Japanese Freeze and Father Flees: “I just wanted to get the custody of my child!”

Rui and I at the desk at home.


In Yahatahigashi Kitakyushu District, a 35-year-old man, estranged from his wife and moving towards divorce, was arrested for abducting his child.

Minoru Tamura, the father, was arrested (and declared a suspect).

According to the police, the 1-year-old Tamura boy was taken around 9:30 pm July 19, on the Yahataekimae JR. While talking to his estranged wife, this not-yet-divorced father took the boy away from his wife, and fled  by car with the infant inside.

The wife asked for help at a nearby police station. Police found the “suspect,” Tamura, alone, about an hour and a half after the incident. Where was the boy? He said that “the child had been ‘entrusted’ to his home.” Wnen the investigators visited Tamura’s home, they found the boy was safely protected, with no injury to the child, despite his having been rushed into a car and sped away.

The police investigating the incident explained that Tamura admitted the charges and said, “I just wanted to get the custody of my child”.

No child left behind – 

And that is how it has to be done in Japan. Any not-yet-divorced Japanese person who doesn’t attempt to abduct his or her child is at exceedingly high risk – almost a certainty –  of having his/ her parental rights permanently terminated should the divorcees find themselves in a Japanese family court. The only consistently observed criterion for the award of custody is physical possession of the child, which can be  and is often established by child abduction – preventing kids from seeing their parent.  So one or the other parent MUST escalate and abduct if there is any risk of post-divorce acrimony. If that parent does not abduct, and the child is in the physical possession of the other (Japanese) parent, it is only a matter of time, speed, and possession of the willingness to act ruthlessly and viciously against one’s own child and spouse to terminate their relationship. That, for Japanese, is what family court is for.

Smart system!  Is that what constitutes  looking out for children’s interests?

I’m tempted to make an outrageous declaration; to decide that it’s best to wish the man in this story who abducted his 1-year old success. Entertain the idea for the sake of argument: Today, EVERY child in Japan should be abducted. That’s what the system is built to induce;  and given the so-far insurmountable resistance to changing or modifying it, it must be right.

What’s good for the goose …

I’m repeating this news story here today as a small taste of what goes on every day in Japan, and what Japanese law requires Japanese parents to do in order to secure their parental right within Japan. For Japanese, divorce and custody are a blood sport. They must risk the permanent termination of their parental right in order to separate from a vindictive spouse, leaving open the probability of losing the right to protect and raise their flesh and blood. It goes without saying that this systemic encouragement and practice of child abduction – with the machinery of state in place to see that abductions take place – is plainly responsible for the epidemic of international abductions to Japan. Given that  parents would find themselves bound by law  (heaven forbid!)  to agree to a joint custody agreement, to treat their children with love and respect, to protect and promote the children’s well-being through securing for him or her the stability of the child’s relationship with and attachment to both parents, and to engage in interpersonal cooperation and co-parenting with his or her spouse or ex-spouse (or face repercussions) in any country where there is an actual family law, one in which parental rights are understood  by the state, there is no equivalent risk for divorce and termination of parental rights outside of  Japan. Only in Japan has a system been so carefully engineered to maximize emotional and psychological distress for parents and children, assuring that children will be permanently traumatized by battle and loss, undermined and induced to fear, and beleaguered with enduring damage to their egos.

No Action for Children:
Japan Shows the World its Back; Abandons the Hague for the Remainder of 2012

To finish the week, the Japanese Diet declared itself unable to bring itself to a discussion of, much less a vote on or a decision about, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of the International Abduction of Children for the rest of this year. Abductors, kidnappers, child abusers, police, judges and so on, must have raised their cups in unanimous cheer at the victorious “good” news; another long reprieve for child abductors to earn another year’s pay and solidify control over another round of small victims and hunt for new prey. The Japanese had previously readied a set of reservations to prevent themselves from having to implement the Hague Treaty (while signing it) and deal prudently and conscientiously with children’s interests . The Diet had instead prepared a set of regulations to be voted on that undermine the treaty’s purpose (which is the quick return of abducted children to their home countries and that of their parent). But the proposed regime raised the ire of parent and children’s rights groups to such a degree that even officials of the perennially-complacent-towards-children’s-human-rights U.S. Department of State had mustered themselves to voice objections and warnings this year that the Japanese provisions were unacceptable. Given the innumerable crises to which Japan is currently subject, the treaty was given a level of priority that suited the political parties, in the classically inept and leery fashion of Japanese governance: the Diet simply put the treaty aside to let it die in the “constitutional process.”
“Intrepid as a Japanese legislator” is not one of the more common idiomatic phrases that comes tripping off the tongue.

* *

Now Prime Minister Noda faces an electoral vote which will make his legacy that of having inherited the destruction and cost of the great disaster – the Tohoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown of 2011 –  and having overseen a lot of legislative bickering and fussing, resulting in the heroic action of his commandeering a modest rise in sales tax. Not precisely lionhearted, nor even plucky, given Japan’s existential crisis. His dismal disappearance from the stage of world history is safely assured.

Our children continue to drown – while indifferent Japanese and their State Department/OCI lapdogs hold the life lines in their laps.

One thought on “Japanese Freeze and Father Flees: “I just wanted to get the custody of my child!”

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