Japan and the rights of children: Kevin Brown from Children First

Posted on September 11, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Bullying, Japanese Family Law, Parental Alienation Syndrome, United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child | Tags: , , , , , , |

Kevin Brown – Special Contribution

Modern Tokyo Times

My name is Kevin Brown and I am the co-founder of Children First (http://www.childrenfirst.jp), an NPO that advocates for children in Japan. Children Firsts mission “is to ensure children’s welfare and rights are the top priority for parents, policymakers and the public-at-large.” Therefore, the role of Children First applies to many factors related to the rights of children in Japan and how to relate this knowledge to appropriate bodies in order to tackle and focus on areas which need changing in order to protect children.

Children First also understands the need to raise awareness and to connect with organizations, government bodies and the general public. Therefore, our next campaign is to interact with the general public and local government offices. In order to do this I am going to ride my bike from Kumamoto to Tokyo and throughout my journey I will be raising the issue of the rights of children.

My ride will begin on September 13th and end on October 17th. Therefore, I will visit many prefectural offices during my journey and give a short presentation about the rights of children. In the past I have already visited 8 prefectural offices and given presentations about serious issues related to children. This proved beneficial and often they were unaware about serious issues related to the rights of children. Therefore, it was a great chance to interact with people of importance and to develop ties between Children First and local government bodies.

During the meetings we talked about a DVD made by the Supreme Court of Japan in 2006. The message in the DVD is quite simple. To be happy, children need both parents after divorce when both parents care about bringing up their child or children in the right way. The Supreme Court made the video but the Family Courts don’t show the video because of factors only known to them but is doesn’t make sense to ignore the Supreme Court. More surprisingly the Family Courts hide the existence of the video, therefore, the majority of parents don’t know about the importance of this video and the ones that do, are often not allowed to see it.

Another important piece of information I give to prefectural offices relates to the United Nations Convention on the Right of a Child (UNCRC). This Convention was signed and ratified by Japan and it states that children have the right to maintain contact with both parents. If the parent and child are separated for some reason then the state (Japan) must help re-establish contact with the non-custodial parent. The Family Courts also ignore this Convention, which is equivalent to a law which was ratified by the Japanese government.

Alongside this important information I also give prefectural offices a book written by Colin Jones, a law professor in Kyoto, related to the Family Court system. This book is about the Family Court system in Japan and it highlights the inadequacies of this institution. For citizens who support the rights of the child/children and both parents, then they would agree that the rulings handed down by judges are detrimental to the well-being of children in Japan. The Family Courts are not acting in the best interests of children because they are not considering all the facts and the wishes of each individual involved in each case. Family Courts need to revise their outdated laws and implement laws which are clear and which focus on human rights.  This applies to the well-being of children and all involved parties in each respective case.

Children First also talks about Parental Alienation (PA) which is common in hostile divorces and this issue is very serious in Japan because of the inadequate legal system. This is when one parent says something bad to the child/children about the other parent in order break the bond that the other parent had and. It is clear that this manipulation is very damaging to all children who face this serious issue. According to child psychology experts there are different degrees of PA ranging from mild to severe. The main point being, PA is bad for children irrespective of the degree. Recently Brazil passed a law making PA a crime and it would be great if more countries did the same thing because this is a huge step in the right direction.

Another important area that Children First gives to prefectural offices is a “Did you know” hand out about statistics in Japan. “DID YOU KNOW: Every 3 minutes a child loses contact with one parent because of divorce…Every 7 minutes a child is a victim of school bullying…Every 12 minutes a case of child abuse is reported to protective services…Every week at least one child dies as the result of abuse.”

This is a great way to raise awareness quickly and not only is it interactive and easily understood but it is also designed to shake up a system which needs to make major changes, in order to protect children from abuse.

Every year around 160,000 children lose contact with one parent in Japan. However, to make matters worse Japan is not a good place for children who get caught up in divorce when one parent decides to control and alienate the child/children from the left behind parent. Government officials, bureaucrats, educators, and parents need to do more to make Japan a better place for all children and this is where Children First wants to help.

You can help Children First (Kevin Brown) raise awareness by following me on Facebook during my journey. Therefore, people can communicate with me through Facebook, share links with your friends and spread the word because together we can make a difference.

Children First cares for all children irrespective of race and gender because our goal is to bring more “light” to children who have been neglected and had their rights violated.

Please follow on http://www.facebook.com/oyako (Joint Custody in Japan) and Children First at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Children-First-Japan/115396388532379. Also, please visit Children First website at http://www.childrenfirst.jp/ for more information and how you can get involved and help in this important area.

Sincerely, Kevin Brown (Children First http://www.childrenfirst.jp/)

http://moderntokyotimes.com

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MOJ Eda talks about signing the Hague

Posted on February 3, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Divorce, Hague Convention, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Japan is looking at signing the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is aimed at promptly returning children illegally taken by a parent out of the country of their habitual residence.

The question has arisen over whether the Civil Code should also be changed to allow dual parental rights after divorce. Eda said the Justice Ministry “is now discussing the matter, but I personally feel that allowing dual parental rights doesn’t necessarily have to” be packaged with signing the convention.

Signatory countries, particularly the United States, France and Canada, are urging Japan to join the convention against international child abductions by parents.

Some people whose former spouses don’t let them see their children in Japan argue that signing the convention doesn’t guarantee their access to children unless dual parental rights are also allowed.

This problem doesn’t only concern foreigners. Japanese parents — fathers in most cases — also can’t see their kids if their ex-spouses say no.

In Japan, those with parental rights have discretion over how often their ex-spouses can see their offspring. Shared parental rights are currently not allowed by the Civil Code because of the cultural belief that a stable environment is considered the most important factor for children.

“I guess it comes from the idea that letting a single parent have parental rights is good because it is simple,” Eda said.

Parents who were victims of abusive relationships are urging the government to keep parental rights to one person and not sign the Hague Convention because, they say, the current legal system protects them from their former spouses.

The Justice Ministry manages the Civil Code, and thus would likely be the source of any bills revising it.

Turning to other developments in the ministry, Eda said officials are studying how other countries deal with making the investigation process by police and prosecutors more transparent.

To read the whole story (some of which deals with the death penalty) please click on the link below:

MOJ Eda sign Hague

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Mom and boyfriend arrested for punching, biting woman’s 3-year-old daughter

Posted on January 23, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , , |

A man and his girlfriend have been arrested here for allegedly inflicting serious injuries on the woman’s little daughter, including bite wounds on the girl’s arm, police said.

Hikaru Izumisawa, 27, a company employee, and his girlfriend Mana Ezomori, 26, stand accused of punching Ezomori’s 3-year-old daughter in the face and body and biting the girl’s left arm at their home in the Kanagawa Prefecture city of Yamato sometime between Oct. 16 and 17 last year, causing the toddler injuries that took three months to heal. The girl, who reportedly had a piece of flesh torn off her left arm, is believed to have been abused on a regular basis.

Police arrested Izumisawa and Ezomori on suspicion of assault. The couple has explained that their abusive behavior was as part of their “discipline” measures against the girl, according to investigators.

Izumisawa began living with Ezomori, her 8-year-old daughter and the abused toddler around January last year.

story in Japanese

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NGO report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Posted on January 20, 2011. Filed under: Bullying, Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law, United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Children of foreign Nationals do not enjoy their own languages and cultures. (page 19)

Adequate attention has not been paid to the best interests of the child in policy decision making. (page 21)

Measures against violence at schools are going against the convention rather than just being sufficient (page 27)

Separation of child from parents against the best interests of the child (page 28)

Family reunification in the best interests of the child (page 29)

Bullying continues to be a big problem (page 43)

Human Rights and Child Rights has gone rather backward (page 46)

Letters to the UN Committee from children who attend Free School (page 68)

Jan. 2010 CRIN report on Japan

General Research Institute of the Convention on the Right of the child

phone: 81332034355     email: npo_crc@nifty.com       2-6-1 Midorigaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-0034

Chief Secretary: Shigeto Aramaki (aramaki@ygu.ac.jp)

National Coordinator: Ayako Okochi (momomokoki@mtf.biglobe.ne.jp)

International Coordinator: Yuji Hirano (yujihirano@nifty.com)

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Supreme Court Video that No One Can See

Posted on January 12, 2011. Filed under: Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

supreme court cover

Two articles concerning a secret Supreme Court Video were posted in the April 20th, 2011 edition of the Japan Times. What kind of video does the Supreme    Court want to keep secret? Well, this video is about divorce and what parents must consider when they live apart. How are the children affected? Kevin’s article talks about how the courts fail, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, and the recent pressure from 8 nations asking Japan to sign the Hague. Link for Kevin’s article.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100420hn.html

Colin’s article is longer and covers several different things. First he talks about how separation is hard on the kids. Second, his extensive online research for the DVD turned up almost nothing. Third, he considered the DVD to be well made with a good message. Fourth, he talks a little about divorce statistics. And finally, he gives his opinion on why the DVD is not shown. Link for Colin’s article:
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100420zg.html

by Colin P.A. Jones (Lawyer at prominent University in Kyoto)

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