Archive for July, 2011
I have made some modifications to my cycling trip. I have decided to start in Kumamoto on the 13th of September. I picked this day because the judge will rule on my case on the 13th. I was expecting the ruling much earlier. As a result I thought it would be best to delay my start. It seems kind of symbolic to start in Kumamoto. I have a had to make numerous trips to Kumamoto for court. I can pick up my ruling on the 13th and then start cycling. It would be nice if I could get press or left behind parents to see me off on the 13th. If you don’t have plans feel free to meet me at the Kumamoto Family Court on the 13th of September.
I am still planning to handout flyers along the way. I am still planning on stopping at governors offices, court houses, and international schools. Due to my late start I may not have time to cycle all the way to Hokkaido. I will play it by ear. There are numerous left behind parents who can support me from Kumamoto to Tokyo but much less support exists between Tokyo and Hokkaido. I am working with other left behind parents now to pin down the exact days I will be in Saga, Fukuoka, Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Okayama, Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, Otsu, Gifu, Nagoya, Shizuoka, Yokohama, and Tokyo. I will be making updates on the Joint Custody in Japan Facebook page and the Children First Facebook page as well as my Facebook page. Please check one of these places every week or so.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
State Dept. Testifies at Child Abduction HearingSmith: Negotiate MOU with Japan Concurently with the Hague Convention…
“It is on behalf of left behind parents –in recognition of the extreme pain they suffer as victims of international child abduction, and in recognition of our own duty as the U.S. government to help bring their children home—that we hold this hearing today,” Smith said. “I believe child abduction is a global human rights abuse—a form of child abuse—that seriously harms children while inflicting excruciating emotional pain and suffering on left-behind parents and families.” Click here to read Chairman Smith’s opening remarks.
Smith, who chairs subcommittee on human rights of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said international child abduction occurs when one parent unlawfully moves a child from his or her country of residence, often for the purpose of denying the other parent rightful access to the child. “Left behind” parents from across the country, including David Goldman of Monmouth County, N.J., who Smith helped win a five-year battle to bring his son home from Brazil in December 2009, Chris Savoie, who was arrested by Japanese law enforcement when he attempted to recover his own children in 2009, and other desperate parents.
Japan is the only G-7 nation to not sign the treaty. Congress is not aware of any case where a Japanese court has issued and enforced an order to return an abducted child to the U.S. In fact, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, the European Union, Spain, U.K. & France have all pressed Japan to both sign the treaty and act to allow visitation, communication and a framework, or memorandum of understanding (MOU), to resolve current cases.
“I and many others urge the Obama Administration to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with the Japanese to ensure that the 123 left behind parents are not left behind a second time—this time by treaty promises that won’t apply to them,” said Smith, who traveled to Japan in February with the family of Rutherford, N.J. resident and Iraqi war veteran Michael Elias to meet with U.S. and Japanese officials. Elias’s two children were abducted with the help of the Japanese Consulate in contravention of U.S. court orders in 2008.
Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the State Department, testified that the unaddressed issue of international child abduction to Japan remains a serious concern for the Department of State and the United States Government.
“While the Convention will only apply to cases that arise after ratification, we continue at all levels to encourage the Government of Japan to implement measures that would resolve existing child-abduction cases and allow parents currently separated from their children to reestablish contact with them and ensure visitation rights,” Campbell said.
“We are prepared to use all necessary political and legal means necessary to facilitate contact and access for parents and abducted children,” Campbell said. “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.” Click here to read Campbell’s testimony.
Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the State Department, told Smith and the human rights panel that the State Department welcomed Congressional support as it urges countries such as Korea, India and Japan to join the Hague Convention.
“The prevention and prompt resolution of abduction cases are of paramount importance to the United States,” Jacobs said. Click here to read Jacob’s testimony.
Thursday’s hearing follows the direct, emotional testimony at a May hearing of left-behind parents, who in most cases have never seen their children again after the abduction.
After returning from Brazil with abducted child Sean Goldman and his left behind New Jersey dad, Smith introduced “The International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2011”. The bill, H.R. 1940, would establish an Ambassador-at-Large dedicated to international child abduction, and office within the State Department to aggressively work to resolve abduction cases. The legislation would also prescribe a series of increasingly punitive actions and sanctions the president and State Department may impose on a nation that demonstrates a “pattern of non-cooperation” in resolving child abduction cases. In September 2010 Smith cosponsored and managed the debate in the House chamber on a similar bipartisan measure, H. Res. 1326, calling on the Government of Japan to resolve the many cases involving American children abducted to Japan. The bill passed 416-1.
Jul. 29, 2011 – 03:20PM
The United States pressed Japan Thursday to let parents see children snatched by estranged partners, saying it would not tolerate loopholes as Tokyo moves to resolve the longtime source of tension.
Western nations have voiced concern for years over citizens’ struggles to see their half-Japanese children. When international marriages break up, Japanese courts virtually never grant custody to foreign parents, especially men.
Hoping to ease a rift with allies, Prime Minister Naoto Kan has voiced support for ratifying the 1980 Hague treaty that requires countries to return wrongfully held children to their countries of usual residence. Japan would be the last member of the Group of Seven industrial powers to sign it.
Testifying before a congressional committee, senior U.S. official Kurt Campbell said that the United States was “quietly” speaking to Japan about the domestic laws that will accompany the Hague treaty.
“We will not rest until we see the kinds of changes that are necessary and we will certainly not abide by loopholes or other steps that will, frankly, somehow negate or water down” the agreement, said Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia.
Japanese critics of The Hague treaty often charge that women and children need protection from abusive foreign men. Japanese lawmakers are considering making exceptions to the return of children if there are fears of abuse.
Campbell voiced confidence that The Hague treaty already included safeguards.
He also urged Japan to give parents greater access outside of the treaty. If Tokyo ratifies the convention, it would only apply in the future and not to the 123 ongoing cases in which U.S. parents are seeking children in Japan.
“We are prepared to use all necessary political and legal means necessary to facilitate contact and access for parents and abducted children,” Campbell said.
But under questioning from lawmakers, Campbell indicated that the United States was not pushing for a separate agreement on existing abduction cases, saying that for Japan “it’s a complete non-starter.”
Representative Chris Smith, who has championed the abduction issue, pressed for an agreement on current cases. He feared that Japan’s entry into The Hague Convention would “result in lost momentum” as no children would immediately return.
“Delay is denial, and it does exacerbate the abuse of a child and the agony of the left-behind parents,” said Smith, a Republican from New Jersey.
Jul. 27, 2011 – 12:28PM
Police on Tuesday arrested a couple in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, on charges of criminal negligence resulting in manslaughter after they left their daughter in a car for six hours while they played pachinko on Monday. According to police, the one-year-old baby girl was left in the car by her father, Katsuhiko Nakama, 36, and mother Hisako Nakama, 38, from 10 a.m. until around 4:30 p.m. in the pachinko parlor car park. Police said the car windows were closed and the air conditioning was switched off.
Local TV reported that on Monday, the air temperature in Wajima was recorded at 28.9, but the temperature inside the car would have been much higher. Police believe the cause of death to have been heatstroke.
Kentaro Nakajima / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent
WASHINGTON–The U.S. State Department said in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report that some conditions faced by participants in Japan’s foreign trainee program were similar to those seen in human trafficking operations.
According to criteria set under the U.S. trafficking victims protection act, enacted in 2000, the report released Monday classified 184 countries and territories into four categories: Tier 3, the worst rating; Tier 2 Watch List; Tier 2; and Tier 1.
Japan was rated Tier 2 for the seventh consecutive year. Tier 2 indicates countries and territories whose governments do not fully meet the act’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to do so.
Twenty-three countries, including North Korea, were classified as Tier 3.
Regarding conditions for foreign trainees in Japan, the report noted “the media and NGOs continued to report abuses including debt bondage, restrictions on movement, unpaid wages, overtime, fraud and contracting workers out to different employers–elements which contribute to situations of trafficking.”
The Japanese government has not officially recognized the existence of such problems, the report said.
It also said Japan “did not identify or provide protection to any victims of forced labor.”
The foreign trainee program, run by a government-related organization, is designed to help foreign nationals, mainly from China and Southeast Asian nations, who want to learn technology and other skills by working for Japanese companies.
The majority of trainees are Chinese, who according to the report “pay fees of more than 1,400 dollars to Chinese brokers to apply for the program and deposits of up to 4,000 dollars and a lien on their home.”
The report said a NGO survey of Chinese trainees in Japan found “some trainees reported having their passports and other travel documents taken from them and their movements controlled to prevent escape or communication.”
Smith said Japan has become known as a haven for international child abduction. “Tragically, Japan has become a black hole for children whose Japanese parent—or in some cases non-Japanese parent—decided not to abide by the laws of the United States and rather to run to a jurisdiction where they would not have to share custody, or even permit visitation of the child by the child’s other parent. Japan has historically been complicit in these abductions, offering protection without investigation.”
Smith said Japan’s recent announcement that it will finally sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is welcomed but pointed out that the Convention, by its own terms, will only apply to future cases.
“If and when Japan ratifies the Hague, and I hope they do, such action, unfortunately will not be sufficient to address the existing abduction cases,” said Smith, who led a human rights mission to Japan this past February and met with government leaders as well as American parents blocked from seeing their children in Japan. “A Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Japan is urgently needed to ensure that families are reunited and left behind parents are not left behind again.”
During the debate on his a amendment, Smith spoke of the current abduction cases involving Japan including the case of New Jersey resident and former Marine Sgt. Michael Elias, whose children Jade and Michael were abducted to Japan by his estranged wife in 2008. He has not held them since or been allowed any communication with them in over a year.
“Additionally, my amendment calls on the Secretary of State to take any and all other appropriate measures to enable left behind parents direct access and communications with their children wrongfully removed to or retained in Japan. These children must be allowed to have a relationship with their American parent—the arbitrary deprivation they currently suffer is child abuse,” Smith said.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously adopted the amendment demanding an MOU as part of legislation controlling foreign aid. The bill is expected to move to the House Floor.
In September 2010 Smith cosponsored and managed the debate in the House chamber on a similar bipartisan measure, H. Res. 1326, calling on the Government of Japan to resolve the many cases involving over American children abducted to Japan. The bill passed 416-1.
Smith also has been working to push Congress and the Administration to better address international child abductions in Japan and elsewhere. After returning from Brazil in Dec. 24, 2009 with abducted child Sean Goldman and his left behind New Jersey dad who had been deprived of his son for five years, Smith introduced “The International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2011”, H.R. 1940, and is working for passage of the bill.
It’s a parent’s nightmare: a couple splits up, and one parent abducts the child or children and flees overseas.
There has been a spate of cases where children have been taken to Japan.
Parents whose kids were taken there without their consent say the Australian Government is failing to prevent future abductions.
They say Japanese consulates are freely issuing new passports to parents who want to abduct children.
Queensland university lecturer, Matthew Wyman, says about two-and-a-half years ago, his Japanese wife took his two young sons to Japan and never returned.
After a long battle, he finally organised a divorce in December last year.
“My ex since then has reneged on all the promises, including changing their names – they now have her name,” he said.
“The Australian Child Support [Agency] are now involved and basically forcing myself, as well as fathers, to pay child support to the abductors of our children.”
Japan is not yet a signatory to the Hague Convention on cross-border custody.
As a result, overseas parents have no recourse if their child is abducted to Japan.
Already struggling emotionally, Mr Wyman says when he spoke with Australia’s Child Support Agency, his situation got worse.
“I called them up and I politely explained the situation. I explained that my wife had abducted the children and I couldn’t understand why if someone abducts your children and then an Australian citizen is forced to pay child support,” he said.
“Her response was ‘well, I don’t care if your children have been abducted. I don’t care if you have to pay child support. I don’t care if you can’t see your children, there are many fathers who cannot see their children. You will pay up or else. Are you a deadbeat father?’
“And I literally fell of my chair. I couldn’t believe it.”
According to Mr Wyman, the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office investigated his complaint about that conversation, but told him that they were unable to find the recording of that particular phone call.
Grown men in tears
Mr Wyman says his pleas for assistance have been bounced between Australian government agencies and ministerial offices.
Instead he decided to help himself, by forming a support group with other parents in a similar situation.
“We had a father from Sydney, Toowoomba, the Gold Coast,” he said.
“It was very emotional for a lot of fathers, we had grown men here actually in tears, you know, just, retelling their story about not being able to see their children.
“[For] some of the fathers, the children were abducted when they were babies, and … a lot of these fathers [had] the realisation that their children don’t even know they exist.”
Teacher and father, Scott Beckingsale, drove from Adelaide to be there after his Tiger Airways flight was cancelled.
He says his ex-partner abducted his half-Japanese daughter when their child was three months old.
“One day I came home from work and she had just gone back to Japan,” he said.
“After the child was born her parents came to visit us and her father hated Australia, absolutely hated it.
“After they left she wanted to get a passport but she assured me it was just for the registering of our child as a Japanese dual citizen.
“I was a bit suspicious but, when you’ve got a new child and there’s postnatal depression, you try to give trust to the partner.”
He says he too has been ordered to pay child support by the Australian Government.
Both men are highly concerned by the situation of a third man in their group.
“He is going through an emotional rollercoaster because he’s so scared that his wife can just take off with the children,” Mr Wyman said.
“He’s got court orders and she’s had to surrender her passports.
“But what has happened in the past, a Japanese mother will go to the Japanese consulate, change the children’s name, and the Japanese consulate will freely give out the new passports to the Japanese mother.”
The group say they want the Australian Government to tighten border checks to prevent future incidents and also not require parents whose children have been abducted to pay child support.
The ABC contacted the Child Support Agency, the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office, the Japanese embassy and the Japanese consulate in Brisbane.
Human Services Minister Tanya Pilbersek and Families Minister Jenny Macklin said they were aware of the matter and are looking into it.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The Yomiuri Shimbun
The recent increase in reports of child abuse is putting a huge strain on child consultation centers across the nation, which are chronically understaffed.
Public involvement helps centers discover mistreatment early. “We are grateful for information [related to child abuse],” said a staff member at a child consultation center in the Kanto region. “But every one of our staff is handling more than 100 cases at a time. So, I’m worried about whether we’re using the information effectively.”
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s interim report released Wednesday shows that centers received a record number of reports in fiscal 2010.
Calls and tips on child abuse usually pick up in the late afternoon.
The calls vary, and include reports such as “I hear a child crying in a building across from mine,” and “I hear somebody yelling at a child.”
It is not unusual for one consultant to visit two or three locations in one night to follow up on the reports. However, they often fail to locate the apartments where abuse might be taking place, as they sometimes have not been told the apartment numbers.
Although they make the effort, such as visiting the same building several times to try to locate the right apartment, a senior center consultant said: “If I can’t confirm [abuse], I feel uneasy and sometimes can’t sleep. I want to spend more time [working on each case], but I can’t because new cases are always being reported. I want more time.”
A child consultation center worker in western Japan said: “There are many families with complicated problems. I want to upgrade my skills to handle difficult cases, but I just end up just dealing with the cases in front of me and I have no time to study.”
According to the ministry, child consultation centers handle about three times more cases than they did a decade ago. Meanwhile, there were 2,606 certified child welfare consultants handling these cases as of April, only about twice the number 10 years before.
Prof. Jun Saim ura at Kwansei Gakuin University, who serves as chairman of a panel on child abuse commissioned by the ministry, said: “It’s important to increase the number of certified child welfare consultants at child consultation centers quickly to use the information given by callers efficiently. Also, it’s necessary to implement a system where consultants can develop their expertise.”
The help of neighbors, or lack of it, can make a crucial difference in cases of abuse.
At a condominium in Nishi Ward, Osaka, a girl and her younger brother were starved to death by their single mother in July last year. Several residents in the condominium heard children crying, but only one reported the incident to a child consultation center.
One of the residents, a 29-year-old woman, said she thought she heard their cries but did not report it as she thought “it might cause trouble if I was wrong.”
However, after the incident was reported, she regretted her decision. “If I had somebody to talk about this with, I may have been able to save their lives,” she said.
As most of the residents are in their 20s and 30s, they seldom mingled.
After the incident, there was an increase of reports on child abuse nationwide and residents of the condominium started meeting to connect with each other and still meet once a month.
“In the past, I didn’t know my neighbors. But recently, I notice even small changes like people moving out on another floor,” she said. “Now, our goal is to maintain our contact.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
TOKYO (Kyodo) — A record 16,381 people in serious condition were refused admission by hospitals three times or more during ambulance transport in 2010, up 3,217 from the previous year, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Friday.
The agency said the rise came as hospitals are yet to be prepared to receive an increasing number of elderly patients in aging Japan.
Among the reported cases, 727 people were rejected 10 times or more, with a 60-year-old man in Tokyo rejected the most, 41 times.
He had to wait more than three hours while ambulance crews kept searching for a hospital that could accept him, according to the agency.
As reasons for rejection, 21 percent of hospitals responding to the agency’s survey said it was because they were engaged in operations or dealing with other patients, and another 21 percent cited lack of medical staff or equipment.
About 19 percent of hospitals said their beds were fully occupied.
The agency has been releasing related surveys since 2007. It was the fourth consecutive year that more than 10,000 people in serious condition were refused hospital admission three times or more.
For young people aged under 15, including those mildly to moderately ill, there were 10,924 cases in which they were refused at least three times. There were 587 similar cases for pregnant women.
(Mainichi Japan) July 23, 2011
Child abuse cases handled by consultation offices in Japan hit a record 55,152 in fiscal 2010 that ended in March this year, rising for 20 straight years since statistics were first compiled in fiscal 1990, a government survey showed Wednesday.
The figure does not include those of Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures and Sendai city in Miyagi, which was hard hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami as they failed to gather data in the wake of the twin disaster, the government said.
BY MOTOKI YOTSUKURA CORRESPONDENT
2011/07/16 Asahi Shimbun
MANILA–Dreaming of an idyllic existence in an exotic locale, many Japanese have packed their bags and moved to the Philippines.
But for an increasing number of adventurers seeking a laid-back, low-cost lifestyle, the dream can turn to disillusionment, loss of vital organs or even death.
This has led to a term heard with greater frequency among Japanese nationals here: “Destitute Japanese.”
One Japanese man appeared on a TV variety show in the Philippines last December and made an appeal in Tagalog to his 39-year-old Filipino wife.
“I don’t care if you run off with a younger man and become happy, but you should let me have half of our assets,” the 49-year-old former police officer said.
The man met his wife at a bar featuring Filipino hostesses in Tokyo, and they were married in 2001.
The man retired from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and moved to the Philippines. The man’s mother, who was over 80, also took a liking to the wife and sold a condominium in Japan to join her son and daughter-in-law in the Philippines in 2007.
However, after an expensive home and commercial building in Manila was purchased, the wife disappeared with her lover while taking the cash and jewelry owned by the man and his mother.
The home was put up for collateral for loans taken out by the wife and had to be sold off. The man and his mother lost all their assets, the equivalent of about 150 million yen ($1.9 million).
Taking his case to the local police and courts, the man was able to get an arrest warrant on suspicion of theft against his wife and her lover in March.
However, the lover phoned the man and said, “Your wife has hired an assassin to have you drop the case.”
The man continues to hide at the home of an acquaintance.
“I cannot face my mother,” the man said. “I have to do everything I can to get my money back.”
On Oct. 3, 2010, in the town of Limay in central Luzon island, a 46-year-old man originally from Osaka was found dead in a rental unit, the victim of a suicide.
According to the man’s 26-year-old Filipino common-law wife, while the man was in the Philippines, the company he worked for in Japan went bankrupt.
The couple faced economic difficulties and owed three months back rent. The man killed himself after his wife left after the couple fought.
The man’s relatives in Japan refused to accept the body so it was buried in a public cemetery in Limay.
The Foreign Ministry released statistics in June of the number of cases handled in 2010 by overseas embassies and missions to provide support to Japanese nationals.
The embassy in the Philippines handled 1,354 cases, an increase of 46 percent over the previous year.
Reflecting the increase in crime in the Philippines, the number of such cases has more than doubled over the past 10 years.
The embassy in the Philippines handled the largest number of such cases last year of any Japanese overseas mission, replacing the embassy in Thailand, even though there are 2.5 times more Japanese nationals living in Thailand.
Between 60 to 80 Japanese nationals visit the embassy in Manila every month, including a number of repeat cases of destitute Japanese.
Most ask for loans. There are many elderly Japanese who are escorted to the embassy by their Filipino family members and left at the embassy.
When embassy officials ask the Japanese nationals why they came to the Philippines, a typical response is “With the bad economic conditions in Japan, I thought I could get by if I came here.”
There was one person who came to the Philippines with only 2,000 yen.
An embassy official said, “Japanese men seem to think they can live rather easily here, influenced in part by the cheerful nature of the people.”
Most of those men have met Filipino women and often end up marrying them.
Amid the general poverty in Filipino society, many Filipinas enter into relationships with foreign men with high incomes. However, the often large gap between ideals and reality frequently leads to problems among such couples.
Last December, a 46-year-old homeless Japanese was found in the mountains of central Negros island.
The man was taken into protective custody by an officer with the Commission on Human Rights.
The man was originally from Yokohama and worked as a pipe installer. After the man’s wife died in Japan, he came to the city of Dumaguete on Negros Oriental in 2002, because a friend lived there at the time.
He began living at the home of a young woman in the city and they had a daughter. While he worked on construction projects, his income did not even approach the monthly average of a Filipino worker. The women’s family treated him coldly.
Unable to bear with that situation, the man left home in October 2010 and began living outdoors in the mountains.
According to the human rights commission officer, the woman began living with the man because she thought he was a rich Japanese, but once she learned he didn’t have any money she dumped him.
The officer advised the man to return to Japan, but he refused because he did not want to be separated from his daughter. No contact has been made with the man since February.
According to sources, there have been cases of Japanese desperately short of money becoming involved in drug smuggling or providing organs for transplants and entering into fake marriages arranged by organized crime groups.
Because the Japanese Embassy does not have a budget to provide loans to Japanese nationals to enable them to return to Japan, embassy officials often phone relatives or friends in Japan and ask that money be sent. However, such requests are often rejected with relatives and friends claiming they have cut off all ties or complaining that they would be inconvenienced if the individual returned to Japan.
In some cases, those contacted in Japan suspect they are being targeted for a scam.
KANAGAWA — Japan Today
Police said Tuesday that a three-year-old boy drowned in a kindergarten paddling pool in Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Monday.
According to police, the boy, who has been identified as Takahiro Irei, was one of 30 children playing in the pool at around 11:30 a.m. under the supervision of two members of staff. According to investigators, the pool was around 20-30 cm deep and five meters in diameter.
Police said the boy was not seen to be struggling at the time he drowned, but after the other children left the pool, a staff member noticed him floating face down in the water. He was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
Police are currently investigating the circumstances that led up to the boy’s death, and the supervision system that was in place, in order to determine whether or not there was negligence on the part of the kindergarten employees.
In line with Japan’s decision to join the Hague Convention on child custody, work to create necessary domestic legislation is about to start at government organs like the Legislative Council of the Justice Ministry.
The international agreement is designed to deal mainly with cross-border “abductions” by parents related to broken international marriages. If an international marriage collapses and one of the parents leaves the country with their child without consent from the other one, the treaty requires the return of the child to the country and the determination of the issue of custody according to the country’s legal procedures.
In a May Cabinet meeting, the government formally decided to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. One key question is how to deal with cases in which the return of the child to the country of his or her habitual residence could undermine the welfare of the child.
If, for instance, a Japanese wife returns to Japan with her child to escape from her foreign husband’s violence or persecution, should the child still be returned to the country?
At the time of the Cabinet approval of Japan’s participation in the pact, the government specified several conditions that will allow it to refuse the return of the child under the law. They include: The child has suffered from the father’s violence; the husband has exercised violence against the wife in a way that has seriously traumatized the child; the wife cannot go with the child due to financial and other reasons and there is no appropriate person in the country who can take care of the child.
Some critics say these exceptional clauses would strip the teeth from the treaty. But these provisos are based on relevant court decisions made in countries that are parties to the treaty.
The government needs to explain the intentions of these clauses carefully to prevent misunderstandings that could undermine international confidence in Japan.
Whether specific cases meet any of the conditions that enable the government to refuse the return of the child will be determined by family courts in Japan, according to the government’s plan.
There are some important questions that need to be answered through in-depth discussions on actual cases. What kind of evidence is needed to prove the exercise of violence in a foreign country, for instance? What does the phrase “seriously traumatized” exactly mean?
An accumulation of precedents would foster stability in court decisions on such cases and promote public understanding of the issue.
Debate is also needed on the duties of the “Central Authority,” which is supposed to play the central role in the proceedings for the return of the child.
Under the treaty, the Central Authority is obliged to perform such functions as locating and protecting the child, providing information and advice to the parties concerned for the settlement of the dispute and securing the safe return of the child to the other country.
None of these is an easy task. Some of the contracting countries post photos of children on the Internet to find them. But that wouldn’t be acceptable in Japan.
What kind of powers and information in the possession of public institutions should be used for carrying out these tasks? Should police also become involved?
The Foreign Ministry, which will be designated as Japan’s Central Authority for dealing with cases according to the treaty, needs to define its roles and responsibilities carefully by learning from the experiences of experts handling various cases of family disputes and listening to the views of the public.
Japan will have to fulfill the obligations of a signatory country. But smooth enforcement of the law will be impossible unless there are clear ideas about actual implementation that are shared by all of society and enjoy broad public support.
There will also be cases in which Japan demands the return of a child who has been taken to another country.
There are no significant differences in parental love for children between fathers and mothers.
Japan needs to establish a system that can deal effectively with cases under the Hague Convention. The system should not favor specific positions or viewpoints and should put the priority on the child’s happiness.
–The Asahi Shimbun, July 12
Jinken, the Japanese word for human rights, appeared in the late 19th century. Yukichi Fukuzawa, a famous Japanese intellectual, coined the term at a time when Japan was opening up to European and American ideas and technology. Despite a late 19th century law that banned discrimination against a group of Japanese called Burakumin, the discrimination continued. This led to the formation of a levelers movement, called the National Levelers’ Association (Zenkoku Suiheisha), in the 1920s. The movement adopted the so-called Suiheisha Sengen (Suiheisha Declaration) in 1922, which the movement presently regards as an early Japanese human rights declaration. (See the Human Rights Declarations section in this website for the text of this document). It was the 1946 Constitution of Japan (Nihon Koku Kenpo) that formally adopted human rights, with a provision on “fundamental human rights” in Article 11. The 1946 Constitution also provides for women suffrage and the separation of state powers as a principle of democratic Japanese government.
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Modern Tokyo Times (Part 1)
Child abductions unfortunately occur all over the world. And while some of the cases are solved, a majority of the cases are not, even when the parent knows who the abductor is – the other parent. A discouraging phenomenon in Australia has been parents, mainly Japanese, abducting the child or children back to Japan. The Australian Embassy located in Japan said in 2010, there were 13 abductions to date.
Despite Japan and Australia having close diplomatic and economic relations, getting these children back is no easy task. What is most unfortunate is the fact that the Australian government has been extremely unhelpful to these left-behind parents. Numerous Australian left-behind parents have not only been left-behind from their children, but believe their government has left them behind as well.
Matt Wyman, an Australian national, whose Japanese wife abducted their two sons to Japan in 2008, said that the Australian government has provided no assistance to date. Furthermore, the judges on a number of these left-behind parent cases were ineffectual and caused the parent to lose all contact with their abducted children. Parents like Matt Wyman have spent thousands of dollars on necessary legal fees only to see no progress. To make matters worse, his Japanese wife is now demanding child support while residing in Japan in which the Australian government simply enforces, although Matt Wyman’s children have been abducted.
Even though the Japanese government signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in March 1994, which provides both parents access to their children, current Japanese laws only allow the Japanese parent to make the final decision regarding if the left-behind parent will receive visitation rights. Currently, Japan does not provide reciprocation to Australian court orders.
In Japan, the idea of “shared custody” is a foreign concept and after a divorce, custody is granted to one parent only. This includes children illegally abducted from the national home of origin. Furthermore, Japanese law clearly states that if the Japanese parent that abducted the child/children dies, the illegally abducted child/children do not go to the parent left behind or another foreign relative. Instead, they are given to the Japanese grandparents.
In the last 55-plus years, there has yet to be a case where a child has been returned to the parent after being abducted to Japan. Therefore, Japan is seen as a safe haven for the abduction of children. In fact, even non-Japanese parents flee with abducted children to Japan and exploit the system there for their own benefit.
Australia is one of the most beautiful locations in the world. There is so much to see and do that it is never a dull moment. However, the beauty of the country is marred by this current situation. Presently, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Australian Federal Police have been unable or unwilling to extradite parents from Japan who abducted children. Australia needs to do much more to protect all left-behind parents and inhibit further parental abductions to Japan and determine a concrete method to get children back to their left-behind parents.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Jul. 07, 2011 – 12:00PM JST FUKUOKA —
Police on Thursday arrested a 20-year-old woman after her one-year-old son was found dead in Fukuoka’s Minami Ward.
The baby boy, who has been named as Ryusei Yashima, was discovered by officers near a river at around 11:50 p.m. Wednesday night after the boy’s great-grandmother contacted police to report that her granddaughter had killed her great-grandson. Police found the baby limp and he was confirmed dead at a hospital around an hour later.
During questioning, the child’s mother, who is divorced, told police, “I strangled him to death.” She then went to her grandmother’s house. Police said the woman has so far given no motive for the crime.
Jul. 06, 2011 – NIIGATA —
A Mexican man was found guilty and given a suspended jail term Tuesday for forcibly taking his daughter from his separated Japanese wife last November by breaking into her home in Niigata on the Sea of Japan and injuring her mother who tried to prevent him.
The Niigata District Court sentenced Nathanael Teutle Retamoza, 33, to two years in prison, suspended for four years, for his behavior aimed at taking the 1-year-old girl to the United States, at a time when the Japanese government is preparing for legislation to help settle international child custody disputes.
The ruling said it was ‘‘selfish’’ for Retamoza to act on his urge to see his daughter, from whom he had been separated for two months, without heeding the sentiment of his former wife and her relatives.
It also noted that he prepared for the abduction well in advance as he booked U.S.-bound air tickets for himself and his daughter beforehand.
However, the court said the prison sentence is suspended as the man regretted inflicting on his former mother-in-law injuries that required two weeks of treatment and received punishments in the forms of nearly eight months of detention and abandonment of his daughter’s custody.
According to Retamoza’s lawyer, the couple divorced after the incident and the mother was awarded sole custody of the daughter. Also after the incident, the court served a restraining order on him following the wife’s claim of abuse.
In a similar case, an American man was arrested in September 2009 in Fukuoka Prefecture on suspicion of abducting his son and daughter in a bid to reclaim them, as his ex-wife had taken them from the United States to Japan.
But prosecutors did not file criminal charges against Christopher Savoie.
To deal with cross-border parental abduction cases, Japan decided in May to join the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which sets procedures for settling international child custody disputes.
Jul. 03, 2011 – 07:00AM JST ( 13 ) OSAKA —
A mother and her boyfriend in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, have been arrested on suspicion of assaulting the woman’s two children after day nursery workers became concerned about bruises on the daughter’s body, police said Saturday. The 29-year-old unemployed woman and her 28-year-old boyfriend, an administrator at a chiropractic clinic, were questioned by police after nursery school employees contacted the child consultation center to discuss bruises sustained by the couple’s 6-year-old daughter in May. During police questioning, the couple admitted to punching, kicking and throwing the girl and her 3-year-old brother. They also confessed to applying a vacuum cleaner to the children’s faces. They were quoted by police as saying that “it was done to teach them discipline.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Signed by Japan on September 21st, 1990
- Ratified by the Diet on April 22nd, 1994
According to the UNCRC
1) Children shall not be separated from one parent against their will.
2) Children shall have the right to maintain contact with both parents.
3) When separation occurs that state will provide the left behind parent with information about their child.
4) Children have the right to preserve their nationality.
5) If deprived of their nationality (taken to another country) the state must help to quickly re-establish their nationality.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Does:
* Determine Jurisdiction for Determination of Custody Based on Habitual Residence of the Child.
* Include Safeguards to Ensure the Child’s Physical and Emotional Welfare.
* Guarantee the Child Access to Both Parents throughout All Proceedings.
* Protect All Children Regardlesss of Nationality
* Require the Return of a Child to a Potentially Dangerous Environment.
* Automatically Grant Custody to Non-Abducting Parent.
* Instigate Criminal Charges Against the Abducting Parent.
* Discriminate on the Basis of Nationality or Gender.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )