Australia Leaves Behind Left-Behind Parents

Posted on July 10, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Divorce, Hague Convention |

Susan Sachinelli
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.


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