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Parents' lawsuit accuses Japan of double standard on child 'abductions'

27 Comments
By Chang-Ran Kim

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US embassy Japan website used to contain data on child abductions to Japan but removed it.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

There was no immediate government reaction on the filing of the lawsuit, and no date has yet been set for a hearing.

typical.

Last week, two European fathers based in Japan urged European Union lawmakers to pressure Tokyo to tackle parental child abduction by changing a law that does not recognize joint child custody following divorce.

Italy and Germany warn against the practices in Japan in travel advisories they have posted.

That's not going to do anything. Naming and shaming goes alot further. and if it is followed by economic sanctions, even better.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

There are two major issues that I hate about Japan.... parental abduction and the lengthy detainment by police. I live here and I like it a lot.... but I'd be happier if these very unfair problems were properly addressed.

15 ( +23 / -8 )

accused Japan in a lawsuit on Wednesday of having a double standard in how it treats domestic instances of such incidents, compared to international ones.

If this is the basis of their lawsuit, then they lose. This one particular area is something that divorced or single parents all have in common in Japan. There are many Japanese fathers going through the exact same thing that these foreign fathers are going through. They don't treat Japanese people any differently in this aspect. It's the "a child can only have one parent if the parents are not married" ridiculousness. I know a Japanese man that couldn't see his daughter since he and his wife got divorced. His ex wife is Filipina. The law is one sided.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

US embassy Japan website used to contain data on child abductions to Japan but removed it.

Upon reading the news last week on two European fathers, I have checked :

Embassy of Japan in the UK - www.uk.emb-japan.go.jp

Information of 子の親権問題 can easily be found from the site but not in English. It is recognised as a problem. I also understand from friends that the embassy runs seminars(?) on this topic periodically and demand is quite high.

France, easy to find in Japanese. French, I do not know read French.

Germany, not sure....

I have written to the embassy (uk) to ask for possibility to make it more visible in English (web site) but no response.

Journalists, it might be worth doing checks on this and ask embassies why such important information is not available/translated into the local language.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

There are two major issues that I hate about Japan.... parental abduction and the lengthy detainment by police. I live here and I like it a lot....

i see your point and agree to some degree, but honestly speaking, both issues are exceedingly rare. out of the thousands of divorces that occur every year, how many children of international marriages are abducted? and how many innocent people are rounded up by police? so these issues aren't actually at the front of my list as pet peeves about japan. no don't get me started on...

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

They have that right - there is a local standard for citizens, and an international standard for the rest of the world... and never the twain shall meet.

Invalid CSRF

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

A friend of mine once commented that Japan signing the Hague Abduction Convention was like putting a GUI on a program written in mainframe language.

Not a perfect analogy, but the point he was trying to make was clear.

Japan signing the Hague Abduction Convention has absolutely NO bearing on Family Law in Japan. Which was in NO way changed to reflect the signing of the Hague Abduction Convention.

Japanese Family Law remains largely unchanged for the last 100 years. And that includes the post-war "changes".

Fundamentally, until Japanese Family Law codifies joint custody, the Hague Abduction Convention is incompatible with Japanese Law.

And codifying joint custody in Japanese Family Law would require a comprehensive overhaul of the family register system. Which is one of the pillars of Japanese society.

As they say, good luck with that!!

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I was a little surprised to see a foreign woman caught up in this (the Australian one in the article) and it's interesting to see how Japanese men do it too

1 ( +5 / -4 )

"The class action will turn up the heat on Japan's justice system...." In point of fact, it is not a class action, which are not possible under the Japanese system of justice. That is why, for example, you don't see product liability suits brought by consumer groups - they are barred from doing so.

Invalid CSRF

5 ( +7 / -2 )

One day Japanese politicos will finally do their jobs-not in my lifetime though...

4 ( +6 / -2 )

both issues are exceedingly rare. out of the thousands of divorces that occur every year, how many children of international marriages are abducted? and how many innocent people are rounded up by police? so these issues aren't actually at the front of my list as pet peeves about japan

These are not that rare, and describing them as pet peeves minimizes the life destroying trauma they entail. They are real concerns of anyone living in Japan, and particularly foreigners. I know people who have been affected by both of these issues.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Basically, the Japanese authorities are as corrupt as the CCP in China. This includes the Japanese judiciary, the diet members and the police. They're all complicit in it and they are simply criminals and gangsters just like the people's liberation army.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

JJ_Jetplane

Although the issue of joint custody is important, for argument's sake, let's imagine that there are cases where it's not. Even in these cases, where a (non-Japanese) has been given sole custody over the half-Japanese child (in some cases, due to possible risks of abuse by the Japanese partner and/or the risk of abduction to Japan by said parent), usually in their home country, and the Japanese parent has broken the law of that country by abducting that child, in Japan they ate protected by Japanese law. It's been proven, at least in one case, that a Japanese airline and local embassy was complicit in the abduction, even though the Japanese parent was put on some sort of "no fly list" (or something similar). The embassy assisted in giving a quick and fill Japanese passport to the child, and suddenly, it was "Japanese", making all laws outside Japan null and void.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Paul Laimal-Convoy

Believe me, I have a vested interest in this case. But being placed on a no fly. Things such as that are not an embassy or airline responsibility. It falls on the governing country's airport security. When it comes to laws among different countries. Even with the US and other agencies. You will still be issued your passport and permitted to enter your home country as long as the laws that you are broken are enforceable laws in your home country.

Example, I have a misdemeanor traffic offence in Japan. They tell me I am not permitted to fly and they confiscate my passport. I can still go to the US embassy and receive and expedited passport and go to the airport. As long as I make it pass airport security, the US will not stop me or turn me over to Japan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Japan made an agreement internationally but hasn't aligned its domestic laws to make it wrong," said lead counsel Tomoshi Sakka. "I'm curious to see how the government will explain this discrepancy."

They will probably just point out that there is no discrepancy and no global alignment was ever required by the convention. The trigger for the Hague convention has always been the violation of custody rights, but what form those custody rights take in various signatory states is a matter for each state to decide.

For example, if some small pacific island nation practices an unsual form of communal custody where the child belongs to everyone in the village, Japan and other signatories would not be required to allow for this form of custody in our own domestic law, but we would be required to hand the child over as long as the judicial authorities in that small state decided that there had been a violation this form of custody in their own country.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"The class action will turn up the heat on Japan's justice system...." In point of fact, it is not a class action, which are not possible under the Japanese system of justice. That is why, for example, you don't see product liability suits brought by consumer groups - they are barred from doing so.

However actions by multiple plaintiffs in one suit, is by law allowable. as in the countless numbers of lawsuits against the government, in a wide range of issues, from aircraft noise pollution to leprosy discrimination lawsuits, get settled with plaintiffs (plural) winning decisions, or losing them, against the government!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This issue was the subject of a major article in Australia’s Age/Sydney Morning Herald last weekend. That’s major Australian media and would have educated hundreds of thousands of readers on Japan’s intransigence and blatant disregard for international standards governing parental abductions and the rights of non-custodial parents and their children.

This is a human rights issue, clear and simple - I think we’re going to hear a lot more about it in the near future, and none of it is going to make Japan look good.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Truly shameful of this nation to have such a double standard on this issue.

Also two Japanese women remain on the FBIs most wanted list for abducting their American born children probably back to Japan. I won't put their names here but you can Google it.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I was always able to see my kids. I paid my monthly child support.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Doesn't it kinda seem like the women there are like that movie midsommer when it comes to giving birth with foreingers? when I saw that movie, I saw many similarities to japan. its like they just need hosts from the outside. and when they get it, you get tossed away and discarded. you really do not get the freedoms to assimulate and be apart of it, and keep your original identity (without being attacked and persecuted for it) they just take those children away in the wind, and those children grow up to be beautiful halfs that get recycled back into japan inc.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

These are not that rare, and describing them as pet peeves minimizes the life destroying trauma they entail. They are real concerns of anyone living in Japan, and particularly foreigners. I know people who have been affected by both of these issues.

Can you cite actual statistics instead of anecdotal evidence? Because no one in my 100 plus friends have ever been affected by this issue? Just because it's personal to a few people doesn't make it a "major issue" for 90% of foreigners living here.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

It's probably due to Japanese beliefs that mother's responsibility is to raise children while father's is to earn to support them. So when parents split, Japanese courts overwhelmingly grant mother right to custody.

Their beliefs that mother, not father, is suitable for raising children is so strong in Japan that their agreement to the Hague Convention is considered forced, not persuaded. Just like in case of any forced confession, Japanese probably do not have a genuine sense of guilty when they try to circumvent their "duty." Instead, they probably feel righteous as they are simply following their conscience.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This issue is complex and at the same time "simple" to deconstruct:

Japan is a true Nation (many don't know what this means) of ONLY 4 thousand years of existence. Fact.

During it's entire history, separation has been dealt in a Japanese way. Fact.

"Westerners", in this instance Americans with a mere 250 years of history, and a totally outlook in life and separation, now want to impose their own views on a 4 thousand years old Nation. Fact.

Here, a brief pause to remind everyone that America is still struggling with the concept of Nationhood. Fact.

Get me totally wrong if you want. I do feel for the plight of those "estranged" husbands. Really do.

However, you should have wised up prior to marrying a Japanese; that's their culture and if you don't like/agree with the way they do divorces, then don't marry don't have kids. Simples.

I am with a Japanese and KNOW exactly what's gonna happen if things turn sour.

In Property there's something we call "Caveat emptor"; that should apply to marrying into Japan's culture.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

However, you should have wised up prior to marrying a Japanese; that's their culture and if you don't like/agree with the way they do divorces, then don't marry don't have kids. Simples.

It makes me laugh that you think you can just use the culture card as a justification for any sort of behaviour.

By that same argument female genital mutilation would be acceptable because its a cultural occurrence or not allowing women to have an education or get a drivers license

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Kenichi Mitomi

US embassy Japan website used to contain data on child abductions to Japan but removed i Upon reading the news last week on two European fathers, I have checked :

Embassy of Japan in the UK - www.uk.emb-japan.go.jp

Information of 子の親権問題 can easily be found from the site but not in English. It is recognised as a problem. I also understand from friends that the embassy runs seminars(?) on this topic periodically and demand is quite high.

Info on Japan's stance and history if child abductions should be on all foreign countries websites so the foreign parent can know what they are getting into.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

you should have wised up prior to marrying a Japanese

Why/how? When I got married, I had no idea of the child abduction issue. It never even occurred to me that any country would do such a thing.

And it's ridiculous to think that knowledge of this cultural issue somehow justifies it. Just as we choose to marry the Japanese, they choose to marry the non-Japanese. With that comes an implicit agreement that one will have to forsake some parts of one's culture, and vice-versa.

And finally, let's bring this around to what really matters - the children. For them, the most important thing is being with caring parents. If one parent decides that the child does not get to see the other parent, and that other parent is a caring parent, the child is hurt by the lack of access to that parent. And when viewed through that light, there is zero justification of Japan to protect mothers who have stolen their children. It's damaging to the child, and that cannot be waved off as a 'cultural difference'. Who cares if it's a cultural difference. If it's harmful to the child, it's wrong.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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