Video

October 16th, 2011 Demo for Joint Custody in Tokyo

Posted on November 7, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Hague Convention, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

On October 16th, 2011 there was a demo in Tokyo for joint custody and the Hague. Kevin Brown, the co-founder of Children First (www.childrenfirst.jp), cycled from Kumamoto to Tokyo to raise awareness about child rights. It took him 31 days to reach Tokyo. Along the way he recieved help from other left behind parents. He stayed one to three days with fellow left behind parents in Fukuoka, Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, Okazaki, Hamamatsu, and Tokyo. Kevin, like most left behind parents has little access to his child. Like all left behind parents, he wants to see his child more than once a month for 4 hours, the average time awarded by Japanese Family Court Judges. Kevin would like to see Japan adopt a joint custody system similar to that in most western countries. Japan is the only G-7 country without joint custody. And Japan is the only G-8 country not to sign the Hague. Kevin stopped at 15 prefectural offices during his cycling tour. He spoke about joint custody and other issues affecting the well being of children.  You can see about 1 minute of the demo if you click on the link: October 16th demo in Shibuya

The Japan Times published Kevin’s story: Dad seeks visitation reform

as did the Asahi Shimbu (nihongo): asahi shimbun

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U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton testifies on the abduction of children to and within Japan

Posted on March 2, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention, Video | Tags: , , , , , |

Congressman Chris Smith asks questions to Secretary Clinton concerning international child abduction to Japan.  Secretary Clinton talks about the cases (denial of access with in Japan and abductions to Japan). Click on the link to watch the video.

Clinton video

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「国際結婚」ハーグ条約問題 日本人女性による子供誘拐事件追う (ABC story in Japanese)

Posted on February 18, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention, Video | Tags: , , |

日本人女性が誘拐するケースが多いのか被害者は白人男性ばかりな件。

ABC story in Japanese on NHK

NHK video

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ABC World News Tonight – Japanese Mothers Reveal Why They Fled With Their Children

Posted on February 17, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Video | Tags: , , , , |

More video from ABC on child abduction to Japan.

ABC video

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Americans Taken to Japan

Posted on February 16, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Video | Tags: , , , |

ABC Nightline special about American children abducted to Japan.

ABC Nightline video

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Abducted in Japan: One Father’s Story

Posted on February 16, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Video | Tags: |

Navy Cdr. Paul Toland first spotted his future wife at a running club while he was stationed in Japan. Too shy to talk to her at first, he said he eventually worked up enough nerve to ask her out using a Japanese-English translator.

It was a gesture, he says, that would lead to years of happy marriage and the birth of their daughter, Erika.

By the time Erika was born in 2002, Toland and his wife Etsuko had been married for seven years. She became a U.S. citizen shortly after in preparation for the family’s eventual move back to the United States.

But when Erika was less than a year old, Etsuko, who Toland said had became increasingly unhappy, took Erika from their Navy housing and cut off all contact.

“I was at work one day and I got a phone call from my neighbors saying ‘Are you moving back to the States? … And I said what are you talking about,’” Toland said. “And they said ‘Well, there’s a moving van outside your house.’ When I got home my wife and my daughter and all our stuff was gone.”

Etsuko committed suicide four years later and her mother, Akiko Futagi immediately took guardianship of Erika. Toland, Erika’s sole surviving parent, has never been allowed to spend time with his daughter.

ABC News found Futagi and Erika in northern Tokyo. Futagi accused Toland of being a dead-beat feather who has never paid her for raising his daughter.

“He doesn’t pay anything to bring her up,” Futagi said. When asked if she would let Toland see Erika, her response was quick. “No,” she said.

Toland said he has tried to put money into a bank account for his daughter, but Futagi rejected his lawyer’s offer.

“The State Department has tried to visit with my daughter a number of times and have been rejected,” Toland said. “They even asked the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to try to visit with my daughter and they were rejected. And once again they came back and said, ‘Sorry, we tried there’s nothing we can do.’”

Paul Toland video

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A Father’s Plea: Desperate Effort to Return American Children Abducted to Japan

Posted on February 16, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Video | Tags: , , , , |

Thousands of miles away, hundreds of American children are being kept in Japan, victims of parental abduction, out of reach of their other parent and out of reach of the U.S. government.

Among the circles of left-behind parents in the U.S., many of them fathers, Japan is known as a safe haven for parental abductions. Once overseas, the parent who abducted the child is protected by the Japanese government’s unwillingness to sign the Hague Convention, a treaty that provides for the return of abducted children to their home country.

The U.S. Department of State has tried for years to negotiate Japan’s signature on the Hague Convention and to try and resolve some of the 321 cases that have been filed with the department during the last 17 years. But not one child has ever been returned to the U.S. from Japan through diplomatic measures, according to the State Department.

Below are the stories of three American fathers who are desperately seeking contact with their children.

Having a family wasn’t something Michael Elias planned on as a young Marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan. But after his Japanese girlfriend Mayumi called him with the news she was pregnant with their daughter, Elias said he eagerly made the transition into husband and father.

He brought Mayumi to the United States and married her. Their daughter, Jade, was born months later.

Just before Elias deployed to Iraq in 2007, they found out Mayumi was pregnant again. Their son Michael was born while he was overseas.

With his young family waiting for him at home, Elias counted the days until he returned to the United States. But his Humvee was hit by an IED and Elias, blown back into the cabin, suffered a traumatic brain injury.

When he returned home, he said, things had changed.

“It wasn’t the same as when I had left,” he said.

Mayumi soon began dating another Japanese national – a travel agent. Elias got a girlfriend.

But when the two went to court to begin deciding custody for Jade and baby Michael, a judge ordered neither party to leave New Jersey with the children – and demanded Mayumi turn over the children’s American and Japanese passports, which she did.

Months later, in December 2008, Mayumi disappeared with the children, taking them to Japan.

Elias, who later learned through flight records that his children had been given duplicate passports at a Japanese consulate, was devastated.

He has since been cut off from all contact with his children. He last saw an image of Jade, now 5, in a Skype conversation more than a year ago. He fears his son Michael, now 3 1/2, will no longer remember him.

ABC News was unable to locate Mayumi for comment.

Elias is hoping the U.S. Department of State will someday be able to bring his children back home.

“When I was asked to serve in a war I did it without question,” Elias said. “And now all I ask is for something [that] belongs to not only me, this country.”

Navy Cdr. Paul Toland first spotted his future wife at a running club while he was stationed in Japan. Too shy to talk to her at first, he said he eventually worked up enough nerve to ask her out using a Japanese-English translator.

It was a gesture, he says, that would lead to years of happy marriage and the birth of their daughter, Erika.

By the time Erika was born in 2002, Toland and his wife Etsuko had been married for seven years. She became a U.S. citizen shortly after in preparation for the family’s eventual move back to the United States.

But when Erika was less than a year old, Etsuko, who Toland said had became increasingly unhappy, took Erika from their Navy housing and cut off all contact.

“I was at work one day and I got a phone call from my neighbors saying ‘Are you moving back to the States? … And I said what are you talking about,'” Toland said. “And they said ‘Well, there’s a moving van outside your house.’ When I got home my wife and my daughter and all our stuff was gone.”

Etsuko committed suicide four years later and her mother, Akiko Futagi immediately took guardianship of Erika. Toland, Erika’s sole surviving parent, has never been allowed to spend time with his daughter.

ABC News found Futagi and Erika in northern Tokyo. Futagi accused Toland of being a dead-beat feather who has never paid her for raising his daughter.

“He doesn’t pay anything to bring her up,” Futagi said. When asked if she would let Toland see Erika, her response was quick. “No,” she said.

Toland said he has tried to put money into a bank account for his daughter, but Futagi rejected his lawyer’s offer.

“The State Department has tried to visit with my daughter a number of times and have been rejected,” Toland said. “They even asked the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to try to visit with my daughter and they were rejected. And once again they came back and said, ‘Sorry, we tried there’s nothing we can do.'”

Scott Sawyer never dreamed his once happy family would be destroyed, and that his only child would be thousands of miles out of reach.

But after he filed for divorce from his ex-wife in 2008, she took off for her native Japan, brining their then-2-year-old son, Wayne, with her. He hasn’t seen his son since.

“My concern is for my son,” Sawyer said. “What kind of life is he having in Japan right now? What has he been told about why he can’t see his father?”

It was something he feared would happen. Before his wife left California with their son, he tried to convince a judge she was a flight risk. Court documents show his ex was ordered to turn over her passport.

“She had said repeatedly, ‘I want to go to Japan. I want to take the baby to Japan,'” he said. “I knew if that happened they wouldn’t come back.”

Sawyer’s ex, who spoke to ABC News under the condition that we not use her name or show her face, said she knows she is considered a kidnapper. It was something, she said, she felt she had to do. She did not think she could survive on her own in the United States.

“At the time, my choices was just two – kidnapper or die,” she said. “I can’t live in Los Angeles.”

She told ABC News she fears Sawyer will kidnap their son and bring him back to the United States.

“If he promise me that he doesn’t, he will not kidnap my son from Japan, he can see my son any time,” she said. “I would really, no problem. I will support my ex in Japan.”

abduction video

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Japan sees alarming rise in child abuse

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Orphanages, Video | Tags: , , , |

By Kyung Lah          February 15, 2011 — Updated 1004 GMT (1804 HKT)

She is a precocious little girl, in pigtails and rainbow rimmed glasses, all spark and determination. The 11- year-old attacks origami with the mission to build a flying bird.

Creating an object of beauty contrasts with the ugliness this child has suffered at the hands of her own parents.

The director of Nonohana-No-ie orphanage nods at us, signaling this girl is one of the of abused children who reside at this protective facility. Seventy percent of the children here, between the ages of 2 and 18, are victims of abuse and neglect so severe the police removed them from their parents’ custody.

In the case of this 11-year-old, her parents beat her so severely on a daily basis that they’re no longer allowed to see her or even know her whereabouts. To reveal her identity, we’re told, would endanger her life.

This girl is part of an exploding population in Japan: victims of child abuse.

Figures from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare show the cases of reported child abuse have quadrupled in 10 years and increased 40 fold in twenty years. In 1990, the ministry recorded 1,101 cases of abuse. In 1999, 11,631. In 2000, 17,725 cases. And in 2009, the numbers hit an all-time high of 44,211.

The causes behind the numbers are multifaceted. One reason is that abuse cases are being reported more accurately. In 2000, when the number of cases jumped, a national law went into effect mandating the reporting of child abuse and neglect cases.

But child advocates point to a number of other murky, societal factors, from Japan’s two-decade-long economic stagnation to the increasing numbers of divorces and lack of support and affordable child care for single mothers.

Misao Hanazaki, the director of Nonohana-No-ie, says regardless of the reasons for the jump in abuse cases, the result is Japan’s child welfare system is at the breaking point.

“We’re in trouble,” says Hanazaki. “Orphanages all across the country are full. There aren’t enough foster parents in Japan. We are truly in trouble.”

Hanazaki’s orphanage is home to 52 children. When one child leaves, another immediately follows. Japan’s culture is deeply rooted in the family and has historically not embraced adoption or foster care. Japan’s government says in cities like Tokyo, orphanages are at 100 percent capacity.

Yuki Okada, a child advocate, says part of the solution to Japan’s child abuse problem is educating families about abuse. Okada is an author and public speaker, who has written about how her mother abused her. Okada says she then abused her own son, continuing the cycle of child abuse.

“It’s going to get worse unless the public understands the pattern of child abuse and deals with abuse openly,” says Okada.

“The world’s image is that Japan is kind to its children,” says Hamazaki, pausing as she looks at the children around her. “But the image does not match reality.”

Click on the link to watch the video Child abuse video

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ABC World News Tonight American Children Kidnapped

Posted on February 15, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Video | Tags: , , |

ABC World News Tonight w/Diane Sawyer will be airing a 2 part segment about illegally abducted children by Japanese nationals tomorrow night Feb. 15th & Wednesday Feb 16th at 6:30 PM local time. It will also be featured on Nightline Wednesday evening at 11:30. Check your local listings to confirm the time in your area. Between 10 and 20 left behind parents will be featured. Please spread the word. Click on the link to watch the teaser.

ABC World News

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2009 video on DV in Japan

Posted on February 5, 2011. Filed under: Domestic Violence (DV), Video | Tags: |

According to the video 25,ooo women were beaten in 2009. This was an increase of 20% from the previous year. One in 3 women were physically assaulted. And one in 20 fear for their life.  Click on the link to watch the whole video.

Video on DV

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“Close Up Gendai” international divorce trouble rapidly growing (video)

Posted on February 3, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention, Video | Tags: , , , , |

If you understand Japanese please watch the 25 minute video about international child abduction and signing the Hague

Japanese video

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When will American abducted children be returned from Japan? (video)

Posted on February 3, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention, Video | Tags: , , , , |

Assistant Secretary Campbell briefs the foreign press at the DC Foreign Press Center on U.S. Foreign Policy Goals and Objectives in Southeast Asia for 2011, at the National Press Club Building. The big question of the day happened to be the last question. Global Future asked, with all of the speculation about signing the Hague Convention, do you (Mr. Campbell) have any idea when the abducted American children will be returned from Japan? (The question was asked at the 32:01 minute mark; move the slider at the bottom of the screen to the 32:01 minute mark to hear the question and Secretary Campbell’s response) Click on the link to watch the video : Campbell video

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Mothers Against Parental Alienation – video with Jill Egizii (Illinois alderman)

Posted on February 2, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Video | Tags: , , |

Jill Egizii is and alderman in Illinois. She has done great work with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. She hosts a show called “Life without limits”, showing that kids with disabilities can still lead productive lives. She is divorced and she has 4 kids and she has been alienated from all of them. She gives advice to those who are experiencing parental alienation. She has worked with Alec Baldwin to change family and divorce law in Illinois. She believes a child has the right to both parents. Please click the link and watch the video.

Jill Egizii video

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Japan must hurry to join Hague treaty

Posted on February 1, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Hague Convention, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

To read the story in Japanese click here

The Yomiuri Shimbun

International marriages are on the rise, and subsequently so are cases in which former spouses engage in international custody battles over their children.

To help address this situation, the government set up a senior vice-ministerial council involving related ministries and tasked with discussing the possibility of Japan joining an international convention. The discussions necessary for Japan to join the convention should be expedited.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction contains the principle that children from an international marriage who are removed from their country of residence by one of their divorced parents, without the other parent’s consent, must be returned to the country of residence.

Signatory nations are obligated to provide administrative cooperation in such efforts as discovering the whereabouts of such children and restoring them to their country of habitual residence.

Eighty-two countries, mostly in the West and Latin America, have signed the convention, while Japan has not.

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Friction over Japan’s status

This has led to trouble between Japan and signatory nations, with Japanese women returning to this country with their children and being sued over parental rights by their former husbands in their original country of residence. There are said to be nearly 100 such cases involving Japanese and U.S. parents.

Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara for Japan to join the convention soon. The French Senate adopted a resolution along the same lines earlier this week.

There is a strong view within the government that Japan should not deepen the diplomatic friction over the issue.

The convention itself is based on the idea that disputes related to parental rights should be resolved in accordance with the law of the original state of residence.

Therefore, the convention is not a framework under which only Japan suffers a disadvantage. By becoming a signatory, the government of this country can seek the return to Japan of children wrongfully removed to, or held in, another signatory nation.

The number of Japanese who marry foreigners has recently averaged around 40,000 a year, about quadrupled from 1983, when the Hague convention came into force. As if in line with the increase, the number of couples who eventually divorce and battle over parental rights also is rising.

The times require Japan to join the Hague convention, which has become established as the international standard.

===

Govt has work to do

For Japan to join the convention, the government has to choose a supervisory ministry and prepare relevant domestic laws. It also has to take measures to inform international couples of the contents of the Hague convention.

Domestic violence by former husbands is often cited as a reason why Japanese women take their children from their country of habitual residence to Japan. More than a few people are wary of Japan’s signing the convention, saying it will harm the interests of Japanese citizens if such mothers are obliged to return their children.

The convention stipulates that if there is a high possibility that return would expose a child to danger, the relevant authority of the state receiving the request is not obliged to order the return of the child.

We hope the government will do its utmost to dispel lingering apprehension by examining actual cases in which parents refuse to return children and look into what sort of measures other countries are taking with regard to domestic violence.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 28, 2011)

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Video’s of British fathers who can’t see their kids

Posted on January 31, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Two British father’s are fighting to see their kids. Alex and his kids live in Japan but his ex has prevented him from seeing them. Shane lives in Britain and his kids went to Japan with their mother to visit a sick relative. They never came back and Shane has no contact with his kids. Click on the links below to watch the BBC videos.

Alex Kahney

Shane Clarke

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Interview (video) with Doshisha University Law Professor

Posted on January 25, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law, Video | Tags: , , , , |

Colin Jones is a law professor at Doshisha University in Kyoto. He has studied Japanese Family Law, Japanese Courts, Child Custody, Divorce, and Parental Abduction for the last 6 years. He did an interview in the summer of 2009 about Japanese Family Courts and why they do what they do. The interview can be found on youtube. Colin is very knowledgeable and he compares Japanese Family Law and California Family Law at times. If you want to learn more about the Family Court System in Japan please watch the 50 minute interview. (It is a five part series each being 10 minutes).

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

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Every child has certain enalienable rights (video)

Posted on January 25, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Video | Tags: , , , |

Every child is suppose to have certain rights that are guaranteed. If you are divorced or separated from your child I think you can understand. Sometimes those rights are not guaranteed.

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Tokyo Left Behind Parents Demo on Jan. 16th

Posted on January 22, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention, Japanese Family Law, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , |

A group of left behind parents met in Tokyo on a cold winter day to protest and speak about child abduction and the need for Japan to change it’s outdated Family Law. Parents want more access to their children. Parents want joint custody like all of the other G-7 countries have. Children have the right to see and love both parents. Under Japanese law only one parent has custody after divorce and the other parent often loses custody and contact with the child. Left Behind Parents gave speeches and marched down the street in Shibuya. This was an excellent turnout for such a cold day. About 80 parents and concerned citizens showed up to raise awareness about child abduction. The children are the foundation of the future. Click on the link to view a 3 minute video of the demo.

Tokyo Left Behind Parents Demo

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Joint Custody/Parental Alienation Demo and Symposium

Posted on January 20, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law, Parental Alienation Syndrome, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

On Saturday July 31st, (“中部・共同親権法制化運動の会”)”Chubu Joint Custody Association for the legislation of joint nurture” sponsored a demo in Nagoya followed by a symposium related to Parental Abduction, Joint Custody, and Parental Alienation. Five fathers spoke at the symposium after the demo. Goto-sensei was the keynote speaker at the symposium. NHK and the Chunichi shimbun were at the symposium and plan to do stories on the issue.

Goto-sensei had several interesting points. She said, there are not many lawyers in Japan that are experienced and willing to fight the unjust Japanese Court system. Goto-sensei talked about a case that she worked on for 3 years. She represented the father and after a 3 year battle custody was awarded to him but transferring physical custody to the father was a problem. The court tried to assist with this two different times but each time it failed. After the second failure the court suggested that Goto and the father give up. Hence, as most of us know, the court has no real power.

Goto said things use to be different 30 years ago. Men often got custody but sometime in the 1990′s a feminist movement took place and women suddenly started gaining power especially in custody cases.

Goto also said, if you are a good person and follow the Japanese way your chances of being abused by the system are great. Goto suggested you fight in court that way judges and courts will know there is a problem. If you don’t try and fight you will never win. “Fight the system” was her biggest message of the day. But, in the same breath Goto-sensei said there are only 5 aggressive lawyers in Japan who are willing to fight the system. She said the other lawyers are weak or inexperienced and don’t want to cause trouble. So if you read between the lines, it is almost impossible to hire an aggressive lawyer who will fight for the best interests of the child.

If you have time watch the short video below.

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International Divorce and Japanese Family Law

Posted on January 20, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Hague Convention, Japanese Family Law, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Asahi Broadcasting Corporation in Osaka did a story about international divorce and the state of Family Law in Japan. They focused on 2 cases, Craig Morrey and Yuka Yamanaka. Craig’s ex moved to Yamaguchi-ken with their daughter and left Craig to care for his severely handicapped son all by himself. Craig rarely gets to meet his daughter. Craig, as most divorced parents, is extremely unhappy with the family court system. He is working with many people in Japan and America to change the Family Law System in Japan.

Yuka’s children live in America and her ex refuses to let the kids visit Japan because Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention. Her ex’s knows there is no legal or diplomatic way to return the children from Japan to America, unless Japan signs the Hague. Yuka is hoping the government of Japan will sign the Hague. She would also like to see changes in the Family Law System so both parents can have access to their children.

Click on the link to watch the 14 minute video: ABC video on divorce and Japanese Family Law_

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Father’s Day Protest in Tokyo (video)

Posted on January 20, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , |

About 50 left behind parents got together on Father’s Day in Tokyo to raise awareness about Japan’s growing Family Law Problems. Japan doesn’t have a joint custody system like most western countries, so when couples divorce one parent (usually the father) looses parental rights/visitation rights. Sometimes children are abducted by one parent to their home country. Some Japanese parents can’t see their child because he/she is in another country. Some foreign parents can’t see their kids because they have been abducted to Japan and the spouse is refusing all contact. Still other parents live in Japan both far and near from their kids but they can’t see them because the spouse or family court has denied access to one parent. All the parents in attendance believe it is best for children to have both parents and they want the government of Japan to take action so children have the love and attention of both parents.

Click on the link to watch the video:
TV coverage of protest

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Asahi Broadcasting Corp. on Joint Custody & the Hague

Posted on January 20, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Asahi Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) televised a short 14 minute piece on Joint Custody (Kyoudou Shinken) on June 8th. It was a short but good program aired in Osaka that focused on 2 women. One woman can only see her kids 4 times per year when the kids spend the day at her parents house. The other woman’s children are in America (Utah). Since Japan has not signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction the father will not let the children visit Japan. She would like Japan to sign the Hague so her kids can come to Japan and visit and learn about Japanese culture. ABC said they would do more stories related to this issue in the future. Hopefully, they will continue their series on “how to help children”. Please watch the two part video. Two lawyers and some other parents also voice their opinions in the video.

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Three part video on reforming Japanese Family Law

Posted on January 20, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law, Video | Tags: , , , , , , |

Three part video on reforming family law in Japan. Currently many parents are working to change the law so joint custody will be possible in Japan. You will learn about joint custody in America and how custody differs in Japan. You will learn about the common problems with the family law system in Japan too. Please click on the links to watch the videos (all videos are in English).

Part I

Part II

Part III

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