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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Four recent videos, Hague & kids can’t meet one parent

Posted on February 26, 2012. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , |

More stories and more news programs are popping up these days.  Japan is moving toward signing the Hague. Unfortunately, they have already built in loopholes so that no children will have to be returned from Japan to their habitual residence.  Parents within Japan are also working hard to get legislation passed that will allow children to meet with both parents.  The media has been covering more stories related to these issues. While these stories are often a bit slanted they are never the less making it into the news. More people are slowly becoming aware of the problems surrounding the family courts and their ineffectiveness to deal with custody issues. Below are 4 links, 2 focus on the Hague and the other 2 are related to kids not being able to see both parents.

TBSFeb/2012

hague FNN Feb/2012

kodomo ni aenai

NHK LBP Jan/2012

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Summary of the Prefectural Offices I visited

Posted on December 26, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , |

From September to December I visited 41 prefectural offices. In general all most all prefectures did their best to accommodate my needs. Since my Japanese ability is not very good, I would first go to the International Affairs Division and ask for translation help. Then someone from International Affairs would accompany me to the Child Welfare Department or in some cases Child Welfare would come to the International Affairs Division. Ibaraki-ken was the most friendly prefectural office I visited. The people in the International Affairs Department and the Child Welfare Department were both great. Mie-ken was the most unfriendly prefectural office. They turned me away and told me to make an appointment if I decided to come back. They were the only prefecture that turned me away. Other unfriendly prefectures included Saitama, Oita, and Fukuoka. Some of the better prefectures were Iwate, Yamanashi, and Ibaraki, with the remaining prefectures falling in the middle. Sometimes I met with as many as 4 members from Child Welfare. Many times the people I met with would take notes as I spoke. All most every prefecture said they would share the information I gave them with others in their department. They all said they would have a meeting to discuss what they could do for me (for children who can’t meet one of their parents). But they said it was difficult for them to do anything significant. Of course I said they were limited in what they could do but I also suggested some simple things they could do, such as ask the governor to send a request to the Diet in Tokyo requesting Japan adopt “Joint Custody”. Japan is the only G-7 country that does not have some form of joint custody. I met some good people along the way. Left behind parents supported me in Fukuoka, Yamaguchi, Hiroshima, Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto, Gifu, Shiga, Aichi, Yokohama, Tokyo, and Nagano. I am grateful of their help and generosity. I was definitely able to raise awareness at the prefectural level but the general public still is largely unaware of this problem. More work needs to be done. I told all of the prefectural offices that the family court was the problem. The ruling the family courts make go against the message contained in the DVD Supreme Court video and the UNCRC. The family courts do nothing to ensure children have contact with both parents. The government encourages fathers to take a more active role in child rearing and has established policies for workers to take more time off when their kids are born. But the family courts/government seem to ignore this fact when couples divorce. After divorce one parent somehow becomes unimportant. Ten’s of thousands of loving parents, maybe more, are being denied access to one parent. You can make a difference by getting involved. Oyakonet and K-net are 2 of the biggest LBP groups in Japan. There are many other smaller groups too, most of whom support each other and work toward the same goal “spending more time with their children”. Contact Children First if you are interested in helping out.

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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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American cycles across Japan to raise awareness on child rights

Posted on October 19, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Hague Convention, United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Kevinbrown photo

TOKYO, Oct. 15 — (Kyodo) _ (EDS: ONE PHOTO AVAILABLE)

An American who has been separated from his 6-year-old son due to his divorce from his Japanese wife completed a month-long 1,500-kilometer bike ride from Kyushu to Tokyo this week to raise awareness on the issue of child custody. Along the way, he stopped at local government offices to lobby for children’s rights to have access to both parents.

Kevin Brown, a 45-year-old English teacher and the founding director of civic group “Children First” in central Japan’s Aichi Prefecture, said that during his visits to more than 10 prefectural and municipal government offices he explained that children’s steady access to both parents should be guaranteed in line with the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Brown, a native of Illinois, was parted from his son four years ago when his wife moved from Nagoya to southwestern Japan’s Kumamoto Prefecture. Every six weeks he travels by overnight bus to the prefecture in the Kyushu region to see the boy for five hours — the maximum amount of time agreed upon during the divorce settlement.

“When I started research, I was really disappointed in what I found — the sole custody system. Usually, the winner is the person who abducts the kids first,” Brown said in an interview with Kyodo News. “I want a kind of unlimited access to my son. Once every six weeks is not enough.”

The father said he learned of the Japanese child-custody system in the middle of the divorce proceedings, which were finalized in September. “I would like the kind of American system where, you know, every other weekend, overnight visits, birthdays, holidays you get to see the kids,” he said.

The English teacher said that since his son was only 2 when they were parted, the boy only speaks Japanese and has difficulty communicating with his father, who does not speak much Japanese.

Family courts in Japan tend to give mothers sole custody after divorce and it is not unusual for children to stop seeing their fathers after their parents break up. Brown pointed out that the average visitation awarded by the courts to parents without custody is four hours a month.

Brown said he underlined during his meetings with local government officials that Japan, which ratified the U.N. convention in 1994, has not implemented policies to secure children’s access to both parents and that the country is the only Group of Seven member to adopt the sole custody system upon divorce.

Article 9 of the U.N. pact says state parties “shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests.”

The other G-7 countries are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United States.

The campaigner said some local government officials in charge of child welfare were not well aware of the issue related to visitations as they focused on protecting children from abuse and were “not too familiar with good parents not being able to see their kids.”

Although some workers told Brown that what local governments can do is limited as the matter should be handled by the central government, he said the awareness-raising tour was meaningful as “the first step in making change.”

Japan recently launched preparations for joining the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which establishes procedures for settling international child custody disputes.

However, Brown’s case will not be covered by the pact because it is not retroactive, only applying to cases that occur after its entry into force in Japan, and also because it deals with cross-border parental child abductions.

In late September, U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed Tokyo’s decision to enter into the Hague Convention but asked Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda during their summit talks in New York that the Japanese government also “focus on the preexisting cases,” according to the U.S. State Department.

Noda said he was aware of the 123 active cases involving children who have been abducted from the United States to Japan, and vowed to “take special care to focus on these particular issues,” the state department said.

(c) 2011 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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Kumamoto to Tokyo

Posted on September 12, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation | Tags: |

I will start cycling tomorrow to raise awareness about child rights. Please follow my progress on my blog or Facebook. Craig and I are on our way to kumamoto now. I will try to make short daily updates about my trip.

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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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Japan Times に掲載された記事「Japan’s ‘silent tsunami’ severs parental ties, wrecks children’s lives」のケビン・ブラウンさんによる文章の日本語訳です。

Posted on September 4, 2011. Filed under: Divorce, Japanese Family Law, Parental Alienation Syndrome, United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child | Tags: , , , , , |

Japan Times 2011年8月30日(火)
永田町へのホットライン

次期首相へ

私は、子供の問題に焦点を当てたNPO「Children First」(childrenfirst.jp)の、共同設立者です。
3分毎に新たな子どもが親の離婚によって両親の片方から断絶されています。 7分 毎に新たな子どもが学校いじめの犠牲者になっています。 12分毎に児童虐待に関する新たなケースが保護施設に報告されています。 毎週、少なくとも1 人の子供がこうした児童虐待の結果として死んでいます。

「Children First」は、これらの問題と子供に影響のあることについての他の問題を克服するために活動しています。 しかし、私たちだけでは実現できません。日本が子供にとってより良い場所になるためには、国会議員や政策立案者の助けが必要です。

ほとんどの人々がいじめと虐待の存在に気付いています。これらの2つの問題はしば しば新聞に掲載されます。 しかし、私や多く の他の親達が更に憂慮すべきだと考える問題は、3分毎に子どもの離婚後の片方の親との連絡が絶えてしまうということです。

3月11日に1万6000人以上が死にました。その他に5,000が行方不明になっています。数百ないし何千人もの子供が当日、少なくとも片方の親を失いました。
3月11日以 来、それとは別に更に8万2000人以上の子供が両親の離婚のために片方の親からの連絡を失っています。

これは、日本中に癌のように広まっている静かな悲劇です。 それによって、子ども達は彼らの最大限の可能性を広げることができません。それは家 族と家族重視の価値観を滅ぼしています。それは子どもを、将来についての混乱の最中に放り出したままにし、そして普通の生活を送れる可能性を小さくします。 何組かの親子は想像を絶する深 い悲しみの中に取り残されます。これは多く の人々が知らない静かな津波です。 家裁と日本の法システムが、この悲劇が続くことを許しているのです。

2006年に最高裁判所は、「子どもを持つどんなカップルも、離れて暮らす場合について考えなければならない」というタイトルのDVDを作りました。驚いたことに、家裁はこのビデオを両親に見せません。かなり正反対であることに、彼らはこのDVDの存在を隠します。そして家裁裁判官は、子供が幸福になるためには両方の両親が必要であるとするDVDのメッセージに直接的に反対の判決を下します。家裁弁護士の中にはこのビデオが存在することに気づかない人も います。

今、平均的なケースでは、親はその子どもと共に月に4時間の交流が出来ます。これは子どもの人生に関わったり、その人生に変化を与えることがほとんどできないほど、少ない時間です。親の中には、子どもの保護監督権のない親と子どもとが一度は持っていた親子関係を破壊するために、「親の疎外」を行う人もいます。

国連児童憲章(UNCRC)によると、子どもは両方の両親との関係を持つ権利を与えられます。もし何らかの理由で親子が離れて暮らす場合には、州(state:日本)は離れて暮らす親子の交流を回復しなければなりません。もちろん、これは決して行われません。
そういうわけで、家裁は二度のミスを犯しています。最高裁判所DVDのアドバイスに従いませんし、彼らはUNCRCを無視 します。(UNCRCは法律相当です)。

私は、日本中の裁判官の判決を見直して、悪い判決をする裁判官を取り除く時期であると思います。私は、裁判官は時々ケース・ファイル(裁判資料?)を見てさえいなく、また裁判の準備ができていないと、弁護士に言われました。悪い裁判官はその椅子から退ける必要があります。

首相、私は、悪い裁判官を免職し、子どもには両方の両親との長くて有意義な関係があるのだという法案を可決するために、必要な措置を取るようお願いしています。加えて私は、子どもを虐待といじめから守るためにより役立つ法案を可決して、虐待といじめを報告するためのより良い政策を実施して欲しいと思います。教師と官僚は、虐待といじめを防止するキーです。効果をあげるために必要な手段を彼らに与えることを願っています。

現在、私は裁判を抱えていますが、その内容はすぐに変わるべきです。9月13日に、裁判官は離婚と親権に関する判決を出すでしょう。前例の通りであるならば、私は100%負けるでしょう。私は、私の所轄裁判所のある熊本から東京の最高裁判所まで、自転車に乗って行くことを計画しています。私は家族法を変えることを要求するつもりです。私は道中、県庁に寄って知事達からの支持を集めるつもりです。私はそのために8週間の休暇を取りました。「Children First」の日本のフェイスブックページ(http://www.facebook.com/pages/Children-First-Japan/115396388532379)や、「共同親権」の日本のフェースブックページ(http://www.facebook.com/oyako)で、私の計画の経過を見守ることができます。そしてまた、私のブログ「Children First Japan」(https://kwbrow2.wordpress.com)で、私の旅行に関する詳しい情報が得られます。

ケビン・ブラウン
名古屋

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Japan’s ‘silent tsunami’ severs parental ties, wrecks children’s lives

Posted on August 30, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law, United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child | Tags: , , , , , , |

Japan Times    Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2011
HOTLINE TO NAGATACHO

To the next Prime Minister,

 

News photo
Left behind: Parents who have lost contact with their children after divorce or separation from their Japanese spouses march through Tokyo with their supporters on Aug. 23. The demonstrators urged Japan to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction and amend its current child custody laws. Left Behind Parents Japan planned the march to coincide with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Tokyo. SIMON SCOTT PHOTO

I am the cofounder of Children First (childrenfirst.jp), an NPO that focuses on children’s issues. Every three minutes another child loses all contact with one of their parents after divorce. Every seven minutes another child is a victim of school bullying. Every 12 minutes another case of child abuse is reported to protective services. Every week at least one child dies as the result of abuse.

Children First is working to overcome these issues and other problems affecting children. But we can’t do it alone. We need the help of Diet members and policymakers to change things so Japan is a better place for children.

Most people are aware of bullying and abuse. These two issues make the headlines often. But a problem I and many other parents find more alarming is that every three minutes a child loses contact with one parent due to divorce.

On March 11, more than 16,000 people died; about another 5,000 are still missing. Hundreds if not thousands of children lost at least one parent on that day. Since March 11, more than 82,000 children have lost contact with one parent due to divorce.

This is a silent tragedy that is spreading like a cancer throughout Japan. It is preventing children from reaching their full potential. It is destroying families and family values. It leaves children confused about the future and it reduces their chances of having a normal life. It leaves some parents and children to deal with unimaginable grief. It is a silent tsunami that many people don’t know about. The family courts and the Japanese legal system are allowing this tragedy to continue.

In 2006 the Supreme Court made a DVD titled “What Couples with Children Must Think About When They Live Apart.” Surprisingly, the family courts don’t show this video to parents. Quite the opposite: They hide the existence of this DVD and family court judges make rulings that go directly against the message contained in the DVD — that children need both parents to be happy. Some family court lawyers are unaware that this video exists.

Now, the average parent gets four hours of visitation per month with his/her child. This is hardly enough time to form a bond or make a difference in a child’s life. Some parents use parental alienation to destroy the relationship the child once had with the noncustodial parent.

According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), children are entitled to have a relationship with both parents. If for some reason the parent and child are separated, the state (Japan) must re-establish contact with the left-behind parent. Of course, this never happens. So, the family court has failed twice. They don’t follow the advice of the Supreme Court DVD and they ignore the UNCRC, which is equivalent to a law.

I think it is time to review the rulings of judges throughout Japan and get rid of the ones who make bad rulings. I have been told by lawyers that judges sometimes don’t even look at the case files and are unprepared for what takes place in court. Bad judges need to be removed from the bench.

Mr. Prime Minister, I am asking you to take the necessary steps to remove bad judges as well as pass laws that guarantee children will have a long and meaningful relationship with both parents. Furthermore, I would also like you to pass laws that do a better job of protecting children from abuse and bullying, as well as implement better policies for reporting abuse and bullying. Teachers and bureaucrats are the key to eliminating abuse and bullying. I hope you give them the necessary tools to make a difference.

Currently, I have an active court case but that should soon change. On Sept. 13, the judge will make a ruling on my case regarding divorce and custody. If history is any indication, there is a 100-percent chance that I will lose. I plan to ride my bicycle from Kumamoto, where my court case is, to the Supreme Court in Tokyo. I will demand that family law be changed. I will stop at prefectural offices along the way and garner support from governors. I have taken eight weeks off of work for this cause. You can follow my progress on the Children First Japan Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/pages/Children-First-Japan/115396388532379) or the Joint Custody in Japan Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/oyako) and you can also find more information about my trip on my blog Children First Japan (kwbrow2.wordpress.com).

KEVIN BROWN
Nagoya

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110830hn.html

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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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Support network backs Japanese-Filipino kids abandoned by fathers

Posted on June 21, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , |

Japan Times By ASHLEY THOMPSON

We regularly receive emails from Japanese-Filipinos searching for their Japanese fathers. Many of these adults were abandoned as children, along with their Filipino mothers, while others were forced to leave Japan for various reasons.

//

Though the circumstances are different for each family, many of these children (and mothers) lack the support of the father (financial or otherwise). So, in answer to these inquiries, the following nonprofit organizations may be of help:

The Citizens’ Network for Japanese-Filipino Children primarily offers support to abandoned Japanese-Filipino children (JFC). Their services include locating fathers within Japan and providing legal assistance, in cooperation with the JFC Lawyers Association, with issues such as paternal financial support and acquisition of Japanese nationality.

JFCNet also holds regular seminars and provides informative publications.

In the Philippines, JFCNet offers services for JFC and their mothers at the Maligaya House including a scholarship program for children, legal and psychological counseling, Japanese language classes and workshops, a research and publication program, and an advocacy and networking program.

An important point to note, says JFCNet, is that JFC born out of wedlock can acquire Japanese nationality if their Japanese father legally recognizes them before their 20th birthday, even if the JFC resides outside Japan.

For more information or to receive help from the Citizens’ Network for Japanese-Filipino Children, please visit or contact them in Japan at: JFCNet Tokyo Office, Nishishinjuku High-Home 206, Nishishinjuku 4-16-2, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo 160-0023. Email: jfcnet@jca.apc.org. Telephone/fax: (050) 3328-0143.

In the Philippines: Maligaya House, 18-A Cabezas Street, Project 4, Quezon City, Metro Manila, 1109 Philippines. Email: maligayahouse@gmail.com. Telephone/fax: (+63) (2) 913-8913.

JFCNet services are offered in Tagalog, English and Japanese.

The Center for Japanese-Filipino Families (CJFF) is a sister organization of JFCNet, supported by the United Church of Christ in Japan, United Church of Canada and the Evangelical Mission in Solidarity, or EMS, of Germany.

They offer a variety of services, which include: temporary housing; school and employment opportunities for JFC who travel to Japan to locate their fathers; counseling services; cultural activities; psychological support and related services, particularly for those unable to locate their fathers; regular workshops for JFC; and a youth development program.

For more information about CJFF, you can find their website at youthjapan.net/cjff.html.

Or, contact CJFF at: CJFF, Room 32, Japan Christian Center, 2-3-18 Nishi Waseda, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo 151-0069. Email: cjffinfo@gmail.com.

The Development Action for Women Network (DAWN) is “a nongovernment development organization created on February 6, 1996, to assist Filipino women migrants in Japan and their Japanese-Filipino children (JFC) in the promotion and protection of their human rights and welfare.”

Similar to the organizations mentioned above, DAWN provides a wide range of services for JFC and their mothers, including counseling, travel assistance to and from Japan in necessary cases, temporary shelter, health care assistance, educational support and legal help.

DAWN also works to provide other community services and opportunities to rehabilitate women and their children. Their website is at www.dawnphil.org

You can also visit or contact DAWN at: DAWN-Philippines, Room 514, Don Santiago Building, 1344 Taft Avenue, Ermita, Manila, Philippines 1000. Telephone: (+63) (2) 526-9098. Fax: (632) 526-9101. Email: dawnphil@i-next.net.

For DAWN-Japan, email dawnjapan@hotmail.com

The Batis Center for Women, located in the Philippines, also assists women and their Japanese-Filipino children. Most of the cases they handle involve “returned women migrant workers from Japan with young children who have been abandoned or are separated from their Japanese husbands or partners.”

The Batis Center primarily works to rehabilitate women and children after they’ve returned from Japan, and their services cover counseling, education, financial assistance, advocacy, legal assistance, and health and medical support, among others.

Additionally, they partner with Batis-YOGHI, a youth organization devoted to providing ongoing support to JFC.

To contact The Batis Center, email batis@pacific.net.ph or call (+63) (2) 925-7843. You can contact Batis-YOGHI via the same email and phone number — ask for Lala Javier.

The Batis Center also has a regularly updated Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Batis-Center-for-Women/136570526371270.

If you know of any other organizations or services, especially any located in Japan, that provide support of any kind to Japanese-Filipino children, please email us.

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Dispel concerns before signing Hague Convention

Posted on June 16, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Domestic Violence (DV), Hague Convention, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The Yomiuri Shimbun

When international marriages fall apart, how should cross-border disputes over child custody be handled?

The government is in the process of formulating legislation in preparation for joining the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which sets international rules for settling such disputes.

If Japan becomes a signatory to the convention, perhaps as soon as next year, it should be lauded as a step forward. However, in drawing up the legislation, the government must take care to ensure the rights of Japanese people are not being unilaterally compromised.

The treaty bans a parent from taking overseas a child aged less than 16 without the other parent’s permission after their marriage fails.

If a parent demands the return of a child taken without permission from their country of residence, signatory countries are obliged in principle to help resolve the issue.

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Japan being urged to join

This is based on the thinking that it is desirable to settle custody disputes in courts in the country of original residence. More than 80 nations have signed the convention. The United States and European countries have urged Japan to join.

About 100 cases have been reported in the United States in which divorced Japanese spouses returned to their homeland with their children. Because Japan is not a signatory to the convention, the foreign parents find it difficult to see their children, let alone take them back to their own country.

Because of this, U.S. and European judicial authorities ban divorced Japanese parents from taking their children home. Japanese mothers who return home with their kids without the permission of their former husbands are often regarded as “abductors” in these countries.

This problem goes both ways: If children with a Japanese parent are taken overseas without permission, the Japanese parent cannot expect to get any help from the country of their former husband or wife.

If Japan joins the treaty, these disputes will be settled by the two countries concerned based on international rules.

The treaty stipulates nations can refuse to return children if they have been physically or mentally abused, and in some other circumstances. But it makes no mention of domestic violence between spouses.

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Domestic violence fears

Japan had long resisted joining the pact because many Japanese mothers had returned home with their children after being violently abused by their former foreign husbands. These mothers have strong concerns about allowing their children to return to such an environment.

The procedure to decide whether to return a child or children starts at a court in the country where they reside. The government is considering incorporating into a related bill the right to refuse a request to return a child if there are fears they could become victims of domestic violence. This is a sensible move.

After signing the treaty, the Foreign Ministry will be responsible for specifying the whereabouts of children brought to Japan and helping with court trial procedures. This will involve domestic administrative work the ministry is not accustomed to doing. Cooperation among government organs to smooth the process will be indispensable.

Many Japanese mothers feel anxious that trials over custodial rights will be held at a court in their child’s original country of residence. Japanese diplomatic missions abroad will need to introduce them to local lawyers and provide other support.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 14, 2011)

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Child abduction convention

Posted on June 6, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , , |

Monday, June 6, 2011 Japan Times

The Kan Cabinet on May 20 endorsed a policy of Japan joining the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which sets procedures for settling cross-border child custody disputes.

The administration hopes to submit related bills and a request for approval of Japan’s joining the convention to the Diet by the end of 2011. If Japan joins the convention, it will not be applied retroactively.

A total of 84 countries, mainly in the Americas and Europe, are parties to the convention, which went into effect in 1983. Among the Group of Eight industrialized countries, Japan and Russia have not joined the convention. The United States and European countries have urged Japan to join, and Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced Japan’s decision during a G8 summit held in Deauville, France, on May 26-27.

The convention is typically applied to cases in which a divorced parent removes his or her child under the age of 16 from his or her country of habitual residence and the left-behind parent requests the child’s return, alleging that he or she has been wrongfully removed.

Under the convention, the left-behind parent makes the request through his or her country’s “central authority” to the central authority of the abductor parent’s country.

The central authority of the abductor parent’s country has a legal obligation to locate the child and take all appropriate measures to obtain the voluntary return of the child. The primary aim of the convention is to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed from their country of habitual residence.

Exceptions to this rule include when there is a preponderance of evidence that the left-behind parent had consented to the removal of the child; when there is a preponderance of evidence that the left-behind parent was not exercising custodial rights at the time of removal; or when there is a grave risk that the child’s return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.

A court in the abductor parent’s country decides whether the child should be returned if the two parents fail to agree on a voluntary return of the child.

Once it is decided where the child will live, there is another round of court proceedings in that country to determine who has parental authority. As countries have differing systems for determining this, resolution of the issues can be difficult.

Roughly 1,300 requests for the return of children are filed worldwide annually.

According to data released in 2010 by the Netherlands-based convention secretariat, children were returned voluntarily without the involvement of courts in 45 percent of the cases; children were returned on the basis of court orders in 30 percent of the cases; and courts rejected requests for the return of children in 20 percent of the cases.

Referring to the Kan administration’s decision to join the convention, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said, “It is desirable for our country to be consistent with international standards.”

Because the number of international divorces involving Japanese nationals is on the rise, the decision that Japan should join the same legal framework as other countries is understandable.

According to the health and welfare ministry’s population dynamics survey, there were some 4,100 international marriages involving Japanese nationals in 1965. This number topped 10,000 in 1983 and reached a peak of 44,701 in 2006. After that, it started to fall, dropping to 34,393 in 2009.

The number of international divorces involving Japanese nationals topped 10,000 in 1998. It leveled off at around 15,000 from 2002 to 2005, but climbed to 19,404 in 2009.

Many Japanese mothers allege that they had no alternative but to take their children and return to Japan in order to escape domestic violence.

Such allegations have made the Japanese government hesitate to join the convention, but as long as Japan is not a party to the convention, it cannot legally settle these cases or pursue cases in which non-Japanese parents have removed their children from their Japanese homes and left the country.

In working out related domestic bills, the general principle for the government and the Diet should be to give priority to protecting the well-being of the children involved.

Under the outline of the domestic bills, the Foreign Ministry would serve as the central authority for locating children who have been removed wrongfully by one parent and for working toward their voluntary return.

Parents who have removed their children from foreign countries would be able to refuse to return the children if they could prove that they or their children were subjected to domestic violence, or that they faced criminal prosecution in the country where they formerly resided.

Some Japanese parents harbor concerns about Japan joining the convention. They may be worried about the possibility of being separated from their children or about how to establish that they are victims of domestic violence in the event that they have to go to court. The government should consider how to help parents who may become involved in child-custody disputes.

As Mr. Kenji Utsunomiya, head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, said, the government should enumerate possible issues and have experts fully discuss them from the viewpoint of protecting the well-being and interests of children. It also should provide necessary information and support to Japanese parents living abroad.

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Debate awaits on child custody pact

Posted on May 24, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , , , , |

By MAYA KANEKO
Kyodo

After years of foreign pressure, Japan finally decided Friday to sign a treaty to settle cross-border child custody disputes, but a heated debate is expected to continue as proponents of the pact hope the move leads to the formation of a system that will guarantee children’s access to both parents after a divorce.

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Japan has long been labeled a “haven for parental abductions” and a “black hole” for children removed internationally, by foreign parents unable to see their children because they have been taken to Japan by their former Japanese spouses.

In Japan, the tendency is for the courts to award mothers sole custody of any children after divorce.

Among the Group of Seven countries, only Japan has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which sets out the rules and procedures for promptly returning children under 16 to the country of their habitual residence in cases of international divorce. The pact currently has 84 parties.

The outcry from foreign parents separated from their children by failed marriages with Japanese has prompted 32 nations to jointly press Tokyo to join the treaty.

The government is now planning to submit bills by the end of this year to craft the legislation needed to accede to the convention.

But the move won’t solve all of Japan’s problems. Joining the pact will only provide a solution to parents abroad. Cases of “parental abductions” that occur in Japan, meanwhile, whil be left untouched.

Also, the pact’s reach is unlikely to be retroactive, meaning it will only deal with future cases, in principle.

Out of concern that accession to the pact could endanger Japanese parties who have fled abusive relationships, Tokyo is considering stipulating in the domestic law that children will not have to be returned when they and their parent have suffered abuse by the other parent.

Japan is also thinking about exempting cases in which the Japanese parent could face criminal prosecution in his or her country of habitual residence and in which the former spouse abroad is deemed to have difficulty taking care of children.

Critics of the pact are calling on the government to carefully address the issue of abuse during the legislative process. Kazuko Ito, a lawyer who has opposed the signing of the convention, said Japan should specify the conditions for exempting the return of children when it drafts the domestic law.

Parents whose former spouses have taken their children — both Japanese and non-Japanese — are also carefully watching the process to see if it will lead to a change in their situation.

Such parents and their supporters have been lobbying for Japan to accede to the pact in the hope that it will change the customary situation in Japan, where it is not unusual for children to stop seeing their fathers after their parents break up.

Thierry Consigny, an elected member of the Assembly for French Overseas Nationals for Japan and North Asia, who has been supporting around 40 French parents officially recognized by Paris as having been separated from their children in Japan, said he hopes Tokyo will not unilaterally adopt criteria for recognizing cases of abuse.

“The 84 parties to the Hague Convention have their own criteria in identifying abuses, but they share international standards and make decisions on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “We want Japanese courts to heed French standards as well in recognizing abuse cases to make a balance.”

Consigny also said he expects joining the Hague Convention, which calls for securing children’s access to both parents, will eventually lead to more exchanges between children and their noncustodial parents in Japan, which in his opinion will promote burden-sharing between divorced parents.

“The current sole custody system in Japan puts too much burden on child-rearing parents,” he said. “Many single mothers who have abducted their children cannot enjoy private life as they bear heavy responsibility as breadwinners and are afraid of the possibility that their kids could be taken by exes.”

France has adopted a joint custody system partly to lessen the child-rearing burden on working mothers by actively involving fathers, he said. Many of the countries that have pressured Japan — the 27-member European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada, Colombia and New Zealand — have such systems.

Mitsuru Munakata, a separated Japanese father who has been lobbying for a joint custody system in Japan, urged the government to address the plight of parents and children who cannot see each other in Japan while it prepares to join the Hague Convention.

“Honoring the spirit of the convention, the government should address the problems of separated parents and children in Japan. Otherwise, there is no meaning in signing the treaty that only deals with cross-border disputes because domestic cases would be discriminated against,” he said.

Munakata said without real changes in the domestic situation, Japan’s move to sign the pact will only be viewed as a way of dodging international pressure over child custody rows. He said in Japan, parents who do not have custody of their children are only allowed to spend two hours per month with their children on average.

Steve Christie, an American founder of a parental abduction victims association, said that his son, now 16, was abducted by the boy’s Japanese mother when he was 10 and that a Japanese family court suggested Christie see his son only three times a year during vacations for a total of 36 hours.

As of January this year, the United States recognized 100 active cases of parental abduction to Japan involving 140 children. In addition, Washington is aware of 31 cases in which both parents and children live in Japan but one parent has been denied access.

Another American parent who has been lobbying the governments of both Japan and the United States to address the matter, said on condition of anonymity that the official figures represent only the tip of the iceberg, calling for efficient enforcement mechanisms to ensure access between separated parents and children.

In 2009, 146,408 couples with children under 20 were divorced in Japan, including couples composed of Japanese and foreigners, according to the latest government statistics. The number of divorces among Japanese and their foreign spouses reached about 19,404 cases that year.

Of the 146,408 divorces, 13.2 percent were cases in which fathers took sole care of children, while 83.2 percent were cases in which mothers did so. Only 3.6 percent involved both parents in child rearing.

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Children First at the Tokugawa Parade on April 10th in Okazaki

Posted on April 23, 2011. Filed under: Uplifting Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Children First was handing out balloons and asking parents to take a pledge to provide for the happiness and welfare of children.

Children First Pledge

To all children,

I pledge

            To always show you compassion,

            To ensure your basic physical and psychological needs,

            To shelter you from violence,

            To defend your rights, and

            To be a positive role model.

In short, I pledge that the happiness and welfare of all children will be my top priority.

                        With love,

                        A Former Child.

To learn more please visit childrenfirst.jp or check out the children first facebook page.

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Bullying-related complaints, child abuse cases hit record highs in 2010

Posted on March 11, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Bullying | Tags: , , , , |

TOKYO —

Complaints over school authorities’ inappropriate responses to bullying and cases of child abuse addressed under a Justice Ministry program to remedy human rights violations both reached record highs in 2010, the ministry said Friday.

The number of bullying-related complaints jumped 51.9 percent from the previous year to 2,714 and abuse cases grew 6.3 percent to 771, it said.

‘‘The number of cases directly reported by affected children grew. It is possible that they brought to light underlying cases,’’ said an official of the ministry’s Human Rights Bureau.

The total number of human rights violations has remained at the 20,000 level since 2004. In 2010, the total came to 21,696, up 2.3 percent from the previous year.

Cases of violence and abuse accounted for the largest number of the total human rights violations at 4,788, down 6.1 percent from 2009.

Cases of privacy violation remained almost unchanged at 1,752, with online harassment accounting for 40 percent of the total.

Meanwhile, a case of sexual abuse of a girl by her own father surfaced in one of the ‘‘children’s human rights SOS’’ letters that the ministry’s legal affairs bureaus have distributed to elementary and junior high schools across Japan since 2007. The child was promptly taken into protective custody, the ministry said.

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Cabinet OKs two child abuse bills

Posted on March 5, 2011. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , |

Saturday, March 5, 2011                   Kyodo News

The Cabinet approved bills Friday to revise two laws on parental rights amid an increase in child abuse cases, with an eye on having them clear the Diet this session.

The bills would pave the way for a system that would set a limit of up to two years for suspended parental authority and give priority to child care facility officials over parents as part of efforts to protect kids from abuse.

Cases presumed to require swift and flexible action include medical neglect involving parents who refuse to seek medical treatment when their children are sick, and parents who wrongfully take children away from shelters.

Under the current system, parents are stripped of custodial rights without a time limit, and child care workers say the law makes them hesitate to ask the courts to invalidate parental custody even in cases of suspected child abuse.

Amid concerns that suspending guardian rights for an indefinite period could jeopardize the parent-child relationship, one of the bills seeks to revise the Civil Code to impose a time limit, which would make it possible to restore the custodial rights if the situation improved.

The other bill would give heads of shelters more authority to insist on caring for abused kids even if parents resist.

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Pentagon to support bill to protect troops’ child custody rights

Posted on February 18, 2011. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce | Tags: , , , , , |

By Charlie Reed

Stars and Stripes
Published: February 17, 2011

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – In an about-face, the Pentagon now supports the idea of federal legislation to better protect troops’ child custody rights.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed the move Wednesday during a Defense Department budget hearing with the House Armed Services Committee. He said the Pentagon would begin working with Congress immediately to help craft a bill to ensure servicemembers are not unduly penalized in child custody disputes because of their military service.

In a letter Tuesday to Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio, a member of the armed services committee, Gates wrote, “The Defense Department has been officially opposed to federal legislation on this matter. However, I have been giving this matter a lot of thought and we should change our position.” Turner has sponsored such legislation since 2006 but has been unable to overcome opposition in the Senate.

“You should know that this view is not widely shared within the legal community,” Gates wrote, “but I am convinced that the benefits outweigh the concerns.”

Turner said the Gates’ endorsement would eliminate much of the Senate’s resistance to the idea behind his failed Service Members Family Protection Act.

It sought to prohibit family court judges from using deployments against troops when determining custody and prevent permanent changes to custody orders while troops are deployed.

Turner said he aims to preserve those pillars of his original legislation while working out the details of a new bill with Pentagon officials.

Turner said he hopes a new bill can reach a vote in Congress within the next few months.

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“Our men and women in uniform should not have to worry about losing their children while they defend us overseas,” Turner said Wednesday.

Because most family court proceeding are not public, tracking how many divorced troops have been denied custody of their children based on their deployments is impossible.

However, the media continues to report on such cases; in the fall Oprah Winfrey interviewed on her show several female servicemembers involved in custody battles related to their military service.

The growing media attention likely helped influence Gates’ decision to support a national standard of protection for servicemembers in child custody cases against the advice of his Pentagon advisors, Turner said.

Before the change in stance, the Pentagon had been working to help pass individual state laws with the objectives similar to Turner’s proposed legislation through the Defense State Liaison Office. To date, 13 states have few or no state laws safeguarding troops’ custody rights, 21 have some laws on the book and 16 have met the DOD’s desired level of protections — a standard based on a points system for different measures such as not holding a deployment against a parent when determining custody.

Col. John Odom, who tracks child custody issues at the Pentagon, told Stars and Stripes in May that federal legislation would only complicate family law, which is typically decided and enforced in state courts, where few matters are simple.

But Turner contends a federal law is necessary because of the differences in state laws and the mobile military lifestyle. When a servicemember is an official resident of one state, gets divorced in another and then enters custody proceedings after having moved to yet another state or even out of the country, determining jurisdiction can be difficult.

A federal custody protection for troops would create a baseline of protection in U.S. courts, no matter where they were assigned, Turner said.

Gates change of heart “is incredible news because we now have an ally that was previously our biggest force of opposition,” Turner said. “Gates has 1,001 things to do, I’m just glad he did this one.”

reedc@pstripes.osd.mil

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JOINT PRESS STATEMENT By the Ambassadors and Representatives of Australia, Canada, Colombia, the European Union, France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America

Posted on February 10, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Tokyo, Japan
Feb. 9, 2011

We, the Ambassadors of Canada, the European Union, France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, the Political Counsellor of the Embassy of Australia, and the Consul of Colombia, called on Japan’s Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs today to express the importance we continue to attach to the issue of international parental abduction, and to once again urge Japan to ratify the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“the Convention”).

We are encouraged by the serious consideration that the Government of Japan is currently giving this issue, including by establishing a Vice-Ministerial-level working group to study it. We look forward to Japan reaching a positive decision to ratify the Convention as soon as possible.

The Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention across international borders, which can be a tragedy for all concerned. The Convention further establishes procedures to ensure the prompt return of children to the State of their habitual residence when wrongfully removed or retained, and secures protection for rights of access of both parents to their children. Under the Convention, a State is not bound to order the return of a child if it is established that there is a grave risk that his or her return would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.

To date, 84 countries have joined the Convention, including the eleven countries that jointly carried out today’s demarche, and all 27 member states of the European Union, which, moreover, has enshrined the principles laid down in the Convention into EU law. In the past year alone, three additional countries – Morocco, Gabon and Singapore – have joined the Convention, making it an increasingly universal standard for the handling of cross-border abduction cases. Japan is the only G-7 nation that has not signed the Convention. 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.

In our meeting with Parliamentary Vice-Minister Yamahana, we emphasized the high priority our governments place on the welfare of children affected by the breakdown of international marriages, and stressed that children should grow up with access to both parents. We also noted that Japanese ratification of the Convention would benefit Japanese nationals as much as those of other countries, since, as revealed by a recent web survey by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are many cases where Japanese parents and their children have lost contact because of abduction to other countries. We further urged Japan to identify and implement measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to maintain contact with them and ensure visitation rights, and to establish a framework for resolution of current child abduction cases. Finally, we emphasized that the Convention has provisions to prevent children from being returned to abusive or otherwise threatening situations in other countries, as well as the existence of protective provisions against domestic violence within the legal systems of our countries.

Japan is an important partner for all of our countries in innumerable ways, ranging from vibrant political and economic relations, to the people-to-people ties of which international marriages are emblematic. All our governments continue to stand ready to assist Japan in its consideration of the Hague Convention, with a view to helping parents and children affected by this painful issue.

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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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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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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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When Families Break-up

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

WHEN FAMILIES BREAK UP / Divorced parents fighting for right to see own children

The Yomiuri Shimbun

We live in a time when divorce has become commonplace. In Japan, a couple gets divorced every two minutes. Consequently, the number of divorced parents filing requests with the courts for visitation rights is increasing.

There is also a growing number of conflicts resulting from breakups of couples from different countries. Due to differences in interpretation regarding child custody, parents have been accused of abducting their own children and taking them to another country.

As families and people’s values diversify, certain problems have become difficult to resolve under the existing system.

Starting today, we will look at some of the problems divorced parents face as they struggle to win the right to see their children.

After separating from her husband five years ago, a 51-year-old woman in Tokyo began a long struggle to see her 15-year-old son.

The woman, a temporary worker, has only been able to see her son twice in the five years that have passed. The meetings, held in a court and in the presence of a court personnel, totaled just 95 minutes.

On both occasions when the woman saw her son, she was unable to stop tears welling up.

“My son, who is taking piano lessons, put his hand on mine to compare the size,” she said. “As I saw him staring at me while talking, I felt we were deeply bound inside.”

Desperately wishing to see her son more often, in July 2007 she applied to the family court for mediation on the issue of visitation rights.

However, the woman’s former husband initially resisted all requests to allow her to visit her son, citing the boy’s need to focus on his schooling, including preparing to move up to the next grade.

As part of the mediation process, in which a voluntary settlement is sought with the help of commissioners, the court initially set up two short meetings between the woman and her son as a way of determining the format future meetings should take.

The two met for 50 minutes in March 2008 and 45 minutes in April 2009.

“My son remembered the meeting we had a year earlier,” the woman said.

While the court advised that the woman be allowed to visit her son every two months, the couple failed to reach an agreement. As a result, the mediation process moved to the next stage, which will see a final decision issued by a judge.

“I’m so worried that I might never be allowed to see my son again,” she said.

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Children caught up in disputes

The number of divorces nationwide reached 250,000 in 2008, according to a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry survey. Of those divorced couples, 140,000 had children aged under 20, which numbered more than 240,000.

The rising number of divorced couples is accompanied by an increasing number of conflicts involving children.

According to an annual survey compiled by the Supreme Court, family courts across the country mediated in 6,261 cases concerning disputes over meetings between divorced parents and their children and judges were forced to deliver a final decision in 1,020 of those cases. Both figures were triple the numbers a decade ago.

Even through such court-mediated procedures, only half of the parents involved in the cases won permission to see their children.

In addition, regardless of an agreement or court order reached on visitation, if the parent who lives with the child strongly resists allowing meetings, it remains difficult for the other parent to see the child.

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Maintaining contact important

Several years ago, a 40-year-old man from Kanagawa Prefecture seeking the right to see his then 1-year-old son applied for court mediation.

He had helped his wife take care of the baby, feeding him milk and changing his diapers at night. On his days off, he took the boy to a park to play. “I had no inkling I’d be prevented from meeting my son after the divorce,” he said. “But I was completely wrong.”

He said that even after the official mediation procedure started, his former wife maintained she would never allow him to see their son. She even pushed back the scheduled date for the mediation. Time passed and no decisions were made.

Desperate to see his son, the man even visited the neighborhood where the boy lived with his mother.

The former couple failed to reach a compromise through the court-led mediation process and began proceedings that would lead to a decision by a judge. Two years later, the court concluded that the man should be allowed to see his son once a month, for half a day. Nevertheless, the former wife broke the appointment set for the first meeting, leaving the man unable to see the boy.

After repeated negotiations with the woman through lawyers, he finally managed to ensure he could regularly see his son. “I believe it’s important for children’s growth to maintain a relationship with both parents,” the father said. “I think adults shouldn’t deprive their children of this right due to selfishness.”

Waseda University Prof. Masayuki Tanamura argues the existing system no longer meets society’s changing needs. “It was previously believed that divorced parents had to accept they couldn’t see children they’d been separated from,” Tanamura said. “In recent years, however, men have become more involved in child rearing and the number of children born to couples has declined. Because of this, many divorced parents have an increased desire to maintain their relationship with their children even after a divorce.”

What needs to be done to ensure that parents can see their children after a divorce? There is a growing need for this nation to find an answer to this question.

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Sole custody causing headaches

A key factor behind disputes involving divorced couples over their children’s custody is a Civil Code stipulation that parental prerogatives are granted to either the mother or father–not both.

The parent who obtains custody assumes rights and duties for his or her child, such as the duty to educate the child and the right to control any assets they might have. However, the parent without parental authority can claim almost no rights concerning their children.

In fact, mothers win in 90 percent of court decisions concerning the custody of a child–known as mediation and determination proceedings.

There is no provision in the Civil Code referring to the visitation rights of a parent living separately from his or her child, so whether the absent parent can meet the child depends on the wishes of the former partner who has been granted custody.

If the parent who has custody refuses to let his or her child meet with the former spouse in a court mediation, it is difficult to arrange visits.

Even if the parent living separately from his or her child or children is allowed to visit, the chances are limited–for example, to once a month. Moreover, if the parents who have custody ignore the court’s decision to grant their spouses visiting rights, there is almost no legal recourse to implement such visits.

Waseda University Prof. Masayuki Tanamura said: “The current system strongly reflects the Japanese family system established in the Meiji era [1868-1912]. Since that time, parental authority has been regarded as the right of the parents to control their children, so couples fight over it.”

Meanwhile, as the number of divorces increased from the 1970s to the ’90s in Europe and the United States, such countries began allowing joint custody, in which former couples cooperate in bringing up their children even after breaking up.

Lawyer Takao Tanase, who also serves as a professor at Chuo University, said: “[In such countries,] the rights of parents who live separately from their children after divorce to visit and communicate with their children are recognized, and such visits occur regularly. For example, there are cases in which such parents meet with their children once a fortnight and spend the weekend together.”

The number of international marriages is increasing yearly–reaching a record high of 18,774 cases in 2008–and the difference in the custody system between Japan and foreign countries causes serious problems when a Japanese splits from his or her foreign spouse.

Cases in which Japanese living in foreign countries take their children back to Japan after divorcing a foreign spouse have become an international problem. The Foreign Ministry confirmed 73 such incidents in the United States, 36 in Canada, 35 in France and 33 in Britain.

There is an international law to deal with such disputes. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction stipulates that if a former husband or wife takes his or her child or children to another country without the consent of the former spouse, the spouse can apply to bring the child back to the country where they were living. Member countries assume an obligation to cooperate in bringing the child back to the home country.

Many European countries and the United States have joined the convention, but Japan has yet to ratify it. International pressure on Japan to adopt the convention is growing.

“We need to separate the problems of parent-child relationships from the problems between couples. We need to establish laws enabling children to meet with the parent who is living separately after divorce, with the exception of cases in which the child is exposed to potential physical danger by meeting the parent,” Tanase said.

“In Japan, divorce is becoming increasingly common, and it’s important to accept the idea that divorced couples will share child-rearing duties even after divorce,” he added.

(Feb. 3, 2010)

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