Japan – Parental child abduction

For the original Article/Video click this LINK

GO – http://globalvoicesonline.org/2009/07/29/japan-parental-child-abduction

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Japan: Parental child abduction

 

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 @ 05:25 UTC

by Scilla Alecci

Given the rise in cases [en] where children born to a Japanese mother and a foreign father are abducted by the Japanese mothers and brought to Japan without the father’s consent, U.S., France, Canada and the U.K. have recently urged Japan to sign the Hague Convention. The treaty, covering international child abduction, came into force in 1983 to provide specific legal means for promptly returning the child to their original state of residence.

So far Japan is the only one in the Group of Seven Nations who hasn’t signed the treaty, which means that the government is not required to give any information regarding the child or the mother who returned to Japan or even ask the parent to return the child.

Also, awareness about the question is very low among the citizens and major media don’t help to raise knowledge of the problem. Blogger and activist Debito comments and criticizes [en] the coverage of the child abduction question by the NHK (Japan national broadcasting organization), where the cases and information provided were biased against the foreign fathers.

I watched the NHK report this morning, and was, frankly, gravely disappointed. After giving some stats on international divorce (around 20,000 cases last year, about double that ten years ago), NHK gave three case studies in brief: […]
It even concluded with the typical relativities (i.e. how everyone’s doing it, therefore Japanese can too), mentioning in passing alleged cases of how NJ mothers were abducting Japanese kids overseas (meaning that now suddenly Japanese fathers were kawaisou [poor thing]; the bottom line was that Japanese are being kawaisoued). The MOFA was quoted as not being able to comment on whether Japan would be able to sign Hague.
No mention at all was made by NHK that there has not been a single case of children being returned to the NJ parent by Japanese courts (the converse is untrue), that Japanese are committing crimes (and not honoring overseas court custody rulings, such as the Murray Wood Case), or that (and I speak from experience of not seeing my kids for about five years now) the Koseki system [Japanese family registration system] will deny all title and access to Japanese parents too after divorce.
NHK tried too hard to be sympathetic to either abducting Japanese mothers, or the position of Japanese in general (not the kids and how they’re affected by not having both parents in their lives). What a crock.

Lawyer Kawahara calls for more proactive and responsible action and participation by the politicians irrespective of which party they belong to.

国際離婚して、日本に子どもを連れ帰る日本人妻が多く、現に、カナダやアメリカから、条約を批准していない日本が批判を浴びています。[…]
都議会議員選挙の後、国会審議が止まっています。
国会議員は、法律の制定改廃が仕事でしょう。
いくら、総理大臣の問責決議が参議院で可決され、衆議院議員選挙が近いからといって、国会議員たるもの、国会審議を放置するのは、無責任すぎます。
多くの大事な法案が、廃案になりそうです。
馬鹿げています。
日本は、ますます国際社会から取り残されそうです。
野党の民主党も、いくら政権交代の可能性が大だとしても、国の政治は、与野党が協力して、粛々と動かすべきでしょう。

Many are the cases of Japanese women who divorce from their foreign husbands and come back to Japan bringing their children with them and the failure to sign the treaty by Japan gives to countries such as Canada and U.S. grounds for criticism of such actions.[…]
After the election of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, there has been no further discussion in the Diet about the treaty. but surely the job of the members of Parliament should be to legislate to improve the functioning of our laws and treaties?
Even if the Upper House passed a censure motion against Prime Minister Aso, it’s absolutely irresponsible for members of the Diet to leave the discussion as it is, with the excuse that the elections are close. A lot of bills will probably be discarded.
And this is foolish for Japan will be sooner or later left behind by the international community.
Though the possibility of attaining Government seems high for the present opposition party, the DPJ, they should collaborate with the governing party for the sake of national politics, and act with dignity.

Also another lawyer, Mori, expresses his opinion about the child abduction issue but he is more doubtful about the ‘internationality’ of the problem itself.

日本人女性が外国人と結婚し、子供を産んだ。しかし、夫婦仲がうまくいかず、子供を連れて日本に帰国した。
我々日本人からすると、「フーン」と思うだけである。
ま、「夫婦仲が悪い夫が、ある日、会社から帰ると、妻は子供連れて実家に帰り、家の中はもぬけのからだった」、というのは、日本では日常的で、これが離婚訴訟で問題になることもない。

A Japanese woman gets married to a foreigner and has a child. However, wife and husband don’t get along and she brings the child with her back to Japan. We, Japanese, react with a mere “Uhm”.
Here stories such as the ‘evil’ husband one day comes back home after work and finds no one at home because she went back to her parents` house are ordinary and don’t become a reason for a divorce lawsuit.

しかし、外国では、こういう行為は子供を奪い取る「犯罪行為」と考えているところがかなりある。
特に、日本人女性の場合、日本に帰ると「聞く耳を持たない」という感じで、夫から手紙が来ても無視し、あるいは居場所さえ知らせない、というケースがある。
[…]そこで、米英仏などが、日本に、このハーグ条約への加盟を強く迫っている。しかし、取引法の分野と異なり、家事法の分野は、なんでもかんでもグローバル化すれば良いというものではない。やはり、各国の文化にあわせた処理を行うべきで、ハーグ条約への加盟すべきか、安易に結論をだすべきではない。

However, abroad this is called ‘child abduction’ and is considered a crime.
In particular, in case of Japanese women, there are often cases in which they won’t listen [to their ex-husband], they ignore his letters and don’t even let him know where they live.
[…] For this reason, U.S., U.K. and France are urging Japan to join the Hague convention.
However, here such cases do not apply to International law but to household law and it’s not good to globalize everything in every case. Every country should be free to deal with the matter according to its own culture and it’s not that easy to say without any hesitation whether one should or should not sign the treaty.

But the child abduction issue does not impact only on Western parents, as the manager of a blog/agency that arranges international marriage points out.

このハーグ条約、欧米ではおよそ80カ国が調印しているが、日本や韓国、中国、フィリピンなどアジア諸国はほとんど調印していないらしい。
また、日本国内でも中国人と結婚した日本人男性から「妻が無断で子を連れて中国へ帰ってしまった。子を連れ戻したい」という多数の相談が外務省などに寄せられているらしい。
その一方、日本人男性と中国人女性の夫婦が日本国内で離婚し、裁判で親権を争うと、今後、中国人女性側は子供と会ってはいけないという結果がでている話を数件聞いている。
どちらにしろ罪の無い子供たちが一番苦しんでいるはずだ。
はやく、日本国内での法律の整備が必要と感じる。

About 80 western countries have already ratified the Hague Convention but Japan, Korea, China, Philippines and other Asian countries haven’t as yet.
I heard that the Japanese Foreign Ministry had a lot of cases of Japanese men married to Chinese women complaining and saying things like “My wife went back to China taking the child with her without notice. I want my child back!”
On the other hand there are also cases where a Japanese man married to a Chinese woman divorces in Japan and when they contest custody in the court, it’s often the Chinese mother who ends up being denied access to her child.
In any case it is the innocent children who suffer most in these situations.
I feel that Japan should arrange a national law to fix this situation as soon as possible.

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