Archive for February, 2011

Child porn cases up 44% in 2010

Posted on February 28, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , , |

BY TORU IGARASHI STAFF WRITER       Asahi Shimbun    2011/02/26

Japanese police handled a record 1,342 cases of child pornography in 2010, a 44-percent jump over the previous year, the National Police Agency said.

The figure represented an all-time high for the third consecutive year.

About 60 percent of the cases involved the Internet, with such cases posting a ninefold increase over a decade, officials said.

Meantime, child abuse cases handled by police grew 6 percent from 2009 to 354 incidents, the fifth consecutive year of annual increase.

The surges reflect intensifying police action on crimes against children, particularly amid growing international pressure for Japan to act against child pornography.

By type, 624 cases involved production of child pornography, up 42 percent from the previous year; 496 cases involved display of pornographic materials on the Internet, up 59 percent; and 108 cases involved distribution such as sales to specific individuals, up 52 percent.

The cases involved pornographic materials involving children under age 18. A total 618 children under age 18 were victimized in the cases, 53 percent more than in the previous year.

Thirty-three of the victims were preschool children, nearly four times the number of such young children victimized in 2009, while 93 were of elementary school age, an 80 percent increase from the previous year’s count.

The findings suggested younger children were being targeted.

In some cases, the parents were responsible for photographing and distributing images of their own children.

Child abuse at home also rose, with 387 guardians subject to investigation in alleged child abuse cases, up 9 percent from 2009.

The number of abuse cases that resulted in death of the child or children reached 29, or 16 percent up from the previous year.

In seven out of 10 abuse cases, male guardians were the abusers, while 30 percent were female guardians.

While a majority of the female abusers were the biological mother, in the case of male abusers, adoptive fathers, stepfathers, or the mother’s common-law husband outnumbered biological fathers by 40 percent.

Of total abuse cases, 99 were reported to police by family or acquaintances, 79 were reported by child consultation centers and 40 were reported by neighbors, double the number in 2009.

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Lawmaker: DOD must do more to inform troops about child abduction issue

Posted on February 27, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

TOKYO — Resolving parental child abduction cases in Japan not only requires more attention from Japan and the U.S., but also is an issue the Pentagon must address.

Rep. Chris Smith, in Tokyo this week to lobby support for a treaty to end parental abductions, called for the U.S. military to step up efforts to help troops, since current and former service members often face impossible challenges in trying to get access to their children in Japan.

From 2007 to 2009, the number of troops who sought help from the U.S. State Department to get visitation rights with their half-American children outside the U.S. rose from eight to 34 in 14 countries, according to a 2010 DOD report on international child abduction.

Many cases go unreported because left-behind parents often realize early on that there is little that can be done to help them, said attorney Patricia Apy, who traveled to Tokyo with Smith to raise awareness about Japanese abduction cases.

In 2010, Smith passed legislation that created a partnership between the Pentagon and State Department to help better inform servicemembers on child abduction issues.

The diplomatic-military effort is still in its early stages and so far has only included training for military staff judge advocates, Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Monica Matoush said in an e-mail Thursday to Stars and Stripes.

But active-duty and former service members whose children have been abducted to Japan contend the military could quickly and cheaply begin addressing the problem.

“With all the briefings you get in the military, they could include some information about the abduction problems,” said Michael Elias, who served in the Marine Corps and claims his estranged Japanese wife abducted his two young children to Japan from New Jersey in 2008.

“You go overseas they give you information about everything, even how not to catch an STD overseas,” he said. “But this topic goes unmentioned?”

Still, it was Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway who provided the first ray of hope for Elias in 2009.

“I wrote like 200 letters to (Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton and had called everyone from the (local) police to the FBI,” said Elias, who then e-mailed Conway.

Conway, who has since retired, quickly responded and hooked Elias up with Apy, his current attorney, who has worked as a legal adviser to the Pentagon and the Clinton administration.

“That was the best thing that could have happened,” said Elias. “I’ll never forget what he (Conway) wrote: ‘Never let it be said that Marines don’t help Marines out.’”

Like many young service members who fall in love and marry while stationed overseas, Elias never thought of the consequences associated with international marriage.

But that’s all the more reason the military should at least brief troops about the risks, he said.

“I never imagined (my wife) could or would do this,” said the 26-year-old sheriff’s deputy from his Rutherford, N.J., home this week. His parents Nancy and Miguel Elias accompanied Smith to Japan, a trip Michael Elias said he skipped for fear of being served with a Japanese court order.

Nancy and Miguel Elias said a U.S. Embassy official in Tokyo made contact with  their daughter-in-law while they were in Japan, but that she refused to allow them to visit their grandchildren.

Stars and Stripes was unsuccessful in contacting Elias’ ex-wife.

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Congressman continues to push Japan to sign child abduction treaty

Posted on February 27, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , , , , |

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A U.S. congressman left Tokyo on Wednesday after a whirlwind trip aimed at rallying Japanese support for an international child abduction treaty, an issue that has sparked a growing debate in Japan and abroad.

While lobbying members of the Diet and other government officials this week to ratify the 1981 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Rep. Chris Smith said Tokyo and Washington must resolve the current cases of parental kidnapping in Japan involving U.S. citizens.

The treaty would essentially stop Japanese law from shielding people who have taken their children to Japan in violation of jurisdictional authority in another country. The 1981 treaty was written without retroactive authority and can only be applied when both countries — where the custody dispute arises — are signatories.

The New Jersey Republican said it would be a “gross miscarriage of justice” if the American parents of 103 U.S.-Japanese children who have been taken to Japan go without help should Japan sign the treaty — a decision the government ponders as the issue gains domestic and international media attention.

Smith said establishing government-to-government protocols for the U.S. and Japan to resolve current cases would help lay the foundation within Japan’s domestic legal framework to ease ratification of the treaty.

Recent moves by Japan — such as establishing working groups within the government and legislature to study whether Japan should accede to the treaty — indicate the country is seriously considering the matter for the first time.

Smith’s efforts come as diplomatic pressure from the international community on the matter has increased in the past two years.

“This problem isn’t going away,” said Smith, who is working closely with Americans whose children have been abducted to Japan and with attorney Patricia Apy, a New Jersey international family law attorney.

Apy, who traveled to Japan with Smith, said she has unsuccessfully pleaded with the government of Japan at least eight times to assist in the extradition of Japanese citizens who have fled to the country in violation of U.S. custody orders. She said those failures highlight the impunity with which parental child abductors facilitate their crimes in Japan.

Japan’s new consideration of the abduction issue should be viewed with “cautious optimism,” said Apy, who has worked as a legal consultant for the Defense Department and the Clinton administration.

It’s too early to tell whether Japan is fully on board with the concept, she said.

With Japan’s custom of sole-custody divorces that typically cut off all contact between children and their non-custodial parents, even the fundamental idea behind the 1981 Hague treaty — that both parents deserve access to their children after divorce — clashes with conventional wisdom in Japan, Japanese officials say.

Masae Ido, a Diet member affiliated with Japan’s ruling party, said her biggest concern with the Hague is the disadvantage it could impose on Japanese women who flee with their children to Japan to escape domestic abuse.

“In a litigious society like the United States, Japanese women often end up fighting a lone battle (in American courts) without getting any support,” Ido said, adding that the language barrier and a lack of financial means “contribute to their decision to leave the country without due process.”

While emphasizing the polite and productive nature of his meeting with Ido and other Japanese officials, Smith said Japan no longer can condone the clear cases of parental kidnapping within its borders.

Smith said his trip is tied to legislation he plans to introduce in the House in the coming weeks that would impose economic sanctions against Japan and other countries that fail to return kidnapped children. Smith tried to pass similar legislation in 2010 but it died in the House, and it’s unclear whether the bill has any new support this year.

“These current cases must be resolved. These parents can’t be left behind again,” Smith said.

reedc@pstripes.osd.mil

sumidac@pstripes.osd.mil

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March hearings with experts, bar group to mull Hague treaty

Posted on February 27, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , |

Kyodo News

The government said Friday it will conduct hearings in March with experts regarding whether Japan should join an international treaty that deals with cross-border child-custody disputes.

“Given that there are people who are for or against the signing of the Hague treaty, it is important for us to listen sincerely to the opinions from both camps,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama told reporters.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations will be among those attending the hearings, Fukuyama said after the latest meeting of a government task force studying the matter.

Japan has been under international pressure to join the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is designed to help resolve cases in which foreign parents are prevented from seeing their children in Japan after their marriages with Japanese nationals fail.

In many cases, the estranged Japanese parent spirits children out of their nations of domicile, even in defiance of overseas court custody rulings.

Critics in Japan have raised concerns over joining the pact, saying it could endanger Japanese parents and their children who, they claim, have fled from abuse by non-Japanese spouses.

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Sex abuse by teachers up 40% since 1999

Posted on February 25, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: |

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The number of public school teachers punished for sexual behavior with children has jumped by 40 percent in the past decade, and the number sacked for such misconduct has almost doubled, it has been learned.

In the 2009 academic year, 138 teachers were punished for inappropriate sexual contact with their students or minors, including 100 who were dismissed–a sharp jump from the 97 teachers punished (including 56 who were sacked) in the 1999 school year, according to the education ministry.

About 150 schoolteachers have been disciplined each year for the past few years.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry recently conducted a survey on sexual abuse at public primary, middle, high schools and schools for the physically and mentally disabled, in all 47 prefectures and 18 Cabinet ordinance-designated major cities.

Of 138 schoolteachers punished by boards of education for sexually assaulting minors during the 2009 school year, 24 were suspended, nine had their pay cut and five were given written reprimands, according to the survey.

Fifteen other teachers were given punishments not deemed official, including oral reprimands and being urged to retire voluntarily.

Sixty-three victims in the 153 cases in the 2009 school year, or 41.1 percent, were students at schools where the teachers worked, according to the survey.

The abuse including inappropriate touching or contact in 55 cases (35.9 percent), sexual intercourse in 33 cases (21.5 percent), and secretly filming or watching students without their knowledge in 18 cases (11.7 percent).

Fifty-seven of the educators punished in 2009 were middle school teachers, followed by 46 high school teachers and 38 primary school teachers, according to the survey.

Boards of education stumped

Local boards of education have been at a loss trying to stop the scourge of sexual misconduct.

In an effort to prevent sexual abuse by teachers, the Hokkaido Board of Education gave all teachers under its jurisdiction in 2008 a leaflet featuring a resignation letter written by a teacher who had been caught paying for sex with minors.

“I was arrested for paying a girl for sex,” the letter said. “My conduct was reported by the media and caused terrible trouble to my wife and children. Please don’t become the sort of teacher I did.”

The leaflet also warned of the financial consequences of sexual misconduct: A high school teacher in his 40s dismissed in disgrace would “lose 143 million yen in salary and a 28 million yen lump-sum retirement allowance.”

However, the leaflet has not eliminated the problem. In October, a Hokkaido primary school teacher was arrested for paying a 15-year-old high school girl for sex.

Some analysts have cited “the degradation of teachers’ sense of morality” and “growing mental stress placed on teachers by increased work duties” as possible factors behind the increase in sexual abuse cases.

Many board of education officials, however, say there is little they can do because teachers’ misconduct is largely a matter of personal behavior.

Naoki Ogi, a critic on education issues, believes the ministry’s survey has barely scratched the surface of the problem.

“The figures in the survey are only the tip of the iceberg,” Ogi said. “Many teachers are under increasing pressure at work, and many Web sites treat children as sex objects.

“Teachers shouldn’t exchange cell phone messages with their students and other minors because this could eventually develop into an intimate relationship,” Ogi added.

(Feb. 22, 2011)
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Lawyers press for child’s best interest under int’l custody pact

Posted on February 25, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Domestic Violence (DV), Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , |

Wednesday 23rd February, 2011 Japan Today

Japanese lawyers said Tuesday they have urged the government to try to secure children’s best interests if it decides to sign an international convention designed to help resolve cases in which foreign parents are prevented from seeing children ‘‘abducted’’ to Japan after their marriages with Japanese nationals fail.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations said in a paper submitted to the foreign and justice ministries and the Cabinet Secretariat that Tokyo should guarantee in its domestic law that children should not be returned to their habitual country of residence if they are found to have been abused or subject to violence.

Satoshi Mukai, a JFBA vice president, told a press conference that even though member lawyers are divided over whether Japan should join the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, they compiled the paper to influence ongoing discussions at the government task force on the convention.

The treaty, which currently has 84 parties, stipulates rules and procedures for the prompt return of children to their habitual country of residence when wrongfully removed or retained in the case of an international divorce.

The government launched the task force comprising senior vice ministers in January to examine whether Tokyo should accede to the treaty. Japan is the only country among the Group of Seven major economies that has not signed the pact and it has been under international pressure to join the treaty.

The report said Japan should stipulate in domestic laws guaranteeing the implementation of the Hague Convention that children’s opinions will be appropriately heard and respected when authorities make a judgment on their return to their habitual country of residence.

The lawyers also said the legislation should make it clear that the Hague Convention is not retroactive, or only applies to wrongful child removals or retentions that occur after its entry into force in Japan and that it exempts parental child abduction cases that occur domestically.

They called on the government to raise public awareness of the Hague Convention and set a three-year preparation period before the treaty takes effect in Japan.

Whether to join The Hague Convention has triggered a heated debate in Japan, where it is customary for mothers to take sole care of children after divorces. It is not unusual for children to stop seeing their fathers after their parents break up.

Some critics in Japan argue that even though the pact says children will not be returned to their habitual country of residence if there is ‘‘a grave risk of physical or psychological harm,’’ past judgments have been made based on ‘‘limited interpretations’’ of the clause.

The JFBA urged the nation’s diplomatic missions abroad to provide necessary assistance to Japanese nationals who are involved in child custody disputes.

Naoki Idei, a member of the JFBA’s working group on The Hague Convention, said many member lawyers are concerned the treaty could endanger Japanese parents and their children who have fled abusive relationships.

As a legal remedy, the lawyers’ group called on the Japanese government to ratify optional protocols of international human rights treaties that enable individuals to file complaints for violations of their rights.

Idei said such a mechanism would help redress the situation of parents and children when a return to a child’s habitual country of residence is ordered under The Hague Convention despite claims of abuse.

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Facility staff at breaking point

Posted on February 23, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Orphanages | Tags: , , |

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Children emotionally disturbed by physical abuse at home often inflict injuries on themselves at welfare facilities as a way of seeking the affection of staff.

The harsh reality surrounding such children has taken its toll on the staff treating them, causing them excessive levels of stress and leading some to resign.

“More and more workers get burned out and quit,” one facility official said.

A recent Yomiuri Shimbun survey has found about 76 percent of emotionally disturbed children have suffered physical abuse, double the figure registered 14 years ago.

Overwhelmed by their workload, many workers at facilities that deal with such traumatized children have called for an overhaul of the facilities’ current management system.

One morning in 2009, a worker at one such privately owned facility in western Japan went to check on a middle school girl as she had not come out of her room. On entering, the worker was shocked to find the girl lying on her futon and bleeding, having apparently cut her wrist with a razor.

The girl survived, but the worker said, “Self-injury is nothing unusual here.”

According to the worker, the girl had suffered physical abuse at home. She saw a psychiatrist regularly and received counseling from a psychotherapist and a caregiver, as well as treatment such as sandplay therapy. However, she repeatedly cut her wrists when she recalled the traumatic experience.

The facility said it accommodates about 20 children, most of whom are victims of physical abuse.

At the decision of child counseling centers, some children move to such facilities from more mainstream children’s shelters.

Children there usually take classes at a building attached to the premises, then return to the facilities where they eat, bathe and sleep. They are given their own rooms.

The facilities, known as “jotan” in Japanese, are intended to help children who suffer a mild degree of emotional distress learn ordinary lifestyle habits so they can return to their homes or other shelters after six months or so. In many cases, however, this process takes from one to 1-1/2 years, and some children go back and forth between the facilities and children’s shelters.

In principle, emotionally disturbed children who require treatment are supposed to be sent to such facilities. In recent years, children’s shelters have seen a growing number of children who have been physically abused and are emotionally disturbed, prompting the shelters to send them to the facilities for treatment.

Meanwhile, many workers at such facilities for emotionally disturbed children struggle to cope with certain behavior from the children, the purpose of which seems to be to test the staff. Some experts say their longing for parental love makes them want to become the center of attention of the staff who look after them, and by hurting themselves, they are trying to form a connection with other people.

“We have to understand [the meaning of] behavior that tests us while also protecting them,” a female worker in her 30s said. “We constantly have to judge [whether they are serious or just testing us]. It’s very stressful.”

Some children at the facilities turn violent toward other children and workers there. During a 1-1/2-year period after the facility opened, more than 10 workers quit. At present, only two of the original staff remain.

“Now that physical abuse has become so widespread in society, we need more facilities for emotionally disturbed children. But social recognition of such facilities remains very low,” an experienced worker said. “The current situation will never improve unless something is done.”

Yoshinobu Nakajima, chief of one such facility, Omura Tsubaki no Mori Gakuen, in Nagasaki Prefecture, said: “We should make combined efforts to increase the number of workers and improve the quality of services. To that end, we need to establish a system to train workers specializing in dealing with physically abused children.”

Japanese link to this article

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Justice for Smuggled Turtles, But Not For Children Kidnapped from the United States (via Rocjapan Blog)

Posted on February 21, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction | Tags: , , , |

Good story. It really shows that turtles are more important than children. It seems federal authorities have their priorities out of whack.

LOS ANGELES — While the alphabet soup of U.S. federal authorities—DHS, TSA, FBI CBP and DSS, among others, has collectively been impotent and absent in preventing and rectifying the kidnapping of American citizen children from the United States to Japan, it has been Johnny-on-the-Spot in nabbing three particularly vile miscreants—for smuggling more than 50 live turtles and tortoises into the United States. On January 7, 2011, agents with the U.S. … Read More

via Rocjapan Blog

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Pentagon to support bill to protect troops’ child custody rights

Posted on February 18, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce | Tags: , , , , , |

By Charlie Reed

Stars and Stripes
Published: February 17, 2011

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – In an about-face, the Pentagon now supports the idea of federal legislation to better protect troops’ child custody rights.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed the move Wednesday during a Defense Department budget hearing with the House Armed Services Committee. He said the Pentagon would begin working with Congress immediately to help craft a bill to ensure servicemembers are not unduly penalized in child custody disputes because of their military service.

In a letter Tuesday to Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, a member of the armed services committee, Gates wrote, “The Defense Department has been officially opposed to federal legislation on this matter. However, I have been giving this matter a lot of thought and we should change our position.” Turner has sponsored such legislation since 2006 but has been unable to overcome opposition in the Senate.

“You should know that this view is not widely shared within the legal community,” Gates wrote, “but I am convinced that the benefits outweigh the concerns.”

Turner said the Gates’ endorsement would eliminate much of the Senate’s resistance to the idea behind his failed Service Members Family Protection Act.

It sought to prohibit family court judges from using deployments against troops when determining custody and prevent permanent changes to custody orders while troops are deployed.

Turner said he aims to preserve those pillars of his original legislation while working out the details of a new bill with Pentagon officials.

Turner said he hopes a new bill can reach a vote in Congress within the next few months.

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“Our men and women in uniform should not have to worry about losing their children while they defend us overseas,” Turner said Wednesday.

Because most family court proceeding are not public, tracking how many divorced troops have been denied custody of their children based on their deployments is impossible.

However, the media continues to report on such cases; in the fall Oprah Winfrey interviewed on her show several female servicemembers involved in custody battles related to their military service.

The growing media attention likely helped influence Gates’ decision to support a national standard of protection for servicemembers in child custody cases against the advice of his Pentagon advisors, Turner said.

Before the change in stance, the Pentagon had been working to help pass individual state laws with the objectives similar to Turner’s proposed legislation through the Defense State Liaison Office. To date, 13 states have few or no state laws safeguarding troops’ custody rights, 21 have some laws on the book and 16 have met the DOD’s desired level of protections — a standard based on a points system for different measures such as not holding a deployment against a parent when determining custody.

Col. John Odom, who tracks child custody issues at the Pentagon, told Stars and Stripes in May that federal legislation would only complicate family law, which is typically decided and enforced in state courts, where few matters are simple.

But Turner contends a federal law is necessary because of the differences in state laws and the mobile military lifestyle. When a servicemember is an official resident of one state, gets divorced in another and then enters custody proceedings after having moved to yet another state or even out of the country, determining jurisdiction can be difficult.

A federal custody protection for troops would create a baseline of protection in U.S. courts, no matter where they were assigned, Turner said.

Gates change of heart “is incredible news because we now have an ally that was previously our biggest force of opposition,” Turner said. “Gates has 1,001 things to do, I’m just glad he did this one.”

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日本女性は「誘拐犯」 米大手TVが“反日キャンペーン”

Posted on February 18, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , |

2011.2.17 19:04

【ワシントン=佐々木類】米大手テレビ「ABCニュース」が16日、米国人男性と日本人女性による国際結婚の破綻に伴う子供の親権問題を特集し、日本政府関係者に波紋を広げている。

民事上の問題にも関わらず子供を日本に連れ帰った日本人女性を「誘拐犯」呼ばわりし、犯罪者に仕立て上げる演出だった。1月の日米外相会談でも取り上げられるなど、今後、日米間の外交問題に発展しそうな雲行きだ。

番組は15日の午後6時半に放映を開始。16日も複数回にわたって数種類の映像を流し、1回最大約8分間放映された。

スタジオに米国人男性15人が登場し、女性司会者の質問に「海外派兵されて帰宅したら妻とともに子供がいなくなっていた」と訴え、涙ながらに子供との面会を訴える参加者もいた。

番組は、米国人男性から提供を受けた子供の写真を手がかりに日本で取材した様子も放映した。

ある日本人女性が子供を自転車の荷台に乗せて移動するのを車で尾行。ABCの女性記者が、「自分を誘拐犯だと思わないか」と英語で詰問、この日本人女性がたどたどしい英語で「米国では生活できないので、子供を誘拐するか自殺するしかなかった」と答えさせている。

今年1月、ワシントンで行われた日米外相会談では、クリントン国務長官が前原誠司外相に、子供の連れ去りに関するハーグ条約の早期締結を要請。前原氏は、「真剣に検討を進めている」と応じている。日本人女性が子供を連れ帰るのは、米国人男性の家庭内暴力(DV)から逃れるケースもあるとされるが、実態は不明だ。

問題の背景には、子供もの親権に関する日米両国の国内法の違いがある。

離婚した場合、米国の州法では、合意があれば双方に親権が認められるケースが多いとされる一方、日本では、民法の規定で離婚後は片方の親にのみ親権が与えられる。

ABCニュースは、米連邦捜査局(FBI)が誘拐事件として関心を持っていることにも言及。全米規模のキャンペーンは、リコール問題で集中砲火を浴びたト ヨタ自動車に続き、新たな“日本バッシング”の火種となりかねない。在米日本政府関係者は「対日感情の悪化は避けられない」と気をもんでいる。

■ハーグ条約 オランダのハーグで締結された国際条約の総称。国家間の不法な子供の連れ去りを防止することを目的に1983年に発効した。親権を持つ親か ら子供を誘拐した場合、その子供がいた場所へ帰らせることを加盟国に義務付けさせる。日本は親権に関する民法との整合性から未加盟だが、2009年、外務 省内に「子の親権問題担当室」を設置し、加盟の可否を検討中。

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「国際結婚」ハーグ条約問題 日本人女性による子供誘拐事件追う (ABC story in Japanese)

Posted on February 18, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention, Video | Tags: , , |

日本人女性が誘拐するケースが多いのか被害者は白人男性ばかりな件。

ABC story in Japanese on NHK

NHK video

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76% of kids in welfare facilities have suffered child abuse

Posted on February 17, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Orphanages | Tags: , , |

The Yomiuri Shimbun Feb. 16th, 2011
About 76 percent of those in welfare facilities for the short-term treatment of emotionally disturbed children have been victims of child abuse, with the percentage having doubled from 14 years ago, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

As of the end of November, 1,128 juveniles were being treated at such facilities, abbreviated to “jotan” in Japanese, across the nation. Of those, 853 had experienced child abuse, the survey showed.

Furthermore, about 70 percent of the facilities said they suffer from staff shortages, indicating that staff have been exhausted by taking care of children who have experienced abuse.

Child welfare experts pointed out that the system of managing the facilities needs to be reexamined.

The survey was conducted from November to January through telephone interviews and written questionnaires on the facilities.

In 1996, a national liaison council comprising welfare facilities and other relevant bodies conducted a similar survey on 16 jotan facilities and found that about 35 percent of children in their care had experienced child abuse.

Of the 21 facilities that responded to the Yomiuri survey, 14 said they suffered from staff shortages and cited difficulties in treating children who deliberately harm themselves or are violent towards the other children.

Currently there are 37 jotan facilities nationwide. One facility staff member said, “We used to use group therapy a lot, but these days each case requires a different type of therapy, and this is stretching us to breaking point.”

Many of the children in jotan facilities were brought in via child consultation centers.

Of about 20 children who left such facilities in fiscal 2009, only about eight returned home. Though about eight more were transferred to more mainstream children’s shelters, some children could not adapt to their new lives and came back to the jotan facilities, according to officials.

Asked about measures they wanted authorities to take, more than 50 percent of the facilities cited the need to review and increase staff numbers.

Many facilities also asked for an increase in funds, paid in accordance with the number of children in their care.

Yuzuru Hiramoto, an associate professor of children and family welfare studies at Ashikaga Junior College, said, “Most children looked after in jotan facilities are relatively serious sufferers among those who have experienced child abuse.

“But there are no clear guidelines as to how to treat them, and staff are not in a position to study theories–they just have to cope with the problem by themselves. Because of insufficient staff, the system has to be totally overhauled,” he said.

The jotan facilities look after children with relatively mild emotional disorders, and an inability to control themselves due to bullying, abuse and other problems in their relationships.

The facilities take them in on a short-term basis to give them psychological therapy.

They are set up under the Child Welfare Law, along with children’s shelters which house young people who cannot live with their parents for various reasons.

Currently about 580 shelters accommodate about 30,000 children nationwide.

Japanes link to this story

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More men turning to homemaking

Posted on February 17, 2011. Filed under: Uplifting Stories | Tags: , , , |

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011     By SAWAKO OBARA     Kyodo News

As public perceptions of traditional gender roles shift, more Japanese men are willing to take on homemaking. Some opinion polls show most males in their 20s and 30s have no negative notions of men serving as househusbands.

 

News photo
Mr. Mom: Masashi Nihei, a 30-year-old stay-at-home husband in Kanagawa Prefecture, entertains his baby son at their home in January. KYODO PHOTO

Working around the house instead of holding down a career has increasingly become an option since more wives are staying in the workforce. Meanwhile, more men are trying to start their lives anew at home after burning out on excessively demanding jobs.

Takatoshi Miyauchi, 31, gets up every morning at 5 to scrub the floors of his Tokyo house. He then turns on the bread maker and begins preparing breakfast. After his family finishes eating, he heads out at around 8, taking his 2- and 3-year-old daughters to day care.

He does the laundry and cleans the home before returning to the day care center to pick up his kids. Then dinnertime comes, after which he tucks in the children at 9 in the evening. Exhausted, he often falls asleep together with them.

Miyauchi says the day passes quickly, what with all the household chores keeping him busy.

When they got married, he and his wife had planned to raise children while keeping their double-income lifestyle. But Miyauchi fell ill from overwork, and strained relationships at his workplace added to his stress. He quit and devoted himself to homemaking.

He thought he would be a stay-at-home dad only for a while, but a second child came along, making it difficult to juggle the job search and parenting. He decided about a year and a half ago to remain a homemaker.

His wife, who works in the research and development department at a medical equipment firm, is the family’s sole breadwinner.

Miyauchi had mixed feelings about becoming a househusband. He thought of himself as a failure and didn’t tell others about his life decision. But he got over it when his acquaintances barely batted an eye when he told them he had decided not to seek a new job.

 

News photo
Takatoshi Miyauchi, 31, also a stay-at-home dad, prepares a meal last month while looking after his younger daughter in Tokyo. KYODO PHOTO

Miyauchi compares his role with that of a company’s general administration department, handling all manner of tasks to support the work of the entire firm.

“I used to underestimate housework, thinking it was easy, but now I’ve realized it requires a serious commitment,” he says.

Now feeling more comfortable with himself, he runs a blog titled “Katarue,” chronicling his day-to-day activities in comic strips in hopes of networking with people in similar situations.

Masashi Nihei, a 30-year-old resident of Kanagawa Prefecture, decided to become a stay-at-home dad last September and says he has no second thoughts.

Nihei had a busy career as a computer programmer, often giving up weekends to work. But after a child was born, he became a househusband because he excels at homemaking. His wife, who holds a higher-paying job, continues to work.

“I’m happier now because I used to work all the time,” he says. “I can keep a close watch as my baby starts to teethe and learns to toss and turn in bed. I also feel great because my child is more attached to me than to my wife.”

According to welfare ministry data, the number of men financially supported by their spouses has been rising steadily in recent years. It reached 110,037 as of March 31 last year, up from 98,510 three years earlier. There was a particularly sharp increase of 6,490 in the fiscal year through March 2010.

A survey in 2009 of some 1,100 young men conducted by a Tokyo matchmaking service, O-net Inc., found that 62 percent of the respondents in their 20s and 69 percent of those in their 30s think there is nothing problematic about a man becoming a homemaker.

The rise in women’s earning power could be one factor. The average disposable income of single women aged 29 or younger exceeded that of their male counterparts for the first time in 2009, according to the internal affairs ministry.

Masahiro Yamada, a sociologist at Chuo University, points out that many women also want to become homemakers because of generally harsh working conditions. Regular company employees are often worn to a frazzle by long hours, while nonregular workers worry about their future due to the lack of job security.

“It’s good that the public attitude (toward a man becoming a househusband) has changed, but it is hard to make ends meet on a single income, so few can afford to become full-time homemakers,” Yamada said.

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ABC World News Tonight – Japanese Mothers Reveal Why They Fled With Their Children

Posted on February 17, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Video | Tags: , , , , |

More video from ABC on child abduction to Japan.

ABC video

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Americans Taken to Japan

Posted on February 16, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Video | Tags: , , , |

ABC Nightline special about American children abducted to Japan.

ABC Nightline video

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Abducted in Japan: One Father’s Story

Posted on February 16, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Video | Tags: |

Navy Cdr. Paul Toland first spotted his future wife at a running club while he was stationed in Japan. Too shy to talk to her at first, he said he eventually worked up enough nerve to ask her out using a Japanese-English translator.

It was a gesture, he says, that would lead to years of happy marriage and the birth of their daughter, Erika.

By the time Erika was born in 2002, Toland and his wife Etsuko had been married for seven years. She became a U.S. citizen shortly after in preparation for the family’s eventual move back to the United States.

But when Erika was less than a year old, Etsuko, who Toland said had became increasingly unhappy, took Erika from their Navy housing and cut off all contact.

“I was at work one day and I got a phone call from my neighbors saying ‘Are you moving back to the States? … And I said what are you talking about,’” Toland said. “And they said ‘Well, there’s a moving van outside your house.’ When I got home my wife and my daughter and all our stuff was gone.”

Etsuko committed suicide four years later and her mother, Akiko Futagi immediately took guardianship of Erika. Toland, Erika’s sole surviving parent, has never been allowed to spend time with his daughter.

ABC News found Futagi and Erika in northern Tokyo. Futagi accused Toland of being a dead-beat feather who has never paid her for raising his daughter.

“He doesn’t pay anything to bring her up,” Futagi said. When asked if she would let Toland see Erika, her response was quick. “No,” she said.

Toland said he has tried to put money into a bank account for his daughter, but Futagi rejected his lawyer’s offer.

“The State Department has tried to visit with my daughter a number of times and have been rejected,” Toland said. “They even asked the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to try to visit with my daughter and they were rejected. And once again they came back and said, ‘Sorry, we tried there’s nothing we can do.’”

Paul Toland video

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A Father’s Plea: Desperate Effort to Return American Children Abducted to Japan

Posted on February 16, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Video | Tags: , , , , |

Thousands of miles away, hundreds of American children are being kept in Japan, victims of parental abduction, out of reach of their other parent and out of reach of the U.S. government.

Among the circles of left-behind parents in the U.S., many of them fathers, Japan is known as a safe haven for parental abductions. Once overseas, the parent who abducted the child is protected by the Japanese government’s unwillingness to sign the Hague Convention, a treaty that provides for the return of abducted children to their home country.

The U.S. Department of State has tried for years to negotiate Japan’s signature on the Hague Convention and to try and resolve some of the 321 cases that have been filed with the department during the last 17 years. But not one child has ever been returned to the U.S. from Japan through diplomatic measures, according to the State Department.

Below are the stories of three American fathers who are desperately seeking contact with their children.

Having a family wasn’t something Michael Elias planned on as a young Marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan. But after his Japanese girlfriend Mayumi called him with the news she was pregnant with their daughter, Elias said he eagerly made the transition into husband and father.

He brought Mayumi to the United States and married her. Their daughter, Jade, was born months later.

Just before Elias deployed to Iraq in 2007, they found out Mayumi was pregnant again. Their son Michael was born while he was overseas.

With his young family waiting for him at home, Elias counted the days until he returned to the United States. But his Humvee was hit by an IED and Elias, blown back into the cabin, suffered a traumatic brain injury.

When he returned home, he said, things had changed.

“It wasn’t the same as when I had left,” he said.

Mayumi soon began dating another Japanese national – a travel agent. Elias got a girlfriend.

But when the two went to court to begin deciding custody for Jade and baby Michael, a judge ordered neither party to leave New Jersey with the children – and demanded Mayumi turn over the children’s American and Japanese passports, which she did.

Months later, in December 2008, Mayumi disappeared with the children, taking them to Japan.

Elias, who later learned through flight records that his children had been given duplicate passports at a Japanese consulate, was devastated.

He has since been cut off from all contact with his children. He last saw an image of Jade, now 5, in a Skype conversation more than a year ago. He fears his son Michael, now 3 1/2, will no longer remember him.

ABC News was unable to locate Mayumi for comment.

Elias is hoping the U.S. Department of State will someday be able to bring his children back home.

“When I was asked to serve in a war I did it without question,” Elias said. “And now all I ask is for something [that] belongs to not only me, this country.”

Navy Cdr. Paul Toland first spotted his future wife at a running club while he was stationed in Japan. Too shy to talk to her at first, he said he eventually worked up enough nerve to ask her out using a Japanese-English translator.

It was a gesture, he says, that would lead to years of happy marriage and the birth of their daughter, Erika.

By the time Erika was born in 2002, Toland and his wife Etsuko had been married for seven years. She became a U.S. citizen shortly after in preparation for the family’s eventual move back to the United States.

But when Erika was less than a year old, Etsuko, who Toland said had became increasingly unhappy, took Erika from their Navy housing and cut off all contact.

“I was at work one day and I got a phone call from my neighbors saying ‘Are you moving back to the States? … And I said what are you talking about,'” Toland said. “And they said ‘Well, there’s a moving van outside your house.’ When I got home my wife and my daughter and all our stuff was gone.”

Etsuko committed suicide four years later and her mother, Akiko Futagi immediately took guardianship of Erika. Toland, Erika’s sole surviving parent, has never been allowed to spend time with his daughter.

ABC News found Futagi and Erika in northern Tokyo. Futagi accused Toland of being a dead-beat feather who has never paid her for raising his daughter.

“He doesn’t pay anything to bring her up,” Futagi said. When asked if she would let Toland see Erika, her response was quick. “No,” she said.

Toland said he has tried to put money into a bank account for his daughter, but Futagi rejected his lawyer’s offer.

“The State Department has tried to visit with my daughter a number of times and have been rejected,” Toland said. “They even asked the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to try to visit with my daughter and they were rejected. And once again they came back and said, ‘Sorry, we tried there’s nothing we can do.'”

Scott Sawyer never dreamed his once happy family would be destroyed, and that his only child would be thousands of miles out of reach.

But after he filed for divorce from his ex-wife in 2008, she took off for her native Japan, brining their then-2-year-old son, Wayne, with her. He hasn’t seen his son since.

“My concern is for my son,” Sawyer said. “What kind of life is he having in Japan right now? What has he been told about why he can’t see his father?”

It was something he feared would happen. Before his wife left California with their son, he tried to convince a judge she was a flight risk. Court documents show his ex was ordered to turn over her passport.

“She had said repeatedly, ‘I want to go to Japan. I want to take the baby to Japan,'” he said. “I knew if that happened they wouldn’t come back.”

Sawyer’s ex, who spoke to ABC News under the condition that we not use her name or show her face, said she knows she is considered a kidnapper. It was something, she said, she felt she had to do. She did not think she could survive on her own in the United States.

“At the time, my choices was just two – kidnapper or die,” she said. “I can’t live in Los Angeles.”

She told ABC News she fears Sawyer will kidnap their son and bring him back to the United States.

“If he promise me that he doesn’t, he will not kidnap my son from Japan, he can see my son any time,” she said. “I would really, no problem. I will support my ex in Japan.”

abduction video

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Japan sees alarming rise in child abuse

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Orphanages, Video | Tags: , , , |

By Kyung Lah          February 15, 2011 — Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)

She is a precocious little girl, in pigtails and rainbow rimmed glasses, all spark and determination. The 11- year-old attacks origami with the mission to build a flying bird.

Creating an object of beauty contrasts with the ugliness this child has suffered at the hands of her own parents.

The director of Nonohana-No-ie orphanage nods at us, signaling this girl is one of the of abused children who reside at this protective facility. Seventy percent of the children here, between the ages of 2 and 18, are victims of abuse and neglect so severe the police removed them from their parents’ custody.

In the case of this 11-year-old, her parents beat her so severely on a daily basis that they’re no longer allowed to see her or even know her whereabouts. To reveal her identity, we’re told, would endanger her life.

This girl is part of an exploding population in Japan: victims of child abuse.

Figures from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show the cases of reported child abuse have quadrupled in 10 years and increased 40 fold in twenty years. In 1990, the ministry recorded 1,101 cases of abuse. In 1999, 11,631. In 2000, 17,725 cases. And in 2009, the numbers hit an all-time high of 44,211.

The causes behind the numbers are multifaceted. One reason is that abuse cases are being reported more accurately. In 2000, when the number of cases jumped, a national law went into effect mandating the reporting of child abuse and neglect cases.

But child advocates point to a number of other murky, societal factors, from Japan’s two-decade-long economic stagnation to the increasing numbers of divorces and lack of support and affordable child care for single mothers.

Misao Hanazaki, the director of Nonohana-No-ie, says regardless of the reasons for the jump in abuse cases, the result is Japan’s child welfare system is at the breaking point.

“We’re in trouble,” says Hanazaki. “Orphanages all across the country are full. There aren’t enough foster parents in Japan. We are truly in trouble.”

Hanazaki’s orphanage is home to 52 children. When one child leaves, another immediately follows. Japan’s culture is deeply rooted in the family and has historically not embraced adoption or foster care. Japan’s government says in cities like Tokyo, orphanages are at 100 percent capacity.

Yuki Okada, a child advocate, says part of the solution to Japan’s child abuse problem is educating families about abuse. Okada is an author and public speaker, who has written about how her mother abused her. Okada says she then abused her own son, continuing the cycle of child abuse.

“It’s going to get worse unless the public understands the pattern of child abuse and deals with abuse openly,” says Okada.

“The world’s image is that Japan is kind to its children,” says Hamazaki, pausing as she looks at the children around her. “But the image does not match reality.”

Click on the link to watch the video Child abuse video

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ABC World News Tonight American Children Kidnapped

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Video | Tags: , , |

ABC World News Tonight w/Diane Sawyer will be airing a 2 part segment about illegally abducted children by Japanese nationals tomorrow night Feb. 15th & Wednesday Feb 16th at 6:30 PM local time. It will also be featured on Nightline Wednesday evening at 11:30. Check your local listings to confirm the time in your area. Between 10 and 20 left behind parents will be featured. Please spread the word. Click on the link to watch the teaser.

ABC World News

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Lay judges send 2 passengers in car driven by drunk driver to prison over fatal accident

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

Drunk driving did not used to be a serious crime. That changed about 6 years ago. I would argue there are no tougher drunk driving laws in the world. I was surprised to see 2 passengers convicted, both will serve 2 years in prison for allowing the driver to drive intoxicated. These 2 men were charged with aiding and abetting. The following is from the Mainichi Shimbun.

SAITAMA — Two passengers in a car driven by a drunk colleague have been ordered in a lay-judge trial to spend two years behind bars over a fatal accident the driver caused in 2008.

The Saitama District Court convicted Isao Oshima, 48, and Junichi Sekiguchi, 46, of aiding and abetting dangerous driving resulting in death and injury.

“The two defendants gave consent to Tamagawa driving his car, which led to the deaths of those who were leading peaceful lives and injured others,” Presiding Judge Makoto Tamura said as he handed down the ruling.

The lay judges who participated in their trial handed down the severe ruling apparently because they weighed heavily on the responsibility of passengers in a vehicle driven by a drunk driver. It is believed to be the first citizen-judge trial of those charged with aiding and abetting dangerous driving resulting in death and injury.

Kiyoshi Tamagawa, 35, the driver of the car, is now serving a 16-year prison term for dangerous driving resulting in death and injury.

Oshima and Sekiguchi had pleaded not guilty to the charges over the accident that left two people dead and seven others injured.

The focus of the trial is whether they gave consent to Tamagawa driving his car after he drank heavily and whether they were aware that it would be difficult for him to drive safely.

The court recognized that when Tamagawa invited Oshima and Sekiguchi to go on a drive together, they agreed, with one of them saying, “Let’s do so.”

“Because the two senior people who were in a position to give work instructions to Tamagawa gave consent to his drunk driving, he strengthened his will to drive,” the court pointed out in its ruling.

Noting that the two drank with Tamagawa five hours before the accident, the ruling asserted that they knew he was unable to drive safely, and concluded that they were obligated to stop him from driving.

The defendants and their defense counsel denied that they made remarks to the effect that they gave consent to Tamagawa driving under the influence. However, the court dismissed their claim, pointing out that the defendants admitted during investigations that they made such remarks.

In explaining the sentencing, the court said, “The consequences of the accident are extremely grave. They have never expressed their feelings toward the victims, showing that they have not reflected on their actions.”

At the same time, however, they dismissed prosecutors’ demand that the defendants be imprisoned for eight years. “They only aided and abetted the dangerous driving. The demand by prosecutors is too heavy.”

The fatal accident occurred in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, on the night of Feb. 17, 2008, when Tamagawa was driving his car at 100 to 120 kilometers per hour in the city after drinking seven glasses of shochu distilled liquor and a glass of beer. He then lost control of his vehicle on a curve and collided head-on with two oncoming cars.

In the accident, a couple in their 50s died and seven people, including Tamagawa himself and the two defendants, were injured.

Police reported Oshima and Sekiguchi to prosecutors on suspicion of riding in a car driven by a drunk driver in violation of the Road Traffic Law. However, relatives of the couple who died in the accident filed a criminal complaint with law enforcers, accusing the two of aiding and abetting dangerous driving resulting in death and injury.

Considering the grave consequence of the accident, the Saitama District Public Prosecutors Office indicted the two on the charges requested by the victims’ relatives.

The owner of the restaurant where Tamagawa drank before the accident has been found guilty of providing liquor to a driver in violation of the Road Traffic Law.

Story in Japanese

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Mother convicted of starving 5-year-old son to death

Posted on February 12, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , |

NARA — The Nara District Court has sentenced a mother on trial for starving her 5-year-old son to death to 9 1/2 years in prison.

Mami Yoshida, 27, was convicted of negligence as a guardian resulting in death at the conclusion of her lay judge trial on Feb. 10. Yoshida’s malnourished son Tomoki weighed just 6.2 kilograms at the time of his death in March last year. The average weight of a 5-year-old boy is 15 to 20 kilograms.

“You made your son the outlet for your stress,” Presiding Judge Hajime Hashimoto told Yoshida during sentencing. “You did not treat him like a human being, but instead with ruthless cruelty.”

Yoshida’s defense counsel attempted to question her legal responsibility, arguing that she was “of unsound mind.” However, Judge Hashimoto concluded that Yoshida was capable of taking responsibility for her actions, pointing out that she had held a part-time job and even reported her son’s fate to a local child consultation center.

According to the ruling and other sources, Yoshida began neglecting Tomoki around September 2009, when he was already physically weak, in conspiracy with her 36-year-old husband Hiroshi. Yoshida’s husband is also under indictment on the same charge.

story in Japanese

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Japan still split on treaty over child custody

Posted on February 12, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Domestic Violence (DV), Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , |

BY MASAHIRO TSURUOKA STAFF WRITER Asahi Shimbun 2011/02/11

Even as Japan faces rising international pressure to ratify a treaty to resolve child custody battles between Japanese and foreign ex-spouses, public opinion in this country remains sharply divided over the issue.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction stipulates that if one parent takes the couple’s offspring to his or her home country without the consent of the spouse, the child or children must be returned to the country of previous residence.

The convention applies to children aged 15 or younger.

Japan and Russia are the only nations among the world’s eight major economies that have not ratified the 1980 Hague Convention.

A typical case under the Hague Convention is that of a Japanese woman who returns to Japan with her child after her marriage fails.

Japan has chosen not to ratify the treaty in part to protect returning Japanese women who say they are fleeing domestic violence or other serious troubles.

But abroad, their actions are often seen as bordering on criminal behavior. In some countries, the women are accused by their ex-husbands of kidnapping or abducting their own children.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement authorities are looking into several such abduction cases.

In Japan, opinions are split on the issue.

A Foreign Ministry survey of Japanese involved in such cases drew 22 responses in favor of ratification of the treaty and 17 against. The survey was released Feb. 2.

The ministry had received 64 responses as of November to its questionnaire posted on its website and other venues.

In support of ratification is the view that concluding the treaty, which serves as the international rule to settle cross-border child custody disputes, is necessary given the rising number of interracial marriages and divorces.

Others support ratification because Japan is being painted overseas as a country that defends the abduction of children.

In the other camp, dissenters say that Japan should not conclude the treaty because taking children away from a violent foreign spouse is a “last resort” for troubled Japanese women.

Moreover, fighting a custody battle in court in the child’s country of previous residence would burden the Japanese spouse with exorbitant legal fees or language barriers.

Often, such court rulings would not be in the Japanese parent’s favor, dissenters say.

Foreign Ministry statistics as of January on cases in which Japanese had brought their children back to Japan against the will of a divorced partner found 100 in the United States, 38 in Britain, 37 in Canada and 30 in France.

The tally is based on the number of cases for which foreign governments had contacted the Japanese government.

If Japan signs the Hague Convention, the government would be obliged to fulfill its legal responsibility by complying with requests made by foreign parents.

The government would be required to locate the “abducted” children and return them to their previous country of residence.

So far 84 countries have signed the Hague Convention.

International pressure on Japan to conclude the treaty is mounting.

France last month passed a resolution in the Senate to demand Japan’s prompt ratification of the Convention.

The U.S. House of Representatives took similar action in September.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stepped up pressure on Japan over the issue in December and again in January, when she met Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara.

Maehara reportedly told her in the January meeting, “Japan will seriously consider the matter.”

The government appears to be moving toward concluding the treaty.

At the instruction of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, the government formed a task force comprising senior vice ministers of relevant ministries last month to weigh the issue.

Kan will likely promise to ratify the treaty when he visits Washington in May or later.

The Kan administration hopes to pass the related legislation at the same time it seeks Diet approval for the ratification.

The government plans to incorporate a clause in proposed bills that would allow parents to refuse to return their children in cases involving domestic violence.

But it is still hard to say if things will turn out the way the Kan administration wants.

Many DPJ members and Justice Ministry officials have expressed strong reservations about the speed at which the government is moving to ratify the treaty.

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JOINT PRESS STATEMENT By the Ambassadors and Representatives of Australia, Canada, Colombia, the European Union, France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America

Posted on February 10, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Tokyo, Japan
Feb. 9, 2011

We, the Ambassadors of Canada, the European Union, France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, the Political Counsellor of the Embassy of Australia, and the Consul of Colombia, called on Japan’s Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs today to express the importance we continue to attach to the issue of international parental abduction, and to once again urge Japan to ratify the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“the Convention”).

We are encouraged by the serious consideration that the Government of Japan is currently giving this issue, including by establishing a Vice-Ministerial-level working group to study it. We look forward to Japan reaching a positive decision to ratify the Convention as soon as possible.

The Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention across international borders, which can be a tragedy for all concerned. The Convention further establishes procedures to ensure the prompt return of children to the State of their habitual residence when wrongfully removed or retained, and secures protection for rights of access of both parents to their children. Under the Convention, a State is not bound to order the return of a child if it is established that there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.

To date, 84 countries have joined the Convention, including the eleven countries that jointly carried out today’s demarche, and all 27 member states of the European Union, which, moreover, has enshrined the principles laid down in the Convention into EU law. In the past year alone, three additional countries – Morocco, Gabon and Singapore – have joined the Convention, making it an increasingly universal standard for the handling of cross-border abduction cases. Japan is the only G-7 nation that has not signed the Convention. Currently the left-behind parents of children abducted to or from Japan have little hope of having their children returned and encounter great difficulties in obtaining access to their children and exercising their parental rights and responsibilities.

In our meeting with Parliamentary Vice-Minister Yamahana, we emphasized the high priority our governments place on the welfare of children affected by the breakdown of international marriages, and stressed that children should grow up with access to both parents. We also noted that Japanese ratification of the Convention would benefit Japanese nationals as much as those of other countries, since, as revealed by a recent web survey by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are many cases where Japanese parents and their children have lost contact because of abduction to other countries. We further urged Japan to identify and implement measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to maintain contact with them and ensure visitation rights, and to establish a framework for resolution of current child abduction cases. Finally, we emphasized that the Convention has provisions to prevent children from being returned to abusive or otherwise threatening situations in other countries, as well as the existence of protective provisions against domestic violence within the legal systems of our countries.

Japan is an important partner for all of our countries in innumerable ways, ranging from vibrant political and economic relations, to the people-to-people ties of which international marriages are emblematic. All our governments continue to stand ready to assist Japan in its consideration of the Hague Convention, with a view to helping parents and children affected by this painful issue.

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Joining Hague in children’s best interest, U.S. adviser says

Posted on February 9, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Domestic Violence (DV), Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , , |

Staff writer for the Japan Times

If Japan wants to promote the best interests of children, it should sign the Hague Convention, the special adviser to the U.S. State Department on issues pertaining to international parental child abductions urged Tuesday.

Susan Jacobs, in Tokyo on a four-day visit during which she met with officials at the Foreign and Justice ministries, said the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction acts as a deterrent to parental child abductions.

Members of the Hague Convention “are very interested in having Japan join this convention because the convention sets out a legal framework for the return of children who have been abducted from one country to another country,” Jacobs said. “And I think that we have found that when this convention is in place, it lowers the number of abductions and encourages parents to reach custody agreements with each other in the best interests of the child.”

Japan has been under international pressure to sign the treaty, but there is strong domestic opposition, especially among mothers who took their kids to Japan, claiming they were fleeing domestic violence.

Jacobs pointed out that while the Hague treaty is not about domestic violence, women in many member states have resources to turn to, including the police, social services and shelters to seek protection from abuse.

“There is no need for anyone to continue to be subjected to domestic violence,” Jacobs said. “It is wrong, however, for someone who may or may not have been the victim of domestic violence to abduct their children from one country and take them to another when there is recourse in the country in which they were living.”

The government launched a study panel last month to discuss whether Japan should sign the Hague Convention. Jacobs expressed optimism with the recent progress made, including interest by the Japanese media and the public.

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3-year-old boy’s ankles and wrists bound with rope for 20 hours

Posted on February 7, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: |

HYOGO , FROM JAPAN TODAY

A 3-year-old boy in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, was left at home bound at the ankles and wrists for almost a full day, police said Sunday. The boy’s mother, 30-year-old Ruriko Nagai, and the man with whom she lived, Shinya Kaneko, 45, allegedly left the boy in a bedroom for around 20 hours bound by a rope which was attached to a 10-kg dumbbell.

He was discovered at his home by Nagai’s 28-year-old brother who had come to visit on Saturday. Nagai was at home at the time and reportedly told her brother she only untied him to change his diaper. Her brother called the police that evening. When police visited the apartment on Sunday, the boy was found to have suffered from subcutaneous bleeding and other minor injuries as a result of the incident.

In a statement made to police, Nagai was quoted as saying: “Yes, he was injured, but if I let him walk around, he causes trouble for me, so I was teaching him discipline. We’ve done it before.”

Police are investigating the possibility that the boy was bound regularly.

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Japan custody heartache for foreign fathers

Posted on February 7, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Domestic Violence (DV), Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , , |

By Roland Buerk BBC News, Tokyo

Thousands of Japanese people marry foreigners every year. Many are happy – but if the marriage breaks down the foreign spouse may end up cut out of the children’s lives.

Alex Kahney
Alex Kahney often visits the places he used to take his children

Alex Kahney, who works for a medical publisher, still lives in what was once the family home, now nearly bare of furniture but full of memories.

There are photographs of his daughters on the walls of the small four-storey town house in one of the nicer Tokyo neighbourhoods.

Their favourite stuffed toys, a dog and a mouse, are on the back of the sofa – reminders of the little girls, aged nine and seven, who he has not seen for months.

His Japanese wife took them with her, along with much of the contents of the house, when their marriage broke down, and is refusing to let him see them.

Mr Kahney first tried the police.

But when he told them that his wife had abducted their children, they laughed at him.

What makes it more painful is that their new home is just down the road.

Japanese marrying a foreigner 1970-2005
  • The number of Japanese men marrying foreign women is higher than the number of Japanese women marrying foreign men. It is rare for a Japanese man to marry a Western woman, but Japanese women frequently marry Western men.
  • A Japanese man marrying a foreigner is most likely to marry a woman from China, the Philippines or Korea, in that order. A Japanese women marrying a foreigner is most likely to marry a man from Korea, the US or China.

For the whole story please click on the link below:

custody heartache

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2009 video on DV in Japan

Posted on February 5, 2011. Filed under: Domestic Violence (DV), Video | Tags: |

According to the video 25,ooo women were beaten in 2009. This was an increase of 20% from the previous year. One in 3 women were physically assaulted. And one in 20 fear for their life.  Click on the link to watch the whole video.

Video on DV

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“Close Up Gendai” international divorce trouble rapidly growing (video)

Posted on February 3, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention, Video | Tags: , , , , |

If you understand Japanese please watch the 25 minute video about international child abduction and signing the Hague

Japanese video

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MOJ Eda talks about signing the Hague

Posted on February 3, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Divorce, Hague Convention, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Japan is looking at signing the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is aimed at promptly returning children illegally taken by a parent out of the country of their habitual residence.

The question has arisen over whether the Civil Code should also be changed to allow dual parental rights after divorce. Eda said the Justice Ministry “is now discussing the matter, but I personally feel that allowing dual parental rights doesn’t necessarily have to” be packaged with signing the convention.

Signatory countries, particularly the United States, France and Canada, are urging Japan to join the convention against international child abductions by parents.

Some people whose former spouses don’t let them see their children in Japan argue that signing the convention doesn’t guarantee their access to children unless dual parental rights are also allowed.

This problem doesn’t only concern foreigners. Japanese parents — fathers in most cases — also can’t see their kids if their ex-spouses say no.

In Japan, those with parental rights have discretion over how often their ex-spouses can see their offspring. Shared parental rights are currently not allowed by the Civil Code because of the cultural belief that a stable environment is considered the most important factor for children.

“I guess it comes from the idea that letting a single parent have parental rights is good because it is simple,” Eda said.

Parents who were victims of abusive relationships are urging the government to keep parental rights to one person and not sign the Hague Convention because, they say, the current legal system protects them from their former spouses.

The Justice Ministry manages the Civil Code, and thus would likely be the source of any bills revising it.

Turning to other developments in the ministry, Eda said officials are studying how other countries deal with making the investigation process by police and prosecutors more transparent.

To read the whole story (some of which deals with the death penalty) please click on the link below:

MOJ Eda sign Hague

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Survey shows divided views on Japan’s signing of child custody pact

Posted on February 3, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , |

An online survey by the Foreign Ministry showed Wednesday that people who have directly been involved in the so-called parental ‘‘abductions’’ of children as a result of failed marriages were divided on Japan’s accession to an international treaty to deal with child custody disputes.

Of 64 respondents to the questionnaire posted on the website of the Foreign Ministry and its 121 diplomatic missions abroad between May and November last year, 22 were in favor of Japan joining the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, while 17 were against the idea.

The remaining 25 respondents did not make their stance clear, said Parliamentary Vice Foreign Minister Ikuo Yamahana at a press conference.

The convention provides a procedure for the prompt return of children to their habitual country of residence when they are wrongfully removed or retained in the case of an international divorce. It also protects parental access rights.

Those seeking Japan’s accession to the convention said Tokyo should no longer allow unilateral parental child abductions as the country is perceived overseas as an ‘‘abnormal’’ nation for defending such acts.

People opposed to Japan’s signing of the treaty said the convention ‘‘doesn’t fit with’’ Japanese culture, values and customs and urged the government to protect Japanese nationals fleeing from difficult circumstances such as abusive spouses and problems in foreign countries.

Some pointed to the disadvantages faced by Japanese parents seeking a local court settlement on child custody abroad, such as expensive legal fees and the language barrier.

Yamahana said the government led by the Democratic Party of Japan will further examine the possibility of joining the convention based on the results of the online survey. ‘‘We will discuss what we can do to ensure the welfare of children,’’ he said.

International pressure on Tokyo to act on the parental abduction issue has been growing, with legislative bodies in the United States and France recently adopting resolutions that call for Japan’s accession to the treaty.

At present, 84 countries and regions are parties to the Hague Convention. Of the Group of Seven major economies, only Japan has yet to ratify the pact.

Of the 64 respondents, 18 said they have abducted children and 19 said their children have been taken by their former spouses. A total of 27 said they have been slapped with restrictions on traveling with their children because Japan is not a party to the Hague Convention.

By country, 26 respondents were linked to parental abduction cases in the United States, followed by nine in Australia and seven in Canada.

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