national

Japan returns boy to Germany under new child custody treaty

43 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© 2014 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

43 Comments
Login to comment

Wow. Glad to hear this is happening.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

Well done Japan! Small steps = giant leaps for some!

13 ( +17 / -4 )

There was a time when I never thought I'd read news like this. I'm glad I was wrong. I hope these cases are resolved quickly and that parents can be reunited with their children.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Great, great news! I hope and pray we hear more of these kinds of stories.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

International law taking precedence over domestic law.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Great news and about time!

Japan wants to be a member of the international community (at least I hope so) .... so Japan should follow and obey international rules and regulations!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

“In October, the mother took the boy to his home,”

And, therein lays the whole problem. His home is in Germany, not Japan!

Let's hope this result also helps the foreign fathers living in Japan that have no access to their kids just because the trout has a new boyfriend (like me).

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Before you all start jumping up and down from joy over Japan's newfound enthusiasm on this matter, let's not miss the fact that this case was solved by the parents (since the mother voluntarily returned the child) and there seem to be no real intervention from the Japanese government other than a request...

I would like to see what happens when parents refuse to follow these requests. How will the government act then? Will they help foreign parents have their kids returned home?

16 ( +22 / -8 )

This is good news if the mother is financially well off. If she doesn't have the money to fly back to Germany and start the long legal prosess, it could be tragic for the child. We don't know all the inner details, so it's hard to say if this case will work out well or not.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Japan will sadly remain well behind advanced modern nations so long as they do not have a legal acceptance of joint-custody for the child. This is a small step in complying with the Hague Treaty, and good news, but much change needs to happen domestically.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

The foreign ministry said it intervened in a case involving a five-year-old boy,

Good enough for me ,.............

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Glad this is starting but only 1 case and 50 pending? Lets get this moving and get the kids back home!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

@Knox Harrington

Before you all start jumping up and down from joy over Japan's newfound enthusiasm on this matter, let's not miss the fact that this case was solved by the parents (since the mother voluntarily returned the child) and there seem to be no real intervention from the Japanese government other than a request...

“In August, the father contacted us to request assistance. We have located the boy, and contacted the mother,” he said.

It doesn't say in the article exactly what the foreign ministry said to the mother when they contacted her, but it probably went something along the lines of: "You no longer have a say in issues like this. If you don't do this voluntarily, we will force you to return your son."

Hell, in the past I doubt that the foreign ministry even put any effort into locating the parent and child as they weren't obliged to do anything about it. The fact that the husband contacted them and the issue was resolved is great progress.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

As long as the law is there. It will work

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I would like to see what happens when parents refuse to follow these requests. How will the government act then? Will they help foreign parents have their kids returned home?

@Knox Harrington

I couldn't agree more. Still, this to me is a positive and somewhat unexpected turn of events.

Also, I think it is clearly best if the ministry starts with the low hanging fruit — the abductors that are more likely to cooperate with a ministry request — before delving into the highly contentious cases. Also, probably best that the first-ever case of Japan sending an abducted child back home involved Germany, given that it will be much harder for Japan's right-wingers to play the victim card in this case than it would have been if it had involved certain other countries.

Let's hope the ministry picks up momentum from here; there is lots of work still left for them to do in getting abducted children back home.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It is sad that no one here thinks of the wellbeing of the boy.

How can anyone tell he is better off in Germany than in Japan or vice versa?

The defect of this treaty is that if a child happens to live in a ghetto, he cannot move out of the ghetto once his parents get divorced.

The treaty specifically prohibits courts to take the well-being of the child into consideration when making return judgment, unless in extreme conditions, advocating automatic return is better for simplicity of court procedure. I think the treaty needs to be changed for the wellbeing of child.

-13 ( +5 / -18 )

ch3cho:

How can anyone tell he is better off in Germany than in Japan or vice versa?

Notice the article says:

The Japanese government has helped RETURN a boy to his German home.

Japanese authorities are always banging on about how children's lives should not be disrupted, and that includes taking them away of their place of residence. Or does that only work if they live in Japan?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

There are lessons to be learned in connection with this type of child custody case. Unfortunately it will be very stressful for the child. No matter how secure the attachment of a child to a parent, if the parent is away for many months, that attachment is not so forgotten as rejected by the child continuing to remember and long for the missing parent. The only way to escape from this type of pain is by restructuring emotional life because the lost person comes to be seen as a stranger. In the end young children never find it easy to accept a parent who returns after a long absence. But adults can structure the reunion in ways that will help everyone in the long run.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

One down, many more to go Japan

2 ( +4 / -2 )

CHANGE HAPPENS IN JAPAN!! This is deserving of Nobel consideration~

0 ( +4 / -4 )

gogogo at Nov. 13, 2014 - 09:03AM JST "Glad this is starting but only 1 case and 50 pending? Lets get this moving and get the kids back home!"

It is not just one case. The treaty has already been applied to several other cases in Japan. This case is the first only in that it is the first in which a child was returned from Japan to another country.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@ Educator60: Did you read the full article?

The foreign ministry has also accepted 46 requests from non-Japanese parents requesting meetings with their children in Japan but not asking for their return.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Without a willingness to compromise and talk on the part of all biological or virtual parents, it is an unnecessary burden on the child. I am not a believer in surgical removal. The law should do whatever it can to oblige parents to compromise and talk. I take it that is what Japan intends to do now - good.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Pukey2Nov. 13, 2014 - 10:00AM JST

Things are not simple in any divorce case, and returning a child to his "home" may or may not be in his interest.

You may be familiar with the well- known US Supreme Court case, Abbott v.Abbott. A Hawaii born US citizen moved with his parents to Chile, where his parents got separated. His American mother got custody rights and his British father got visitation rights with ne exeat. But his mother took him to Texas with her, saying she could not find work or rent an apartment in Chile due to visa restrictions in Chile. His father filed a return request. I wonder how they could make living if they were returned to Chile. The legal procedure took years discussing legal technicalities without considering the best interest of the child. This is what will happen if the treaty that prohibits courts to take best interest of the child into consideration comes into effect.

CNN News story of Abbott v Abbott http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/14/us/scotus-child-custody/index.html?_s=PM:US

US supreme court ruling http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=CASE&court=US&vol=000&page=08-645

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

The best interests of the child are not served by kidnapping the children to a different country without the permission of the legal guardian. That only serves the interests of the kidnapping parent. The best interests of the child are served by keeping them in their home country and having custody battles determined there.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The Japanese government has helped return a boy to his German home in the first such case since adopting an international treaty on cross-border child custody disputes, an official said Wednesday.

“In August, the father contacted us to request assistance. We have located the boy, and contacted the mother,” he said.

“In October, the mother took the boy to his home,” he said, adding that the parents will have to work out their differences in Germany.

"We have located the boy, and contacted the mother," this is all that the ministry official was able to divulge? How about a little more detail into what the ministry did which led to the return which in all likelihood was zilch. Seems like the mother did it all on her own accord because if she had refused it would have ended up in a family court, like a decade or more later, and not in the hands of the foreign ministry. Sounds like the foreign ministry is just looking to take the credit with the intention of placating all the nay-sayers out there who have been criticizing the J-gov.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

gogogo at Nov. 13, 2014 - 01:06PM JST "@ Educator60: Did you read the full article?

The foreign ministry has also accepted 46 requests from non-Japanese parents requesting meetings with their children in Japan but not asking for their return."

Umm, yes, but the fact that there are cases pending (regardless of whether they are asking for return or for visitation) does not change the fact that this is not the first case that has seen resolution through the treaty in Japan. In other words that there has been more than ONE case already resolved.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I wish the government will also look into the cases of parents coming from third-world countries. They are usually left behind and their rights are often ignored. They cannot even get a driver's license here in Japan because their country doesn't belong to G20. How about their rights to their kids?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Mark QuijanoNov. 13, 2014 - 02:10PM JST

They cannot even get a driver's license here in Japan because their country doesn't belong to G20.

Oh, really?

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

CH3CHO: Good point! Ive had some friends who recently had simular situation in a very nasty devorce and the children ended up suffering the most. I'm a little supprised that you got down votes for pointing out that the child's well being should be prime concern.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

@CraigHicks ... I am not a believer in surgical removal.

What I meant to say is, not a believer that any biological or virtual parent who has a strong bond with a child should be surgically excised from the child's life.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Good, good, and good, although as Knox Harrison pointed out this is the result of the parents reaching an agreement, and they still have to sort things out on the Germany-side of the globe, and we don't really know what steps were taken by the government. Still, it's better than just hearing about the father coming over to Japan, or Japanese parents going to a foreign nation, and being denied access to even see their former spouse or the child and trying to work things out.

"There are 13 cases of Japanese parents requesting meetings with their kids taken abroad, the official added."

This is also extremely important and needs to be pointed out to Japanese people in regards to the Hague convention and problems with domestic law that contradict it, as there are some who hear about the more famous cases where a Japanese mother literally kidnaps the child and brings them back and get on the defensive when a foreign father seeks custody or even just visitation rights, or suggest it's "in the child's best interest".

CH3CHO: So long as you are not suggesting the 'better home' is Japan, but that if it is elsewhere the children should not be forced to stay in Japan as it would be damaging to their well-being. It goes both ways. In this case it was a boy torn from his home -- which means where he was living and being raised -- to a completely different environment and without agreement by both parents. Outside of an abusive relationship or extreme poverty leading to physical and mental problems, which is not at all suggested, that is nothing short of NOT in the well-being of the child.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Going to play Devil's advocate here because I've never been in this situation... if the mother goes back to Japan why does the father believe he should get custody? Is she a bad mother for running off with the child? Does the father think he can raise the child better than the mother? Shouldn't they try to get to the bottom of why she left, and how they can sort out the issues that caused her to flee back to Japan?

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Maybe they should first figure out who was at fault in the relationship and the side that was at fault shouldn't have rights to the child.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Misframed questions about who is the better parent cannot really be addressed in a news forum like this one. What people asking about this case's particulars may not understand is that international parental child abduction is and has been at EPIDEMIC levels in Japan for decades. Unlike those states worldwide that have joint parental custody and laws protecting the representation of children in the legal system, Japan has thousands of abducted children within its borders with no meaningful legal recourse available to parents. What responsible persons have been trying to achieve through advocacy and activism on behalf of parents and children is to impress upon Japanese officials from MOFA to MOJ to family court and to the Japanese public at large that this destructive epidemic victimizes children (beyond repair, as a comment above states correctly, such that children's emotional development of parental attachment is turned against them, causing extreme and generally repressed internal pain that is exceedingly resistant to treatment) and parents, whose being -as parent- expecting to maintain and protect the bond with his/ her children for life- is shattered. Japan is full of wounded persons, the damage to whom is ill-understood if at all. This case is a half-measure; MOFA employees informing the parent that a court could conceivably rule against Japanese jurisdiction over the case, thus embarrassing Japan and forcing the family to return home to Germany to finalize a custody agreement which, given the ruthless act of abduction of the child by the mother, would not be likely to go well for her. When Japan ceases to provide safe haven for child abduction, then it will be possible to understand that it is the systemic abuse of jurisdictional determination, masking the crimes themselves, that must end: and that requires a serious, effective legal reform and education out of regressive attitudes.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

if the mother goes back to Japan why does the father believe he should get custody?

Because a five-year-old child has established a primary language, a network of friends and familiarity with his surroundings. Uprooting the child and taking him to a country where his primary language is virtually non-existent and he has lost his friends and familiar surroundings is decidedly NOT in the child's best interests.

Is she a bad mother for running off with the child?

Her decision to impose the above-mentioned hardships on her child certainly isn't going to win her any "Mother of the Year" awards.

Does the father think he can raise the child better than the mother?

Without knowing the details of the mother and father's careers, this one is unanswerable.

Shouldn't they try to get to the bottom of why she left, and how they can sort out the issues that caused her to flee back to Japan?

I would be surprised if the reasons for flight weren't already touched-upon during the divorce.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

My impression in a lot of these custody cases is that the left behind fathers (or parents) when the children are kidnapped back to Japan, are not even demanding the return of their children (although it would be nice) but simply to even have access to them - in most cases they are cut off from their children completely and stripped of their parental rights. As if they were dead. Sometimes the children are even told exactly that. Asking for access / visitation rights / to keep a freaking bond with your son or daughter - how is that an unreasonable request??! So the mother for whatever reason has decided she doesnt want to live in that country / doesnt want to be married to that person any more. Fine. Thats her choice. Wheres the childrens voices in all this? How does it benefit a child to be cut off completely from a loving parent, before we even get into the whys and wherefores of adapting to a new culture and language?

Taking a child away from what is familiar is one thing. Telling that child daddy doesnt love them any more, or is dead, or is an abuser etc etc is not parenting, its abuse.

A reasonable parent would work with the other parent to work something out to make them both as happy as possible.

There is a strong possibility that due to certain circumstances in the near future my husband and I will be living in different countries. Essentially separating. We have sat down and worked out the best way for us to coparent from a distance - the children coming with me and he skyping / calling / facetiming and visiting whenever possible. As angry as I may be with him, that is between me and him. The children adore him and he loves them. To break that bond is abusive and cruel. Shame on these women (and men).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

brianpragerNov. 14, 2014 - 04:42AM JST

Misframed questions about who is the better parent cannot really be addressed in a news forum like this one. What people asking about this case's particulars may not understand is that international parental child abduction is and has been at EPIDEMIC levels in Japan for decades. Unlike those states worldwide that have joint parental custody and laws protecting the representation of children in the legal system, Japan has thousands of abducted children within its borders with no meaningful legal recourse available to parents.

Why do not we fix the facts? The article says,

Hundreds of U.S. parents have complained that they have been left unable to see their children. At least 120 have filed cases in Japan, invariably to no avail.

I think "hundreds" is already exaggerated expression, but "thousands" is way too far. It is a drop in the sea, not EPIDEMIC. I think time and money should be better spent on more pressing issues than cleaning up someone else's aftermath of affair and divorce. Even in doing so, wellbeing of children should be first.

In addition, it is not about who the better parent is, but about where the better environment to live is. If a kid is returned to the "habitual residence," he is stuck in there and cannot move out till he gets majority. He cannot even go to his country of nationality. In any country, a foreign national does not receive the same rights as a citizen due to visa restriction, political or national security reasons. The court should look into the case for the best interest of the child rather than automatically return the child to "habitual residence."

One last thing. The countries that have joined the Hague Convention are minority of the world nations, rather than majority.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Thunderbird2

Totally agree, I've come across at least a couple guys who are in many ways not much different from Julien Blanc. Not hard to imagine that at least some of the mothers who ran off weren't being treated as humans but as sex toys that clean and cook.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Finally,... justice.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I love how so many of you have made judgments based on little information! How do you know that the dad was a good dad? Maybe he wasn't taking care of the kid at all and the mom found it difficult to find a job and support herself in Germany. It really depends on each case but I seriously can't believe the amount of people saying, "GO JAPAN!" "Justice has prevailed!" without knowing the entire story.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

You may be right about this case (which would be an exception), but there are at least hundreds of other cases in which foreigners, married to Japanese, have been denied their most basic rights of child visitation (or more).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@bruinfan

It's case by case but if the kid means so much to the dad, why don't they move to Japan?? Why should Japanese women (not all international marriages involve Japanese women and some involve Japanese men; however, we are talking about Hauge convention-related divorce cases) be the ones that are forced to stay in a foriegn country?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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