Archive for January, 2011

Cram school operator joins ‘Tiger Mask’ charity movement for children

Posted on January 14, 2011. Filed under: Uplifting Stories | Tags: , , , , , |

Gakkyusha Co, an operator of cram school networks in Japan and overseas, said Thursday it will donate knapsacks worth a total of 5 million yen to children at welfare facilities, becoming one of the first companies to join hundreds of anonymous individuals in the country in making donations for underprivileged children.

About 300 cases of donations in cash, stationary, knapsacks and other items have been delivered to nationwide children’s welfare facilities under the names of heroes like Date Naoto, the main character in the 1960s comic series Tiger Mask.

To read the full story in Japan Today, click on the link.
More anonymous donations for kids

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234,000 centenarians listed in registries missing

Posted on January 14, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , , , , , |


The Justice Ministry announced Friday that the existence of 234,354 centenarians listed as “alive” in family registries can’t be confirmed.

The finding was reached after the ministry decided to carry out a nationwide survey on centenarians to get to the bottom of a growing pension fraud scandal that could challenge Japan’s long-engrained reputation for longevity.

If alive, 77,118 of them would be 120 years old or older and 884 would be at least 150, tracing their origins to the Edo Period. That’s a lot bigger than the 800 or so elderly listed as 85 or older who the welfare ministry said last month might be illegally receiving pension money.

Tokyo tallied the most missing centenarian cases with 22,877, while Osaka, Hyogo, Fukuoka and Okinawa prefectures found that more than 10,000 centenarians couldn’t be found at their listed addresses.

The ministry theorized that many of these people probably died during the war, in the turmoil that followed or after emigrating, and that their death notices were never submitted.

To read the entire story in the Japan Times please click on the link below.

Missing Centenarians

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Suicides in Japan top 30,000 for 13th straight year

Posted on January 13, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Suicide | Tags: , , , , |

It is quite easy to reduce the number of suicides in Japan. Just don’t payout the insurance money if the death is a suicide. If Japan did this the suicide rate would be cut in half. According to Japan Today, the number of people who committed suicide in Japan totaled 31,560 in 2010, topping 30,000 for the 13th straight year, the National Police Agency said in a preliminary report on Friday.
Since assuming power in September 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan-led government has taken steps to help those at risk of suicide.

The government’s anti-suicide campaigns last year appear to have had some effect as the number of people who committed suicide declined in the months immediately following the campaigns, falling 15.9% in April and 13.5% in October from a year earlier.

In November, however, the number of cases rose 10%, partially because of the prolonged economic downturn.

The number of people committing suicide declined for six months in a row in the first half of last year but rose and fell in successive months.

While 2008 and 2009 saw some months in which over 3,000 people committed suicide, the number of cases remained below 3,000 each month last year.

Of those who committed suicide last year, 22,178 were men and 9,382 women, continuing the trend for a higher number of cases among men.

The government set up an emergency strategy team at the Cabinet Office in autumn 2009 in concert with civic groups and doctors working on suicide prevention.

The team worked on measures to be implemented by related ministries and agencies, including expanding public counters where people can get advice about mental health and debt problems, and compiling region-by-region suicide prevention steps based on relevant police statistics.

The government set up a task force involving cabinet ministers last September to carry out the measures.

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5-year-old boy falls from balcony of 9th-floor apartment

Posted on January 13, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , |

The following story (from Japan Today) is one that could have been prevented. Parents need to be fined, penalized, or jailed if they leave their children unattended.

A five-year-old boy is in a critical condition after he fell from the balcony of a 9th floor apartment in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward on Sunday. At around 1:30 p.m., emergency services received a call alerting them that there was a child lying on the road in front of an apartment building.

According to police, the boy had been left at home alone by his parents who had gone out for a while. Police believe the boy climbed over the 120-cm high balcony railing. Police are treating the fall as an accident and no charges have been made.

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Supreme Court Video that No One Can See

Posted on January 12, 2011. Filed under: Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

supreme court cover

Two articles concerning a secret Supreme Court Video were posted in the April 20th, 2011 edition of the Japan Times. What kind of video does the Supreme    Court want to keep secret? Well, this video is about divorce and what parents must consider when they live apart. How are the children affected? Kevin’s article talks about how the courts fail, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and the recent pressure from 8 nations asking Japan to sign the Hague. Link for Kevin’s article.

Colin’s article is longer and covers several different things. First he talks about how separation is hard on the kids. Second, his extensive online research for the DVD turned up almost nothing. Third, he considered the DVD to be well made with a good message. Fourth, he talks a little about divorce statistics. And finally, he gives his opinion on why the DVD is not shown. Link for Colin’s article:

by Colin P.A. Jones (Lawyer at prominent University in Kyoto)

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Study Session about Reforming Japanese Family Law

Posted on January 9, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

On Sunday the 25th of April (2010) a study session related to reforming family law was held in Kyoto. The study session was sponsored by Oyako-net Kansai. The keynote speaker was Mr. Nonoyama a lawyer who practices in the Kansai area. Nonoyama sensei is good friends with Tanase sensei (another lawyer based in Tokyo) who is also interested in reforming family law in Japan. One of the first things Nonoyama sensei said was it is too easy to get a divorce in Japan. You only have to sign a sheet of paper to get a divorce. There are no requirements (as in many western countries) for parents to make or agree to a joint parenting plan. This parenting plan outlines the details of how the children will be raised. It covers everything from where the children will live to where and how they will spend their vacations with each respective parent. Nonoyama sensei implied that Japan needs a similar system.

Domestic Violence (DV) was another big topic that was brought up in the question and answer session. Nonoyama sensei was clear that there are some domestic violence cases and that the women in these cases need protection but he was also clear that most divorce cases do NOT involve DV. In non-DV cases there needs to be some type of enforcement. If a mother refuses visitation then that mother needs to be penalized. He equated denial of parental visitation as abuse. Excuses such as your son does not want to see you and your son is sick were not valid reasons (in most cases) to deny visitation. Nonoyama sensei said he would continue to work with Tanase sensei to reform family law. These two lawyers seemed to have some great ideas but there seems to be some resistance with the diet and the public. It sounds like there is still a lot of hard work that needs to be done.

One Japanese mother (whose children are living in America with their American father) spoke during the question and answer session.  She said Japan must sign the Hague. Her ex-husband is refusing to let her children travel to Japan for a visit because Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction. She said she and her extended family are heartbroken that her kids can not experience Japanese culture. She said if Japan signed the Hague it would then be possible for her children to travel to Japan for vacation.

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Need for Joint Custody

Posted on January 9, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , |

Masako Akeo has had 2 articles published recently related to the need for joint custody. In the first article she talks about the rights of a child, suing Keiko Chiba (Minister of Justice), and being prohibited from going to her son’s school. But more importantly she mentions the need for joint custody. Many other nations have a joint custody system in place and children have regular and meaningful contact with both parents on a weekly basis. The article also mentions Kozue Sugano a left behind Japanese mother whose child was taken to Bangladesh by her Bangladeshi ex-husband. Kozue has no access to her child and hopes Japan will sign the Hague Convention.

Left-Behind Parents Want End to Single Child Custody System

Masako’s second article, talks about the need for Japan to sign the Hague Convention as soon as possible. Japan must also revise it family law system to reflect the needs of today’s society. This means Japan needs “joint custody”. Masako also tells a brief story of how her ex managed to get sole custody of her son and her current attempts and struggles to see her son.

Masako Akeo: Japanese Laws Should Encourage Joint Custody

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Articles by Timothy Maier

Posted on January 9, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

I would like to share some older articles written in 1999 and 2000 by Timothy Maier. He focused on Europe and the Middle East but the problems he writes about are the same problems left behind parents face today in Japan and many other countries all over the world. Mr. Maier constantly criticized the State Department for their incompetence. All of the obstacles left behind parents face today were present 10 years ago (the way State classifies cases, how countries are seen as compliant or non-compliant in relation to the Hague, misleading Congress, unwillingness to protect its own citizens, unwillingness to prosecute child abductors, etc.) From State Department attorney Tom Johnson, also a left behind parent, “The (State) Department’s bad faith is especially evident with regard to this point, since Congress itself estimated there to be 10,000 abducted American children abroad when it passed the 1993 International Parental Kidnapping Crimes Act. Congress knows that even the State Department admits to 500 to 1000 new cases annually, and Congress knows that the National Center’s estimate is up to 17,000 per year. These numbers include both Hague and non-Hague cases, but nevertheless indicate the extent of the Department’s attempt to mislead Congress with a report of only 58 unresolved cases.” Timothy Maier interviews parents and introduces their cases and pleas for help. He mentions States refusal to call these atrocities “human rights violations”. Maier talks about Sweden, Saudia Arabia, Germany, France and the parents who abducted their kids to those countries. He talks about how the FBI is reluctant to help it own citizens. He is insightful. Every article sheds light on the problems left behind parents face. Articles (in pdf),-No-Action-on-Stolen-Children.html—Complicity-in-Child-Abduction.html!.html

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Cherie Booth and Hillary Clinton Join Forces to Fight International Child Abduction

Posted on January 8, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction | Tags: , , , , , , |

In April of 1999, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Cherie Booth, the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were the principal guest speakers at the launch of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC). It was a new British-American initiative to find missing children worldwide and to stamp out cross-border child abduction. Secretary Clinton has finally spoken about our issue child abduction to Japan but she has not spoken with passion. One would think this issue is still important to her but we have not seen any significant progress over the last year even though Secretary Clinton is in a position to help. Left behind parents in America need to keep the pressure on the State Department and Congress so the issue continues to be a priority. Foreigners from other countries need to put the pressure on their legislatures in their home country and their embassy in Japan. To read the full article click on the link below.

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Needless death of 3 children

Posted on January 2, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , , |

This is exactly the kind of thing Children First wants to prevent from happening. Three children died in 2 separate cases in 2010. In one case the mother abandoned her kids and let them starve to death. In the other case an eighteen year abandoned her new born shortly after giving birth in a public restroom. There needs to be options for these young mothers. They need to know where to get help. Follow the link to read the entire article.

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