Archive for May, 2011

Japan court allows family reunion in U.S. after int’l divorce

Posted on May 28, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce | Tags: , , , , , |

Saturday 28th May, 06:00 AM JST      KOBE —

A Japanese court has ruled that a Nicaraguan man in the United States can meet with his separated child from Japan for temporary family reunions, a rare decision in an international divorce dispute, attorneys involved in the matter said Friday.

The Itami branch of the Kobe Family Court handed down the judgment March 14, which both the father and mother appealed to the Osaka High Court.

The family court judged that the man’s former Japanese wife, who took their child to Japan after the divorce, must allow the father to meet the 8-year-old child for about 30 days in the United States each year through August 2017.

The court also ordered the woman to have the father and child meet in Japan for about two weeks every year during the period and stay in touch by web camera and telephone.

‘‘It will make the child happier when becoming familiar with the language and culture of the father’’ said Judge Nobuyoshi Asami in the judgment.

But the court rejected the claim by the father to take back the child from his former wife and transferred custody of the child to her, saying the child has become accustomed to life in Japan.

Details about the family such as names, ages and sex of the child were not disclosed.

The woman’s attorney said, ‘‘I appreciate that the court approved the transfer of custody but I’m worried that the high frequency of required meetings and telephone calls could be a burden to the child.’’

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19-year-old man arrested for beating up woman’s 5-year-old daughter

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

Thursday 26th May, 09:40 AM Japan

KOBE —

A 19-year-old man was arrested in Kobe on Wednesday for allegedly assaulting and injuring the second daughter of the 31-year-old woman with whom he was living.

According to police, on May 20, the 5-year-old girl was taken to a doctor who informed the Kobe Child Welfare Center of the possibility that she was suffering from abuse, after discovering that she had sustained broken ribs and that her body was covered in bruises. The center in turn informed the police on Wednesday, at which point the nature of the alleged assaults came to light.

The testimony of the woman’s other children led to the man’s arrest. The man began living with the woman and her four children in March of this year. The woman’s eldest son, aged just 8, and eldest daughter, aged 7, both told police they had witnessed the man punching and kicking their sister since April.

The children’s mother was quoted by police as saying: “I had no idea any mistreatment had been taking place.”

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Mother arrested for fatally stabbing 9-year-old daughter in Nara

Posted on May 27, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , , , |

Friday 27th May, 09:27 AM JST

NARA —

A 41-year-old woman was arrested late Thursday for fatally stabbing her 9-year-old daughter at their home in Sango, Nara Prefecture, police said. The mother, whose name has been withheld, allegedly stabbed Rina Naka in her stomach and chest with a kitchen knife around 11 p.m. in a bedroom. The girl was confirmed dead early Friday after being taken to hospital, police said.

The mother was held at the home after her 69-year-old father who lives with her called for an ambulance around 11:10 p.m. and reported that she had stabbed her child. She has admitted to the allegation, police said.

After holding her on suspicion of attempted murder, police released her temporarily for treatment but plan to rearrest her for murder, they said.

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Children First at the Nagoya Walkathon

Posted on May 26, 2011. Filed under: Orphanages, Uplifting Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Children First was one of many charities at the walkathon at Morikoro Park on May 22nd. Children First was selling shirts, magnets, coffee cups, buttons, and they also sold a wide variety of food. Many families attended. Children First was handing out free balloons with the help of kids from the Nagoya International School. The balloons were a big hit with the kids. The weather was good most of the day. Many left behind parents came to help with the event. All of the proceeds went to charity. We did not sell as much as we hoped to but it was an overall good experience.  Next year we will be better prepared and more organized. To see some pictures of this event please visit the Children First Facebook Page. childrenfirstfacebook Children first is dedicated to protecting the rights of children. To learn more about Children First please visit our website www.childrenfirst.jp

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Debate awaits on child custody pact

Posted on May 24, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By MAYA KANEKO
Kyodo

After years of foreign pressure, Japan finally decided Friday to sign a treaty to settle cross-border child custody disputes, but a heated debate is expected to continue as proponents of the pact hope the move leads to the formation of a system that will guarantee children’s access to both parents after a divorce.

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Japan has long been labeled a “haven for parental abductions” and a “black hole” for children removed internationally, by foreign parents unable to see their children because they have been taken to Japan by their former Japanese spouses.

In Japan, the tendency is for the courts to award mothers sole custody of any children after divorce.

Among the Group of Seven countries, only Japan has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which sets out the rules and procedures for promptly returning children under 16 to the country of their habitual residence in cases of international divorce. The pact currently has 84 parties.

The outcry from foreign parents separated from their children by failed marriages with Japanese has prompted 32 nations to jointly press Tokyo to join the treaty.

The government is now planning to submit bills by the end of this year to craft the legislation needed to accede to the convention.

But the move won’t solve all of Japan’s problems. Joining the pact will only provide a solution to parents abroad. Cases of “parental abductions” that occur in Japan, meanwhile, whil be left untouched.

Also, the pact’s reach is unlikely to be retroactive, meaning it will only deal with future cases, in principle.

Out of concern that accession to the pact could endanger Japanese parties who have fled abusive relationships, Tokyo is considering stipulating in the domestic law that children will not have to be returned when they and their parent have suffered abuse by the other parent.

Japan is also thinking about exempting cases in which the Japanese parent could face criminal prosecution in his or her country of habitual residence and in which the former spouse abroad is deemed to have difficulty taking care of children.

Critics of the pact are calling on the government to carefully address the issue of abuse during the legislative process. Kazuko Ito, a lawyer who has opposed the signing of the convention, said Japan should specify the conditions for exempting the return of children when it drafts the domestic law.

Parents whose former spouses have taken their children — both Japanese and non-Japanese — are also carefully watching the process to see if it will lead to a change in their situation.

Such parents and their supporters have been lobbying for Japan to accede to the pact in the hope that it will change the customary situation in Japan, where it is not unusual for children to stop seeing their fathers after their parents break up.

Thierry Consigny, an elected member of the Assembly for French Overseas Nationals for Japan and North Asia, who has been supporting around 40 French parents officially recognized by Paris as having been separated from their children in Japan, said he hopes Tokyo will not unilaterally adopt criteria for recognizing cases of abuse.

“The 84 parties to the Hague Convention have their own criteria in identifying abuses, but they share international standards and make decisions on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “We want Japanese courts to heed French standards as well in recognizing abuse cases to make a balance.”

Consigny also said he expects joining the Hague Convention, which calls for securing children’s access to both parents, will eventually lead to more exchanges between children and their noncustodial parents in Japan, which in his opinion will promote burden-sharing between divorced parents.

“The current sole custody system in Japan puts too much burden on child-rearing parents,” he said. “Many single mothers who have abducted their children cannot enjoy private life as they bear heavy responsibility as breadwinners and are afraid of the possibility that their kids could be taken by exes.”

France has adopted a joint custody system partly to lessen the child-rearing burden on working mothers by actively involving fathers, he said. Many of the countries that have pressured Japan — the 27-member European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada, Colombia and New Zealand — have such systems.

Mitsuru Munakata, a separated Japanese father who has been lobbying for a joint custody system in Japan, urged the government to address the plight of parents and children who cannot see each other in Japan while it prepares to join the Hague Convention.

“Honoring the spirit of the convention, the government should address the problems of separated parents and children in Japan. Otherwise, there is no meaning in signing the treaty that only deals with cross-border disputes because domestic cases would be discriminated against,” he said.

Munakata said without real changes in the domestic situation, Japan’s move to sign the pact will only be viewed as a way of dodging international pressure over child custody rows. He said in Japan, parents who do not have custody of their children are only allowed to spend two hours per month with their children on average.

Steve Christie, an American founder of a parental abduction victims association, said that his son, now 16, was abducted by the boy’s Japanese mother when he was 10 and that a Japanese family court suggested Christie see his son only three times a year during vacations for a total of 36 hours.

As of January this year, the United States recognized 100 active cases of parental abduction to Japan involving 140 children. In addition, Washington is aware of 31 cases in which both parents and children live in Japan but one parent has been denied access.

Another American parent who has been lobbying the governments of both Japan and the United States to address the matter, said on condition of anonymity that the official figures represent only the tip of the iceberg, calling for efficient enforcement mechanisms to ensure access between separated parents and children.

In 2009, 146,408 couples with children under 20 were divorced in Japan, including couples composed of Japanese and foreigners, according to the latest government statistics. The number of divorces among Japanese and their foreign spouses reached about 19,404 cases that year.

Of the 146,408 divorces, 13.2 percent were cases in which fathers took sole care of children, while 83.2 percent were cases in which mothers did so. Only 3.6 percent involved both parents in child rearing.

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Nagoya Walkathon

Posted on May 7, 2011. Filed under: Orphanages, Uplifting Stories | Tags: , , , , |

For those of you living in Japan, tickets to the Nagoya Walkathon can be purchased from Children First or from any of the other sponsors of this event. The great thing about this event is that all of your donations go to charities or Tohoku tsunami & earthquake victims. If you buy a Gold Ticket you have a chance to win a big screen TV or a new car. Even if you don’t win one of the big prizes all of your money will go to a great cause. Please show your support by purchasing a ticket.  You can go to the following website to buy tickets: nagoyawalkathon.com/tickets?lang=en.

Prices: Tickets include:
Adult Ticket Adult Ticket
¥2,000 yen
   – Entry to the Walk
– Free Walkathon T-shirt
– Music & Entertainment!
– Entry into general raffle draw
Student ticket Student Ticket
¥1,000 yen
Golden Raffle Ticket Golden Raffle Ticket
¥10,000 yen
   – Entry to the Walk
– Free Walkathon T-shirt
– Music & Entertainment!
– Entry into Golden ticket raffle draw (You have a chance to win a    big screen TV or a new car)
– PLUS entry into General raffle draw*Golden Raffle Ticket holders may claim a General ticket at registration to gain entry into the general raffle draw.

*Limited number of T-shirts available. Come early!
**Adult & student ticket proceeds will be donated to local charities.
***Golden ticket proceeds will be donated to the Tohoku relief fund.

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