Archive for October, 2011

Japanese held in U.S. over child custody

Posted on October 30, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Hague Convention | Tags: , , |


Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011
Staff writer

A Japanese woman was arrested in the United States earlier this year for allegedly violating parental custody laws and is currently undergoing judicial proceedings, the government said Friday.

In an unusual case highlighting the complications in parental rights laws in international marriages, Japanese media reported that the 43-year-old woman had been wanted after taking her 9-year-old daughter to Japan without prior consent from her ex-husband, a Nicaraguan residing in the U.S.

An official at the Foreign Ministry’s Japanese Nationals Overseas Safety Division said the woman was arrested April 7 in Honolulu — apparently while on a visit to renew her green card — and was transferred to Wisconsin on April 30, where she is currently being held.

The official declined to reveal further information, saying the woman’s family asked that her private information not be disclosed.

Citing the woman’s lawyer, media reports said the woman’s 39-year-old husband filed for divorce in Wisconsin in 2008 and won sole custody of the child in 2009, the same year the divorce became final.

However, the woman brought the girl to Japan amid the divorce proceedings in 2008 and has been wanted in the U.S. for contempt of court and violation of parental custody laws.

After returning to Japan, she filed for custody of the child at the Kobe District Court and was granted custody this March. The court also allowed the child’s father the right to see his daughter in the U.S. However, both parties immediately appealed the ruling and the case is before the Osaka High Court, according to reports.

Japan has been under pressure from other countries to join the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a treaty that sets procedures for settling cross-border child custody disputes as a result of failed international marriages.

The government decided in May to sign the treaty but has yet to officially endorse the international pact which so far has been joined by 86 nations.

An official at the Foreign Ministry’s Humanitarian Affairs Division said the woman’s arrest may have been prevented if Japan had already ratified the Hague treaty.

U.S. authorities would probably have advised the man against reporting the woman to the police — a move that could hurt his chances of retrieving his child — and ask him to proceed with the case based on the provisions of the treaty.

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Sex abuse by teachers plagues Shizuoka Pref.

Posted on October 30, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , |

The Yomiuri Shimbun

SHIZUOKA–Alleged sexual transgressions by teachers in Shizuoka Prefecture have become so common that the area’s leading educational administrator recently declared himself helpless to stop them.

There have been five disclosed cases of alleged sexual improprieties committed by school teachers in Shizuoka Prefecture, including a school principal, since August alone. In those cases, the teachers were fired for sexual harassment or arrested for voyeurism.

The latest came on Oct. 17, when a 47-year-old teacher at Shizuoka Prefectural High School of Science and Technology was arrested on suspicion of indecent assault on a female student.

The prefectural board held an urgent meeting of school principals on Thursday. At that meeting Toru Abe, chairman of the prefectural board of education, said with a bitter expression, “Speaking for myself, there’s no longer anything I can do.”

The board has taken such measures as revealing the names of offending teachers who received disciplinary dismissals and conducting training sessions for teachers. It also has organized study sessions with outside instructors and held group study meetings in an effort to prevent such incidents.

However, a high school teacher who had been through a training session was arrested on suspicion of using a camera to look up a woman’s skirt in September. The teacher, who was arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting the female student, had also gone through a training session.

Students have harshly criticized teachers and the authorities, saying: “Who will protect us students?” and “What the hell are teachers doing?” But some school officials have voiced sympathy for the chairman’s remark, which reflects a sense of helplessness.

The chairman told the about 120 school principals, “I want you to build human relationships with a sense of solidarity in your schools.”

Abe said, “My remark that there’s nothing more we can do was a slip of the tongue.” Abe said he was hit by a sense of helplessness, as teachers had been urged on numerous occasions not to cause such scandals.

“When I made the remark, I was thinking about how I’d had to say the same thing in similar situations again and again [with little apparent impact],” Abe said.

He added: “I regret the remark and think it was improper. I still have to consider effective measures. We have started discussing practical actions.”

Hiroshi Asaba, principal of prefectural Shizuoka Senior High School and also chairman of the prefectural association of high school principals, voiced sympathy for the board chairman saying, “The words reflected his stress.”

But he added: “We school officials have not given up on taking measures. Though there may be no quick remedy, there are still things we can try.”

A senior official of the prefectural board of education said: “The problems are not ending, even though we have taken measures. I wonder what more we can do than we are doing now.”

A 17-year-old male second-year student at Shizuoka Prefectural High School of Science and Technology said: “Many female students have begun to distrust their male teachers because of these incidents. When our school held a meeting to explain the situation to all students, a girl began weeping, and I couldn’t face the scene.

“If the prefectural board of education has given up and said there is nothing to do, who in the world will protect us students?”

An 18-year-old third-year high school student said, “Because scandals have occurred despite measures by the prefectural board, students just distrust teachers more.”

A 15-year-old male student said: “What the hell are teachers doing? I don’t trust teachers anymore.”

Educational analyst Naoki Ogi said: “Control by superiors alone has limited effects. Ad hoc measures, which are like a cat-and-mouse game, can’t work. The authorities should have teachers receive mental health checks by experts.

“The administrative authorities should not see teachers as the only cause of the evil, but consider what they themselves lack. They should improve the situation while reflecting opinions from workplaces.”

(Oct. 24, 2011)
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Newborn baby found in convenience store toilet trash can

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

Crime Oct. 21, 2011 – CHIBA —

Police said Friday they are looking for the person or persons who abandoned a newborn baby girl in a Chiba convenience store toilet at around 11 p.m. on Thursday night.

According to police, a female customer alerted the convenience store manager to the sound of a baby’s cries emanating from a trash can in the ladies’ restroom, Sankei Shimbun reported. Staff discovered a newborn baby girl wrapped in a transparent plastic bag.

The baby was rushed to hospital, but police say the her life is not in danger. It is believed that the child was abandoned immediately following her birth. Police are currently checking the store security camera footage for clues, Sankei reported.

Japan Today

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American cycles across Japan to raise awareness on child rights

Posted on October 19, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Hague Convention, United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Kevinbrown photo


An American who has been separated from his 6-year-old son due to his divorce from his Japanese wife completed a month-long 1,500-kilometer bike ride from Kyushu to Tokyo this week to raise awareness on the issue of child custody. Along the way, he stopped at local government offices to lobby for children’s rights to have access to both parents.

Kevin Brown, a 45-year-old English teacher and the founding director of civic group “Children First” in central Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, said that during his visits to more than 10 prefectural and municipal government offices he explained that children’s steady access to both parents should be guaranteed in line with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Brown, a native of Illinois, was parted from his son four years ago when his wife moved from Nagoya to southwestern Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture. Every six weeks he travels by overnight bus to the prefecture in the Kyushu region to see the boy for five hours — the maximum amount of time agreed upon during the divorce settlement.

“When I started research, I was really disappointed in what I found — the sole custody system. Usually, the winner is the person who abducts the kids first,” Brown said in an interview with Kyodo News. “I want a kind of unlimited access to my son. Once every six weeks is not enough.”

The father said he learned of the Japanese child-custody system in the middle of the divorce proceedings, which were finalized in September. “I would like the kind of American system where, you know, every other weekend, overnight visits, birthdays, holidays you get to see the kids,” he said.

The English teacher said that since his son was only 2 when they were parted, the boy only speaks Japanese and has difficulty communicating with his father, who does not speak much Japanese.

Family courts in Japan tend to give mothers sole custody after divorce and it is not unusual for children to stop seeing their fathers after their parents break up. Brown pointed out that the average visitation awarded by the courts to parents without custody is four hours a month.

Brown said he underlined during his meetings with local government officials that Japan, which ratified the U.N. convention in 1994, has not implemented policies to secure children’s access to both parents and that the country is the only Group of Seven member to adopt the sole custody system upon divorce.

Article 9 of the U.N. pact says state parties “shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests.”

The other G-7 countries are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States.

The campaigner said some local government officials in charge of child welfare were not well aware of the issue related to visitations as they focused on protecting children from abuse and were “not too familiar with good parents not being able to see their kids.”

Although some workers told Brown that what local governments can do is limited as the matter should be handled by the central government, he said the awareness-raising tour was meaningful as “the first step in making change.”

Japan recently launched preparations for joining the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which establishes procedures for settling international child custody disputes.

However, Brown’s case will not be covered by the pact because it is not retroactive, only applying to cases that occur after its entry into force in Japan, and also because it deals with cross-border parental child abductions.

In late September, U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed Tokyo’s decision to enter into the Hague Convention but asked Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda during their summit talks in New York that the Japanese government also “focus on the preexisting cases,” according to the U.S. State Department.

Noda said he was aware of the 123 active cases involving children who have been abducted from the United States to Japan, and vowed to “take special care to focus on these particular issues,” the state department said.

(c) 2011 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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Judo instructor found guilty over child’s death during training Crime

Posted on October 15, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death |

Oct. 06, 2011 – 06:45AM

Judo instructor found guilty over child’s death during training A Japanese court has found a martial arts instructor guilty over the death of a six-year-old boy AFP TOKYO — A Japanese court on Wednesday found a martial arts instructor guilty over the death of a six-year-old boy, a court official said, in the first criminal case over judo training in Japan. The Osaka District Court found the instructor guilty of causing the boy’s death by repeatedly slamming him to the floor during training, ordering the defendant to pay a fine of one million yen, the official said. It is the first criminal case filed by Japanese prosecutors against judo trainers, according to a victims’ group, despite over 100 child deaths blamed on harsh training or hazing between 1983 and 2010. The 36-year-old instructor, who owned a private judo club in Osaka, admitted he threw the boy excessively in training. The boy died in November last year from brain swelling, local reports said. Ryo Uchida, associate professor at Nagoya University Graduate School of Education and Human Development, said at least 114 deaths during judo training had been reported between 1983 and 2010 at schools alone. “The number of children’s deaths, including those outside of schools, like the case of Osaka, remains unknown,” Uchida told AFP. “These serious accidents show that even experienced judo practitioners could give training inappropriately and cause grave injuries or death,” he said. “Instructors must be well aware of the risk of brain injuries and be prepared for emergency treatment.” Keiko Kobayashi, whose youngest child suffered brain damage when he was 15, welcomed the “historic” ruling but questioned if the one million yen fine was sufficient “after one child’s life and future was lost.” Judo, which became an official Olympic sport at the 1964 Tokyo Games, has long been seen as a respectable tool for training the minds and bodies of young Japanese and forms a major part of military and police training. But many argue that abusive trainers are able to escape criminal charges due to the physical risks inherent to the sport. The All Japan Judo Federation, which recognizes 86 judo incidents—some of them fatal—in the eight years to 2011, revised safety guidelines in June to warn against the risk of head injuries. © 2011 AFP

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Bill eyes incorporating children’s views in int’l custody battles

Posted on October 4, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention | Tags: , , |

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Justice Ministry proposed Friday that children’s opinions be reflected when settling cross-border child custody disputes.

The idea was contained in the ministry’s draft interim proposals for domestic legislation that it is preparing for submission to a regular Diet session next year, before Japan joins an international pact related to the matter known as the Hague Convention.

Under the ministry’s draft legislation, the handing over of children to a spouse could be refused if there is a possibility that they could be subjected to violence.

If a year has passed since children were taken away and they have already adapted to their new environment or if children refuse, their hand over to a spouse could be rejected.

The cases would be examined by family courts behind-closed-doors. Under the proposal, court decisions could be appealed twice in the same way most civil cases are handled.

The ministry will solicit public comments on the interim draft via the Internet until Oct. 31.

Opinions are also being solicited regarding the Foreign Ministry’s proposal to set up a government organization to search for children in Japan entangled in cross-border custody disputes.

Japan decided in May to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. It is the only one of the Group of Eight advanced countries yet to join the convention after Russia acceded to it in July.

(Mainichi Japan) October 1, 2011

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Woman arrested for abandoning newborn’s body in library toilet

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

CrimeOct. 01, 2011 – 04:00PM

Japan Today


Police said Saturday they have arrested a woman on suspicion of abandoning the body of her newborn baby in the restroom of a library in Minami-Alps, Yamanashi Prefecture.

According to Sankei Shimbun, the woman, who has been named as Nozomi Ueno, 27, was identified by CCTV camera footage. Police said she gave birth to a girl in the toilet cubicle on Sept 13 between 11:05 a.m. and 12:40 a.m. It is believed that the baby was alive at the time of her birth, but was later found dead in the cubicle.

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