Japan Timesに私の記事が掲載されました。 多くの人に分かってもらいたいのは 「誰でも私のようになるリスクがある」

Posted on January 12, 2013. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce | Tags: , , , |

Japan Timesに私の記事が掲載されました。
多くの人に分かってもらいたいのは
「誰でも私のようになるリスクがある」
ということです。
日本人は「穢れ」の観念が強く、被害者を見ると距離をとり、そして「自分はあいつらとは違う」と思いこもうとします。
たしかに、目を背ければ、そのリスクを考えることなく穏やかな生活を送れます。
しかし、司法を正さない限り、そのリスクは決してなくなりません。
目を背け続け、ある日突然家に帰り子どもがいなくなってから、そのリスクに気づいても遅いのです。 
以下、Japan Timesの記事の訳です。
困難な子の親権問題における不正義の是正
司法の硬直的な考え方が改まらなければ、ハーグ条約批准によっても親による子どもの拉致(parental abduction)を止められないだろう
伊藤聖美記者
2010年5月6日、総務省の官僚である渡邉泰之氏が家に帰ったところ、妻と2歳の娘が服などとともに消え去っていた。
彼の妻はゴールデンウィーク直後に娘を連れ去った。彼がゴールデンウィーク中に娘をハイキングに連れて行ったり、地元のお祭りに連れていったりして楽しんだ数日後のことだった。
現在、栃木県那須塩原市の副市長である渡邉氏(40)は、その当時のことを思い出し、娘を背中にしょって娘が寝付いて寄り掛かるまで一緒に歌を歌っていた時のことなどを詳しく語った。
彼の人生は、その運命の日を境にして完全に変わってしまった。娘は先月で5歳になってしまった。
「子どもたちが両方の親の愛情を感じて育つことほど重要なことはありません。特に、子どもたちが成長していくときには。私の娘は私に捨てられたと感じていると思います。私が娘をもはや愛していないから姿を消したのだと。」と渡邉氏はJapan Timesに語った。
日本において、夫婦間の諍いののちに子どもとの関係を引き裂かれた親は数多くおり、渡邉氏はその一人に過ぎない。日本という国は単独親権制度を採用しており、親権は通常母親にわたすことにしている。そして、子どもと引き離された親に対して、子どもたちと、たとえ会えるにせよ、非常にわずかな頻度でしか会えなくする慣習を有している。
この日本の残酷な現実は、外国人にも広く知られている。その外国人の中には、日本人の配偶者により子どもを海外から日本に連れ去られ、引き離されている在外の者も含まれる。
これらのいわゆる親による子どもの拉致(abduction)の問題が、国境を跨いだ子どもの誘拐を防止するためのハーグ条約を日本が批准するよう求める要求が増大している背景にある。
「これらの二つの問題は、実際には非常に密接に関連しています。なぜならば国内の問題も国際の問題も状況は全く同じだからです。自分の子どもがある日突然誘拐され、会うことすら許されないという状況は全く変わりません。」と渡邉氏は言う。
娘の誘拐後に妻との長期間の裁判所で闘い続け、現在も離婚手続きを進める渡邉氏は、こう続ける
連れ去られた当初妻は彼を娘に数回会わせたが、その後、妻が彼を虚偽の配偶者暴力(DV)で訴えるという仕打ちをし突然会えなくなったと言う。
渡邉氏の妻は、妊娠中に渡邉氏が大きなハサミを突きつけて脅したり、彼女が駅のホームの傍にいる際には喜んで突き落してくれるヤクザの知り合いがいると語ったと主張して裁判に訴えた。しかし、その配偶者暴力の訴えは後に取り下げられた。
「『DV』の訴えにより裁判所への出頭命令書を受けとること程、おそろしい経験はありません。私は(それを受け取った際)完全に取り乱しました。しかし、裁判官は、妻の主張の大半には疑問があることを認め、妻には虚偽の申立ての罪が科される恐れがあると警告しました。そこで、妻は、判決が出される直前になり訴えを取り下げたのです」と渡邉氏は言った。
にもかかわらず、彼の妻は子どもの監護権を求める裁判を訴え、そして、再度、暴力の訴えを出してきたのである。
昨年の2月、千葉家裁の裁判官である若林辰繁氏は、渡邉氏の娘の監護権を「継続性の原則」を利用して妻とし、更には渡邉氏が配偶者暴力を犯したと認定した上で、娘を引き渡すよう求めていた彼の訴えを退けた。最高裁は9月にそれを追認する決定をした。
渡邉氏は、法廷での闘争を続けつつ、国会議員にこの問題に取り組むよう要請し、彼の事件は国会でも取り上げられた。
渡邉氏は、自らの立場から、当初は匿名で訴え続けることを望んでいた。しかし、彼の状況について多くの人たちの支援を得るため、彼は自らに起こったことを報道機関に伝える道を進むことにした。
「私は『DV夫』という烙印を押されてしまった。その裁判官は、私の件について完全に事実と法を無視したのです。私は立ち上がり(裁判官と)闘う以外に残された選択肢はなかったのです。」と渡邉氏は語った。
渡邉氏は、裁判官である若林氏を罷免させるため、国会議員からなる裁判官訴追委員会に助けを求めた。
日本に居るいわゆる「置き去りにされた親」たちの数多くがこの若林氏に対し激しい憤りを募らせているが、特に2011年に「『継続性の原則』よりも子どもの利益を優先すべき」と国会で答弁した江田五月法務大臣(当時)を非難したことは激怒させた。
「同様の状況におかれた人たちは非常に多くいます。私は、その人たちのためにも諦めることはできないのです。これは、私と娘だけの問題ではありません。全ての子どもたちとその親のための闘いなのです。」と渡邉氏は言う。
家裁による調査によると、子どもを連れ去った親から子どもを引き渡すよう求める親による裁判は2001年には409件であったが、2011年には、子どもを戻すよう求める親の数は1985件にまで跳ね上がった。しかし、その数は、家裁が公式に受けた「置き去りにされた親」により法的に訴えられた事件しか反映していない。専門家は、それは氷山の一角でしかないと推測する。
早稲田大学の家族法の教授である棚村氏は、日本における単独親権制度や通常母親に監護権を渡す現在の司法の仕組みなど、様々な要因が親による子どもの拉致が増加している背景にあるという。
「時代は変わっているのです。父親も子育てに一層関わるようになり、単独親権制度を含む法的な仕組みが子どもを巡る争いをより起きやすくさせています。日本の司法の仕組みのこの部分については時代遅れになっていると考えます。」と棚村教授は言う。
日本の司法体系を独特なものにする(他国との)もっとも大きな違いは、日本において最初に子どもを連れ去った親の行為は犯罪とみなされないという点である。そのため、離婚のおそれが生じると、片方の親(通常は母親)が子どもをその親の実家に連れ去ることが当たり前となってしまうのである。
しかし、もし置き去りにされた親が、その後、家から消え去ってしまった子どもを取り返そうとすると、その行為は誘拐とみなされるのである。
棚村氏は、子どもから引き離された親が子どもを取り返そうとして誘拐犯とされる事件では、取り返そうとした親が自分の行為が誘拐にあたると気づいていない場合が数多くあると主張する。彼らからすれば、単に離婚の争いの一環と考えていたか、または、子どもを虐待環境から助け出そうとしただけなのだと。
「親による誘拐をすべて違法とするのは困難ですが、同時に、ダブルスタンダードになっている事件も数多くあるのです。最初に母親が子どもを連れ去るのは問題なくて、父親が子どもを取り返そうとしたら違法とされます。これは、長い間、子どもは母親の所有物と考えられてきた考え方が根底にあります」と棚村氏は言う。
別居後に子どもが両方の親に会う機会を奪われることを防ぐため、民法の766条が2011年に改正され、裁判に持ち込まれていない離婚手続きの中で面会交流や養育費その他について決定するよう明記された。そして、その際には子どもの利益を最優先に考慮するようにも規定された。
しかし、このような改正は渡邉氏のような人たちを救うことができなかった。渡邉氏の事件は当該改正後に判決が出たのだ。「この改正は子どもの養育について離婚する際に合意することを目的とするものです。しかし、この合意は全く強制力をもつものではありません。」と棚村氏は言う。
棚村氏や他の専門家は、日本が「国際的な子の奪取の民事面に関するハーグ条約」に署名すれば、日本の司法の仕組みは根本的に変わることになり、そして、多くの人々の考え方も根本から改められるに違いない、さもなければ、この条約への加盟は失敗に終わる、との意見で一致する。
最近設立された日本人と外国人の置き去りにされた親やその支援者等から構成される団体である「絆・親子再統合」の代表であるジョン・ゴメス氏は、子どもは両方の親に会う権利があると主張する。また、日本国内の監護権についての今の一方的な仕組みを残したままハーグ条約に加盟しても何も解決しないのだから、置き去りにされた親たちは協力しあうことが必要だと強調する。
「国際的なケースも国内のケースも根っこは同じ原因を抱えています。それは日本の家族法であり、日本の裁判所です。」とゴメス氏は言う。
「この拉致問題は、日本にいる全ての人に影響を与えます。母親であろうと父親であろうと。そして、日本人であろうと外国人であろうと。」
ハーグ条約は、国際間の親による誘拐を防ぐため、片方の親が「常居住地」である国から違法に連れ去られた子どもを迅速に返還させることを目的としている。G8の中で、この条約に署名していないのは唯一日本だけである。
日本は、米国、英国、カナダなどを含む加盟国からこの条約に加盟するよう圧力を受け続けてきた。しかし、強い国内の反対勢力、特に、配偶者暴力から身を守るために子どもを連れて日本に戻ったと主張する日本人の母親たち(の圧力)により、日本政府は全くやる気を見せなかった。
しかし、国際社会からの激しい批判を受け、日本は、ついに条約への署名の宣言とハーグ条約関連法案を、野田総理の民主党が多数を占める前国会に提出した。しかし、政治家たちは、国内問題に関連する国内の権力闘争に明け暮れて多くの時間を費やし、ハーグ条約を再び隅に押しやったのである。
そして、この問題は自民党による新政府下において解決の方向に話が進むか不透明な状態にある。
政府の官僚は一度審議が始まればハーグ条約関連法は可決されるだろうと自信をのぞかせる。しかし、日本人の妻と別居し娘と会うこともままならないまま日本に長期間滞在するゴメス氏のような親たちは、ハーグ条約加盟は正しい方向に向かう単なる一里塚に過ぎず、問題解決の決定打にはならないと言う。
ゴメス氏は、法的に親による誘拐は止めさせなければならず、面会交流権は強制力を有するものとし、そして、共同親権制度が導入されるべきと説明する。しかし、新しいルールが遵守されることを確実にするためには、これらの変化による利益を多くの人々が理解しなければならず、多くの人々が制度改正と同時に気付くことも必須であるとも加えて主張した。
「ハーグ条約は単なる一つの道具です。我々の究極の目標は、日本の社会的・法的な変革です。人々の考え方や行動の完全な変革です。」とゴメス氏は言い、続けて「日本人も外国人も同様であり、社会的・法的な変化は日本社会と子どもたちにとって良いことであり、生活の質の向上につながるものと我々は固く信じています。」と語った。

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Child custody injustices hard to fix Joining Hague may curb parental abductions if legal mindset evolves

Posted on January 11, 2013. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Hague Convention | Tags: , , |

にほんごで
Friday, Jan. 4, 2013
By MASAMI ITO

On May 6, 2010, Yasuyuki Watanabe, an internal affairs ministry bureaucrat, came home to find his wife and 2-year old daughter gone, along with their clothes.

Playing catchup: Yasuyuki Watanabe, deputy mayor of Nasushiobara, Tochigi Prefecture, speaks during an interview at a Tokyo hotel on Dec. 11. SATOKO KAWASAKI
His wife had spirited away their daughter near the end of Golden Week, just days after he was enjoying the holidays taking her on hikes and to local festivals, recalled Watanabe, 40, now deputy mayor of Nasushiobara, Tochigi Prefecture. He recounted how he carried his daughter on his back and how they sang songs together until she fell asleep, snuggling against him.
His world was turned upside down that fateful day. Last month she turned 5.
“It is so important for children to feel loved by both parents, especially when they are growing up, and I think that my daughter feels abandoned by me, that I left her because I didn’t love her anymore,” Watanabe told The Japan Times during a recent interview in Tokyo. “The most painful thing about my situation is when I think about how my daughter must be feeling.”
Watanabe is one of many parents in Japan who have been torn away from their children after a falling-out with their spouse in a nation that grants only sole custody, usually to the mother, and where it is customary for parents not living with their offspring, to have little, if any, contact with them.
This has also been a widely reported harsh reality for foreign parents, including those living overseas whose children have been taken to Japan by estranged Japanese spouses.
These so-called parental child abductions are behind growing calls for Japan to join the international Hague treaty to prevent such cross-border kidnappings.
“These two problems are actually closely related because the domestic and international situation is the same — your children are abducted one day out of the blue and you are forbidden from seeing them,” Watanabe said.
For Watanabe, what followed was a long legal battle with his wife, and divorce proceedings, which continue.
Initially his wife let him see their daughter a few times, but that stopped abruptly when he was slapped with domestic violence charges — which he branded a lie.
His wife alleged he had threatened her with a large pair of scissors while she was pregnant and told her he knew yakuza who would be willing to help him out with the situation by pushing her off a station platform in front of a train. The violence charges were later dropped.
“There is nothing more terrifying than receiving an order to appear before the court over ‘DV’ allegations. I was completely distraught. The judge, however, recognized that much of her claims were questionable and warned she could be charged with false accusations, so she dropped the charges the day before the ruling was to be made,” Watanabe said.
But his wife then filed a lawsuit, demanding custody of their child and, again, adding allegations of abuse.
Last February, presiding Judge Tatsushige Wakabayashi at the Chiba Family Court granted Watanabe’s ex-wife custody of their daughter from the viewpoint of “continuity,” ruled that Watanabe had committed domestic violence and rejected his demand that his daughter be returned. The Supreme Court finalized the ruling in September.
While his legal battles dragged on, Watanabe asked lawmakers to address the issue and his case was deliberated on in the Diet.
Given his public profile, Watanabe originally wished to remain anonymous. But to garner public support for his situation, he recently came forward to tell his story to the press.
“I’ve been labeled a DV husband, and the judge completely ignored the facts and the law in my case. I had no choice but to stand up and fight,” he said.
Watanabe has solicited the help of a special group of lawmakers who are trying to get Judge Wakabayashi fired from the bench. Among the so-called left-behind parents in Japan, Wakabayashi has spurred widespread ire, especially when in 2011, he criticized then-Justice Minister Satsuki Eda for telling the Diet that priority should be placed on the welfare of the child rather than the “principle of continuity.”
“There are many people in similar situations. I cannot give up for their sake. It is not just about me and my daughter. This is a battle for all children and their parents,” Watanabe said.
According to data compiled by family courts, there were 409 parents seeking the return of their offspring from an estranged spouse in 2001, whereas by 2011, there were 1,985 parents seeking to get their kids back. The numbers, however, reflect only the legal cases filed by left-behind parents that were officially accepted by the nation’s family courts. Experts speculate they constitute only the tip of the iceberg.
Masayuki Tanamura, a professor of family law at Waseda University, said various factors are behind the increase in parental child abductions, including Japan’s sole custody principle and the current legal framework that generally grants that right to mothers.
“Times have changed — fathers are more involved in child-rearing, and the legal system — including the principle of sole custody — makes battles over children more likely to happen. I think this part of Japan’s legal system is outdated,” Tanamura said.
One major difference that makes Japan’s legal system peculiar is that when an estranged spouse initially takes a child, it isn’t considered a crime. This is because it is common for an estranged parent, generally the mother, to take the children to her parents’ domicile if a divorce is being contemplated.
But if the left-behind parent then subsequently tries to retrieve the offspring spirited away from their home, the action is considered kidnapping. Tanamura claimed there are many cases in which parents who spirit offspring away are unaware such action could be construed as abduction. From their point of view, they are merely considering a divorce or fleeing an abusive environment.
“It is hard to label all parental kidnappings as illegal . . . but at the same time, there are many cases that could constitute a double standard. It’s OK for mothers to first take the children away, but when the fathers try to get them back, this is illegal,” Tanamura said. “This is based on the longtime concept that children belong with their mothers.”
To prevent children from losing access to both parents after a separation, Article 766 of the Civil Law was revised in 2011 to specify that visitation rights, child-support payments and other matters be determined during nonlitigated divorce proceedings, and that the welfare of the child be considered first.
But even this change can’t help people like Watanabe because his case was ruled on after the amendment. “The aim of the revision is to promote forming agreements (over child care) when getting a divorce. But there is nothing that guarantees compliance,” Tanamura said.
Tanamura and other experts thus agree that if and when Japan signs the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, it must at the same time institute fundamental changes in the legal system, and the public mindset must also be overhauled, or joining the convention will lead to naught.
John Gomez, chairman of the recently founded Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion, a group of Japanese and non-Japanese parents, friends and supporters advocating the right of children to have access to both parents, emphasized the need for left-behinds to cooperate because simply joining the Hague Convention will not solve anything in Japan if it continues to take a one-sided approach to domestic custodial rights.
“The problem of international cases and in-country cases has the same root cause — Japanese family law and the courts,” Gomez said.
“The abduction issue affects all people in Japan — mothers as well as fathers, Japanese as well as non-Japanese.”
The Hague treaty aims for the swift return of children wrongfully taken out of the country of their “habitual residence” by a parent to prevent cross-border parental kidnappings. Of the Group of Eight countries, Japan is the only nation yet to sign the convention.
Japan has been under pressure from member states, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, to join the convention, but it has been reluctant, given strong domestic opposition, especially from Japanese mothers who claim they fled to Japan with their children to protect themselves from abusive ex-spouses.
Facing severe criticism from the international community, however, Japan finally reached the point of submitting a bid to sign the treaty and Hague-related legislation to the Diet during the last session presided over by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan. But the politicians instead spent most of their time bickering over internal power struggles related to other domestic issues, pushing the Hague Convention to the sidelines once again.
And it remains unclear whether the issue will move forward under the new government led by the Liberal Democratic Party.
Government officials have expressed confidence that once deliberations begin, the Hague bid will be approved by the Diet. But parents, including Gomez, a longtime Japan resident who himself is separated from his Japanese wife and is having difficulty seeing his daughter, say joining the Hague treaty is only a step in the right direction, not a silver bullet.
Gomez explained that on the legal front, parental kidnappings must be stopped, visitation rights made enforceable and the idea of joint custody introduced. But he added that public awareness must also be raised at the same time so the public understands the benefits of the changes to ensure the rules are followed.
“The Hague is only one tool. The ultimate goal for us is a social and legal transformation of Japan . . . a complete transformation in terms of mindset and practice,” Gomez said. “We firmly believe, Japanese and non-Japanese alike, that the social and legal transformation is for the betterment of Japanese society and children and improvement in the quality of life.”

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An Abduction Story

Posted on February 9, 2012. Filed under: Child Abduction | Tags: , , , , |

AMERICAN VIEW – WINTER 2012
An Abduction Story

By Leila Elmergawi

I was about four years old when one day my father dressed me up in nice clothes and took me to my grandparents’ house. At my grandparents’ house, there was a beautiful woman who I didn’t know and when my brother saw her he ran to her and hugged her. My father told me that this woman was “my mother!”

Leila Elmergawi

My mother talked to me in words I did not understand, as I couldn’t speak English. She tried to hug me but I got scared, started crying, and ran away. My father tried to bring me back to the room and told me it was okay. He told me that I had to be polite and come back to spend some time with my mother, who had come all the way from the United States to see me (I was in Egypt then). Finally I went to spend time with her. Since I couldn’t understand what she was saying to me, the toys that she gave me were the only thing that made me smile. This was the last time I saw my mother for a long time.

Right after this, I started paying attention to conversations between my father and his family about “abduction,” “the kids’ mother,” “leaving the country,” “lawyers,” and “U.S. embassy officers.” I had no idea what all that meant. My father told me that he had abducted me from the United States, where my mother is from, and that he would not allow my mother to see me again because she was trying to take me away from him. We lived in a state of fear for a few months until one day we left the country.

We lived in three different countries, traveling from one place to another hiding from my mother and the American authorities. In the very beginning, I had feelings of anger and resentment towards “my mother” because I had to go through all this. I loved my father very much and didn’t want to be taken away from him. Later on, as I grew months and years older, these feelings of anger and resentment were mixed with feelings of abandonment and sadness. I wished I could see my mother. I was jealous of all my friends who lived with their mothers and I wished I knew mine. The only thing I knew about my mother then was her first name and a fading memory of the day I saw her, and I dared not ask about anything else.

I never knew what it was like to have a mother. Anytime I read children’s books, instead of wondering like other children what fairies looked like, I wondered how the characters in the books felt about having mothers. I always thought that having a mother must be the most wonderful thing in the world. At the same time, songs about mothers and Mother’s Day were my worst enemies. I refused to think that my father, whom I deeply loved, and still do, and who I knew loved me very much, would do anything to hurt me. I always thought that there must be a very good reason why he had abducted me from my mother. However, I always felt sad and incomplete, and I blamed it all on my mother.

Leila with her mother

I lived with these mixed feelings towards my mother until I was 13 years old, when I found out that my mother was able to get in touch with my brother and that he had been talking to her. I became very angry with him. I felt angry because I felt that he had betrayed my father and wasted all the years we had lived hiding in “exile,” which is how we felt at the time. I went to my brother’s room one day. He was talking to my mother on the phone and he said she wanted to talk to me. I reluctantly held the phone and heard her voice for first time. She said that she had been looking for me for years and that she was happy to finally know where I was. I could speak some English then and I understood what she said, but all I could do was cry and I could never say a word back.

I was torn for days and months after that. I wished it wasn’t up to me to make the decision whether to talk to my mother or not. I also felt I was betraying my father. If my father had known what was going on then and had asked me if I wanted to meet my mother, I would have said “no” to avoid hurting his feelings. It took a long time before I could even consider accepting my mother into my life and I felt that I couldn’t see her. She was just a stranger to me after all. Because of her patience and persistence, however, I finally agreed to see her. She came to Egypt and I sneaked out of my father’s house to see her for the first time in many years.

However, this story is not about me. I am a 26-year-old adult now. I have been in contact with my mother ever since I saw her in Egypt 12 years ago and I spent every summer with her when I was in college. Despite all the emotional distress I lived through as a child after I was taken away from my mother, and all the agony and suffering that I endured in silence, I am lucky! I now know my mother and she is a big part of my life as I always wished her to be. Nothing will bring back the years I lived without her in my life, but I don’t know what kind of person I would have been today without my mother.

This story, however, is about the hundreds of children in Japan who wake up every morning with the same feelings of agony that I felt growing up, deprived of having one of their parents in their lives. I was shocked to learn about this fact when I was in Japan doing an internship at the American Embassy in Tokyo last year. I also learned that Japan has actively engaged in talks to study the consequences of signing the Hague convention to prevent further cases of international parental child abduction to and from Japan.

However, it shattered my heart to learn that the hundreds of children who have been abducted to Japan in the past may not be returned to their homes or ever see their other parent again until they are adults. They will have to grow up with the agony I felt, suffering everyday and unable to do anything about it. My mom had been looking for me for years and we were both lucky she finally found me. Some of the left-behind parents that I met in Japan are close to losing hope of ever finding their abducted children. I wish I didn’t have to sneak out of my father’s house to see my mother when I was a teenager. I hope the system in Japan will have more options for these many children who were abducted to reunite with their parents and end their suffering without having to sneak out of their homes.

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Mexican man convicted of abducting daughter from separated wife in Niigata

Posted on July 6, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , , |

Jul. 06, 2011 – NIIGATA —

A Mexican man was found guilty and given a suspended jail term Tuesday for forcibly taking his daughter from his separated Japanese wife last November by breaking into her home in Niigata on the Sea of Japan and injuring her mother who tried to prevent him.

The Niigata District Court sentenced Nathanael Teutle Retamoza, 33, to two years in prison, suspended for four years, for his behavior aimed at taking the 1-year-old girl to the United States, at a time when the Japanese government is preparing for legislation to help settle international child custody disputes.

The ruling said it was ‘‘selfish’’ for Retamoza to act on his urge to see his daughter, from whom he had been separated for two months, without heeding the sentiment of his former wife and her relatives.

It also noted that he prepared for the abduction well in advance as he booked U.S.-bound air tickets for himself and his daughter beforehand.

However, the court said the prison sentence is suspended as the man regretted inflicting on his former mother-in-law injuries that required two weeks of treatment and received punishments in the forms of nearly eight months of detention and abandonment of his daughter’s custody.

According to Retamoza’s lawyer, the couple divorced after the incident and the mother was awarded sole custody of the daughter. Also after the incident, the court served a restraining order on him following the wife’s claim of abuse.

In a similar case, an American man was arrested in September 2009 in Fukuoka Prefecture on suspicion of abducting his son and daughter in a bid to reclaim them, as his ex-wife had taken them from the United States to Japan.

But prosecutors did not file criminal charges against Christopher Savoie.

To deal with cross-border parental abduction cases, Japan decided in May to join the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which sets procedures for settling international child custody disputes.

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Japan court allows family reunion in U.S. after int’l divorce

Posted on May 28, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce | Tags: , , , , , |

Saturday 28th May, 06:00 AM JST      KOBE —

A Japanese court has ruled that a Nicaraguan man in the United States can meet with his separated child from Japan for temporary family reunions, a rare decision in an international divorce dispute, attorneys involved in the matter said Friday.

The Itami branch of the Kobe Family Court handed down the judgment March 14, which both the father and mother appealed to the Osaka High Court.

The family court judged that the man’s former Japanese wife, who took their child to Japan after the divorce, must allow the father to meet the 8-year-old child for about 30 days in the United States each year through August 2017.

The court also ordered the woman to have the father and child meet in Japan for about two weeks every year during the period and stay in touch by web camera and telephone.

‘‘It will make the child happier when becoming familiar with the language and culture of the father’’ said Judge Nobuyoshi Asami in the judgment.

But the court rejected the claim by the father to take back the child from his former wife and transferred custody of the child to her, saying the child has become accustomed to life in Japan.

Details about the family such as names, ages and sex of the child were not disclosed.

The woman’s attorney said, ‘‘I appreciate that the court approved the transfer of custody but I’m worried that the high frequency of required meetings and telephone calls could be a burden to the child.’’

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