights should never be associated with an act of punishment. The only mitigation for abducting a child is to remove a child from what can legitimately be construed as abuse or neglect.

Relationships fail, kids are born to unwed mothers, but I have seen far too many child-parent relationships that are not part of married couple relationships turn out to be very successful. I have repeatedly seen babies born and parents split up and a very healthy child turn into a very healthy adult. I have been around far too long to buy into "punishment" for splitting up being anything but nonsense if as indicated it is somehow construed as "punishment" for "...the crime of producing a child in..." that "relationship."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This issue has always been in the back of my mind since I married a Japanese 6 years ago.

I would NEVER remove my children from their father, even if our marriage irretrievably broke down. He is a fabulous Dad and they adore him. We both agreed that we would always work out a way to be friends and raise the kids "together" even if we are not "together". I cannot for the life of me understand the mentality of people who remove kids from a parent who loves them and wants to see them.

I really hope Japan signs up to this - it`s not even as if these people want full custody in most cases, just the right to be apart of their kids lives. Why is that too much to ask for?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This issue has always been in the back of my mind since I married a Japanese 6 years ago.

I would NEVER remove my children from their father, even if our marriage irretrievably broke down. He is a fabulous Dad and they adore him. We both agreed that we would always work out a way to be friends and raise the kids "together" even if we are not "together". I cannot for the life of me understand the mentality of people who remove kids from a parent who loves them and wants to see them.

I really hope Japan signs up to this - it`s not even as if these people want full custody in most cases, just the right to be apart of their kids lives. Why is that too much to ask for?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Excellent comment kirakira25.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan will not sign, which shows hypocracy in the face of their own abduction issues with North Korea..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan will not sign, which shows hypocracy in the face of their own abduction issues with North Korea..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

signing, and obeying, also are 2 different things, especially with japan

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sign it Japan !

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This system is truly part of another, darker age.

... an age from which Japan refuses to emerge.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree with kirakira25 wholeheartedly. But I wonder what the Japanese are thinking. Harmony? For the child and family that is raising the child? I do think that if the children were of a culture different from Japan (does not speak Japanese well etc) then the foreign parent would get the children. Does anyone have any comments on this situation?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

long winding road

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don`t think it is a case of the foreign parent "getting" the children - I think the point of it all is that they are not even given the option - the kids are effectively stolen from them, and all communication is cut off.

I contacted my embassy regarding this issue a ong time ago when I was pregnant with my second and asked for advice having heard so many horror stories.

The person I spoke to was fabulous and basically told me that Japanese courts do not obey foreign court rulings, and legally consider children as assets to be divided up accordingly. He had personal experience of the whole thing. His off the record advice was to get their foreign passports, and at the first sign of any trouble, get back home and then contact the embassy from home. They would supply me with all the documentation I would need to prove to the courts that ordering the kids back to Japan would essentially be separating them from their Mother for good. They had a test case recently back home where exactly that happened, and the court ruled the kids could stay with their mother in the UK.

In the end, I have gone for the softer approach of cultivating an excellent relationship with my in-laws and discussing this at length with my husband. Luckily we both feel the same way, but I think it is easier for me. I am not the one at work all day, and it would be far easier for me to take off with the kids than for him! My mother in law says if I ever do a runner with the kids and leave Japan she wants to come with me!!!

Also being able to read, write and speak Japanese, and having a permanent visa gives me an added sense of security. I don`t know all the stats, but from what I have read the majority of cases seem to be where a Japanese wife has been living overseas and abducted the kids back to Japan, followed by a Japanese wife abducting the kids from within Japan.

As for what they are thinking, I have no idea. I have a friend (Japanese wife and husband) who is divorced and her son lives with her. She told me he never sees his Father and gets upset any time he is mentioned. He is 5 years old. I feel so bad for him, but then I dont know the circumstances. I have another friend married to a divorcee with an 18 year old daughter from his first marriage, and since he divorced 12 years ago they see her at least once a month, and she is part of their family and step-sister to their two daughters. So I think a lot depends on the family situation to start with. But those are both examples of Japanese marriages. As for mixed marriages - I honestly dont know what they are thinking.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just wanted to add to Okisurfer and others - my heart goes out to you and I REALLY hope you will be reunited with your kids soon. I couldn`t imagine a single day without mine and I can only imagine your pain.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Here is what, until Japan signs, the rest of the world should give the Japanese North Korean abduction issue the cold shoulder. Once that is done on a massive scale Japan will realize that it can no longer remain the child abduction capital of the world and expect sympathy for it own abduction issue.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kirakira25, In many cases the custody rulings have already been handed down in favour of the non-Japanese parent by the courts overseas. In other cases, the parent just decides to up and go without warning. Grandparents in Japan are also given precedence over the foreign parent in many of the cases that are dealt with by the Japanese courts. Thats ridiculous. Whats even more unbelievable is that the individuals who are doing the abducting and the ones who support them probably sleep well at night.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

japan is just being its usual racist self. Now it's time for other countries to force japan to realise that there are consequences for their acquiesence in child abduction. No support for the N Korean kidnappings should be the least of the measures. Japanese should be treated the same worldwide as foreigners are treated in japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Until Japan rectifies this situation by signing the Hague convention I see no reason why they should have a seat at the UNSC. Shame on them!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I found this movie online about the issue - http://wwwfacethetruth.net

Also there is a guy who has been fighting this longer than almost anyone else - check his site at

http://www.youtube.com/ekalmus

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One of the major problems in these cases is the tendency of parents (and in many cases even official organisations) to claim that children are "missing" when in fact their whereabouts are known. In the face of all the disinformation on what children are missing and what aren't, it is hard to accept the statistics given in this article as credible.

Check out this site for more information on missing child fraud:

http://www.ncmec.eu

The Japanese courts do not appear to take kindly to the imposition of foreign criminal proceedings on the Japanese parent. In this context they act no differently than the courts of any other country.

Key is to focus on the children and their future, not on which of their parents did what.

Perhaps what is called for is a softer touch by the foreign parent and the authorities of his or her home country, in seeking to resolve problems related to the best interests of these children?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

nmec,

Not true. Foreign judges have not done what Japanese judges do. For example: If the foreign parent wins custody the other will in most cases be granted visitation rights. If the parent with the kids denies access to the other there will be big trouble. In Japan they dont give a squat about the other parent. Just think there is an infamous story about a ruling to a non-Japanese parent who was only granted 3hrs a year of visitation. Nonsense. If the Japanese parent says no to that time or any other visitation agreements nobody will do anything for them. Its absolute stupidity and racism on behalf of the courts and police in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ncmec,

Sorry disagree on the soft approach, that is what has been tried all these years. The sad fact is just like Jpns rape vidieos, child porn & rape video games, the only way to make progress on child abduction is a major dose of giatsu, the world needs to publically shame Jpn into action.

The above issues Jpn is simply incapable of doing the right thing on its own, and these are incredibly EASY issues to act on & do the right thing & Jpn cant even figure these out on its own, how on earth cud(shud) Jpn handle a permanent seat on the UNSC when it cant handle these obvious issues.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kirakira:

We both agreed that we would always work out a way to be friends and raise the kids "together" even if we are not "together".

You might say I'm pessimistic but should you ever cease to be "together", I wouldn't be surprised if in his view any agreements you made while "together" ceased to be valid in the new circumstances.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

in japan the blood relation seems to be very crucial important. mother and children belong together by blood ties. father is excluded from theses bonds and considered outsider. this is true for japanese fathers too. child custody is given to mother never to father in japan .so different cultural values here. think twice before your marry a japanese

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites