Today at 2 pm in Japan, a sentencing hearing was held for this man, Nathanael Teutle Retamoza. He is a father; his crime was entering his home in an attempt to recover his two-year old daughter after she was abducted. He spent nearly 8 months being tortured by police in a Japanese jail.
His family and friends posted this immediately:
Nathan has received a suspended sentence and is on his way to Tokyo, passport in hand with immigration officials. The battle to save Nathan seems as though it is coming to a close; the battle to save Yukari has just begun.
I couldn’t sleep until I heard this and had been waiting up in New York to hear. We must condemn Japan for jailing him! And we condemn them for denying him his daughter, Yukari! We can breathe one breath because he is free. I have never met him, but these are tears of relief!
But are we now satisfied? It appears that he is being deported by the Japanese government. They are deporting him without charge and without the right to an attorney, allowing his wife to prevent him from seeing his child ever again.
To paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
We can never be satisfied as long as a father is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our families, heavy with the burden of separation, cannot be reunited across oceans, cities, and out from behind the walls of prisons while judicial and government agents deny the depth of their responsibility. We cannot be satisfied as long as our children are denied their basic right to the love and protection of their parents. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by abductors with the sanction of national governments more interested in diplomatic niceties than justice or the welfare of young children. We cannot be satisfied as long as fathers or mothers believe they have no representatives defending their rights in government, and a parent in New York, Los Angeles, or Tokyo believes he has nothing upon which his government can be counted on for which to ask. … “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
Collective direct action is the only strategy that ever brought results for the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. It wasn’t up to one individual like Nathan to stand up to jailers who held a monopoly of the power of force and seclusion — because every time one was arrested, another would step into his or her place. If the right of a parent to be with his child cannot be guaranteed by the police of the state or country to which a child has been sequestered and hidden, then it is the duty of the government by whom protection is owed to that parent and child to demand that protection be enabled and given. If the government cannot bring itself to disturb itself enough politically to do that, then it becomes a matter for the people to risk everything and lay their bodies on the line.
This story is not finished, not by many long miles. Today in Michigan, another case is still unfolding. A father there is trying to convince an American judge who appears not to know how dire the situation of parents and children is in Japan that he must be allowed to keep his 8-year-old son in the U.S. Should the child’s mother be granted custody and allowed to bring their boy to Japan, it will be curtains for him and his Daddy. The courts of Japan will separate him from his child forever. This is not the way we want the world to work. In a world of global embededness and global integration, global governance requires of us that we protect the well-being and rights of all parents and children. Situations like the one in Michigan will continue to plague children’s lives until Japan begins to protect children from parental exclusion which is synonymous with abduction.
Our parents and children will be wounded this way today and every day because our government endorses it with inaction and indifference.
We parents cannot protect our children in isolation. We need help, and that includes an awareness in our own judiciary, legislatures and public of the danger of allowing children to be taken to Japan, where joint custody is illegal, and between 50 and 60 percent of all post-divorce children permanently lose access to their parent. Children are gravely endangered there every day, and parents are denied their most precious right, the right to protect and share in the raising of their own children. Until this mass social pathology is rectified, children must be protected from it where and whenever they can.