Human Rights

Human Rights Counseling Offices in Japan

Posted on August 13, 2013. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , |

Information is in both Japanese and English

外国人のための人権相談所を利用される方は,受付日時・通訳言語を確認の上,下記の「相談場所」にお越しいただくか,お電話ください。
なお,人権相談一般に関するお問い合わせは,下記「お問い合わせ先」の各法務局・地方法務局までお願いいたします(受付日時 平日 午前8時30分~午後5時15分)。

局名 相談場所 受付日時 通訳言語 お問い合わせ先
東京 東京法務局内人権相談室
千代田区九段南1-1-15
九段第2合同庁舎12階
03(5213)1372
毎週 月
13:30 ~ 16:00
中国語 東京法務局
人権擁護部
03(5213)1372
毎週 火・木
13:30 ~ 16:00
英語
ドイツ語
大阪 大阪法務局内人権相談室
大阪市中央区谷町2-1-17
大阪第2法務合同庁舎
06(6942)9496
毎月 第1,第3水
13:00 ~ 16:00
英語 大阪法務局
人権擁護部
06(6942)9496
毎週 水
13:00 ~ 16:00
中国語
神戸 神戸地方法務局内人権相談室
神戸市中央区波止場町1-1
078(393)0600
毎月 第2水
13:00 ~ 17:00
英語 神戸地方法務局
人権擁護課
078(393)0600
毎月 第4水
13:00 ~ 17:00
中国語
名古屋 名古屋法務局内人権相談室
名古屋市中区三の丸2-2-1
052(952)8111(代)
毎月 第2火
13:00 ~ 16:00
英語
ポルトガル語
名古屋法務局
人権擁護部
052(952)8111
広島 広島法務局内人権相談室
広島市中区上八丁堀6-30
082(228)5792
月曜日~金曜日
(祝日,年末年始を除く)
8:30 ~17:15
(予約制)
英語
ポルトガル語
スペイン語
タガログ語
広島法務局
人権擁護部
082(228)5792
福岡 アクロス福岡3階こくさいひろば
福岡市中央区天神1-1-1
092(725)9200
毎月 第2土
13:00 ~ 16:00
英語 福岡法務局
人権擁護部
092(832)4311
高松 アイパル香川(香川国際交流会館)
国際交流フロア
高松市番町1-11-63
087(837)5908
毎月 第3金
13:00 ~ 15:00
(予約制)
英語
中国語
ハングル
スペイン語
ポルトガル語
高松法務局
人権擁護部
087(815)5311
松山 愛媛県国際交流センター
松山市道後一万1-1
089(917)5678
毎月 第4木
13:30 ~ 15:30
英語 松山地方法務局
人権擁護課
089(932)0888

Human Rights Counseling Offices for Foreigners

Please contact the Offices according to your language in person or by telephone in business hours for counseling to Human Rights Counseling Offices for Foreigners.

Offices Business Hours Language
TOKYO Tokyo Legal Affairs Bureau
1-1-15 Kudanminami Chiyoda-ku
Tel 03 – 5213 – 1372
Monday
13:30 ~ 16:00
Chinese
Tuesday , Thursday
13:30 ~ 16:00
English
German
OSAKA Osaka Legal Affairs Bureau
2-1-17 Tani-machi Chuo-ku Osaka-shi
Tel 06 – 6942 – 9496
1st and 3rd Wednesday
13:00 ~ 16:00
English
Wednesday
13:00 ~ 16:00
Chinese
KOBE Kobe District Legal Affairs Bureau
1-1 Hatoba-cho Chuo-ku Kobe-shi
Tel 078 – 393 – 0600
2nd Wednesday
13:00 ~ 17:00
English
4th Wednesday
13:00 ~ 17:00
Chinese
NAGOYA Nagoya Legal Affairs Bureau
2-2-1 Sannomaru Naka-ku Nagoya-shi
Tel 052 – 952 – 8111
2nd Tuesday
13:00 ~ 16:00
English
Portuguese
HIROSHIMA Hiroshima Legal Affairs Bureau
6-30 Kamihacchobori Naka-ku Hiroshima-shi
Tel 082 – 228 – 5792
From Monday to Friday
(Excluding public holidays,
the year-end and New Year holidays)
8:30 ~ 17:15
(Reserve in advance)
English
Portuguese
Spanish
Tagalog
FUKUOKA KOKUSAI HIROBA ACROS Fukuoka 3rd Floor
1-1-1 Tenjin Chuo-ku Fukuoka-shi
Tel 092 – 725 – 9200
2nd Saturday
13:00 ~ 16:00
English
TAKAMATSU Kagawa International Exchange Center
( I – pal Kagawa )
1-11-63 Ban-cho Takamatsu-shi
Tel 087 – 837 – 5908
3rd Friday
13:00 ~ 15:00
( Reserve in advance)
English
Chinese
Korean
Spanish
Portuguese
MATSUYAMA Ehime Prefectural International Center(EPIC)
1-1 Dougoichiman Matsuyama-shi
Tel 089 – 917 – 5678
4th Thursday
13:30 ~ 15:30
English
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Japanese Filipino Support Network helps children abandoned by Japanese Fathers

Posted on February 19, 2013. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , |

Citizen’s Network for Japanese Filipino Children

Japanese Filipino Support Network

maligaya-house-manila

<Establishment>  1994  May

<Our Aim>  We are a non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Tokyo. We support Japanese-Filipino Children (JFC) who are born to Filipino mothers and Japanese fathers. The numbers of Filipino women who come to Japan for working have increased since 1980’s. Many of them met Japanese men and the numbers of children between Filipino women and Japanese men have increased as well. Some of those children are in difficulty because of lack of supports from their father. Although they have different circumstances, one thing common among those children is that they had lost communication and necessary support from their fathers. We accept cases from those mothers and caregivers of such JFC both at Tokyo office and Maligaya House, our branch office in Manila.

<Our Projects>
1)Para-legal assistance for the Paternal Recognition, Child Support, acquisition of Japanese Nationality, mediation/law suit for divorce, Special Permission of Residence, etc.
2)Father-locating
3)Japanese lesson for JFC mother
4)Tutorial services for JFC
5)Study tour to the Philippines
6)Publishing of quarterly newsletter “Maligaya”

<Contact Us>
Tokyo, Japan
TEL/FAX: 050-3328-0143
E-mail: jfcnet@jca.apc.org
15 minutes from Shinjuku Station (JR line)

Manila Branch (Maligaya House)

<Establishment>  1998 January

<Our Projects>
1)Case registration and management
2)Psycho-social workshops for JFC and mothers/carcgivers
3)Japanese Lesson for JFC

<Contact Us>
Metro Manila, Philippines
TEL/FAX: (63-2) 913-8913
E-mail: maligyahouse@gmail.com

 

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Maligaya House: Citizen’s Network for Japanese-Filipino Children

Posted on February 19, 2013. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , |

Maligaya House GlobeMaligayaHouse

(Citizen’s Network for Japanese-Filipino Children. Inc)

For detailed information about the Maligaya House please click on this link: http://maligaya-house

About Maligaya House

Maligaya House is Tagalog for “Happy House”. The Citizen’s Network for JFC Inc. ran by our Tokyo Office established in 1998 this local office and Maligaya House is dedicated to helping those Japanese-Filipino Children (JFC) whose Japanese fathers abandoned them, find happiness. Maligaya House fights to protect the human rights of the JFC and give support at they grow to adulthood.

Psycho-social Intervention Program (PSI)

Our principal activities: Telephone and at office consultations, new clients will have to attend an orientation, to understand individual cases we will conduct home visits and inquiries, offer legal advice, also we offer counseling for the mother and child, and these services are available to all clients. Furthermore, we can send all of this information to the JFC Network office and through the help of our lawyers (they have volunteered for the purpose of supporting the JFC) we can help locate the father, negotiate for legal recognition and/or child Orientation for the New Clients support and mediate with Japanese man. If the a need arises they are also capable of filing lawsuits in Japanese court. Through this process Maligaya House will act as the representation of the mother and child between the JFC Network and their legal counsel.

Training and Education Program (TEP)

Twice a month we have a Japanese Classroom Workshop where we familiarize the JFC with Japanese language and culture. This activity also doubles as an exercise to develop their identity as a Japanese. We also do arts and crafts, games and sometimes dances to allow the JFC to express themselves and these activities also help empower the JFC with more self-confidence. At these regular gatherings the JFC have the opportunity to meet and make friends with other children in a similar situation.

For the mothers we offer, law and legal proceedings seminars, gender workshops, and seminars on migrant workers. Our aim is to recommend strategies to improve their lives, give emotional support, and give leadership training.

Research & Publications Program (RPP)

We publish a handbook for Filipino women who plan to go to Japan. It began being distributed through the Philippine government in 2004. We also manage a mini library and publish a regular newsletter.

Advocacy & Networking Program

We pressure the Philippine Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cooperate with the negotiations between the Japanese embassy and this Japanese NGO

Maligaya House ( Citizen’s Network for JFC-Philippine Office)

Address: Maligaya House ( Citizen’s Network for Japanese-Filipino Children, Inc. )

18-A Cabezas St., Project 4, Quezon City, Metro Manila, 1109 Philippines

Telephone#: 02-439-1520 and 02-913-8913

FA02-913-8913

EMailmaligayahouse@gmail.com

Person In Charge: Ms. Naoko Kono

Citizen’s Network for JFC-Tokyo Office (Joint Representation: Atty. Chang Hanyo & Shigeko Yamano)

Address: 206 Hai Home-Nishishinjuku, 4-16-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Telephone: FAX 050-3328-0143

EMailjfcnet@jca.apc.org

Home Pagehttp://www.jca.apc.org/jfcnet

For Paying Membership Fee to Japan: Postal Transfer Account: 00120-2-720290

Account Name: Citizen’s Network for JFC

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Old and recent stories about my travels to prefectural offices

Posted on August 15, 2012. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Human Rights | Tags: , , , |

Interview about child rights in October of 2011.

Interview about child rights, joint custody, and my visit to 45 prefectures.

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In Japan, Child-Abusing Parents Retain Parental Rights

Posted on August 13, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Human Rights | Tags: , , |

By   /   August 6, 2012  /

Several facts stood out to me from the recent report on the record-high number of child abuse cases in Japan in 2010. One was that in the previous three months, only seven petitions to temporarily suspend parental rights were presented to the court. And of those, only one was granted. Realize that these were not petitions to end parental rights, just to suspend them for up to two years.

 

It is extremely difficult to terminate parental rights against the will of the parents in Japan. For example, in 2007, out of 40,639 cases of child abuse handled by Child Welfare, staff members appealed to the family court for termination of parental rights in only four cases, and only one case was approved.1 This is the norm. As a college professor said ironically, “It is easier for judges to give someone the death penalty than for them to forcibly sever parental rights in Japan.”

Secondly, over 84% of the 51 children who died due to child abuse were age three or under; most were under age one. I have been watching a situation up close that almost contributed to this statistic. In 2010, a father, the boyfriend of someone I know, almost killed his son, who was about one year old at the time. That child remains in the child orphanage system almost a year later. The father’s rights have not been severed, nor has he been charged with a crime. The child is in limbo where he may remain until he is 18 years of age.2

Of course, there is no reason to work to sever the father’s rights if the goal of the government is just to keep the child safe in an orphanage . The primary reason that parental rights would need to be severed is so that the child could get adopted. Sadly, that is not the goal. And especially in cases where the child is still so young, how much more sense it would make to push as quickly as possible to a clear conclusion for the good of the child.

As it is, though the government doesn’t sever parental rights, the parents in abuse cases can be legally deprived of their child for long periods of time. The main right they retain is to keep the child from going to a loving family. By bringing the case to a clear conclusion as soon as possible, perhaps extended family members would step up and offer to become legal guardians. Or maybe mothers would get serious about leaving abusive husbands/boyfriends to keep their parental rights. The way things are, children are left waiting while the wheels of the system grind slowly and their childhood slips away.

I asked my professor friend why Japan prefers this approach. A gross oversimplification of what he said is that Japan had long been a theocracy with the Emperor as father/god, and the Japanese as children. Families were/are also considered small theocracies where the parents have the divine right to do whatever is necessary to keep the family under control. Thus, the system works in favor of the parents, and he said parental rights are very unlikely to be severed more often in the future.

Another way to understand this and other things in Japan is to recognize the value placed on form over substance. Keeping parental rights in tack and placing children in orphanages protects the form of the blood-line family. Cutting parental rights and adopting children to unrelated parents wrecks the form and makes the situation “abnormal.” The substance of family love and life-long support is not the main consideration.

An issue that often comes up when discussing orphanages and/or adoption here is the idea of taking responsibility. Parents must be made to take responsibility for their children at some level even if it hurts the children. I was not surprised to read that many of the 2010 abuse cases involved teenage mothers who didn’t know how to take care of their babies and had been ostracized by their local communities (Japan Today, 7/27/2012). Since these mothers didn’t do the responsible thing and get an abortion, they must be made to suffer the consequences. Probably no one around them suggested they choose adoption because that is considered “irresponsible.”

The truth is that unless Japan can wholeheartedly embrace adoption and foster care, there is nothing to do but continue placing abused children in the ever-expanding orphanage system where they are likely to be abused again. The unwillingness to cut parental rights is undergirded by the same thinking that leads to an aversion to adoption.

As I’ve written elsewhere, the government is beginning to promote adopting out newborns before they enter the system, so there is some hope. Of course, the women in those cases voluntarily give up their rights. That process began when a brave government worker started asking pregnant women in distress if they were interested in adoption.

I think the government should at least ask this same question to parents of young, abused children. Reluctant parents can be strongly encouraged by offers to drop criminal charges or reduce sentences, though bringing charges against abusive parents seems to be another weakness of the current system. It may be that especially young, single mothers of abused babies would quickly agree if only someone would ask and encourage them.

Stopping the abuse would, of course, be best, and I applaud the government’s call for more consultation services for at-risk pregnant women. But given the many adults who were themselves abused as children, the likelihood of a continued cycle of abuse is pretty high. I hope Japan will stop the cycle whenever possible by not only getting children away from abusive parents but by also getting them into loving families.

1. Sachiko Bamba and Wendy L. Haight, Child Welfare and Development: A Japanese Case Study (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 180-81.

2. The government workers involved in this case have done a good job protecting this child. Without being able to forcibly cut parental rights, there’s not much else they can do.

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‘Where are our children?’ parents ask / Search continues at primary school destroyed by tsunami more than 9 months ago

Posted on January 2, 2012. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , , |

ISHINOMAKI, Miyagi–Parents are still searching for missing children more than nine months after a tsunami inundated an Ishinomaki City primary school following the Great East Japan Earthquake in March.

Seventy-four students at the city’s Okawa Primary School–about 70 percent of the student body–were killed or went missing.

The sounds of heavy machinery could be heard Friday digging into the area around the school in an effort to find four students still unaccounted for.

Miho Suzuki, 43, who is searching for her daughter, Hana, a fourth-year student, talked to Masaru Naganuma, 42, who was operating a power shovel in driving snow. She handed a cup of coffee and a bun to Naganuma, saying, “You must be tired.”

Naganuma is searching for his son, Koto, a second-year student. Despite the freezing weather, he was determined to find his son and the other missing children.

Suzuki was accompanied by her husband, Yoshiaki, 49, and her mother, Kyoko Koyama, 72, when she visited the site of the school Friday. After removing wilted flowers at an altar set up by the school gate, Yoshiaki also began operating a power shovel.

Miho and Yoshiaki were working at different offices when the earthquake hit on March 11. Both of their children attended the primary school, but they were unable to visit the area until two days later.

Yoshiaki made the trip on the third day following the disaster and was horrified at the devastation. Uprooted trees stuck out of what was left of the school building and children’s bodies littered the ground. Miho and Yoshiaki began their heart-wrenching search for their children.

The body of their son, Kento, a sixth-year student, was found eight days after the disaster but Hana remains missing.

Miho quit her clerical job at a hospital in May and has visited the school site every day since then. She has kept her daughter’s favorite dress in the trunk of her car so she can put the dress on Hana when she finds her daughter.

“Today I’ll take Hana back home,” Miho tells herself every day, but so far she has returned home disappointed.

She feels frustrated as the number of parents searching for their children has dropped. Sometimes she blames herself for not going to the school to pick up her children soon after the earthquake.

In summer, when she was about to give up her search, a piano teacher who taught Hana held a concert for the girl. Thinking that many people were anxious about her daughter, she decided to continue searching during autumn and winter.

She and her husband live in a temporary housing unit, and at dinner time, she cooks meals for her children.

Meanwhile, Naganuma said: “I just want to be with my son. That is my only hope. That’s how parents feel about their children.”

Whenever he leaves the site after the day’s search, his chest grows tight. “I have to leave him here today, though he must have felt scared on that day [without me],” he said.
(Jan. 1, 2012) Yomiuri Shimbun

Naganuma said: “I just want to be with my son. That is my only hope. That’s how parents feel about their children.”

Left Behind Parents can related to this story. Left Behind Parents also want to be with their kids. And kids want to be with their parents. Japan it is time to make changes to the legal system so kids can see both parents. 


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Cycling to raise awareness about children’s rights

Posted on September 26, 2011. Filed under: Human Rights, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , |

As some of my blog readers know, I am cycling from Kumamoto to Tokyo to raise awareness about children’s rights. As a result I have been unable to keep my blog up to date. I am now in Okayama. I guess it is about the halfway point. I will hopefully end my awareness tour in Tokyo on the 17th of October. If you would like to follow my awareness tour please check out the Children First Japan Facebook page and the Joint Custody Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/oyako

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Children-First-Japan/115396388532379

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Cycling from Kumamoto to Tokyo to Raise Awareness about Child Rights

Posted on July 31, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention, Human Rights, Japanese Family Law, Parental Alienation Syndrome, United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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.

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State Dept. Testifies at Child Abduction HearingSmith: Negotiate MOU with Japan Concurently with the Hague Convention…

Posted on July 29, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Domestic Violence (DV), Hague Convention, Human Rights, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

 

Washington, Jul 28 – The fate of more than 2,400 abducted American children was the emotional topic at a congressional hearing today held by Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees international human rights.Top officials of the U.S. State Department explained U.S. administration efforts to return the children to the U.S. A heavy emphasis was placed on Japan, which is not one of the 85 signatory nations of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

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.

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Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking’

Posted on July 26, 2011. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , |

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.”

(Jun. 29, 2011)
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Legislation Urging Immediate Return of U.S. Kids Abducted to Japan Clears 1st Hurdle

Posted on July 25, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , |

 

Washington, Jul 21 – The House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted an amendment by U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) Thursday calling for a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Japan for the immediate return of the approximately 156 U.S. children currently being held in Japan against the wishes of their American parent, and in many cases in violation of valid U.S. court orders.“The amendment passed today makes it clear that the United States must, by way of an MOU with Japan, or any other appropriate means, seek the immediate return of U.S. children abducted to Japan,” said Smith (NJ-04), a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman of its human rights subcommittee.  “Abducted children are at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems.  The U.S. government has a duty to protect these children and fight for their parents who have a right and want to meet their responsibilities of raising their own children.” Click here to view the amendment.

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.

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Life in the Philippines no picnic for Japanese

Posted on July 16, 2011. Filed under: Divorce, Human Rights, Suicide | Tags: , , , , , |

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.

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Asia-Pacific Human Rights Information Center (HURIGHTS OSAKA)

Posted on July 14, 2011. Filed under: Human Rights | Tags: , , , , , |

Japan

Overview

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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