politics

European lawmakers chide Japan over parental child abductions

47 Comments
By Marine Strauss

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47 Comments
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150,000 loose contact with parent every year? Nice job Japan. I'm betting they double down and next year 300,000 just to show pride.

16 ( +23 / -7 )

You know, I’m a bit surprised that the EU would take this route. I mean don’t you think that some of these mothers are fleeing from their ex spouses because of potential abuse or something? I mean if that’s not the case, then I understand the plight of these fathers. But let’s not get too hasty about applying every international standard that the international community wants.

I mean yes, as much as I support the idea that a child should spend time with both parents, it is a slippery slope. And there is a fine line between helping people in need, and the elimination of any kind of national sovereignty. That’s all I’m saying, no more no less.

-32 ( +8 / -40 )

Dear lawmakers, Japan isn't an EU member.

-32 ( +9 / -41 )

Those figures don’t seem too bad. 29 out of 35 cases have been acted on. I’m sure that this is very similar to other countries.

-22 ( +4 / -26 )

Dear lawmakers, Japan isn't an EU member.

Really? Wow.

When EU citizens are involved, it has a right to comment. If it doesn't, then Japan can't comment about similar matters. Is that what you want?

27 ( +32 / -5 )

An official at Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the government had no comment, adding that it would continue to explain its actions to the EU and member states.

Japan has already signed international treaties and has agreed upon international conventions on the rights of the child.

However, lack of enforcement, rigid societal Japanese beliefs and a failure of the Japanese courts to acknowledge those laws and treaties mean that children are being kidnapped and held against their will, taken to Japan with the tacit acquiescence of the Japanese government.

Japanese law is stuck in a time warp and the inactive politicos are responsible for it!

27 ( +29 / -2 )

@JCosplay

Although it is an issue (see: - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_child_abduction_in_Japan ), there is also the issue where the non-Japanese court has given rights to the non-Japanese parent and denied the Japanese parent full rights to the child. In one case, restrictions were put into place due to the Japanese parent being suspected of intent to abduct (which they did). Japan also has additional clauses to its interpretation of abuse (including "ignoring" or not replying to a Japanese partner, who, say, is shouting at their partner), which itself is open for abuse by Japan.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

I wish them luck in their plight. I was barred from seeing my kids while I lived in Japan and they only lived 5k away from me. I spent 8 years battling to see my kids and the harder I tried the less I saw them. She eventually just banned me altogether and threatened me with a stalking order if I continued. I dunno how these guys are gonna get on from overseas.

28 ( +29 / -1 )

Jim Harper,

Japanese are protected by Japanese laws. If you are europees, then you are not protected.

-31 ( +5 / -36 )

I wish them luck in their plight. I was barred from seeing my kids while I lived in Japan and they only lived 5k away from me. I spent 8 years battling to see my kids and the harder I tried the less I saw them. She eventually just banned me altogether and threatened me with a stalking order if I continued. I dunno how these guys are gonna get on from overseas.

I am so sorry to hear that you’ve experienced this. It’s sickening that it’s allowed to happen here. I can’t begin to imagine how it must feel...

21 ( +22 / -1 )

One of the ways that Asian and Western countries are very different is in their views of parental rights after a divorce. While I admire much about the East, I think the idea of shared parental rights is more mature.

19 ( +21 / -2 )

Good job Japan? What took Europe so Long? That’s how desperate Japan is for people they literally have to support the kidnapping of their halves?

8 ( +9 / -1 )

It is a violation of human rights to bar a parent from seeing their own children. Unless there is clear evidence the partners has been abusive this Japanese law is draconian and must end.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

150,000 children lose contact with a parent every year in Japan

That's insane... so in the past ten years that's 1.5mln children!? That's so much worse than I thought, it can't be good for society

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Dear lawmakers, Japan isn't an EU member.

True, but a compassionate country would not allow child abductions. A compassionate country would not leave one parent with no rights to see or have contact with 'their own child' after divorce. A compassionate country would understand that 'the love' for your child and the child's love of 'both' parents does not end at divorce.

If you defend Japan on this heartless position, then you too are not a compassionate person. And please forget all the usual excuses. No harm comes from being a compassionate person or country.

19 ( +20 / -1 )

Jim Harper,

Japanese are protected by Japanese laws. If you are europees, then you are not protected.

Incorrect. Japanese citizens who commit a crime (e.g. child abduction) on European soil are subject to European law, not Japanese. Japan should not protect Japanese citizens who go to foreign countries and commit crimes.

21 ( +23 / -2 )

Akie

Jim Harper,

Japanese are protected by Japanese laws. If you are europees, then you are not protected.

That's inane. Japan has signed on in agreement with the international laws. All residents of Japan should be protected by Japanese law. To declare that you have to be of a particular nationality to be protected by the law is racism. The government doing this, is systemic racism.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

The lack of "joint custody" is one of Japan's out-of-touch backwards legal aspects. However, one should not ignore the fact that until 1979 "Joint Custody" did not even exist in the United States. Australia I believe is 1975. In other words, it doesn't go back a hundred years in the west, and it will take an upheaval in Japan's domestic laws to change it. It will likely happen eventually but not overnight. And certainly not by chiding from other nations.

1 ( +12 / -11 )

@JCosplay

Conversely, abusive partners could flee to Japan to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. In either case these matters should be dealt with in the jurisdiction the child was abducted from.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Also, those MOFA Hague Convention successful child return and return order stats are highly suspect.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

 I was barred from seeing my kids while I lived in Japan and they only lived 5k away from me.

and until now, the mother has been brainwashing them that you are a horrible person and for the children to never meet you. I like stories of kids wising up as they reach adulthood and seek out their lost parent. My brother-in-law(Japanese) divorced and lost his daughter 13 years ago. Both him and daughter lived only a 5 minute drive apart.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

When EU citizens are involved, it has a right to comment.

If one of the parents are European, I guess they deserve as much right to comment as the Japanese half...

12 ( +12 / -0 )

carp_boya - I am so sorry to hear that you’ve experienced this. It’s sickening that it’s allowed to happen here. I can’t begin to imagine how it must feel...

The feelings start with confusion (why). Then they move onto frustration (how). Then comes disappointment and then disgust. The final feeling is defeat. Just give up and go home, which I did 6 months ago with a large black hole where my heart used to be. My daughter turned 16 in May. I sent her a present and it came back a month later with ‘return to sender’ written right across the front of it in her handwriting in red marker pen

it’s absolutely disgusting that women in Japan can get away with this kind of behavior. I guess I shouldn’t blame the Japanese women. I should blame the men for creating this farce.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

I feel that the way to fix this terrible situation is to get Joint Custody up and working in Japan, and the way to do that is to make all the Japanese 'Ikumen' aware of the fact that no matter how much diaper changing or childcare they do, the moment their wife decides to leave they'll have no right to see their kids again.

There's been a lot of coverage in the Japanese media about the whole 'ikumen' trend. So the role of fathers in Japan is changing fast, and it's that that is going to pressure the Japanese government into allowing Joint Custody.

Even Koizumi Jr, with his much hyped paternity leave, isn't going to get to see his kids once he gets a divorce in a few years time... Maybe that'll push him to try and get the law changed.

Start a petition on change.org, or tweet at Koizumi Jr or other famous Ikumen.... but do it from the angle of 'rights for Japanese dads' rather than rights for foreign dads. Imho that'll have more chance of getting picked up by the media and achieving real change.

I've been seeing stories like this in English language media in Japan for decades, but I don't remember ever seeing it on Japanese TV.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

MOJ has not moved forward since war time, almost 200 years ago.

The main problem is that prosecutors are the ones to decide law changes.

The legislative power deffers to the punitive power.

And even worst, the prosecutors controll the public press.

You can confirm it just watching the news, most of the news are prosecution leakages to the press.

The MOJ needs to be restructured from the grounds up.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Dear lawmakers, Japan isn't an EU member.

Dear People who didn't read the article, Japan is a member of the UN and a signatory of the Hague Convention of International Child Abduction. Meaning they agree to follow the rules of returning children abducted from one country to another without the consent of both parents.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

"...... adding that it would continue to explain its actions to the EU and member states."

Which means in other words - NOTHING will change!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

 And certainly not by chiding from other nations.

and yet Japan signed the  Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. about 5 yrs ago, its basically a contract between countries, Japan signed it agreeing with the aspects of the convention, yet when they dont follow the rules of said convention cant understand when other countries criticize them for it.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Japanese are protected by Japanese laws. If you are europees, then you are not protected.

actually many of these children abducted were born in the EU meaning they are EU citizens.

taking them to Japan doesn't change this fact and is actually billittleing EU laws and the Hague convention on child abduction for which Japan is a signatory. No Japanese law doesn't trump international laws and conventions

8 ( +10 / -2 )

As a person married to a Japanese woman with a kid on the way, this is my biggest fear.

For all Westerners here, there's a few things to know. First, Japanese people do not have a concept of unconditional love. It's 100 percent obligational and if one side breaks that obligation, the love is immediately cut and you will be treated like an enemy.

Next, Japanese are not compassionate people at all. Like unconditional love, compassion is a Western concept grounded in Christianity. There is thus no mercy for the parent who doesn't get to see the child, at all. Compassion is a foreign concept. There is in group and out group, uchi and soto, and when you are placed in the soto group you get the same treatment as a stranger.

The only reason I married a Japanese woman is because I am prepared mentally to wake up and lose my kid one day, and if you aren't the type of person who can endure that, don't marry a Japanese. It's too risky.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

This is as good a time as any for reforms in Japan. This is just simply unacceptable.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

JCosplayToday  07:19 am JST

You know, I’m a bit surprised that the EU would take this route. I mean don’t you think that some of these mothers are fleeing from their ex spouses because of potential abuse or something? I mean if that’s not the case, then I understand the plight of these fathers. But let’s not get too hasty about applying every international standard that the international community wants.

I mean yes, as much as I support the idea that a child should spend time with both parents, it is a slippery slope. And there is a fine line between helping people in need, and the elimination of any kind of national sovereignty. That’s all I’m saying, no more no less.

Stupid comment. Most of these cases happen simply because Japanese law can't wrap it's head around joint custody and it too medokusai to bother, so the fathers suffer. I'm sure there are cases where mothers are fleeing because of violence, but whatever the percentage of cases that is does not justify denying good fathers the right to see their children. If the shoe was on the other foot and it was father running away with kids you'd suddenly be interested in the each individual cases context, right. I'm assuming you're a western woman without kids, not married to Japanese woman. You can't have it both ways.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

That's a heady mishmash of commentary. 150,000 becomes 1.5 million. An anecdotal account by a parent. Brainwashing by mothers. Wizards all.

A Frenchman and an Italian living in Japan, petition the EU regarding parental rights inside Japan. An Australian, Scott McIntyre, a 'freelance' sports reporter, going through divorce mediation, entered the common area of his in-laws residence and was arrested for trespassing - he claimed to be concerned about their safety because of a previous typhoon (utter nonsense on his part, a transparent false justification) - he has appeared, quite uninvited, at the apartment complex numerous times. McIntyre was accused of physical abuse towards his daughter in divorce proceedings. McIntyre was fired from previous employ and sued over discrimination, thus the freelance profession on Twitter. After his arrest he claimed to be treated the same as Carlos Ghosn. He is apparently incapable of being subtle or taking the measure of his behavior in a social context - and indulges in hyperbole. He publicly claimed to be tortured during his incarceration. McIntyre has self-appointed himself spokesperson for abducted children. These are the individuals carrying the banner for 'abduction'.: an Italian and Frenchman in Japan and a crackpot Australian in Tokyo. The reporting on McIntyre is curious in its framing - the claims of abuse by McIntyre are brushed into a differing context by asserting the claims were not brought to bear in the trespassing case and dismissed - implying the claim of abuse itself in the divorce case had been dismissed. Clever wording. He seems quite mental.

Instead how about the word of a divorce attorney:

Divorce in Japan has contingencies regarding parental custody which are age dependent. Under the age of ten the courts generally award custody to the Mother, indeed 80% as the intimacy of the mother/child relationship is considered utmost. Between 10 and 15 the will of the child is to be respected. 15 and older the will of the child is given paramount importance.

When deciding which parent will be given custody of children, the most important factor is supposed to be the welfare of the children. Article 820 of the Civil Code says that the custodian has the right and obligation to care for and educate the child for the benefit of that child.

To bring up a child properly, a stable life environment is considered vital. Weighing up the factors that count toward a stable life environment, the judge will consider not only material and economic circumstances but also mental and physical ones.

In general, it is believed that siblings should live under the same roof with the same parent. Brothers and sisters have a strong mental connection with each other, and separating them can have a detrimental effect on their mental health. A court is likely to decide that children should live together with one parent.

 After divorce, the parent without custody must pay child support to the parent who has the children.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

That's a heady mishmash of commentary.

Even the Japanese government admits there are a lot more than the three cases you dismiss (despite only presenting objections to a single case). You have presented nothing concerning the idea of joint custody, and side from dismissing one individual, do not actually address the issue at all.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I'm supposed to see my kids at least once a month, but haven't since February because of "coronavirus". I only live 5 minutes away. Its my sons 10th birthday next week, but can't even call him on his birthday. Japan breeds this type of situation.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Richard Gallagher - that's is quite a long rambling post. A Frenchman, an Italian couple make a couple of unexplained appearances followed by a long diatribe against someone called McIntyre. What is the relevance of all this?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Jim HarperToday 03:32 pm JST

Even the Japanese government admits there are a lot more than the three cases you dismiss (despite only presenting objections to a single case). 

It is, however, sufficient to defeat the claim that those whitewhiners are necessarily as pure as you think.

Personally, I remember the case of James Cook:

https://childabductionrecovery.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/left-behind-dads-last-resort-impeach-japans-supreme-court-judges/

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/06/03/issues/left-behind-dads-last-resort-impeach-japans-supreme-court-judges/#.XusrTWgzaUk

Who tried to get his children back, even as he was living in a room in another person's apartment.

You have presented nothing concerning the idea of joint custody

IIRC, at least one person has pointed out that if the parents are departed on good terms, you don't need the law to make a de facto joint custody arrangement. When they talk about the superior results of joint custody on children outcomes, no doubt they ingested a lot of such cases.

But we are talking about the ones that are bad and require court intervention. What sounds like the solution that has the less bad worst-case scenario - letting one person have the kid or forcing them to share and expect good results to come from it?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

wtfjapanToday  01:11 pm JST

 And certainly not by chiding from other nations.

and yet Japan signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. about 5 yrs ago, its basically a contract between countries, Japan signed it agreeing with the aspects of the convention, yet when they dont follow the rules of said convention cant understand when other countries criticize them for it.

I never said Japan can't be chided, and the article does not say Japan "can't understand being chided".

I said that chiding from other nations is not going to effective. If any country wants to go that route the proper thing to do is bring an action at the ICJ or the proper jurisdictional forum for the said Hague Convention.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

It is, however, sufficient to defeat the claim that those whitewhiners are necessarily as pure as you think.

@Kazuaki Shimazaki - what's a "whitewhiner"? I haven't come across this term before.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A couple of posters above provided interesting insights about divorce law in Japan. But it seems a bit of a red herring. I think what irks many posters are those cases where a US parent, say, was awarded custody under US law, and then the Japanese parent abducted the child to Japan, blocking and frustrating any attempts at access by the parent with actual custody with the support of Japanese authorities. You can't defend this practice, can you?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Dear lawmakers, Japan isn't an EU member.

Not a member of the global community either, I guess.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"I think what irks many posters are those cases where a US parent, say, was awarded custody under US law, and then the Japanese parent abducted the child to Japan, blocking and frustrating any attempts at access by the parent with actual custody with the support of Japanese authorities. You can't defend this practice, can you?"

@Ascissor,

Without going into much detail, the issue "boils down" to:

1) Family Law is private, generally speaking.

Although cases involving children can be dealt with with the public law, private law spheres, private law dominates. Obviously, most fathers (and the public at large) are not Solicitors, thus they don't know the difference.

And the consequences.

2) That's why you'll see a parent's removal of a child written as "abduction"; key word abduction in between brackets for a reason.

3) Courts are generally "weary" of interfering in family matters regarding children.

Obviously, when violence, or the threat of it, mistreatment, fear for the children's life and safety are at stake, the Local Authority will intervene and the matter will take a turn for the Public sphere, where the State will be forced to intervene.

I don't defend the practice, (as you put it), but that's the Law.

I am currently advising a friend on divorce; I did not learn this on Wiki.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

In this country, Japan, where the male chauvinism overwhelms,

the custody of children is usually provided mothers with in most cases.

EU?

This is not an issue about EU.

This is an issue about a bad custom of robbing custody from one parent, mainly a man,

and about taking it for granted.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The EU is focusing more on father's right than child's welfare.  Very selfish.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The EU is focusing more on father's right than child's welfare.  Very selfish.

In rare cases, a child my not wish to see or spend time with their father, but in most cases, its simply the mother or her family members that don't want to see or have a relationship with the father.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Do the hustle

My daughter turned 16 in May. I sent her a present and it came back a month later with ‘return to sender’ written right across the front of it in her handwriting in red marker pen

That is absolutely heartbreaking. I hope that one day, when she’s mature and independent, you’re able to reconnect with her. It won’t make up for missing her grow up, but it might fill that hole in your heart.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

tinawatanabe

The EU is focusing more on father's right than child's welfare.  Very selfish.

A little bit of a bias in that reply?

The EU law protects EITHER parent, not just the father (or the mother).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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