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Hague Convention loophole

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This week, Japan became the 91st signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides protection for children under 16 from being taken from their country of residence by one parent against the wishes of the other. However, the convention does not work retroactively, so parents whose children have already been taken are urging the Japanese government to stand by provisions of the treaty in their cases as well.

A group of left-behind parents organized a march in Washington, DC, on Monday to hand-deliver 28 applications for assistance reuniting with their children to the U.S. Department of State and to submit a petition for the return of abducted children to the Japanese embassy. The organization, Bring Abducted Children Home, says 400 U.S. children have been abducted to Japan since 1994, and no special provisions have been made on how to handle those cases now that Japan is a Hague signatory.

Many of the parents involved indicated that they didn’t think Japan would be of assistance, calling it a “black hole” of child custody and speculating that their cases would be passed to local family courts unfamiliar with the terms of the treaty and with a heavy bias towards Japanese parents, in particular mothers. There is no reciprocal custody agreement between the two countries.

The representative from the State Department said that Japan’s ratification was a “a positive change,” and said her office has been working on 58 other cases involving 80 children over the last month as well. The office is working with the Japanese government to resolve these cases. The convention does include provisions for arranging visitations, regardless of when the child was taken.

A lawyer for the parents’ group said he expects to submit a further 200 applications by the end of the year.

Source: Niconico News

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I don't understand this poster.

'400 registered cases of abduction since 1994.'

Then

'10,000 children have been abducted or detained.'

That's 25 kids per case....? I don't want to minimize what has happened to these families, but can we please write facts clearly, without obfuscation? I feel like understand even less after reading something like this.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@Pandabelle: To absolve you of your abject confusion, I would like to take a shot at explaining the perplexing conundrum posited in your post above. I hazard a guess that "400" refers to the number of cases "since 1994", whereas "10,000" refers to the total number of children abducted or detained since they started keeping records. But who knows, eh? I only reached my bizarre conclusion by reading the same article as you....

1 ( +4 / -3 )

How many cases are there from countries other than America? Japanese women marry men from other countries, and how many of them flee with their children?

Another question... WHY do they flee back to Japan? Homesick? Abused? Treated like a trophy and feeling humiliated? Lonely? Culture shock? And how many husbands flee Japan with kids?

Not trying to start an argument, just interested enough to want to look beneath the surface.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Anybody seen the pamphlets they have prepared to disburse at Japanese embassies regarding this new change?

They're cartoony and manga-styled, in an attempt to "simplify" the information for consumption, and most of the illustrations are of poor Japanese mothers taking their children 'home' to Japan, away from a drunken/swearing/abusive foreign husband. It's really quite disgusting the way it is portrayed - it gives the impression that Japan signed the treaty in order to assist these poor mothers who simply have no choice but to flee from their clearly abusive and clearly gaijin husbands. It's honestly sickening.

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Thunderbird, one of the reasons to come back to Japan is that the Japanese judiciary system has been VERY pro-mother, and very pro-Japanese. With a system that grants single custody (as opposed to joint custody traditional in many other countries), as well as taking claims of abuse, etc at face value without ever really investigating, and a system that expects the divorced parent (father) to more or less disappear, the system was very biased towards a Japanese woman who wanted a divorce.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

A lawyer for the parents' group said he expects to submit a further 200 applications by the end of the year.

It will not help, not because Japanese court is unfair, but because of this provision of the Hague Convention. http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.text&cid=24

Article 35

This Convention shall apply as between Contracting States only to wrongful removals or retentions occurring after its entry into force in those States.

The activist groups will advertise Japanese court system is unfair, even though they know Article 35 of the convention is the real obstacle.

Thunderbird2Apr. 02, 2014 - 03:39PM JST

Another question... WHY do they flee back to Japan? Homesick? Abused?

Usually, they go back to Japan because of divorce. People do not have to worry about their visa status in the country of their nationality.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Bravo, bravo....

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

In Japan the rules of the Hague Convention exist on paper only.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

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-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Thunderbird2-

WHY do they flee back to Japan? Homesick? Abused? Treated like a trophy and feeling humiliated? Lonely? Culture shock?

after a divorce, how would a Japanese spouse continue to live there to make a living? (visa issues, language problems, cultural differences) - it'd make it much easier for them to come back to Japan to look for a job, or get support from families (grandparents). Also they probably want to be far away from their soon-to-be ex.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

My kids live 5k away from me and my ex refuses to let me see them for no reason other than personal satisfaction and there is not a damn thing I can do about it. I did nothing to her other than being born in another country.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Disillusioned - how old are your kids? if they are old enough and if you know their routine, would it be possible for you to "accidentally" see them on a regular basis (without your ex knowing)?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

DisillusionedApr. 02, 2014 - 04:50PM JST

The general rule is that you should not sign the divorce filing or give consent to divorce at the court unless you are satisfied with the custody rights, visitation terms and family support payments.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Addressing the numbers question above, and its context: The article / poster combination IS confusing. That difficulty in the message is born of trying too hard to emulate the US State Department line in portraying the problem: this happens when parents are desperate to obtain assistance from unresponsive governments and are over-matched by the overwhelming power of national States on both sides of the Pacific. The two governments we're referring to (the US and Japan, although many others are involved in this tangle with Japanese international child abduction) have obstructed parents from raising their children, and have either condoned the abuse (as in the case of the Japanese government which has condoned international child abduction for four to five decades), or (in the case of the US Department of State and executive in general) turned their backs or blew smoke and mirrors while exerting themselves for the things they really care about instead (tying Japanese finance capital, and shoring up the encirclement of Asia in the overseas military empire.) So what is a desperate parent to do? To gain the attention of international institutions, one must make estimates of the number of abducted children based on Japanese Interior Ministry statistics in those things they are willing to count (counting divorces in Japanese international marriages, the numbers of children per Japanese marriage, the percentages of children in Japan who are able to maintain a parent-child relationship after marital separation.) This is required, because the governments of Japan and the United States refuse to count the number of abductions, have refused all requests for this information, and have actively thwarted efforts to find the numbers out, because the truth would be more likely to stir up trouble, or protest, or expose gross, immoral conduct, once it is revealed how rampant international child abduction is in Japan. Or, one can follow the other option, and ask exactly how many child abductions have been officially recognized by the authorities in the US, and how many cases have been filed with the Japanese. By far the greatest number of cases, vast numbers of them, are of course, never filed with the Japanese, because to do so is costly and is demonstrably pointless: in the 30 years since this treaty was written, not one child has been returned by a Japanese family court to the parent in the country of origin from which he or she was abducted. So, there you have the two numbers: roughly. About 400 cases are officially recognized, with the US Department of State constantly busy reducing the numbers by dropping every case they can. Many, many parents have witnessed this; it is how diplomatic scandal avoidance is done. Or, one can make ballpark estimates based on the known facts, and the known practices of Japanese family courts. My guess (guided by the work of others who also study this) has long been that the real number of American minors who have been abducted (roughly 18 years worth, counting only those years from which children would still BE minors now) is about 4 thousand. But, some people say 10... And really, the precise number is difficult to come by. However, what is not hard to ascertain is that the two governments have been colluding in keeping a damper on this issue for decades. So, sorry ladies and gentlemen. But there is no honor due to Abe's government, nor to Obama's, nor to any others, for the ongoing abuse this constitutes, and for the many, many schoolchildren who are still held in Japan, not knowing what has become of the parents who were raising and loving them so much before the abductions took place.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

how would a Japanese spouse continue to live there to make a living? (visa issues

Parental visa.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@CH3CHO

I usually have an opinion near to your line... but

When you are hit with a divorce (coming from the person that you loved and supposedly love you too), you are much more concern in trying to fix the problem, avoid to upset her more than she is, and just focused on get her love back.... and not to left you.

You go blind and you are not able to think straight... and.... you end up singing the damn papers. it is a stupid thing, but you are so obfuscated that actually you think you are doing the right thing at the moment....

...Well that was my case..

0 ( +2 / -2 )

But who knows, eh? I only reached my bizarre conclusion by reading the same article as you....

Well, that's a reasonable bit of speculation I suppose but that info is not in the article.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

after a divorce, how would a Japanese spouse continue to live there to make a living? (visa issues, language problems, cultural differences) - it'd make it much easier for them to come back to Japan to look for a job, or get support from families (grandparents). Also they probably want to be far away from their soon-to-be ex.

Seriously? How many of us here learned the language, found jobs and got visas sorted out? Single, married and/or divorced. This isn't why at all. It's because they know Japan will protect them and they can keep their child as far away from the other parent - which is the norm here. Most Japanese couples divorce here and dad doesn't get to see the kid. That doesn't happen in many other countries and many J mothers are NOT okay with dad in the picture. They can run home to mommy and daddy and have them help raise the kid. Easier than actually having to work for a living and raise a kid on their own - never mind that many American dads would be more than help to help out. A Japanese woman has a far better chance at having a career AND being a mom in the US than she does here.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Nessie - being able to legally stay there and being able to make a living are not the same. in many of these cases, those japanese moms are stay-at-home moms and once they are divorced, it is not easy for them to start working while raising kids. when they return to japan, they dont have to worry about facing those problems. i am not saying its ok for them to just return to japan and shut the door but im just saying there are probably their side of stories.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Nessie - being able to legally stay there and being able to make a living are not the same.

They can legally stay there on a parent visa.

it is not easy for them to start working while raising kids. when they return to japan, they dont have to worry about facing those problems.

Even if they return home, they'll have to start working at some point. How else will they pay for their kid? Yes, grandparents will help out but they certainly won't cover everything nor will they live forever so the mom will have to get a job. Fishy, do you have any idea the poverty rate here for single mothers? Women here don't often get paid a living wage because many are covered under their husband's pension and health care so they don't want fair pay as they would have to start paying taxes on the money they did earn. That means women overall get paid far less than they are worth which means returning to Japan is actually not a good option in terms of work and money. Many are not thinking about this. They are thinking about their possesion, aka their kid, and ensuring they don't have to share.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

tmarieApr. 02, 2014 - 06:18PM JST

They can legally stay there on a parent visa.

Is there "parent visa" in the US? I may be wrong, but I understand that a child who is a US citizen must be an adult so that his/her foreign national parent is eligible for visa.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Title is wrong, this isn't the loophole, the loophole is the fact you just have to say "I am scared" and the Japanese courts wont return the children.

This is a blackhole, were the law is not retroactive.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Fishy, I did just that and went to the apartment to pick them up. She told me to wait about 15 minutes and the cops showed up and told me she complained I was stalking her! I did nothing!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Maybe we should see what actually happens when a kid is abducted with the new law in place before we jump to any conclusions. Just sayin'.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

My understanding is that many are on green cards or are PR but if not, can seek a visa extension so they are able to stay in the US IF their kid is a US citizen. They need to be working towards PR though. PR in the US doesn't take near as long as it does in Japan - I believe two years or so. An ex can also sponsor a visa.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

gogogoApr. 02, 2014 - 06:49PM JST

This is a blackhole, were the law is not retroactive.

In civilized countries, law is not retroactive. In the case of the Hague Convention, it is explicitly and clearly stated in the Article 35 of the convention that the convention is not retroactive. As long as the Article 35 is there, Japan is under treaty obligation not to apply the Hague Convention retroactively. http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.text&cid=24

0 ( +4 / -4 )

And you're right, the "parent" visa is for those over the age of 21 wanting to bring parents over - my mistake in the naming.

While not retroactive, can parents in the US not refile for custody regardless of time tat has passed? Would Japan then not have to deal with these kids that were taken?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Fishy, I did just that and went to the apartment to pick them up. She told me to wait about 15 minutes and the cops showed up and told me she complained I was stalking her! I did nothing!

She'll have poisoned them against you somehow too. There is a pattern. Every time it's sneakily done, the wife takes as much money as she can get her hands on and then she turns the kids against the father and if you try an intervene the police turn up.

Look at this video and how the British guy's children have been brainwashed to ignore him (about 8 mins in). That's abuse! There is other word that fits this deliberately estranging children from a parent. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3g3g_0r01c

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Yeah Fukkuppy, been through that already. Last time I saw my kids (three months) my eight year old daughter asked me why I don't love them anymore. I was shocked and ask her why she would say that and, of course, her reply was, "That's what mummy said!" And, she is determined to stop the kids speaking any English. She won't even watch videos or TV in English. I did nothing to her! I've been paying her extortion money and constantly had to beg to see the kids. She just changed her email address and phone number no explanation and blocked me out of the kids' lives for no trucking reason! I'm guessing her toy-boyfriend had a hand in it, but that is besides the point.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Disillusioned, I am sorry to hear you are going through all of this. It's bizarre that the behaviour is always the same on the part of the Japanese spouse. I read a book by a Douglas Galbraith who had the same thing happen to him, and he suggested that his wife's behaviour was more down to her than to a culture trait, but I don't see that at all, when the procedure is so deliberate and predictably similar in every case. The destruction of the western side of their lives, including any natural remnant of English, is another feature of this bizarre behaviour. At least you get to see your kids now and again. I hope you can come to some sort of personal resolution in your own life somehow.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

tmarie-

Even if they return home, they'll have to start working at some point. How else will they pay for their kid? Yes, grandparents will help out but they certainly won't cover everything nor will they live forever so the mom will have to get a job. Fishy, do you have any idea the poverty rate here for single mothers?

my point was/is that a more independent woman (mom) who is financially secure and has a career is less likely to run away with kids. i said that in many of these cases, the moms are stay-at-home moms who do not have a career in a foreign country and they probably feel insecure... On the other hand, if the mom has a decent job and is financially independent, knows many people, is comfortable getting around in a foreign country, they are less likely to run to their home country. Yes, I am very much aware that the poverty rate for single moms in Japan is pretty high, but my point is, that they are not independent and running to what's likely to be easier for them.

Disillusioned -

Fishy, I did just that and went to the apartment to pick them up. She told me to wait about 15 minutes and the cops showed up and told me she complained I was stalking her! I did nothing!

I'm very sorry to hear that and what she did was so wrong. I hope, and I believe, that when your kids are a little older, you will have chances to talk to them so they will know that you tried to be close to them and love them very much.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is the problem with Japan joining The Hague agreement. The Japanese women know they have total control in Japan and once they are back here the father can do bugger all about it. As I've stated many times before, the 'loophole' is one little hint of abuse of fear of violence and doors are closed, regardless of the truth. They don't have to prove anything. It won't be until Japan sets up its own domestic joint custody laws and child support standards that the fathers, foreign, domestic and abroad will have any chance of getting action from this agreement. My ex actually suggested I pay her ¥3,000 per hour, per child for visitation and the mediation court supported it! I just laughed it off and told them to put it where the sun doesn't shine. They came back with another offer of ¥100,000 per month and I could see the kids for lunch one Sunday a month. All these bizarre proposals were totally supported by the so-called 'mediators' and I was told if I didn't agree she would never let me see my kids again. I talked her down to a more reasonable agreement, which was three years ago. However, this latest little attack came from nowhere and after visiting the house and having the cops set on me I have no option than to stay away. I could apply to the mediation court again, which could take six months to get a hearing and she would just walk in and demand a thousand bucks a month with limited or no visitation and be fully supported by the system. Case closed! But, just to be clear, this situation is not specifically for foreign fathers. I know many Japanese fathers suffering the same BS. I know one Japanese guy that lives two blocks from his teenage daughter and has not seen her since she was six and he pays nearly a thousand bucks every month. It's an absolutely ridiculous joke and as much as Japan joining The Hague seems like a step forward it is only a paper deal brought on by pressure from the US government and when push comes to shove the foreign father is gonna get shoved right out of the picture!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

While not retroactive, can parents in the US not refile for custody regardless of time tat has passed? Would Japan then not have to deal with these kids that were taken?

Not according to the Hague Convention treaty. The treaty applies only to "wrongful removals or retentions occurring after its entry into force in those States." In other words, all abductions or "retentions" by Japanese spouses that occurred before Japan signed the Hague treaty are not covered and Japan has no reason to act on them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

the 'loophole' is one little hint of abuse of fear of violence and doors are closed, regardless of the truth

You do realize that the cards are stacked strongly AGAINST women in abusive relationships in Japan, right? You should read up on the topic, it's rather frightening.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Pandebelle - You should read up on how many men have been totally ostracised from their children under false pretences and lies! If violence and abuse can be proven, all well and good, but to be able to just hint at it and use it as an escape is a blatant abuse of justice! I got three sets of stitches from my Japanese wife throwing kitchen utensils at me including knives. I did one instigate or retaliate the attacks, but she called me abusive. You really have to know both side of the story before making such claims.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

PandabelleApr. 02, 2014 - 11:33PM JST You do realize that the cards are stacked strongly AGAINST women in abusive relationships in Japan, right? You should read up on the topic, it's rather frightening.

I realise that there are two sides to every story, and there may be some cases where there was legitimate abuse, but the system as it stands is hopelessly one-sided, with one party being automatically believed without a shred of evidence. If it was the man being believed over the woman I'm sure you would be up in arms, and legitimately so. If you're interested in equality before the law then I'm with you, but if you're only interested in biased pro-women legislation then I'm 100% against you and everyone like you.

Disillusioned - I'm sorry about your situation, it sounds utterly heart-breaking.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

This is a clear case of one parent abducting the children and Japanese Govt aiding them. As long as these Children are American born U.S. citizens they must be returned and let the Parents resolve their differences in the U.S. Court.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

tokyodoumoApr. 03, 2014 - 01:56AM JST This is a clear case of one parent abducting the children and Japanese Govt aiding them. As long as these Children are American born U.S. citizens they must be returned and let the Parents resolve their differences in the U.S. Court.

And the Japanese would say that they're Japanese citizens and the parents should resolve their differences in a Japanese court.

An independent 3rd party like the Hague, which is renowned internationally for being even-handed and impartial, should be the meeting-place and should decide. Both parties would be on an even footing.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

This is just lip-service until domestic laws change to back it up.

Disillusioned: My heart goes out to you, bro. All I can say in support is that there will be a time when the kids are allowed of their own will to see you, and when they find out about the laws that kept you apart your ex is going to get her just desserts. It does not in any way make up for what she has done, or the loss of time with your kids or the money extorted in order to see them, but things will work out in the end, I believe.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There HAS been a case in the past where Japanese courts have ruled in favor of the non-Japanese parent, but the problem is the family courts in Japan apparently have no ability to get their decisions enforced by Japanese law enforcement. One woman thumbed her nose at the Japanese Family Court decision and nothing happened until she was lured to Hawaii on some pretext - where she was arrested and threatened with imprisonment on kidnapping charges until she agreed to have the child's grandmother send the child back to the U.S.

http://crcjapan.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/japanese-courts-grant-custody-to-u-s-father-in-moises-garcia-case/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Positive small step forward at least...

I think a lot of people misunderstand the reason for abduction back to Japan. It isn't because the females feel culture and language and etc barriers(poor little me). But they view the father as a worthless and powerless foreigner. They do it as a form of revenge in most of the cases that I have read about. "you will NEVER see you kids again" and along those lines. Japanese society views the foreign father as not human...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I know one Japanese guy that lives two blocks from his teenage daughter and has not seen her since she was six and he pays nearly a thousand bucks every month.

Just wondered, but has he been ordered to pay this, or is he doing it out of a sense of duty? I'd be inclined just to walk away under these circumstances.

Why are these women so damned greedy?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

DisillusionedApr. 02, 2014 - 09:56PM JST

If you give consent to divorce before agreeing on custody, visitation and child support, all kinds of bad things will happen and no lawyer can be of help. What you needed was a good lawyer before you agreed to the divorce, rather than a revolutionary change of the family laws of Japan.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It's a fact of modern life wherever you go that in a divorce the cards are stacked against the male. If she says she's leaving, there are only two things you should do:

1) Man up. 2) Lawyer up.

In that order.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

my point was/is that a more independent woman (mom) who is financially secure and has a career is less likely to run away with kids. i said that in many of these cases, the moms are stay-at-home moms who do not have a career in a foreign country and they probably feel insecure... On the other hand, if the mom has a decent job and is financially independent, knows many people, is comfortable getting around in a foreign country, they are less likely to run to their home country. Yes, I am very much aware that the poverty rate for single moms in Japan is pretty high, but my point is, that they are not independent and running to what's likely to be easier for them.

You are aware that most married women in Japan are dependent on their husbands and do the EXACT same thing, right? It has nothing to do with living abroad. It has to do with women here thinking that a child is theirs and fathers not really having any rights to their kids once divorced. I don't think it is about insecurity. It is about viewing children as property. Many women here take the kids, cry abuse and bar J men from seeing their kids. They are indeed doing what is easier for them - but certainly not the best for the child.

You do realize that the cards are stacked strongly AGAINST women in abusive relationships in Japan, right? You should read up on the topic, it's rather frightening.

I agree with this but you do realise that many women don't press charges and stay with abusive husbands because many see it as the easier option than going out and getting a FT job and becoming a single mother, right? I have personally dealt with two friends who said it was better to stay so they didn't have to work. There is a serious issue here with abuse but women here, for the most part, aren't demanding shelters and help. Things won't change until they do, sady. I don't agree with it but I also don't agree with the line of thinking that they'd rather be used as a punching bag than become financially indepent. Add in the cycle of DV, their kids will likely turn out to be abusers or abused. Horrifying that women with kids decide to stay.

Japanese society views the foreign father as not human...

I would suggest that Japanese fathers suffer just as much as the foreigners with this. Perhaps even more if you know your child is in the same city but you aren't allowed to see them. I know a guy who pays 10 man a month for his child even though the mother told the daughter her father is dead. The child is now in JHS and he hasn't seen her, not even a picture, since she was one. I asked why he bothered paying then. "She's my daughter". Horrific that the courts here allow that crap to happen.

Dis, my heart breaks for you. I have a friend who "hates" her father even though she doesn't remember him. When I asked why on earth she hates him, she told me her mother told her all these horrible stories about him. When I suggested that perhaps she was lying and her dad tried to see her and perhaps even paid support, she wouldn't believe it was possible. Kids are seen as objects that mothers have a right to and I find it twisted and sick. Keep trying and I hope your kids learn what a cow your ex is.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

tmarieApr. 03, 2014 - 06:49PM JST

Frankly, I think that, if all the great amount of efforts by the left behind parents were used for mending ties to avoid divorce, the children would have been a lot happier. Is continuing marriage not an option? Is it impossible because, for example, she refuses sex or something?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

No idea why. Some refuse sex, some have other issues. Marriage isn't just about one person making efforts and mends and something it is better for everyone to walk away. Some people should never have gotten married in the first place and yep, some are too lazy to fix it but I don't think that really has anything to do with dads get screwing in visitation rights and custody. Men aren't always the bad ones in marriage and staying together for the sake of the kid is sometimes worse for the child.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I pay money every month and my ex- cancels our meetings, most of the times or says she is too busy. With no concern of what our son might think. She just goes her own way knowing or thinking that she knows what her rights are? She is a Basket case who needs intervention.

I'm fed up and ready to take the Law into my own hands. The Mediation courts, politicians and basic way of thinking about children and true Love in Japan is an utter Joke. Time to grab the Bull by the horns, Tim Johnston Japan Kai endo Japan

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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