“Negotiations sometimes last so long you don’t know whether they’re still part of the war, or the beginning of peace.”
– Gilles Deleuze, 1990
First I want to introduce my friends:
Kizuna Chid Parent Reunion (Kizuna -CPR) is a non-profit organization whose stated goal is to restore human rights to children in Japan, so that every child and parent can once again enjoy their relationship. Founded by three parent- activists, John Gomez, Bruce Gherbetti, and Aki Hirata, three victims of Japanese child abduction from three different countries of origin, all of whom reside in Japan, Kizuna-CPR has begun its first fund-raising campaign. It must be time to open the door.
Fundraising Campaign Please click on the link!
This campaign is to further efforts to change domestic family law in Japan and facilitate the reunion of all children separated from their parent by parental child abduction. Due to the current family law system in Japan, visitation is not enforceable for separated or divorced parents. Typical visitation is about once a month, but if denied by the abducting parent there is no consequence. Therefore, millions of children in Japan grow up without seeing one of their parents.
Refusing to give way to any false optimism, there are nonetheless many reasons to lend support to this group. It’s been founded to try to muster a counter-weight to slow what has to now been the inexorable progress of thousands of Japanese international child abductions every year. To misappropriate a term from McKenzie Wark (and Guy DeBord), watching the disintegrating spectacle of the “management” of this issue by the U.S. and Japanese governments of whom the most generous pronouncement one can make is that they are dysfunctional and mystified about where they are located within the confines of their daily activities, that they are hermetic and impassive in their practices, and that they fall somewhere between dodgy, borderline, sociopathically indifferent, and clueless as to the human impact of their resistance to justice for our children, leads one to seek support, a lending hand, and a community of common circumstance where one may find it. Kizuna-CPR is intent on building from a community of common circumstance. But before I lose you with interminable out-directed complaints, I want to say something about my own process of coming to this point.
Rui Lost His Daddy; Daddy Lost Rui
A broken, indistinct, now overgrown trail leads back to the three-years-and-counting kidnapping of my heart’s child and boyish son Rui to Japan. Since the abduction I have crossed over into a post-traumatic mode of being that is quite distinct in its character, but that whose assessment specially to me I reject, because there are so many ways to be oppressed, and because more specifically, there are millions of parents in my situation because of Japan.
Along the way, I’ve become hyper-conscious of what an assemblage of damage a human being is – of nerves, of assymetrical, short-circuited intentions and inhibitions, subject of tidal waves and torrents of psychic energies, ultra-intensified concentrations of impulse alternating with terrifying lassitude and exhaustion, and filled up with self-estranged content. When pressed hard enough by the state, by psychotechnologies that – the electromagnetic “cellular” ones among more traditional forms of broadcasting – have reached into and torn the cellular adhesion of our intimate, relational identities, colonized our dreams, now infected with technical, materialized jingles, neo-content, and hoary slogans that emerge like vomit from the mouths of representatives (representations) to whom we supposedly owe political and social obeisance – then authentic action and response becomes less accessible, undecidable, and nowhere unthreatening. From my position, the threat and menace at the heart of Japanese child abduction is what requires that we find a bond with others, with hands proffered by like-minded persons whose lives are also in struggle to dissuade the demon, so to speak, and ward it off.
Why NPOs & NGOs? Why Government?
We parents have seen government officials stand before us and declare totally mendacious postures on the abduction of our children. We have been told – in words that are as disconnected from concrete action as finaincial speculations have become from real economy – that saving our children is “the highest priority”, that “direct appeals have been made” on behalf of our own individual kids. And yet none of these appeals has ever been documented, and are not to be believed to have occured at all. Nor have these claims had the slightest bit of force or earnestness behind them. Mirroring in US government circles the manner of Japanese political culture and history of “apologies” for past crimes, followed by official words and actions that preclude acknowledgement of responsiblity from recognition – much less from resulting in actual redistributive justice – every declaration of intent to assist us has been undermined immediately afterward by officials in key posts, stating unequivocally that return of our kidnapped babies is a “non-starter” (Kurt Campbell, former Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs) and that we have “military and business relationships in Japan” that are important, and mustn’t be disturbed by such trivialities as state-assisted, state-supported international abduction and concealment of loved toddlers and growing school children. (Susan Jacobs; current “Special Ambassador” of the Department of State Office of Children’s Issues, and chief US representative to the world community for the issue of international child abduction.)
This is where these actors in the drama present to us their true functions. Like Walter Benjamin in Germany in the 1930’s, watching the institutional disintegration of the few promises of liberal democracy, we see all kinds of possible futures vanishing from possibility before our eyes.
The hipocrisy from Japan continues, with US support:
Today, Japan has enticed the world to support its campaign against North Korea, charged with child abductions in the 1970’s, yet we have come to see this campaign as having entirely to do with post-Cold War alignments of states, to contribute further to the continued militarization of East Asia under the auspices of the United States and its military industries. Bush and Obama era officials have gladly offered their willing and earnest support to this charade, but have never risked a single public word to the effect that 2.7 million children of Japan have been deprived of their parent-child relationship in the last 20 years, with U.S. support. But then if they did so, how would that help with the all important joint U.S./ Japanese geopolitical project of pouring billions of dollars to military contractors and industrialists via an East-Asian arms race? How would that help an empire further its competition for dominance of global energy supplies, and seeking for cheap, South East Asian labor?
The Hague Vague Delay Convention:
This spring, Japan signed a well-publicized treaty that elites and ruling political parties and bureaucrats on both sides of the Pacific have declared provides civil remedies – an internationally sanctioned judicial remedy of last resort – for the hearing of cases concerning abducted children when all local and national efforts have failed, and for protected “access” to our children with the aim of appeasing our truncated rights to parent them. This is precisely the sort of arrangement desired by American and Japanese elites, to channel distraught victims of Japanese human rights violations to bureaucrats in the U.S. Department of State and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whose missions are to see the controversy over Japanese abduction buried. Immediately after, in one fell swoop, the Japanese Diet simultaneously set out provisions that superimpose domestic law on that treaty that make the resumption of our children’s parental rights subject to whimsical disruptions by abductors and their allies, and unenforceable without what the Japanese contend are massive changes to Japanese civil law. The goal of the convention signing for Japan has nothing to do with the care and protection of children, and everything to do with embedding the violation of children’s and parent’s rights more deeply into a bureaucratic and judicial catacomb.
Where does this leave us?
Kizuna-CPR’s goals – to provide what support for kids and parents is pursuable – involves making connections among parents who are victims of international kidnapping, supporting us in our efforts to locate and reunite with our children and for the organization to provide some shielding for us from the predation of the Japanese state imposed on us and our children. The ultimate task of transformation and education on behalf of children is so formidable because it requires an authentic social revolutionary change in consciousness and practice (chicken and egg) within Japanese society that would make shared parenting into an as yet unrecognized norm, and make child abduction at last into a frowned upon and subsequently a criminal act, rather than the condoned one it is presumed to be today. (There is a more complex story to tell about whether or not abduction is in fact legal or not in Japan. It is selectively illegal: for non-Japanese and Japanese, the outcomes and state policies have quite different histories. But that’s beyond the scope for today…)
Japan and Repetition Compulsion
For us, parents of kidnapped children, Japan today (not unlike the USA and Europe) is awash in repetition compulsion. This year, they have re-elected the politicians who buried the country in twenty years of stagnation and political regression, after a brief failed hiatus in which established political process was shown to be entirely insufficient to withstand militarization and mediation of public vulnerability within its globalized economic position. Only short weeks ago, Japan’s human rights ambassador was recieved at a United Nations Conference on Torture with loud laughter from fellow attendees upon declaring that Japan should be known as a leader in world progress towards recognition and practice of protecting human rights. This came amidst a political campaign rife with celebrations, denials, and concealments of the brutalities of Japan’s emperor-system fascism of the 1930’s and 40’s, and in which ruling party leadership repeatedly declared that today “human rights” is a “western” imposed concept, an outgrowth of the ‘victor’s justice’ that the ruling party holds in contempt, and that therefore must be reisisted by Japan in order to regain its dignity. The inertia of disavowal and denial is a powerful hermetic force, difficult to penetrate. It is particularly so, when one sees that the elites of the party in power have been the principal beneficiaries of what it calls U.S. “victor’s justice” for 60 years.
So where does this leave us? I have no expectations, only hopes. Supporting Kizuna CPR, which has been started by good friends who understand our pain because they are suffering it themselves, is one avenue of significance. Let’s remember as we debate strategies among left behind parents that there are NO organizations of any effectiveness, anywhere, that have managed to change the priority of protecting children and parents from Japanese child abduction. All such activities in the arena of government have been buried by the militaryand financial interests of the United States and Japan. What Kizuna CPR represents is representation of the parents of kidnapped children in the center of Tokyo. The deadlocks of international law, and more particularly of Japanese domestic practice requires that we fight on every conceivable front, and then some. This is one, and it’s an important one, because it is us.
Here is one of the latest messages from Kizuna Child Parent Reunion, with modifications:
What is the money needed for???
We have taken on office space now in the national legislative district located in central Tokyo for our operations. This enables us to be close to government officials with whom we are in communication about the Hague Convention.
As one of the slides toward the end of the video mentions (in the link above), we are striving to become an authorized provider of visitation services under the Hague Convention in Japan, which should take effect about March of 2014. Between now and then, we need to do a tremendous amount of preparation. We need to file an application to the government of Japan. We need to gather teams of professionals, attorneys and psychologists to facilitate this process. Their services cost money in addition to airfares and hotels especially if they need to be flown from another country to Japan.
We are planning a symposium in Tokyo regarding this project. That will require a simultaneous interpretation service (very expensive) and production of proceedings. Text input and translation are needed. We could use help on website design and translations in general. Membership in the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and attending events is also very costly and is needed to do essential networking for support. Salaries for NGO staff to work on this are needed…
Please donate and help us to help the children and left behind parents reunite!
Brian Prager, with italic texts quoted above by John Gomez and Bruce Gherbett i– August, 2013