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International Parental Child Abduction in Japan

May 25 was International Missing Children’s Day.  To mark the occasion we focus on the problem of International Parental Child Abduction in Japan, a country that has still not signed the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention has been signed by most of the World’s major Western countries to regulate the return of children abducted internationally.

 

Below are some quotes from a father whose ex-wife abducted their sons and fled back to Japan. She continues to live there with their sons guarded by her family and the Japanese government which refuses to allow the father even to see his children.

The father also mentions the disgraceful role of the Australian Child Support Agency. When the father was at a low point in trying to see his children the Agency added to his desolation by threatening him. If he did not stay at his job and continue payments to the renegade parent they told him they would take away some of his basic rights and liberties.

‘Even though I went through the Australian legal system when granting my wife a divorce, such obligations imposed by Australian law, such as access, visitation rights and dual custody are not applicable under Japanese law.’
 
‘As all forms of communication have been cut, my only choice now is to actually go to the house and request some access to my sons. However, not only is this being denied, but my ex-wife and her mother have constantly threatened to call the police and have me arrested.’
 
‘I am completely disillusioned with the Australian Government who were forcing me to pay child support to the abductor of my sons. Not only has Japan not signed the Hague Convention, but there exists no reciprocal agreements between our two countries. I was told by one case officer from the Child Support Agency that they could stop me from resigning from my job, prevent me from returning to university to do further study and stop me from leaving the country. Not only is forced child support placed on Left Behind Parents wrong, but it also encourages others to abduct Australian children from the country as they know they will be financially rewarded for their crimes.’

 

Here are some interesting facts about the situation in Japan.

  1. Under current Japanese laws, “left-behind” parents are prevented from visiting or making any contact with their abducted children, even when these children have been illegally abducted from their national home of origin.
  2. Under current Japanese laws, when a Japanese parent dies, Japanese courts award illegally abducted children to their Japanese grandparents instead of their sole living foreign parent. The children are then denied any access to their only living parent.
  3. In the last 60 years not one child has ever been returned to his or her country of habitual residence after being abducted to Japan.
  4. Japanese courts habitually award custody to Japanese parents instead of to non-Japanese parents, and once again deny the non-Japanese parent’s access to their children.
  5. The Japanese Government repeatedly tells foreign governments that parental child abduction is not considered a crime in Japan despite the fact that Article 3 of the Japanese Penal Code does indeed make it a crime for Japanese citizens to abduct a child and move the child across national borders, even if the child is moved to Japan.
  6. The Government of Japan refused to criminally prosecute an abducting parent or relative when that parent or relative abducts a child to Japan. However, if I or another non-Japanese parent goes to Japan and attempts to retrieve our abducted children, we will be arrested and imprisoned for kidnapping.
  7. On March 22, 1994, the Japanese government signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in its entirety, which enables children to have complete access to both parents. However, its current laws still allow the Japanese parent to decide whether or not the “left-behind” parent gets access or visitation rights, which are usually denied.
  8. Japan sanctions, and is a safe haven for abductions. The system is such that even non-Japanese parents can flee to Japan with their abducted children and then exploit the Japanese system to their own advantage.
  9. Japan does not provide comity (reciprocation) to Australian Court orders.

Links
 
Japan Children’s Rights Network
 
BacHome.org
 
Australians With Abducted Children
 
Video links
 
French father attempting to see his daughter and being harassed by the Japanese police.
 
 
Documentary trailer of “From the Shadows” A documentary being made about child abduction to Japan
 
Navy Commander Paul Toland testifies before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C. on December 2nd, 2009
 
ABC Nightline - Americans Taken to Japan- Fathers’ efforts to return American children taken by their mothers to Japan.
 
Australian kids taken to Japan, ABC 7:30 Report
 
Left Behind Parents in Japan

 

International Parental Child Abduction – SBS TV 

Insight - SBSTV -1 May 2012

Watch program HERE

‘Australia has the highest rate per capita of international parental child abductions in the world.’ Insight, SBS ONE, Wednesday 25 April 2012