2nd Bilingual post today: French periodical ‘Liberation’ – “Japan: confiscated children, abandoned parents”


Japon : enfants confisqués, parents abandonnés

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Par Arnaud Vaulerin — 29 janvier 2018

Snow (2012) Yamaguchi

Extrait de la série «Neige» (2012), Yamaguchi. Photo France Dubo. Vozimage

En cas de divorces, beaucoup de parents, notamment occidentaux, restent impuissants : nombre d’enfants sont «enlevés» par le père ou la mère, sans que les autorités locales n’interviennent. Les associations lancent un cri d’alarme.

  • Japon : enfants confisqués, parents abandonnés

C’est le genre de vocabulaire d’ordinaire employé pour des affaires criminelles, des intrigues mafieuses et des guerres. On le retrouve de plus en plus dans la bouche de parents séparés de leurs enfants, privés à la fois de droit de visite et de garde. Ils parlent d’«otage», d’«enlèvement», de «violation» et de «kidnapping» pour raconter des histoires qui charrient souffrances, silences et injustices entre le Japon et de nombreux pays. Plusieurs centaines d’enfants binationaux et des dizaines de milliers d’autres uniquement japonais sont victimes des manquements de la «bureaucratie judiciaire japonaise», comme le formule sans détour John Gomez, président de l’ONG Kizuna («lien» en japonais) à Tokyo, qui milite pour le droit d’un enfant de voir ses deux parents. Cet Américain s’alarme du «mépris du Japon pour les droits et le bien-être de l’enfant». Et de la situation de pères et de mères abandonnés et sans beaucoup de recours.

Le 25 janvier, le sénateur LREM Richard Yung a posé une question orale au gouvernement français pour attirer l’attention de Jean-Yves Le Drian, ministre de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères, sur les difficultés rencontrées par certains ressortissants français pour exercer au Japon leurs droits parentaux.

«Je ne la reverrai pas»

Le Français Emmanuel de Fournas est l’un d’eux. Depuis le 7 juin 2015, il n’a pas revu sa fille Claire, née en janvier 2012. Cet ancien chef d’entreprise dans le secteur du bio a épousé sa femme, japonaise, en 2011. Après plusieurs années de vie commune en Thaïlande, le couple se sépare en 2014. La mère s’installe au Japon avec la petite Claire, le père effectue des allers-retours, tentant de maintenir un contact avec sa fille. Sur fond de tensions médicales et familiales, commence alors un long parcours judiciaire entre les tribunaux français et japonais, avocats et commissariats.

Dans ce qui ressemble à une descente aux enfers, Emmanuel de Fournas est même placé en garde à vue en mai 2015 au Japon, pendant vingt-trois jours, avec placement à l’isolement, test ADN et fouille anale. Il est accusé de «harcèlement» et même soupçonné de vouloir enlever sa fille. «Je me suis retrouvé dans un vide de droits fondamentaux terrible, raconte-t-il depuis Toulouse où il vit. J’étais présumé coupable. Un policier japonais a fini par me dire qu’à partir du moment où ma fille avait été enlevée, je ne la reverrai pas. Le Japon fonctionnait ainsi selon lui.»

Un diplomate japonais qui souhaite rester anonyme tente une explication culturelle : «La prise de conscience de la situation des enfants séparés a été tardive au Japon. Selon les principes du code civil, la garde partagée n’est pas reconnue. Traditionnellement, le foyer est constitué des deux parents et du ou des enfants. Une fois qu’il est brisé par un divorce, l’enfant “n’appartient” plus qu’à un des deux parents. Après, bien sûr, les parents peuvent se mettre d’accord.» C’est souvent compliqué. Les cas les plus nombreux concernent des citoyens américains, britanniques, australiens ou même italiens. En France, le ministère de la Justice dit avoir été saisi officiellement de «quatorze dossiers depuis l’entrée en vigueur de la convention de La Haye entre la France et le Japon le 1er avril 2014».

Cette année-là, après trois décennies de polémiques dont certaines ont abouti à des suicides, l’archipel finit par ratifier ce texte sur les enlèvements internationaux d’enfants. Sans aucun effet rétroactif, cette convention vise à «assurer le retour immédiat des enfants déplacés ou retenus illicitement dans tout Etat contractant et à faire respecter effectivement les droits de garde et de visite existant». Elle est explicite et précise sur les engagements des parties signataires. Mais, de l’avis de pères et mères français, américains, britanniques que Libération a contactés, le «Japon viole» la convention de La Haye et s’en «sert uniquement au bénéfice de parents nippons», sans «se soucier de la tragique situation des enfants binationaux, les premières victimes»,écrivent des Français qui tentent de défendre leur cas. «Force est malheureusement de constater que le Japon ne satisfait pas pleinement aux obligations qui lui sont imposées par la convention de La Haye, a dénoncé Richard Yung dans sa question au Sénat, la semaine dernière. Par ailleurs, il est regrettable de constater que l’exercice effectif d’un droit de visite continue de dépendre du bon vouloir du parent japonais.»

Bataille procédurale

Fin décembre, des Français ont constitué un collectif : «Sauvons nos enfants-Japon». Ils ont rencontré des conseillers consulaires (Evelyne Inuzuka, Thierry Consigny) et des parlementaires. Tout en frappant aux portes des consulats et ambassades qui apprécient modérément cette mobilisation peu en harmonie avec la diplomatie officielle. Ils martèlent que le Japon ne respecte pas la convention. Ils en veulent pour preuve que les autorités de l’archipel n’ont pas mis en œuvre des ordres de retour d’enfants binationaux dans un autre pays. Pis, ces décisions de justice ont été rejetées par la Cour suprême du Japon le 21 décembre. Ce jour-là, plusieurs ordonnances de retour préalablement rendues en faveur de James Cook, un Américain père de quatre enfants enlevés par leur mère japonaise, ont été annulées, donnant un redoutable signal aux parents privés de leur progéniture.

Abigaël Morlet redoute un scénario similaire. Cette Française a eu deux enfants entre 2007 et 2009 avec son mari japonais dont elle s’est séparée. Elle est lancée dans une bataille procédurale avec celui qu’elle accuse d’être un «pervers narcissique». Elle a obtenu l’autorité parentale exclusive, le droit de garde en France. Mais au terme d’un procès, son ex-mari a obtenu que l’autorité parentale soit partagée avec des droits de visite et d’hébergement (des DVH dans le jargon des couples séparés) au Japon. «Si mes enfants repartent dans l’archipel, je ne les reverrai pas, assure cette ancienne enseignante. Il y a un risque réel que leur père ne respecte pas le DVH et ne les renvoie pas en France. Et on ne peut pas compter sur la police japonaise pour appliquer les ordonnances de retour. Elle se contente de venir frapper à la porte et ne fait rien si l’autre parent refuse. Et il n’est pas interdit de penser que, moi aussi, je sois arrêtée et placée en garde à vue pendant vingt-trois jours si je me rends au Japon.» Elle a proposé à son ex-mari de venir voir ses enfants en France en novembre et décembre, il a refusé. Elle vit dans la crainte d’une décision de justice lui intimant l’ordre de confier son fils et sa fille à leur père.

Les autorités japonaises font profil bas. Elles ont créé une cellule de suivi au sein du ministère des Affaires étrangères. «Si je comprends bien, poursuit notre diplomate au fait de l’esprit de la convention de La Haye, le problème n’est pas la non-application, mais plutôt la lenteur, la mollesse dans la mise en œuvre. Surtout, les agents chargés de la mise en exécution de ces arrêts judiciaires [ordonnances de retour, ndlr], ne sont pas vraiment habitués. Ils hésitent à intervenir rapidement et par la force dans des affaires civiles et familiales toujours délicates.»

Mais de l’avis de plusieurs parents et experts, le «cœur du problème réside dans la branche judiciaire», analyse John Gomez de l’ONG Kizuna. «C’est le concept de “principe de la continuité” qui est problématique. C’est-à-dire que, dans l’esprit des juges, les enfants restent avec le parent qui les a enlevés. Autrement dit, on entérine et on valide le kidnapping», explique cet Américain mobilisé depuis dix ans sur ce douloureux dossier. Il balaie d’un revers de main les explications culturalistes, les probabilités de discrimination envers les étrangers, les femmes ou les hommes. Durant ces dix années d’activisme, il a croisé des victimes de tout genre, de toute catégorie et de toute nationalité. Ce qui l’amène à parler de «véritable violation de droits de l’homme commis dans l’archipel». A partir des statistiques officielles sur le nombre de divorces et celui des naissances, il assure que chaque année au Japon, jusqu’à 150 000 enfants seraient privés d’un des deux parents à la suite d’une séparation.

Se faire entendre

Le Français Stéphane Lambert, qui vit en banlieue de Tokyo, en sait quelque chose. Il a rencontré sa femme japonaise et a vécu à l’étranger avec elle et leur fils, Nathan, né en 2012. Puis ils sont rentrés au Japon en février 2013. Deux ans et demi plus tard, la mère a kidnappé l’enfant. Stéphane Lambert dit avoir obtenu très péniblement du tribunal de Yokohama un droit de visite de quatre heures par mois. Mais la mère a déménagé et le père a perdu la trace de son enfant qui souffrirait de «troubles du développement». Il s’est tourné vers la police japonaise, qui lui a indiqué qu’elle n’interviendrait pas. Quand il a frappé à la porte des autorités consulaires françaises, il s’est entendu répondre : «On ne peut rien faire, le Japon est souverain.» Déboussolé et désargenté, Stéphane Lambert a rejoint le collectif des parents français.

Ces femmes et ces hommes veulent être plus offensifs pour se faire entendre. La députée des Français de l’étranger pour la région Asie-Pacifique, Anne Genetet, qui les a rencontrés et demande la «mise en œuvre effective du droit», les met en garde contre une «démarche trop agressive qui fermerait les portes du Japon». Mais le sénateur Richard Yung a demandé au ministre des Affaires étrangères si, «soucieux du respect de l’intérêt supérieur des enfants issus de couples franco-japonais, […] la France, en lien avec d’autres Etats, ne pourrait pas entreprendre de nouvelles démarches auprès du Japon». Aujourd’hui, certains parents n’ont plus d’autres choix que de faire du bruit. Seul espoir pour revoir leurs enfants.

Arnaud Vaulerin

story

Japan: confiscated children, abandoned parents

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By Arnaud Vaulerin – January 29, 2018 at 19:46

Snow (2012) YamaguchiExtract from the series “Snow” (2012), Yamaguchi. Photo France Dubo. Vozimage

In the event of divorce, many parents, especially Western parents, remain helpless: many children are “kidnapped” by the father or mother, without the local authorities intervene. The associations raise a cry of alarm.

  • Japan: confiscated children, abandoned parents

This is the kind of vocabulary usually used for criminal cases, mafia intrigues and wars. It is found more and more in the mouth of parents separated from their children, deprived of both visiting and custody rights. They speak of “hostage”, “kidnapping”, “violation” and “kidnapping” to tell stories that bring suffering, silence and injustice between Japan and many countries. Hundreds of binational children and tens of thousands of other Japanese-only victims of the “Japanese judicial bureaucracy”, as the straightforward formula John Gomez, president of the NGO Kizuna (“link” in Japanese) to Tokyo, which campaigns for the right of a child to see both parents. This American is alarmed by “Japan’s disregard for the rights and well-being of the child.” And the situation of fathers and mothers abandoned and without much recourse.

On January 25, Senator LREM Richard Yung asked an oral question to the French government to draw the attention of Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, to the difficulties encountered by some French nationals Japan their parental rights.

“I will not see her again”

The French Emmanuel de Fournas is one of them. Since June 7, 2015, he has not seen his daughter Claire, born in January 2012. This former business leader in the organic sector married his wife, Japanese, in 2011. After several years of living together in Thailand , the couple separated in 2014. The mother moved to Japan with little Claire, the father goes back and forth, trying to maintain contact with his daughter. Against a backdrop of medical and family tensions, a long judicial process begins between French and Japanese courts, lawyers and police stations.

In what looks like a descent into hell, Emmanuel de Fournas is even placed in custody in May 2015 in Japan, for twenty-three days, with placement in solitary confinement, DNA test and anal search. He is accused of “harassment” and even suspected of wanting to abduct his daughter. “I found myself in a terrible fundamental rights void, he says from Toulouse where he lives. I was presumed guilty. A Japanese policeman finally told me that from the moment my daughter was kidnapped, I will not see her again. Japan was working that way. “

A Japanese diplomat who wishes to remain anonymous tries a cultural explanation: “The awareness of the situation of separated children has been delayed in Japan. According to the principles of the Civil Code, shared custody is not recognized. Traditionally, the home is made up of both parents and the child or children. Once broken by a divorce, the child “only” belongs to one of the parents. After, of course, parents can agree. “ It’s often complicated. The most numerous cases concern American, British, Australian or even Italian citizens. In France, the Ministry of Justice says it has been officially seized of “fourteen cases since the entry into force of the Hague Convention between France and Japan on 1 April 2014”.

That year, after three decades of polemics, some of which resulted in suicides, the archipelago finally ratified this text on international child abductions. Without any retroactive effect, this Convention aims to “ensure the immediate return of children illegally displaced or retained in any Contracting State and to effectively enforce existing custody and access rights”. It is explicit and precise on the commitments of the signatory parties. But, in the opinion of French, American and British fathers and mothers whom Libération contacted, “Japan violates” the Hague Convention and “uses it only for the benefit of Japanese parents”, without “worrying about the tragic situation of binational children, the first victims, “ write Frenchmen trying to defend their case. “Unfortunately, Japan is not fully meeting the obligations imposed on it by the Hague Convention,” said Richard Young in his question to the Senate last week. On the other hand, it is regrettable to note that the effective exercise of visiting rights continues to depend on the goodwill of the Japanese parent. “

Procedural battle

At the end of December, the French formed a group: “Save our children-Japan”. They met consular advisers (Evelyne Inuzuka, Thierry Consigny) and parliamentarians. While knocking on the doors of the consulates and embassies who moderately appreciate this mobilization, it is hardly in harmony with official diplomacy. They say that Japan is not respecting the convention. They want proof that the archipelago authorities have not implemented orders to return bi-national children to another country. Worse, these court decisions were rejected by the Supreme Court of Japan on December 21st. That day, several return orders made in favor of James Cook, an American father of four children abducted by their Japanese mother, were canceled, giving a dreadful signal to parents deprived of their offspring.

Abigaël Morlet fears a similar scenario. This French girl had two children between 2007 and 2009 with her Japanese husband whom she separated. She is thrown into a procedural battle with the one she accuses of being a “narcissistic pervert”. She obtained the exclusive parental authority, the right of custody in France. But at the end of the trial, her ex-husband obtained shared parental authority with rights of visitation and lodging (DVH in the jargon of the separated couples) in Japan. “If my children go back to the archipelago, I will not see them again,” says the former teacher. There is a real risk that their father will not respect the DVH and will not send them back to France. And we can not rely on the Japanese police to enforce the return orders. They just knock on the door and do nothing if the other parent refuses. And it is not forbidden to think that I, too, will be arrested and put in custody for twenty-three days if I go to Japan. “ She suggested to her ex-husband to come and see her children in France in November and December. He refused. She lives in fear of a court order ordering her to entrust her son and daughter to their father.

Japanese authorities keep a low profile. They created a monitoring unit within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “If I understand correctly,” continues our diplomat, aware of the spirit of the Hague Convention, ” the problem is not non-application, but rather slowness and sluggishness in implementation. Above all, the agents responsible for enforcing these court orders [return orders, ed] are not really used to it. They are reluctant to intervene quickly and by force in always delicate civil and family matters. “

But in the opinion of several parents and experts, the “heart of the problem lies in the judicial branch,” says John Gomez NGO Kizuna. “It’s the concept of” principle of continuity “that is problematic. That is, in the minds of the judges, the children stay with the parent who abducted them. In other words, we (judges) endorse and validate the kidnapping,” said the American, mobilized for ten years on this painful file. He brushes aside culturalist explanations and the higher probability of discrimination against foreigners, women or men. During these ten years of activism, he met victims of all kinds, of all categories and all nationalities. This brings him to speak of “real violation of human rights committed in the archipelago”. From official statistics on the number of divorces and the number of births, he assures that every year in Japan, up to 150,000 children would be deprived of one of the parents as a result of separation.

To be heard

Frenchman Stéphane Lambert, who lives in the suburbs of Tokyo, knows something about it. He met his Japanese wife and lived abroad with her and their son, Nathan, born in 2012. Then they returned to Japan in February 2013. Two and a half years later, the mother kidnapped the child. Stéphane Lambert said he very painfully obtained visitation of four hours per month from the court of Yokohama. But the mother moved and the father lost track of his child who was suffering from “developmental disabilities.” He turned to the Japanese police, who told him that they would not intervene. When he knocked on the door of the French consular authorities, he was told: “We can not do anything, Japan is sovereign.” Unbuffled and penniless, Stéphane Lambert joined the collective of French parents.

These women and men want to take the offensive (to be more assertive) to make themselves heard. Anne Genetet, French MP from abroad for the Asia-Pacific region, who met them and asked for the “effective implementation of the law”, warned them against an overly aggressive approach that would close the doors of Japan. “. But Senator Richard Young asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs if, “anxious to respect the best interests of children from Franco-Japanese couples, […] France, in connection with other states, could not undertake new approaches to Japan “. Today, some parents have no choice but to make noise. It is their only hope to see their children again.

Arnaud Vaulerin

 

About Brian Prager

I am the father of a beloved son who has been retained in Japan by his Japanese mother against my will. My boy has been kept out of contact with me since June, 2010. I am struggling to save him and get justice for us.
This entry was posted in Japan Child Abduction. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to 2nd Bilingual post today: French periodical ‘Liberation’ – “Japan: confiscated children, abandoned parents”

  1. Thank you so much for this very useful translation Brian ! Great work 🙂
    Our group of French LBP will try its best to make sure that Europe speak with one voice to defend our kids and to invite USA, Canada and other countries to join the fight for our children’s right and our parent’s rights.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Following up on “DV“certified: “I can never meet my 9 year old daughter again…” | For Rui Boy

  3. Thanks for this translation and original article. I have just completed four and a half years working through the Japanese family ‘court’ as a left-behind parent. From what I saw time and again the mediators and judges were such reasonable and rational people that they spent fully 3 years anchored to an assumption that any alienating parent must be acting reasonably and rationally to SOMETHING too. Of course that SOMETHING is D.V. (domestic violence). The paradigm they follow is that naturally enough tempers are frayed and everyone needs time and separation to return to a calmer state. Moreover, isn’t it perfectly rational to expect greater violence to need a much longer time for matters to cool? You are the only person in the courtroom who knows from the outset that there was no violence. You accumulate evidence that far from calming down your own child is now in trauma at school at the mere prospect of your visit. At this point mediators and judges turn to court investigators for guidance. This is the pivotal point. Now you expect that the fear mongering, slander, and stoking of anger being carried out by the real child abuser will become apparent to all. A Court Investigator is a kind of psychologist, aren’t they? Well, actually less psychologist and more ‘kind of’. No real psychologist would accept the overly narrow brief of the investigation, which it turns out has only two boxes to tick. One box is an evaluation of the living space of the ‘hostage’. The other box is the ‘hostage’s’ supposed preferred parent. Both parents actually get a copy of the report so the hostage had better toe the line. Surely the Court recognizes the presence of undue influence and the fact that the child is, well a child!? They do, but not enough to go against the child hostage’s supposed wishes. So Childress is right to say that professional psychology is not yet competent enough in this field to help the Judges. This Judge lets both parties know that she would prefer an agreement of to be reached. She would prefer not to have to make a decision. She is no Solomon! There is pushing and pulling that would not happen if you were rational and loved your child. To save the child. With terrible rationality, I let go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brian Prager says:

      Thank you for the note and sharing this sad, tragic story Richard. It’s terribly important that we understand that this which you describe is typical for Japan, but it is by no means authentic psychological practice. An evaluator in a child custody case who is qualified to do the interview process would have not only the proper degree, he or she would have to have a working knowledge of technique and principles which are both meant to ensure that children are not put into this utterly unfair position of having to “choose’ his or her parent. A qualified evaluator knows how powerful and crude an instrument that “family court” is, would understand that the true aim is written in the law a serving the child’s interests, which means, not “what does the poor victim think he has to say to make the conflict stop,now” but what are the child’s psychological, developmental needs at this stage of his or her life. The evaluator would also have to observe the interactions of parents with their children in order to understand whether or not there is a psychological parental bond with the parent and whether or not the parent is attentive to that bond. Children in family court are already in an imperiled state: they have been abducted (in the case of Japan) and seen their homes broken. They will already be in a state of trauma, sorrow, and perhaps fear that things won’t be set right; and they have no tolerance when they are small for the uncertainty and insecurity in which they have been forced to live. The Japanese system, with its impenetrable “single parent” exclusive custody rights, is full of enticements to parents to traumatize their children by pushing themselves into the exclusive center of the child’s universe and excluding the other parent. It is their most direct aim, because without it, they risk losing custody to the other, who is forced to compete in the same, insane, anti-child manner.
      I’m continually appalled to see that it is the parent with the greater understanding of the risk to the child of continuous rancor between the parents and harm to the child who most often withdraws from the fight once they see how it is rigged, as you did. It is a war of attrition they fight; and “victory” in the Japanese child abduction regime is the proprietary possession of a traumatized child whose parent bond is destroyed. What pleasure it must be for them to “win” in this way!
      This is how I interpret the system today at least.
      Thank you for writing. Stay in touch!

      Like

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