Japan Today

Richard Burton comments

Posted in: Frenchman in Tokyo ends hunger strike over his 'abducted' children See in context

The 60 comments in this thread provide interesting and ample evidence of the complexity of this situation flying over the heads of many. For one thing, this is not a problem that befalls international marriages any more than it does marriages between two Japanese nationals - thousands of Japanese parents are discarded in like manner by their Japanese spouses every year. For another, both members of a divorcing couple usually have the good sense to avoid the family courts altogether. That means it's only situations where one member of the couple is NOT open to compromise, that reach the family courts - but that is also true in most European countries. The main difference is that European countries have societies that would equate depriving a child of one of its parental attachment bonds with child deprivation, if not outright abuse, including acknowledging that it is also severe abuse of the discarded parent.

For some societal reasons, not least the patriarchal-matriarchal specializations that practically don't exist UNTIL you become a parent, but emerge as virtually sacrosanct once you do, mothers rule the roost, or sometimes grandmothers. In addition, a great deal of shame attaches to divorce UNLESS you present yourself as the innocent victim. It follows that practically all family court cases involve either the mother alleging domestic abuse from her spouse to herself, or the father alleging domestic abuse from his spouse to their child. No matter what either party alleges, whichever party first abducted the child is the party that gets to keep the child. It should be noted that whether mother or father, it is quite common for a dominant grandparent to be egging their now adult-child on. The family court is not interested in investigating domestic abuse claims - a point not lost on those making false accusations. The family court has no powers to enforce visitation, or residential transfer. Their only concern is to prevent a dangerous physical incident (hence non-molestation and stalking laws) and to prevent the child from falling into poverty (hence mandatory child support, deductible at earnings source if not paid). The target for the abducting parent is to prevent any contact between the child(ren) and the discarded parent for 8 weeks. No matter if you have raised your children for 10 YEARS, all it takes is 8 WEEKS of silence for the 'CONTINUITY RULE' to take effect. This ludicrously anoints the abductor as the sole adult with parental responsibility, and frames any 'forced' visitation or change of residence as an unacceptable disturbance to the 'status quo' (Yes! Of only 8 weeks!).

Several comments have pointed out that we know nothing about the mother in this case. I really like those comments because they illustrate exactly the plight of the abducted children - who now know only their mother's version of events. Even so, as adults I disagree with those posters. There are substantial implications that can be drawn about this person - not least her utter silence no matter her (ex) co-parent's obvious distress. It's worth noting that although shared parenting hugely hinders the alienation of a spouse (by a spouse), it does not completely prevent it. Even in the USA and the UK it is possible for a spouse to be discarded and alienated. Japan's blanket single-custody only system makes it difficult to determine whether Vincent and his children are victims of simply "divorce- Japanese Style", or victims of the same type of psychological abuse that characterizes such cases in Europe, Australia, the UK, and the USA. In those cases, closer examination of what appears to be an implacably hostile couple (it takes two to tango), reveal the dynamic to be conciliatory on the part of one spouse, while being conflict-seeking on the part of the other (it only takes one partner to ruin the tango). This is not a couple where transient stresses (no money this month) occasionally erupt as a push or a shove, this is a couple where one person has jockeyed themself into a more powerful position and is relishing being abusive (having a child, for example, enormously tilts the playing field). This behavior amounts to nothing less than intimate partner terrorism. There are a couple of issues with this that bewilder nearly everybody and as with any heinous crime, the first issue concerns MOTIVE. The second issue concerns the children's abject acquiescence.

When it comes to finding a motive for this behavior, bear in mind that you have already been diverted to imagine that any parent alienating his/her spouse must have a very good reason for taking such substantial action. Inevitably the subject of domestic abuse, violence, and great fear of more and greater violence are what grip our concerns. Hold on a minute! Oughtn't these matters to be referred to the criminal court? The thing is, no criminal court could wield judicial punishment as severe as alienating you and your child from one another. In any case, criminal court has not done you the huge favor of abrogating due process. In the family court, you don't even pursue a conviction! What you pursue is a finite resource, knowing that the greater proportion of residence/custody you accrue, the less remains for your ex. Moreover, the less time your ex gets to spend with your child, the more he/she will have to pay you in child support. This points you to the ultimate goal of complete alienation of your ex - depriving them of the status of 'regarded spouse', 'loving parent', and dependable involved provider - almost a complete removal of their identity. But how could your conscience allow you to do such a thing? I comes down to opportunism (money, elevated parent status, a new romantic opportunity, or resentment of your ex). In a certain proportion of cases, what is at play is another factor - a personality disorder (narcissistic, borderline, histrionic) that further fuels resentments because of it makes those people susceptible to delusions, and because those conditions have marked empathy deficits, eliminating the self-restraint that good-conscience would usually provide. It's possible that Vincent's ex is just such a person. That's not just bad news for Vincent. It risks serious and irreversible damage to Vincent's children as their 'only' parent has skewed perceptions that will bear heavily on their developmental progression.

Which brings us to the second bewildering aspect of this type of abuse- the acquiescence of the children. Much as children appear to have developed characters they are nevertheless a work in progress, going through several phases of development featuring states of high flux and susceptibility to undue influence. In addition, these kids are debilitated, totally dependent, and dread being abandoned. They are also isolated, and subject to extreme undue influence. If the alienating parent is prepared to alienate, they must have a level of resentment that exudes from them into an atmosphere that those children have no choice but to breathe and imbibe. These children will come to believe everything their alienating parent tells them. The family court will eventually resolve the matter by assessing the children's 'wishes and feelings', but by then their minds will have been turned not only into allegiance with their 'one' parent, but they will genuinely have come to believe a revisionist history of their other parent- the one they hardly have any accurate memory of at all.

So, I thank Vincent. And my heart goes out to him and to his two children.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Posted in: Girl's cry for help in school questionnaire shown to abusive father before her death See in context

In Family Court divorce procedure in Japan, when an abducted and alienated child reaches 13 and is interviewed by a "Court Investigator" (supposedly a court psychologist of sorts) to determine the child's preferred residence (mother or father), each child is interviewed alone. HOWEVER, each parent is soon given a written report of that interview. If the child knows that this will happen then what is at play is UNDUE INFLUENCE, which undermines any claim that the child's expressed wish is authentic. If the child doesn't know this, EXACTLY THE SAME DANGER of PARENTAL 'REPRISAL' AGAINST THE CHILD that we see in this tragic case are a real possibility. Actually more so, since the alienating parent demands complete allegiance, and the parent who is alienated is prevented by law from being able to be there to protect their child.SO HOW COME the Officials in Noda City's Education Board who admitted handing a copy of a school questionnaire, (in which a third-grader wrote she had been physically abused by her father and asked teachers to help), to the father at his strong request, about a year before his arrest over her death APOLOGIZED at a press conference Thursday (Jan31) for conducting an act that "extremely lacked consideration," saying officials of the city's education board yielded to Yuichiro Kurihara's request due to his "intimidating demeanor" that made them "frightened." WHEN EXACTLY THE SAME ACT is part of normal family court procedure for the whole country, including Noda City?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Foreign divorced parents fight in vain for child custody in Japan See in context

Actually "Bullfighter" the single custody split in Japan is NOT 80% 20% in favor of mothers. It is 99% in favor of mothers; even the sole custody that is awarded to 1% of fathers being divorced is because that is the wish of that mother, usually because she does not want to mother that child.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Posted in: Foreign divorced parents fight in vain for child custody in Japan See in context

To those knocking Japan please recognize that the Japanese family courts don't do anything to non-Japanese any differently from how they do anything to Japanese. They don't do anything, they have no powers to enforce anything except monthly support money from father to mother. They have no powers to enforce visitation, so they don't. They can't. They have no powers to ensure joint custody, so they forbid it except for as long as the marriage endures. That though, is misleading. Becoming a parent for a Japanese woman is a job and status for life. A tenure guaranteed no matter how well or badly you parent. Becoming a parent for a Japanese man is a zero-hours contract. No matter how well you parent, the arbiter of your performance is the contentment of your wife. At her whim, sayonara! That might be because you treat her badly. That might be because you treat her well. What she especially might not like is you parenting better than she does. She will leverage you out of the house for long hours of work to make sure you bring home sufficient salary to match her expectations. Is that patriarchy? Japanese husbands hand over all their salary to their wives. Financial management here is recognized as a 'domestic chore' but not one she'll be wanting any help with. That 'patriarchy' is, it turns out, 'matriarchy'. Frankly, considering the imbalance of power, it is a credit to millions of Japanese mothers that they are caring and diligent. However, thousands are only diligent UNTIL they have a child. Beforehand it is impossible to discern which type your fantastic romantic partner is. They don't even know themselves! Personality disorders and extreme selfishness will only manifest once your baby's born. That is the pivotal moment, either that, or the second child, or the second set of twins in Cook's tragic case. The greatest joy, but the greatest risk. The family court are powerless to protect your relationship with your children. Powerless to protect your children's relationship with you. Even if you are a famous Japanese father such as Takahashi Joji, the abrogation of due process in the family court means that false DV charges will always succeed in alienating you from your children and leaving them totally dependent on the one less adequate, indeed seriously inadequate, parent. Vulnerable and trusting, your children will soon enmesh and come under the undue influence of your ex. They will decline the court investigator's invitation to visit you because they have come to believe fearful stories about you, and to despise you. The court will forever imagine that it has done a worthy job keeping you out of your kids' developmental years. They will be mistaken.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Posted in: Wife, local gov't ordered to pay damages for wrongful domestic violence certification See in context

Making false domestic violence allegations IS domestic violence, especially when done expressly to facilitate the most chronic and long-term damaging form of domestic violence of all, alienating the child and other parent from each other (perhaps forever). In this case, as reported, subsequent events confirm what the police and courts could not have found out at the time, not even with an investigation, that her actions were malicious fabrications with ulterior motives. Indeed, that's why the police, stuck in the middle of a 'He says- She says' argument, and facing the dilemma that he might perhaps be violent, PLAY SAFE by keeping to the 'Duluth' principle of ASSUMING that he poses a threat so, to prevent (supposed) further violence SEPARATE the parties. And certify him to prevent him finding out where she(actually THEY) now reside.

Trouble is, that also separates the father from his child/children, which is EXACTLY WHAT THE MOTHER WANTED ALL ALONG.

Facing almost exactly the same scenario, my own Judge backed down from making such a judgement, fearing that she would lose career brownie points if (as likely) an appeal reversed her judgement. Praise this Judge for courageously validating one of the true victims of domestic violence (the father), a decision which will also vitally help the other victim (the child).

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Posted in: Gov't eyes submitting bill to Diet to lower legal age of adulthood to 18 See in context

There are some important ramifications with this. Generally speaking knowing that you can't be adult until 20 doesn't exactly motivate maturity in most late teens. More particularly, those poor kids treated as property by a parent, can get free of the abducting parent's controls.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Man arrested after fire kills 3 in Miyagi house See in context

As strangerland points out, this type of appalling behavior has been around for thousands of years. Some might say that there are always these types about. Perhaps that is true. However, in this case I would argue that it would be a confirmation bias that assumed he probably was this type. He was just as likely just like you or me for years and years. Can we check his record Japan TODAY? Then what something pushed him over the edge? Of course I do not condone this heinous crime. I point out that just maybe there was a cultural element. The immeasurably sad loss of his two children and his wife (her children too, of course) point to the very real possibility that he came to realize that he had already lost them to the single custody rule. If so, he would have been 100% confident that the fad of false accusation of d.v. would have reduced visitation to nil, (since 'due process' and the need for evidence are completely circumvented in the Family Court). Even if visitation had been granted, it would have been minimal, and not backed up by any enforcement. His future was 99% locked into the 'patriarchal' world of work and earning a living for a family. Great! Except that now he was being discarded from his family. It is a cultural characteristic of Japan that the patriarchal world 'donates' nearly all its income to enable the 'matriarchal' home. And whilst thankfully we no longer frown on 'single mothers', it is unfortunate that the term has now assumed a status equivalent to something like 'victim and noble warrior against oppression'. A badge no doubt sometimes deserved, yet you can wear the exact same badge, even if you have discarded a perfectly reasonable spouse (okay), from his children (chronic emotional abuse).

The danger with assuming that there are always these types of men is not only that some of them are women, but that we don't think that we can do anything to prevent such heartbreaking outcomes. I think we can prevent some of these events by ending the matriarchy/patriarchy schism in Japan, not just in the work place, but also in the home.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Father, 4-year-old daughter found dead in suspected murder-suicide See in context

To all those commentators calling the father malicious, selfish, pathetic, cowardly, scum, a loser, and undeserving of sympathy, I strongly suggest that until less than a year ago this man was just as worthy as you. Consider especially that the more worthy 'hands-on' father figure you are; the greater disquiet awaits you should you be denied access to your child(ren) when your wife leaves (which he was, and you will be). Everybody has their breaking point, and single-custody divorce robbed him, and will rob you of so much. No longer a husband. No longer a father. Enslaved as a breadwinner by the person you once loved. Humiliated to your own children. A crummy couple of hours a month of visitation that your ex can sabotage at whim, and even THAT can't be enforced. Powerless, destroyed, no longer whom he used to be, what was left of him snapped!

Frankly, it is arrogance to assume that you won't.

Thank you 'therougou'.

Vindictive Ex, Facilitated by the Courts, Recklessly Succeeds in Pushing Previously Loved and Reasonable Man to Breaking Point.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Posted in: Woman fatally stabbed in car; ex-husband found hanged at home See in context

Thank you Iomae for clarifying that, and of course you are right, IT certainly does not WARRANT a murder. Actually, I did not mean to suggest that IT did. What I wanted to say was that this is a case where IT (the sheer devastation of a relationship breakdown IMPOSED ON YOU AND YOUR OWN CHILD) involves something of a far greater magnitude and complexity than 'only' the break-up of a marriage or romance. As the earlier comment by Johny Shaftman highlights, the intensity of feelings can be so overwhelming that a 'mental snap' is a real possibility in any of us (though especially the young). And thank you to LFRAgain for mentioning the strong possibility of mental instability playing a part here. However, LFRAgain is mistaken to say "...not on the part of the victim". Can any parent who deliberately acts to exclude the other parent from involvement with their children not invite suspicions of mental instability? Moreover, although LFRAgain says "The sheer devastation of a relationship breakdown is nothing new to humanity... ", I agree except that what is certainly only recent to humanity (in Japan) is the sheer scale of RELATIONSHIP BREAKDOWNS IMPOSED BY ONE PARENT ON THE OTHER PARENT AND THEIR CHILD due to the single custody system.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Posted in: Woman fatally stabbed in car; ex-husband found hanged at home See in context

Thank you Educator60 for letting us know that this couple though divorced had a child together. And thank you LFRAgain, with Educator60's information we can extend your point about the sheer devastation of a relationship breakdown IMPOSED ON YOU AND YOUR OWN CHILD by the single custody system unique to Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Posted in: Happy Mika Mifune says divorce finalized See in context

Mifune is guilty of moral harassment because as a wife and mother she should encourage a good relationship between father and daughter. Instead she has disparaged the father to the daughter and then steered the daughter into an alignment with her against the father. The abruptness of Mifune's change of heart toward Takashi indicates a new love interest as the route cause, rather than any genuine shortcomings (the media long portrayed the couple as emblematic of warm togetherness). If she wanted to be free of a broken romance she should be free; But she shouldn't have been free to emotionally abuse her own child and her ex by tearing them apart. Which one of you readers would actually be callous enough to NEGOTIATE 2 photographs a year? She has caused heinous harm to her own child; and the father knowing this, is broken hearted. Charles Noguhi's comments are very accurate in this thread, thanks Charles!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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