Archive for June, 2012

Baby dead ‘for a day’ as Japan mother chats on net

Posted on June 30, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , |

Crime Jun. 30, 2012 –

A woman whose baby boy lay dead for nearly a day while she chatted on Internet forums has been arrested in Japan, media and police said Friday.

Yumiko Takahashi knew that 19-month-old Neo was running a high fever when she checked on him on the afternoon of June 24 last year but left him lying on his bed untended, police said.

A post mortem examination revealed Neo had died around 2 pm on June 26th, police said. His mother found his lifeless body the following morning, newspaper reports said.

Takahashi, 29, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of child neglect and causing death, a spokesman for police in Otsu, western Japan said Friday, adding that the lag had been due to officers “carrying out the necessary investigations”.

Takahashi, whose first child died a few days after birth and who lost another son in a fall from an apartment balcony, told police she had been using chatrooms, media reported.

“I have sought solace in chatting on the Internet to get connected to other people for three years since I got depressed for losing my son in an accident,” broadcaster NHK quoted her as saying.

“Child raising is too much hassle.”

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Single fathers unite to voice their concerns about benefits in Japan

Posted on June 19, 2012. Filed under: Japanese policy, single fathers, Uplifting Stories | Tags: , , , , |

Tuesday, June 12, 2012
By DANIEL KRIEGER
Special to The Japan Times

A group of dads and their small kids gathered around for a step-by-step demonstration of how to make perfect French toast. Then they got busy cracking eggs and beating them, cutting the bread into small squares that they dipped in the egg and then dropped into a hot skillet to watch sizzle as a buttery scent wafted through the room. Finally, they sliced up some banana and strawberry and topped the whole thing off with whipped cream. Voila!

“In ‘Kramer versus Kramer,’ (a film about a man who is suddenly thrust into single fatherhood) Dustin Hoffman can’t make French toast,” said Tomoyuki Katayama, the event’s organizer. “But then he learns how and does it beautifully at the end.”

That little anecdote sheds light on the events that led 41-year-old Katayama to the Gender Equality Center in Nishinomiya city in Hyogo Prefecture on a Saturday morning in mid-January. He was there to help local dads bond with their kids over French toast, to give a talk on the state of single fatherhood in Japan and offer his thoughts on the way forward, as he recently had in a bunch of other cities.

Since late 2009, when he founded Single Father Japan, a Niigata-based NPO that advocates the interests of single fathers, Katayama has been raising awareness of low-income single dads and petitioning the government to get them the same benefits as single mothers. The plight of such men is quite a twist in a patriarchal culture where the short end of the stick is typically reserved for women. But with an increase in divorce and rising female independence, the number of single fathers in Japan rose from roughly 166,000 in 2005 to 204,000 in 2010, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

Over a bento (packed lunch) before his lecture, Katayama, who grew up in Niigata Prefecture, shared his story. He confessed that when he got married in 1993 he never imagined he would become a single parent, much less that he would spearhead a movement to fight for single fathers’ equal rights.

When his marriage officially ended in 2005, he gained custody of his two kids — a 10-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. At the time, he said he had little sympathy for struggling single dads because, like many people in Japan, he thought it a man’s duty to support his family on his own.

Over the next few years, he was active in an online community of single parents where he dispensed legal advice about divorce. One day in 2008, a man contacted him for guidance. He said he was unable to juggle child-rearing and his demanding job, so he quit. But he couldn’t find another job because prospective employers didn’t think a single dad with a toddler was a safe bet. When he contacted Katayama, he had used up his savings and was getting evicted from his apartment.

His dilemma: Should he kill only himself? Or would it make more sense to take his child along with him?

Katayama stayed up all night on the phone talking him out of suicide and explaining how to get help. He was outraged that this man had not been given a break and felt that not only were the unsympathetic companies to blame but also that society itself had let him down.

“That was the trigger,” he said. “It made me realize that we need support for single fathers in Japan.”

The following year, through Fathering Japan, an organization he had joined, Katayama got involved in a new charity — the French Toast Fund, which provided money for needy single fathers. Then, after the 2009 election, Katayama decided the only way to bring about legislative change was to give the government a big push. To strengthen their voices, he brought together various regional groups that support single fathers to form a unified nationwide organization — Single Father Japan.

The organization’s first order of business was to get financially strapped single dads child-care allowance, something that single moms were entitled to, but fathers were not. Once Single Father Japan had aroused media interest in the cause, the government took notice and it passed a bill granting allowances to men, which went into effect in August 2010. After six months, 59,000 single-father families were receiving it.

The next battle was to fight for bereavement benefits for fathers who have lost their wives, which with the increase of widowers after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami has become a heightened concern. The bill is currently winding its way through the legislature.

Katayama said he is driven by the desire to remove the stigma from single fatherhood in Japan, to level the playing field for single dads of today and to make sure the next generation won’t have it as hard as his did.

“What we really need,” he said, “is a safety net that stops single fathers from falling into a bottomless pit.”
For more information on support for single fathers in Japan, visit: Single Father Japan at zenfushiren.jp and Fathering in Japan at http://www.fathering.jp. (both websites are in Japanese only).

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American father wins custody of child after divorce from Japanese woman

Posted on June 19, 2012. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , |

Jun. 16, 2012 – OSAKA —

A Nicaraguan-born man who lives in the U.S. state of Wisconsin has been awarded custody of his 9-year-old daughter, ending a four-year court battle with his former Japanese wife.

Moises Garcia married Emiko Inoue in 2002 and settled in Wisconsin where their daughter Karina was born the same year.

However, Emiko took the girl with her to Japan in 2008 against her husband’s wishes. Garcia fought passionately—and spent about $350,000—to get his daughter back. The liver transplant doctor learned to speak Japanese so he could communicate with a daughter whose English was slipping away.

He hired lawyers in Japan and flew across the Pacific nine times to press his case and try to see his daughter. He enlisted the help of the U.S. State Department and his native Nicaragua. He became active in an advocacy group—Global Future—run by U.S. parents whose children were taken to Japan.

Garcia won a major victory in 2009 when the Japanese courts—which did not recognize the U.S. court that granted Garcia full custody—determined he should have visitation rights. And he kept fighting when his ex-wife appealed and the case dragged on for years.

In all that time, he only saw his daughter three times. The longest visit was for just under two hours at a hotel restaurant. Another visit lasted 10 short minutes at a school open house.

The Osaka High Court, in handing down its ruling, said that Karina had become used to life in the United States with her father and that forcibly returning her to Japan now would be bad for her.

Karina is the first U.S. child abducted by a Japanese parent who was returned to the United States with the aid of the court system.

Her case remains an anomaly, however, because Karina likely never would have been returned if her mother hadn’t flown to Hawaii in April 2011 and been arrested on child abduction charges.

Inoue spent months in a Wisconsin jail until she reached a plea deal with prosecutors: her parents would send Karina home to Garcia and Inoue would be given probation instead of a lengthy prison sentence.

Until laws change in Japan—and family courts gain the power to enforce custody rights—it will be nearly impossible for other parents to be reunited with their children, Garcia said.

“When my ex-wife was arrested, we finally got the enforcement that was missing from the Japanese courts,” he said at a press conference in a Milwaukee hotel. “If my ex-wife had never been arrested, Karina’s alienation would have been completed.”

Japan Today/AFP

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Man arrested over death of 4-month-old son in Miyazaki

Posted on June 15, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , |

JUN. 15, 2012 – MIYAZAKI —
Police said Thursday they have arrested a 32-year-old man in Ebino, Miyazaki Prefecture, for manslaughter over the death of his 4-month-old son.

According to police, the man, who has been named as Yukihiro Kakinoki, gave himself up to police after assaulting his second son at around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, TBS reported. The infant, Hinata Kakinoki, was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.

During police questioning, Kakinoki reportedly told investigators that he had become angry that his son was crying in the middle of the night and repeatedly punched him in the stomach.

Kakinoki lived with his wife and two sons. Police are questioning his wife to determine if the older son has also been abused, TBS reported.

Japan Today

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Truck driver, common-law wife arrested for abusing woman’s 2-year-old daughter

Posted on June 3, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , |

CRIME JUN. 02, 2012 -CHIBA —

Police said Saturday they have arrested a 34-year-old man and his 20-year-old common-law wife for allegedly abusing the woman’s 2-year-old daughter at their home in Tomisato City, Chiba prefecture.

Police identified the man as Isao Tada, who works as a truck driver. He is accused of beating the girl on her face and stomping on the girl’s leg, breaking her thigh bone on May 29, Fuji TV reported. A city welfare officer observed that the girl also had swelling on her face when he visited the home to check on the woman’s 11-month-old son.

Tada has admitted to abusing the girl on more than one occasion and was quoted by police as saying he was frustrated because the girl didn’t like him, Fuji reported. The girl’s mother also admitted to beating her on May 24.

Japan Today

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