Archive for October 30th, 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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