Japan must hurry to join Hague treaty

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

To read the story in Japanese click here

The Yomiuri Shimbun

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

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

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

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

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

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Friction over Japan’s status

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Govt has work to do

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

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

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

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

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

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Prime Minister Kan’s Blog

Posted on January 27, 2011. Filed under: Hague Convention, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , |

I wrote a message to PM Kan today.

“Yes signing the Hague is important but more important is solving the existing cases of parental abduction and denial of access among parents living in Japan and abroad. Millions of children are affected by divorce and about 80% of those divorced children loose all contact with one parent. It is important that both parents have access to their child. The Supreme Court of Japan produced a DVD called, “What Couples with Children Must Think About When They Live Apart”. This DVD states that it is best for both kids to have access to both parents. Kids will grow up and do better in school and life if the have love and attention from both parents. Mr. Kan I hope you can personally work on this issue and make the necessary changes so that all children can have long term and meaningful access to both of their parents whether they are Japanese or foreign.”

Please visit his blog (click on the link below) and write a message today!

PM Kan’s blog

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Japan sets up task force as France adds pressure on parental abduction

Posted on January 27, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Wednesday 26th January, 2011

According to the Japan Today, the Japanese government set up a task force Tuesday to examine whether to join an international convention on child custody disputes.

The move came as the French Senate adopted a resolution by an overwhelming majority urging Japan to promptly join the 1980 Hague Convention to help resolve cases in which foreign parents are prevented from seeing their children in Japan following failed marriages with Japanese nationals.

The resolution followed a similar one adopted last September by the U.S. House of Representatives. Japan is being urged to join the convention to help resolve cases in which foreign parents are prevented from seeing their children in Japan after failed marriages with Japanese nationals.

The convention provides a procedure for the prompt return of children to their habitual country of residence when they are wrongfully removed or retained in the case of an international divorce. It also protects parental access rights.

The resolution calls on Japan to amend its legislation, saying Japanese laws do not grant joint custody to divorced parents and often restrict the visitation rights of French parents.

In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Tuesday that the government has been holding discussions on the matter with the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and its coalition partner, the People’s New Party, to formulate the country’s policy.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama said after the first meeting of the newly launched government task force, comprising senior vice ministers and other top officials concerned, that Tokyo will consider ‘‘from scratch’’ whether to join the Hague Convention.

‘‘At the moment we have no plans to set a date, but we don’t intend to let discussion drag on,’’ Fukuyama said when asked how long the government will need to reach a decision on the matter.

As Japan has yet to join the convention, non-Japanese parents cannot meet their children if Japanese parents take their children to Japan from the country in which the family had been living.

Of the Group of Seven major economies, only Japan has yet to ratify the convention, which currently has 83 parties.

Hundreds of American parents have leveled accusations of kidnapping against their former Japanese spouses.

But some critics in Japan have raised concerns over joining the Hague Convention, saying it could endanger Japanese parents and their children who have fled from abuse by non-Japanese parents.

Last October, the ambassadors of 11 countries and the European Union in Japan met with then Justice Minister Minoru Yanagida and urged the Japanese government to join the convention.

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Panel setup to discuss the Hague Convention

Posted on January 27, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , |

 

According to the Japan Times, a high-level government panel kicked off discussions Tuesday on whether to sign an international treaty against international child abductions by parents but has set no time frame for reaching a conclusion, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama said.

Participants from various ministries attended, including Parliamentary Vice Minister Ikuo Yamahana from the Foreign Ministry, Senior Vice Justice Minister Toshio Ogawa and Yoko Komiyama, the senior vice health minister.

Fukuyama stressed that setting up the council doesn’t necessarily mean Japan will sign the treaty, which would make it a criminal offense if a Japanese spouse spirits offspring to Japan after a failed international marriage.

“We intend to discuss the issue and will decide the government’s course of action,” he said. “And I would like to strongly state that this meeting doesn’t mean Japan will automatically (join) the treaty.”

He added that the council will solicit opinions from various people and organizations, including mothers who have brought their children to Japan.

The government has been under international pressure to join the Hague Convention, which aims to promptly return children illegally taken out of the country of their “habitual residence” by a parent. However, there are strong voices within Japan against signing the treaty, with some saying that parents bring their offspring back to Japan to keep them away from abusive ex-partners.

Fukuyama said he was aware of domestic concerns over the issue as well as the international community’s call to sign the convention, but he added the council’s focus will be on the children.

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International Child Abduction Testimony by Ernie Allen (2009)

Posted on January 24, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention, Parental Alienation Syndrome | Tags: , , , , |

 

ERNIE ALLEN, President & Chief Executive Officer for THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN testifies in Washington, D.C. before the TOM LANTOS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION about “INTERNATIONAL CHILD ABDUCTION AND PARENTAL ACCESS”

December 2, 2009

According to the latest research from the Department of Justice, there are more than 200,000 family abductions per year.  In these situations, a non-custodial relative abducts a child from his or her custodial parent.  This is a crime under both state and federal law.  Family-abducted children suffer extreme emotional abuse, ranging from lack of identity to grief over the loss of a parent.  In many instances the abductor tells the child that the left-behind-parent is dead or no longer wants the child. Abductors frequently move the child from city to city, or take the child to another country, making it difficult for law enforcement and the searching parent to locate and recover the child.

To help illustrate the scope of the problem of international child abduction, I’d like to share some additional statistics with you.  NCMEC is currently working cases involving 1,214 children who were abducted by a non-custodial parent from the United States to a foreign country. The majority of these children were taken to the following countries: Mexico (533 children); Japan (54 children); India (32 children); Egypt (30 children); the United Kingdom (24 children); and Canada (23 children).

To read Mr. Allen’s full testimony please click on the link below.

Ernie Allen testimony

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U.S. Government Initiatives to Address Children’s Rights Issues by Tony Del Vecchio

Posted on January 23, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Child Custody and Visitation, Hague Convention, Parental Alienation Syndrome | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Introduction

The government of the United States is deeply concerned about the issues of international parental child abduction and child custody/visitation with respect to its close friend and ally, Japan. Due to its sole-parent child custody system, its reluctance to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction[1], and the fact that it has never returned a single child abducted from abroad to his or her rightful home, Japan has earned an international reputation as a safe haven for kidnappers. Over the past several years, U.S. lawmakers have begun making concerted efforts to end the tragic situations affecting a great many American families due to Japan’s antiquated family law system and its inexplicable disregard for international norms.

The U.S. State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues states there are 100 active cases involving 140 American children who have been abducted from the U.S.A. and who are now being held in Japan in violation of American law.[2] Many of the Japanese nationals guilty of these abductions have court orders against them and are subject to arrest by the F.B.I. and prosecution by federal courts for kidnapping should they again set foot on U.S. soil.[3] In the United States and most advanced nations child abduction is an extremely serious crime. Japan lags far behind other developed countries by failing to recognize this common sense, international consensus and by not legislating child abduction as a punishable criminal offense.

In addition, it is estimated that at least 3,200 American children residing in Japan are being denied access to one of their parents post-divorce.[4] This is due to the Japanese child custody system that awards shin ken (parental rights) to only one parent upon divorce and also severely limits child access to the other parent thereafter. In the case of international marriages, foreign parents are greatly disadvantaged in Japanese courts,[5] and Japanese nationals almost invariably receive sole parental rights. Once shin ken is granted to one parent, the other has no further legal rights with regard to his or her child’s upbringing, and the shin ken holder may deny that other parent access to the child at his or her whim. Since no specific provision for visitation exists under Japanese statute, and since Japanese courts in any event lack any real enforcement powers, the left-behind parent – i.e., the parent without parental rights – is at the mercy of his or her former Japanese spouse. Child visitation is frequently denied outright or severely curtailed, and in any event is always subject to the caprice of the shin ken holder.

These two issues – international parental child abduction and child custody/visitation – are beginning to strain the friendly relations the United States and Japan have enjoyed since the end of World War II. In response to the seriousness of this situation, the U.S. House of Representatives has recently begun taking steps to address what the United States considers to be gross violations of the human rights of American children and their parents by the Japanese nation.

H.Res. 1326 (House Resolution 1326

H.Res. 1326[6] is a non-binding resolution approved on September 29, 2010, by a vote of 416 to 1 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The resolution 1) “condemns the abduction and retention” of American children by Japanese nationals and demands their repatriation, 2) calls upon Japan to create enforceable laws that guarantee American parents the right to visitation with their children, and 3) urges Japan to accede to the Hague Convention so that established legal mechanisms can be relied upon to resolve custody disputes arising from the dissolution of international marriages. H.Res. 1326 reflects the overwhelming feeling among the American public and its lawmakers that Japan should immediately address these very serious issues for several reasons.

First, removing American citizens from their domiciles in the United States without the consent of the American parents is, as the resolution states, “a violation of their human rights and international law.” As a friend and ally of the United States, Japan should act immediately to end this tragic injustice and restore the family relationships its policies have damaged or destroyed, and thenceforth ensure that the rule of law applies in a reciprocal fashion between the two countries.

Additionally, Japan is viewed as an outlier among the community of advanced nations for not providing for joint custody or enforceable child visitation following divorce. The end result of these policies is frequently the American parent’s complete loss of access to his or her child. Essential family bonds are thus traumatically severed, and the children affected by this tragedy often have to contend with the effects of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), a psychological condition which can result in depression; loss of community; loss of stability, security, and trust; excessive fearfulness, even of ordinary occurrences; loneliness; anger; helplessness; disruption in identity formation; and fear of abandonment.[7]

Finally, Japan is currently the only G-7 country that has not signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, adopted thirty years ago in 1980. This multilateral treaty, in which 82 countries participate, provides a legal means to effect the expeditious repatriation of children abducted from their domiciles in their home countries, termed in the treaty the child’s “place of habitual residence.” Japan’s resistance to becoming a signatory to the convention and its oft-repeated claims that it is “studying” or “considering” the issue are adversely affecting the country’s diplomatic and economic relations with its strategic allies and important trade partners. Over the past year, through a series of démarches, or diplomatic initiatives, America has joined with 11 other nations plus the European Union to pressure Japan to accede to the treaty and also to resolve outstanding child custody and visitation issues.[8] These démarches are evidence of the increasing frustration the global community now feels over Japan’s lack of progress with respect to this important human rights issue.

H.R. 3240 – The International Child Abduction Prevention Act of 2009

H.R. 3240, entitled The International Child Abduction Prevention Act of 2009[9], is a bipartisan bill pending before the U.S. House of Representatives that specifically addresses the joint problems of international parental child abduction and loss of child custody/visitation under the Japanese legal system. If approved by the House, H.R. 3240 would, as a federal statute, have the force of law, and would require specific action on the part of the U.S. government to resolve these issues. Among other things, H.R. 3240 would establish an Office of International Child Abductions in the U.S. Department of State and provide for punitive measures for countries deemed to have exhibited a “pattern of non-cooperation” with respect to the protection of children’s rights.

As explained in one summary of the proposed bill,[10] H.R. 3240 would create an Ambassador at Large for International Child Abductions whose primary responsibilities would be to:

1) promote measures to prevent the international abduction of children from the United States;

(2) advocate on behalf of abducted children whose habitual residence is the United States;

(3) assist left-behind parents in the resolution of abduction or refusal of access cases; and

(4) advance mechanisms to prevent and resolve cases of international child abduction.

In addition, the act would direct the President of the United States to:

(1) annually review the status of unresolved cases in each foreign country to determine whether the government has engaged in a pattern of non-cooperation, and if so, designate such country as a Country With a Pattern of Non-cooperation;

(2) notify the appropriate congressional committees of such designation; and

(3) take specified presidential or commensurate actions to bring about a cessation of non-cooperation.

Thus, passage of H.R. 3240 in the House will radically alter the friendly and cooperative relationship America and Japan have traditionally enjoyed, absent a sincere effort on Japan’s part to resolve the fundamental human rights issues the bill addresses. It is hoped that Japan will voluntarily do the right thing and, as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell cautions, not “wait until the situation has become so tense and so difficult that it appears that Japan is only responding to pressure from the United States.”[11]

[1] see http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.text&cid=24

[2] see http://travel.state.gov/abduction/country/country_5227.html

[3] e.g., http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/parent/ryoko-uchiyama/view

[4] see http://www.iapcr.org/japan-stats/

[5] see http://travel.state.gov/abduction/country/country_501.html

[6] see http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc111/hr1326_eh.xml

[7] see “Parental Child Abduction is Child Abuse” by Nancy Faulkner, Ph.D. presented to the United Nations Convention on Child Rights in Special Session, June 9, 1999, at http://www.prevent-abuse-now.com/unreport.htm

[8] see http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/p/tp-20101022-71.html

[9] see http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-3240

[10] see http://www.washingtonwatch.com/bills/show/111_HR_3240.html

[11] see http://www.state.gov/p/eap/rls/rm/2010/10/149051.htm

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Gov’t sets up cabinet-level council on Hague child abduction convention

Posted on January 22, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention | Tags: , |

Japan set up a cabinet-level council Friday to examine whether to join an international convention that sets procedures for resolving child custody cases in failed international marriages. This article gives the appearance that Japan is taking the issue seriously. A more likely scenario is that Japan is using this council to delay signing the Hague. Most people know Japan is the master at stalling. They claim to study the issue but never make any changes. Even if they to sign the Hague they may not ratify it. Cases are not retroactive so parents will continue to suffer until the Hague is ratified. Only 30% of Hague cases are resolved. Signing the Hague is meaningless to those parents that have no access to their kids in Japan now. The Hague may help a few parents in 20 years but it is not the answer for most left behind parents. LBP’s need access to their kids now. And all of the governments worldwide should be pressuring Japan to resolve existing cases. This issue is poorly covered in the media. Not many people are aware of the depth of this problem. It affects millions of Japanese parents. Changing the law in Japan is a much better answer to this problem than signing the Hague.

To read the full article in Japan Today, click on the link below.

Council set up to study the Hague

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International Divorce and Japanese Family Law

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

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

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

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

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U.S. may up child custody pressure

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

Japan and India are among America’s key allies. Yet to scores of embittered parents across the U.S., they are outlaw states when it comes to the wrenching phenomenon of “international child abduction.

The frustrations of these “left-behind” parents run deep. They seethe over Japan’s and India’s noncompliance with U.S. court orders regarding children taken by the other parent to the far side of the world, and many also fault top U.S. leaders for reluctance to ratchet up the pressure for change.

More than 80 nations have signed an accord aimed at curtailing such incidents, but only a handful of Asian countries are among them. Of the continent’s nonsignatories, Japan and India pose the biggest problem for the U.S. — accounting for more than 300 cases, involving more than 400 children, opened by the State Department since 1994. The State Department says it cares deeply about international parental child abductions, and a surge is expected.

The department’s special adviser on children’s issues, Susan Jacobs, and its top official for Asia, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, have raised the topic on multiple occasions.

Campbell used the word “kidnapping” in protesting the many cases in Japan where mothers living overseas with foreign husbands returned home with their children and kept the fathers from having contact with them.

“This is a hard job — we don’t get as many successes as we want,” said Stefanie Eye, chief of the State Department’s Eastern Hemisphere abductions division. “We want every child in the right place.”

Yet many of the parents feel current U.S. efforts are inadequate, as does their most vocal champion in Congress, Republican Rep. Chris Smith.

After Republicans take control of the House in January, Smith hopes to become chairman of a subcommittee with oversight of human rights issues and use that post to push a bill that would toughen the U.S. approach to child abductions.

The bill would establish the Office on International Child Abductions within the State Department, and create a mechanism for imposing sanctions on uncooperative countries.

“We need the full weight of the federal government behind each and every one of these left-behind parents,” Smith said. “My bill doesn’t guarantee success, but it guarantees their cases will not be ignored. . . . We’re not going to quit until it’s law.”

Smith wrote to President Barack Obama on Nov. 10 — prior to Obama’s recent Asia trip — urging him to step up pressure on Japan to resolve the pending cases. Simply encouraging Japan to join the Hague Convention isn’t sufficient, Smith said, because it wouldn’t be retroactive and thus wouldn’t help parents like Patrick Braden and Scott Sawyer.

Another frustrated father is Michael Elias, 26, a former marine who served in Iraq and now works as a sheriff’s deputy in New Jersey. According to his testimony to Congress, Elias obtained a court order in October 2008 awarding him joint custody of his two children amid the breakup of his marriage to a woman he had met in Japan. He said the woman flew to Tokyo with the children two months later, in defiance of the order, and he has been unable to see them or speak to them by phone even though he has now been awarded full custody by a U.S. court. Elias — whose son is 3 and daughter almost 5 — has attended several informational meetings convened by the State Department for left-behind parents. “Every meeting I’ve ever been to, everybody tells me they’re working better, but I don’t see any progress at all,” he said.

Smith, in September, helped push a resolution through the House of Representatives urging Japan to sign the Hague Convention and return abducted American children. “Americans are fed up with our friend and ally Japan,” Smith said at the time.

In response, the Japanese Embassy in Washington said Japan is making “sincere efforts to deal with this issue from the standpoint that the welfare of the child should be of the utmost importance.”

Many times previously, Japan has said it would consider signing the Hague Convention, but it also has expressed concern that doing so might leave some Japanese women and their children vulnerable to abusive foreign husbands.

Stefanie Eye said that in Japan, unlike many Western countries, it’s accepted practice that only one parent — usually the mother — has custody of a child after a divorce. That leaves many fathers, including foreigners, unable to see their children until they are grown up because of lack of visitation rights. “Part of what we’re doing is offering the Hague country perspective of why it’s important for children to have access to both parents,” Eye said.

The State Department says it knows of no cases where a child taken from the U.S. to Japan by one parent has been ordered by a Japanese court to return to the U.S.

Despite the slow movement in Asia, Eye said she found cause for encouragement: The Foreign Ministry recently opened an office to deal with abduction issues and has been asking “good questions” about the impact if Tokyo signed the Hague Convention.

By DAVID CARRY
The Associated Press

Click here to read the full story

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Japan allows international child abduction

Posted on January 20, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention, Japanese Family Law, United Nation Convention on the Rights of a Child | Tags: , , , , |

Lee Jay Walker a Tokyo correspondent for the Seoul Times. He wrote an article about international child abduction as it relates to Japan. He mentions how the police are no help and that there is no enforcement within the legal system. He mentions the Children’s Right Council of Japan and how they have been fighting the issue of international child abduction for almost 20 years without success. Lee also states that Japan is the only G-7 nation that has not signed the Hague Convention. But Japan has signed and ratified the United Nation Convention of the right of the Child but they don’t honor that treaty. Click on the link below to read the whole story.

Seoul Times article on Japan and child abduction

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Asahi Broadcasting Corp. on Joint Custody & the Hague

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

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

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Three part video on reforming Japanese Family Law

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

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

Part I

Part II

Part III

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Study Session about Reforming Japanese Family Law

Posted on January 9, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Japanese Family Law | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

On Sunday the 25th of April (2010) a study session related to reforming family law was held in Kyoto. The study session was sponsored by Oyako-net Kansai. The keynote speaker was Mr. Nonoyama a lawyer who practices in the Kansai area. Nonoyama sensei is good friends with Tanase sensei (another lawyer based in Tokyo) who is also interested in reforming family law in Japan. One of the first things Nonoyama sensei said was it is too easy to get a divorce in Japan. You only have to sign a sheet of paper to get a divorce. There are no requirements (as in many western countries) for parents to make or agree to a joint parenting plan. This parenting plan outlines the details of how the children will be raised. It covers everything from where the children will live to where and how they will spend their vacations with each respective parent. Nonoyama sensei implied that Japan needs a similar system.

Domestic Violence (DV) was another big topic that was brought up in the question and answer session. Nonoyama sensei was clear that there are some domestic violence cases and that the women in these cases need protection but he was also clear that most divorce cases do NOT involve DV. In non-DV cases there needs to be some type of enforcement. If a mother refuses visitation then that mother needs to be penalized. He equated denial of parental visitation as abuse. Excuses such as your son does not want to see you and your son is sick were not valid reasons (in most cases) to deny visitation. Nonoyama sensei said he would continue to work with Tanase sensei to reform family law. These two lawyers seemed to have some great ideas but there seems to be some resistance with the diet and the public. It sounds like there is still a lot of hard work that needs to be done.

One Japanese mother (whose children are living in America with their American father) spoke during the question and answer session.  She said Japan must sign the Hague. Her ex-husband is refusing to let her children travel to Japan for a visit because Japan is not a signatory to the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction. She said she and her extended family are heartbroken that her kids can not experience Japanese culture. She said if Japan signed the Hague it would then be possible for her children to travel to Japan for vacation.

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Articles by Timothy Maier

Posted on January 9, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

I would like to share some older articles written in 1999 and 2000 by Timothy Maier. He focused on Europe and the Middle East but the problems he writes about are the same problems left behind parents face today in Japan and many other countries all over the world. Mr. Maier constantly criticized the State Department for their incompetence. All of the obstacles left behind parents face today were present 10 years ago (the way State classifies cases, how countries are seen as compliant or non-compliant in relation to the Hague, misleading Congress, unwillingness to protect its own citizens, unwillingness to prosecute child abductors, etc.) From State Department attorney Tom Johnson, also a left behind parent, “The (State) Department’s bad faith is especially evident with regard to this point, since Congress itself estimated there to be 10,000 abducted American children abroad when it passed the 1993 International Parental Kidnapping Crimes Act. Congress knows that even the State Department admits to 500 to 1000 new cases annually, and Congress knows that the National Center’s estimate is up to 17,000 per year. These numbers include both Hague and non-Hague cases, but nevertheless indicate the extent of the Department’s attempt to mislead Congress with a report of only 58 unresolved cases.” Timothy Maier interviews parents and introduces their cases and pleas for help. He mentions States refusal to call these atrocities “human rights violations”. Maier talks about Sweden, Saudia Arabia, Germany, France and the parents who abducted their kids to those countries. He talks about how the FBI is reluctant to help it own citizens. He is insightful. Every article sheds light on the problems left behind parents face. Articles (in pdf)

http://www.pdf-finder.com/All-Talk,-No-Action-on-Stolen-Children.html

http://www.pdf-finder.com/FORGOTTEN-CHILDREN—Complicity-in-Child-Abduction.html

http://www.pdf-finder.com/Lady-MeyerStruggles-forParental-Rights.html

http://www.pdf-finder.com/Kidnapped-Kids-Cry-Out-forHelp.html

http://www.pdf-finder.com/Justice-Ignores-Stolen-Kids.html

http://www.pdf-finder.com/AGreat-Escape!.html

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Cherie Booth and Hillary Clinton Join Forces to Fight International Child Abduction

Posted on January 8, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction | Tags: , , , , , , |

In April of 1999, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and Cherie Booth, the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were the principal guest speakers at the launch of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC). It was a new British-American initiative to find missing children worldwide and to stamp out cross-border child abduction. Secretary Clinton has finally spoken about our issue child abduction to Japan but she has not spoken with passion. One would think this issue is still important to her but we have not seen any significant progress over the last year even though Secretary Clinton is in a position to help. Left behind parents in America need to keep the pressure on the State Department and Congress so the issue continues to be a priority. Foreigners from other countries need to put the pressure on their legislatures in their home country and their embassy in Japan. To read the full article click on the link below.

http://www.icmec.org/missingkids/servlet/NewsEventServlet?LanguageCountry=en_X1&PageId=1236

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