The subject is child abduction. The discussion is about slothfully slow, eventual accession to the Hague Convention and civil code reform will take place: Japan will continue to protect kidnappers, practice abduction internally by denying parents access to their own children, and hold out for reservations – conditions and exceptions for refusal to return kidnapped children. Japan will also continue to treat international child abduction as a custody issue, rather than as a crime against children and families abroad.
Please note the words of Attorney Jeremy Morley in the article below, and several notes added by me for emphasis.
Japan proposes reform of its child custody law, but will keep kidnapped children imprisoned in Japan
- Japan’s Cabinet approves a plan to change the country’s child custody policy
- Japan has said it is interested in signing the Hague convention on international child abduction
- More than 300 children have been abducted to or wrongfully retained in Japan (This is a GROSS underestimate of the magnitude of this problem. 321 is the number in the active case file of the US Department of State/ Office of Children’s Issues. The actual number of abducted children of American parents – American children who under the force of the Japanese state have been permanently denied meaningful access to their parent, including both in-country and international abductions – is on the order of 4000 American children since 1992. The total number of abducted children – the total number of foreign and Japanese children who have been denied access to their parent is more than 2 million; it is therefore a problem of enormous magnitude with far-reaching implications. The number of American survivors – people who have been abducted, permanently denied meaningful access to their parent and reached the age of legal majority – a number that no one in the State Department is keeping track of – calculated from birth and divorce rates going back to the war, is staggeringly high.)
- Under the Hague convention, Japan would have to abide by custody deals in the U.S. (Note: That is unless they don’t want to, in which case they wouldn’t.)
(CNN) — Bowing to intense international pressure, Japan will make cosmetic rule changes to appear closer to changing its international child custody [sic] policies. (Note: This should read international child abduction and custody stealing policies )
The Japanese Cabinet on Friday approved a plan that would (pretend to) bring the country’s laws in line with the Hague convention on international child abduction [while avoiding compliance with the real intent of the treaty], according to Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s office.
The plan basically requires an overhaul of Japan’s family law system. It would put the Foreign Ministry in charge of the cases related to international child abduction, including finding abducted children, taking measures to prevent child abuse and advising parents on the voluntary return of children, according to a statement from Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. [Question: What measures might one take to prevent an abducted child from being abused? One measure would be to arrest the abductor and return the child to his/ her custodial, non-abductor parent.]
The legislation would take into account child abuse, spousal abuse and a (Japanese) parent (whose child was not born and raised in Japan) who (therefore) faces criminal charges in his or her (the child’s non-Japanese) home country (from which the child has been abducted), the statement said. (Note: This is the crux of the matter. First, Japan will continue to allow any parent who wants to abduct a child to Japan to allege child or spousal abuse as a condition for refusal of return, regardless of the relationship of those allegations to the truth, thereby abusing the purpose for which the Hague Convention was written, and rendering it irrelevant. The Japanese system will continue to encourage dissatisfied spouses to concoct and inflate such charges in order to obscure and obfuscate that a kidnapping has taken place. The current history of the courts allows custody to be granted to any Japanese national who says, “my husband frowned” or “my husband didn’t offer to share his pudding with me.” No, I’m not exaggerating: these are examples of “spousal abuse.” [*see comment below*]- And no discussion of the wife/ abductor’s behavioral pathologies (which resulted in an international child abduction, need we remind you?) is required. In addition, Japan will impose the condition that because the mother of the kidnapped child has committed an obviously lethal crime, the stealing of an innocent child from its parent, a form of child abuse recognized as such virtually the world over, Japan will reserve for itself the right to keep the kidnapped child and the criminals who commit the crime within its borders, and the government and the abductor will pay no penalty for doing so. Total immunity! Pretty good deal for the criminal and for the outlaw state, isn’t it? This is the reform that Japan proposes, a state which at the same time has contended again and again through its civil code, legal practitioners and “judicial process” that the State is unwilling or refuses to interfere in family matters on the principle that it’s best left to the parents to work out custody on their own. Does this abduction-friendly policy appear to be that of a non-interfering state to anyone who can read? Would it not be authentic non-interference if the child were returned home to its parent along with the Japanese parent, where it could then be determined if the Japanese parent had committed a crime, could therefore be considered a fit parent or not, and the psychological onslaught on a child’s life, the wholesale, violent disruption of his parental attachments, could be ended?)
The plan approved by the Cabinet will be considered by Japan’s legislature, where it is expected to face some resistance. (Note: The most extreme cut of all; this sadistic set of baldly non-compliant conditions to accessing to the Hague Convention are not considered strong enough by many who apparently wouldn’t know a human rights violation if they sat on one with razor sharp teeth.)
Even if it is approved, it could take years before Japan is ready to sign the Hague convention, which calls for the signatories to abide by the court rulings of each member country.
Japan has been under intense international pressure to change how it deals with international child custody arrangements, particularly since the case of Christopher Savoie in 2009.
Savoie, an American, triggered international news headlines after his arrest on child abduction charges in Japan. His two children had been taken to Japan by his ex-wife, despite a U.S. court order requiring Noriko Savoie to remain in the United States.
Savoie traveled to Japan, where he has citizenship, and reclaimed the children, then headed for the nearest U.S. consulate, where he was arrested at the front gate. (Note: Another example of how the Japanese authorities are unwilling to interfere in family matters? Another example of how Japan defines child abduction (to wit: if the custody was issued through due process of law, then Japanese police will treat it as an abduction. But if the child is abducted by a Japanese national, then the police will protect the abductor. Is this logical, and legal?) Christopher Savoie, a father of two children, with established custody rights both in the U.S. and in Japan, who fought to protect his children from being abducted from the U.S. to Japan through absolutely legitimate means in Tennessee courts, who had fully-arranged post-divorce custody agreements commanded by a judge and agreed to by both himself and his wife, and having paid out an enormous financial incentive and settlement to his ex-wife to ensure her safety and stability, with promises from both to abide by the court’s rulings, was arrested, thrown in jail for two weeks, physically tortured and prevented from having life-preserving medications while imprisoned by the Japanese police. That is “non-interference in family matters” we’ve been hearing about for the over 30 years since the Hague Convention was written.) The charges were later dropped when Savoie agreed to return to the U.S. without his children.
Because Japan is not a party to the Hague convention on international child abduction, Tokyo did not recognize the U.S. court’s ruling nor the subsequent arrest warrant for Noriko Savoie.
Savoie’s case shone a light on hundreds of other similar situations in which Japanese ex-spouses have taken their children to Japan despite custody arrangements in the United States.
Japan’s current system does not recognize shared custody, even among the country’s own citizens who reside in Japan.
(Note: Japan’s system also does not recognize international kidnapping when committed by its own citizens, and subsequently will continue to sanction the illegal stealing of jurisdiction over foreign-born, foreign-resident children.)
“It’s finders keepers — possession is 99.9 percent of (Japan’s) law,” explains international family law attorney Jeremy Morley, who represented Savoie.
That means it’s extremely rare that a child of divorced parents in Japan will spend every other weekend at Mom or Dad’s house — a typical situation for children of divorced parents in the U.S. and other Western countries. (Note: why does CNN say this situation only occurs in “Western” countries? Is China “Western?” There is nothing inherently “western” about the practice of joint custody in the history of modernity.)
“The other parent disappears completely,” Morley said.
Morley, who has represented more than 100 parents, most of them fathers, called Friday’s decision “a baby step in the right direction” for Japan. But he says that even if the country signs the Hague convention, it will have no effect on Savoie or any of his other clients.
“It will certainly not help those people who have thus far lost children to Japan, because it will only take effect when it’s put into force,” Morley said. “It’s definitely not going to be retroactive.”
However, if Japan truly overhauls its family law system — instead of making “purely cosmetic” changes to please international critics — that could bode well for his clients.
“If they completely restructure their system so they can enforce court orders and … have an environment where both parents have a right to participate in the life of their children after separating, that’s going to take a long time,” Morley said. “If they go through another charade, and the changes are purely cosmetic, that can happen much faster.
“So I hope, in a way it does take a long time.”
The U.S. State Department acknowledges that “abductions to Japan represent one of the largest portfolios in the Office of Children’s Issues and are among the most difficult to resolve.”
Since 1994, there have been 321 children abducted to or wrongfully retained in Japan, it said. None of those cases has been resolved. (Please note the inaccuracy of this number as described in the notes at the top of the article.)
Morley credits Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with helping put pressure on Japan to change its system. However, he says there is tremendous opposition within Japan to the Hague convention.
“There’s a prevailing view that the Japanese mothers, who are the ones primarily removing children, are running back home to the safety of Japan because their American husbands are wife beaters,” he said.
He says he thinks Japan could address (Note: meaning pacify opposition to the treaty) this concern by “watering down” any changes it makes to its family law system ahead of signing the Hague convention.
Morley and Savoie have denied any physical abuse, and there have not been any charges. This month, a Tennessee court ordered Noriko Savoie to pay her ex-husband $1,000 each day she continues to “falsely imprison” the two children.
The primary concern of Japan’s government in deciding this matter will be “to ensure the welfare of children,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hidenobu Sobashima said Thursday.
(Note: The “welfare of children” according to the Japanese will be their concern only AFTER a kidnapping takes place. Japan will continue to regard kidnapping by a Japanese parent as a permissible prelude to what they regard as a normal custody proceeding in which Japanese judges will still be instructed to determine the child’s “best interest,” disregarding the kidnapping, and performing an illegal post-hoc “evaluation” of those interests under Japanese conditions, far from the child’s home country and separated from the parent from whom he has been kidnapped. Japan will continue to avail itself of its self-declared right to make that evaluation, regardless of the child’s legal place of residence, and the kidnapping parent will be allowed ample time to brainwash and alienate the child from its missing parent before making the final decision over the child’s fate. That is the system now, and it is unlikely to be different in the case of international abductions in the future. In sum, the government will be able to continue counseling its people: First steal the child; then go to a court and ask a Japanese judge to hear the reasons why the theft was considered desirable by the thief. Then grant determinative credence and legal and moral authority in the case to the thief and her attorney.)
“Of course parental rights are important, too, and we should take into account the father’s views and the mother’s views,” Sobashima said. (Note: Again, unless the child abductor and the judge would find it expedient not to, in which case, this won’t be required.)
Until then, Morley says, his clients — even those lucky enough to see their children for an hour or two in a Japanese courtroom once a month — will continue to be cut off as parents to their children.