I recently put 4 pictures on Facebook with a comment:
Child abduction is epidemic in Japan. My boy Rui is among the most recent victims. Decades of U.S. indifference and failure to demand our rights and protection for our own children = complicity.
Sanctions should have been imposed on Japan decades ago for each and every child. Now the problem is too big to solve; the military-strategic relationship with Japan is too big to fail; and our children are too small to rescue.
A compassionate friend posted this question in reply:
So…how does this happen and is it only Japan?
I went for a walk, thinking about how unbearable it is to communicate about the abduction of my son, but that if I couldn’t answer these questions in a few lines or a soundbite, I would have failed in my basic task.
4000 American children abducted to/ illegally retained in Japan – US Embassy and State Department Complicity
Child abduction is epidemic in Japan. Decades of U.S. indifference and failure to demand our rights and protection for our own children = complicity.
My boy Rui, a 5-year-old, is one of the more recent victims of abduction to and by Japan. Barack Obama recently became the first U.S. president to speak (privately to the new Japanese PM Noda) of this issue. We are trying to petition him to speak of it publicly, for the Japanese to return our children, but there are tremendous military/ strategic / economic interests that appear to have command and control of the U.S. agenda, and regard the abductions as a nuisance in the maintenance of this particularly important, strategic, close relationship between the two countries.
How does this happen? And is it only Japan?
Those are the 912.5 billion dollar questions. 912.5 billion = the number of dollars the US treasury owes to Japanese banks, a big chunk of U.S. finance capital’s treasure chest. 200 billion dollars more than the 700 billion dollar bank bailout of 2008, in the name of which we are now reducing the tenuous U.S. commitment to the health, education and welfare of American people, and of American society. and continuing an international imperial strategy.
For what might the U.S. government stick out its neck? To save banks, maintain its strategic plans in Asia, and preserve control of mineral and oil fields, yes. But to save abducted children in an allied state? Apparently not. Why should this be an either/ or choice?
The second question – why Japan? - is ostensibly easier to answer; but it is vexing. The total number of international child abductions to India is apparently larger, but then India has 10 times the population of Japan, and far less of U.S. corporate, finance and banking capital is involved there, as well as far fewer American military installations from which to fly missions to Afghanistan. U.S. bases in Japan are ostensibly there to support U.S. interest in containing the growth of Chinese power in Asia, but they are also part of how the U.S. keeps the government of China happy — by retaining dominance over Japan’s military posture – keeping the Japanese out of the business of developing military, and therefore, geo-strategic independence. They have an enormous impact on Japanese internal and international affairs. The bases are part of a multi-lateral Asian policy to contain or slow Chinese “success” and hold on to U.S. stakes in the region’s increasing independence and interdependence.
U.S. State Department officials meet with us, the Left-Behind Parents:, but they do not want a fuss made over our children and do not keep anything close to an accurate count of the number of abductions; and neither does the US media - which we should always recall is bank and corporate owned and sponsored and desirous of maintaining easy access to U.S. government officials, who will themselves soon rotate out of government jobs back into consulting in Japanese-American business and military contracts.
The question of numbers is crucially important. There are an estimated 4000 American children in Japan today who have been abducted in one of several possible ways; that is to say, there are 4000 American children who are permanently denied any meaningful contact with their parent, and denied under force of Japanese state enforcement the possibility of recovering and maintaining their parent-to-child relationship. We can demonstrate this statistically.
The Japanese state enforces the right to deny parents access and relationship to their children vigorously. However the obvious inverse right of the child to have and maintain his or her relationship with his parent is something that Japanese police, courts, lawyers and so on never tire of saying is unenforceable. This is one of the fictitious ideological pillars of Japan’s state sponsorship of child abduction: the state, so it’s often said, just can’t get involved in” family matters”, or not at least those family matters it has elected not to get involved in. Of course, the state gets involved in property crime, or assault; but protecting children from malicious, ill-intentioned parental abductions? We are endlessly told that that is unenforceable.
As for the rest of “how does this happen”, the issues are complex, but the process is simple. In Japan, joint custody is not legal; there is no law providing for it, and parental visitation rights are considered completely “unenforceable”, so none exist. If there is a marital separation, parents secure the “right” to the child by kidnapping the child and getting to a Japanese family court first. This is not an exaggeration or alarmist use of words. One parent loses the child because someone – the other parent, or often enough the grandparents - has decided to take him to a house somewhere that that parent can’t locate or cannot enter. There is a small but significant movement in Japan to force protection of child/ parent rights, but it is fighting entrenched opposition in the Diet, the media, etc
International divorce in Japan is a tragic, human rights disaster. Non-Japanese have essentially NO standing in Japanese courts and do not get custody, ever. If court orders are issued abroad (such as in U.S. family court) saying child’s habitual residence is here, and the right to determine custody is here — and furthermore, if a criminal court here issues a ruling and says, kidnapping is a felony and Japan is harboring the abducting felon … the Japanese have found the perfect solution. They just IGNORE the orders, the felonies, all of it – with impunity, as it turns out. The U.S. government has a mildly expressed opinion on the matter, but has invested nothing and will risk nothing to protect our child citizens from this criminal enterprise.
What will the U.S. government do for you if you run to the appropriate State Department office for help?
Here you will see a tragic instance of U.S. supine complicity in deference to how it views its economic and military interests. The US official response is to delay the American parent as long as possible, to accept any and all impediments to restoring parent-child contact, to make endless excuses for the U.S. Embassy’s failure to pursue the matter, and finally, to cede jurisdiction over any American child to the kidnapping state of Japan because “Japan is a sovereign country” and kidnapping is not illegal there.
In my son Rui’s case, the inaction of the Office of Children’s Issues and U.S. Embassy has been a nightmare. The Office of Children’s Issues, which has no authority or policy making power, but is nonetheless the sole government agency charged with the management of this horrific issue, has pushed aggressively back against the desperate efforts of U.S. parents to try to gain some government response to thousands of child abductions to Japan. Their tactic appears to be to give time and advantage to the Japanese abductor at every turn by delay after delay after delay. The purpose of their activities can readily be seen: to treat the active cases of parents trying in desperation to reach a kidnapped child as a case to be inactivated as efficiently as possible. A few bureaucratic motions are followed by silence. In my case, I received no responses to phone calls and emails for months. In this way, the U.S. can pursue its interest in maintaining a close political and strategic hold on Japan undisturbed by such trivialities as abduction of American children.
What about Japan? What will the Japanese State do? State sponsored abduction (= State sponsored child abuse)
Any Japanese national who feels like he or she does not want to deal with his or her spouse any more can get on an airplane, show a passport, and kidnap the child, one, two three. Japan’s courts will give the Japanese national custody, and a monthly stipend to help them resettle. Japanese courts further offer a free pass to the Japanese spouse to pile on whatever fictional reasons they want to use to create the appearance they want … spouse abuse, child abuse… because although they require those kinds of prerequisite reasons in order to obtain a legal divorce, there is no investigation of their veracity, no requirement that the charge be true in even the most remote kind of way. No standard of evidence exists in Japanese family court, so a small sub-industry of lawyers exists there to facilitate this process of legalized, state sponsored child abduction. Lawyers such as the now notorious international criminal abductor, Kensuke Ohnuki.
My wife’s mother did this to her first ex-husband, and my wife’s step-father had it done to him. My wife has friends her age who had lost the right to raise their children in Japan. It’s “normal” to them, and so, of course, Japan has very high rates of suicide and alcoholism and an extremely low, close to catastrophic birth rate.
(And, by the way, almost no competent talk psychotherapy or psychological treatment: and an extremely high level of shaming of those who become emotionally disturbed (by this or any of a thousand other causes) and a hideous reputation for over-medication of psychological disturbances. Hence, rampant bizarre child abductions.)
No child anywhere in the world is safe from this. You don’t have to be Japanese to abduct a child to Japan provided your spouse is also not Japanese. One of our group, an American, lost his child and when his Russian wife took her to Japan. It has been years since he has seen his teenaged daughter. Recently she attempted to get help from a U.S. Consulate but was refused. U.S. Officials clearly do not want to create ANY incidents that Japanese officials wouldn’t like to see. Some abductors have renewed their passports at American consulates in Japan, keeping a kidnapped child away from his or her parent for years, until adulthood.
Child abduction to Japan is of course not exclusively a problem of international marriages, although to look at how the Japanese media reports on this, you’d think this was all about “abusive foreign husbands” and their big hairy bodies. Nearly 2 1/2 million Japanese children TODAY have no meaningful access to their parent because of this horrible judicial structure and practice. (The only assumption that statistic makes is that a child has a once a month or less visit with his/her parent … which can reasonably be said to constitute a court-abduction of a child.) Again, there are about 4000 similarly situated American children … since 1994 (making them 17 to 18 years old now). And the State Department doesn’t bother to keep track of them. The State Department Office of Children’s Issues “inactivates” the cases after a period of parent-victim inactivity; so the child disappears and becomes a non-person in the eyes of the U.S. government agency to whom their protection is delegated. And because there is no substantive help to be gained from the Department of State, the majority of parents who have been subjected to this crime allow their “case files” to become inactivated. And the final outcome is a discussion of no discussion. 4000 kids becomes 321 last year, which, as per this year’s discussions between the President and Prime Minister Oda, was now reported in September as 123 abductions. A travesty.
The fight to regain and protect our kids goes on. Japan should be sanctioned, boycotted, denied access to U.S. markets, brought before international tribunals, and publicly denounced and shunned until all of our children are returned home to the parent who did NOT abduct them. We know from the Caucasian Chalk Circle and the wisdom of King Solomon that the parent who loves his/her child is the one who ultimately ought to raise him; most likely that would not be one who abducts him and hides him abroad. If the other parent cannot see the rightness in this and adjust to it, then that is all the more reason to regard an abductor as an unfit parent.
We are working to get signatures on a petition to the President, but it is difficult to get the attention of the American people. We are also urgently supporting H. R. 1940, the International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2011, trying to get sponsors for this legislation.