Child Abduction and Denial of Access Are Masked as Custody Determination in Japan

If, in a science fiction tale that takes place in a surreality full of excessive, ominous foreboding and half-visible appearances, 4000 jumping, running, frolicking children suddenly vanished from the playgrounds in your city’s neighborhood parks,  leaving startlingly empty desks in school classrooms, bunk beds instantly voided of their giggling inhabitants, PJ flannels dangling unused over the backs of chairs, and the warm presence of the sound of children’s laughter and voices abruptly ceased, leaving the air violently empty, toys clatter to the ground, and no sound but the wind blowing the pebbles, brushing the leaves and grass, swaying the slow squeak of empty swing-sets, what would the expected plot turn be?

You can easily envision the scene. The police and national guard race haphazardly through the streets, sirens blaring; the President and Secretary of State stand before cameras speculating on the latest source of the terrorist threat to national security. Attorney General Holder is called before the kleig lights to order urgent emergency investigations. And the TV screens, well you can just imagine! The flag graphics are unfurled; news teams fan out to make doorstep living room couch interviews with shocked, hysterical parents who wring their hands and handkerchiefs and plead for mercy for their disappeared children. Anxieties would flow back into the audience to meet the terrifying facts on screen.

Facts, it seems, do not entirely speak for themselves. If they did, it would be widely evident that a tremendous and geometrically growing number of children have been caught up in what is not a cinematic fantasy, but a matter of diplomatic avoidance and delusion leading to a colossal, unacknowledged human rights abuse: an internal and international hot war on parents and children that has a long and dreary history in Japan, the U.S.’ key Asian geopolitical partner. Children, property of one apparently sovereign Japanese parent, are routinely swept over borders and hidden from their parents — with the weapons of the police, courts and prisons of Japan aimed squarely at any Dad or Mom that dares to challenge this exceptional sovereignty of the Japanese National Parent, regardless of the child’s home origins.  Yet despite the bureaucratic extravagance of the practices that separate millions of children from their parents, the Japanese have until now led a relatively charmed life in which the consequences of this practice have remained largely unacknowledged and unchallenged. Damaged children pass their damage onto the next damaged generations,  leaving a suffocating and brutal reality. With the cause absent, the effect thrives.

Child abduction and denial of parental access are masked as ‘custody determinations” in Japan

There are many facets that combine to enable the Japanese’ systematic elimination of children’s and parents’ fundamental rights. The vast majority of people in Japan and around the world do not know that a child abduction problem of great magnitude exists in Japan, because through the agency of government institutions, the problem is masked in significant ways.

What do we mean by this?

Child abductions are masked within Japan as custody disputes — a reality that brings horrible consequences.

Here I focus only on the numerical elaboration of the abduction problem within Japan and try to estimate the number of cases. Without the acknowledgment of this understanding of  the numbers, human rights organizations and national governments have  successfully avoided open conflict with the Japanese State over this extraordinary extension of Japanese sovereignty beyond its borders into the cradles, playpens, strollers and  bedrooms of the world. But this is not to go on forever; and the first step is to count!

Parental abduction, it is said, is not illegal in Japan, so abductions are not counted. The first assertion is, has been, and will continue to be challenged. Parental abduction is a crime requiring a cohort of malicious and unscrupulous judges and lawyers, and legal trickery which counts on the cooperation and feigned ignorance of the law by Japan’s partners. Therefore, it is difficult to know how many there have been.  Maintaining this circumstance creates a virtuous haze; a grossly distorted misrecognition of the nature of the problem that keeps it under the radar of human rights organizations, governments that ought to be concerned, and most importantly, the general public. Masking is a powerful ideological mechanism, which keeps ugly and violent human rights abuses invisible behind an appearance of order, and fair, rational international governance.
Let us attempt to estimate the numbers, on the basis of the “known knowns”; those things which social agencies in Japan can reveal to us.

First, we know that after divorce in Japan only one parent retains custody, and there is no enforceable visitation. This is the zero-level fact of the national and international issue of child abduction and deprivation of children’s rights in Japan.

How many children in Japan are affected by this?

To answer this question, we can consider this research obtained from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare’s  divorce vital statistics, and visitation rulings obtained from the Supreme Court of Japan.

Numbers summary

Here, we have vital statistics on divorce and dependent children reported by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) in Japan.

From 1992 to 2009, the following numbers are reported in this  public record.

There have been:

4,358,276 divorces in total, including Japanese-Japanese divorces; that is, divorces in which both husband and wife were Japanese nationals.
    divorces where one spouse is a foreigner (non-Japanese)
7,449        divorces where one spouse is American

There are about 250,000 divorces per year in Japan.

There is, on average, one child per divorce in all categories.

We all know and have known for decades, perhaps a century, how vital close relationships with their parents are to children in order for them to develop the vast capacities that are their right and human inheritance. How much contact between parents and children exists today in Japan after divorce?

Half of the children of divorce in Japan cannot see their parent even as little as once every month. This is seen by considering Supreme Court of Japan rulings that show that the frequency of visitation, post-divorce in Japan, is less than once a month for them. This means that many divorced parents in Japan see their children less than 24 hours per year.

Below is a  line graph of data obtained from the Supreme Court of Japan. This data shows how much visitation the highest court in Japan thinks children should have.

The pie chart below appeared on NHK’s Close Up Gendai on September 8, 2010. It shows a survey in which 58% of respondents stated that they do not have visitation with their children after divorce in Japan.

If we multiply the number of divorces or children by about 50%, (those who have less than once a month visitation), then we can see the estimated number of children who do not have regular visitation with their parent. Under these conditions, parents and children cannot maintain their relationship with each other. This is a human rights violation that in effect is an abduction that has been institutionalized by the court and law and called a “divorce and custody determination.

Let us continue to consider the magnitude of this deprivation of children of their parents:

From 1992 to 2009 this has affected an estimated:

2.2 million total children in Japan
115,000 children of dual nationality
3,825 children with dual American nationality

The US State Department also reports 374 American children have been abducted from the US to Japan since 1994.
3,825 + 374 makes  an estimated more than 4,000 children who have lost a meaningful relationship with their American parent.

Of course, the numbers within Japan are staggering. It seems there are about 2.2 million Japanese children or more  who have lost meaningful contact with their fathers or mothers under Japanese law and court practice. All of these are children who cannot spend Japan’s Children’s Day with both parents; who cannot benefit from the richness of their parent’s love and experience; and who ultimately must of necessity be developmentally crippled by the loss of their primary attachment. In the context of a nation that is capable of educating itself and its people, and of deriving the full benefit of its wealth and social stability for the public good, this is a remarkably violent, one might say sadistic way to treat parents and children.

It is vitally important to note that the U.S. State Department knows about  this, all of it and more, very well;  the State Department has known of this in fact for years. If the State Department and allied agencies and governments had addressed this issue head on with the knowledge and influence they have possessed over the years, if long ago it had proclaimed directly with conviction that this was an intolerable illegal and abusive practice, the abduction of my son Rui and the children of perhaps millions of lost and despairing parents in and outside Japan might not have been allowed to occur. Instead, a regime of childcare, co-parenting,  respect for family rights, children’s needs and the sovereignty of  the states with whom Japan shares the world might have been allowed to develop, be respected, and be preserved.  Instead we now have a conflict that is traumatic indeed for the Japanese and the rest of us. Let us not forget to whom we owe our protection and under what principles.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments


In Jacqueline Rose’s Mothers, she writes a lament, a critical inquiry, and a protest on behalf of mothers, and by extension (for me), all parents and children.

We seek to protect our loved and vulnerable ones. So first she borrows an epigraph from Shakespeare’s The Winter Tale :

Hermoine: You gods, look down,
And from your sacred vials, pour your graces
Upon my daughter’s head

And this from The Return by Hisham Matar:

I suppose that is what we want from our mothers: to maintain the world –  and, even if it is a lie, to proceed as though the world could be maintained.

Although these are poignantly addressed by Jacqueline Rose to the dialogue of desire, failure, and longing we hold for motherhood, they have much relevance for us as parents, friends, and as guardians of the world in the necessary work of care for all whom we encounter that need us, and whom we need.

We buried Greg in wet ground on Wednesday, October 17th. I had to return to New York and my employer in time to work Thursday. If the images in my dreams last night are an indication, we are far from done with the shocks and pains from this fresh wound.  It is a dreary thing to be whisked away from out of the middle of things, before the first processes are even done, to face the long process of grieving and learning to live with the grief.

I have in mind the lost love and relationships that our children and we ourselves have had to endure. Why was Rui not allowed to know his uncles? Inside a neo-feudal structure of workplace-serfdom we’ve inherited from living pasts, we confront the most fundamental elements of life, and the aging and faltering of our bodies from posts in the republic of suffering, rooted into the less meaningful forms that we live:  borne down by authority in semi- and post-industrial service work, in a bruising, unfree social semi-order. We live in shifting historical time between  positive and negative poles, some as a legacy of victories, others as consequential disasters and their long afterlives.

The Russian Futurist poet, Velimir Khlebnikov, gives me another epigraph for the feeling of this moment, from The Tables of Destiny, of 1914:

The law of the see-saw argues
That your shoes will be loose or tight
That the hours will be day or night
And the ruler of earth the rhinoceros
Or us.

We owe and are owed life for ourselves and the care of those we love. My dear sister reminded us on Wednesday in her eulogy for Greg Eaves, seeking blessing against blight in the ancient love-text, Song of Songs,

Love is stronger than Death.

For Greg,
In loving memory

I woke up every morning
Not believing her to be gone
Outside the doves and sparrows
Carried on



Posted in Japan Child Abduction | 2 Comments

Our Brother

Tonight we have to mourn the passing of Greg Eaves, Rui’s uncle, my sister Karen’s beloved spouse.  Our brother.
Like my sister / his wife Karen, Greg studied and practiced psychotherapy. Like her,  he aimed to be a healer of the most intangible forms of pain: the psychic ones.

Speaking as father of my only and abducted child, I wish every one of those who afflict our vulnerable loved ones could be silenced, and the motives of psychic violence be neutralized.

Every day of our lives should be lived so well for others as Greg did his. We love him for this and can hardly speak.

Karen and Greg


Posted in Japan Child Abduction | 9 Comments

What a dream I had!

Disillusionment, sour and abrasive in the nervous system, sings heart-stopping laments when it seeps past the veil. To whom is it blameful to seek to evade the laceration of grief?

A fall into a bramble of thorns is not cool rippling breeze.

Your obstacles broke our shins and hobbled our walks.

Looking around us now, we face among ourselves a class that is rising in biliousness and wrath. I don’t see in its rebellion a struggle against the restrictions of the reality principle.  It bears the insufferable marks of grim authoritarianism. It marks out who rises and who falls, who is protected and saved, and who is expelled, ignored, jailed, or drowned.

The small, meek, reduced and bare lives.

We should not speak for privilege, but against it. It’s not renunciation of the reality principle that we need, but renunciation of some stuffy privileged membership.

What do you see, what am I asking you to see, here below?

Brian and Rui - superimposed on a 1931 photograph of Bertolt and Stefan Brecht taken by Sergei Tretiiakov

Brian and Rui – Faces of love superimposed on a 1931 photograph of Bertolt and Stefan Brecht taken by Sergei Tretiiakov in Berlin.

I very, very often have dream images like this one above, with odd sing-songy rhymes in my head as I wake up each day in this long hottest of all summers, in 2018. I’m posting my indelible love for Rui despite the madness, distance, and long, silent, spatial and temporal horrors. But that’s not all.

The picture on which I superimposed our faces is one that Brecht’s friend and comrade Sergei Tretiakov took of him and his son when they lived in Berlin, immediately prior to Hitler’s taking of the German Chancellorship and the final run-up/ run-down to the end of social rights, workers’ rights and democratic rights in Germany in 1933-34.

In exile from Nazi Germany, resettled and still permanently unsettled in the United States, Brecht wrote in a letter to Karl Korsch in 1941, “Even in the backwoods of Finland, I never felt so out of the world as here.”

This is the most deeply nested of all dreams:

Look into my eyes. See what you are. See what I see. Look into my eyes, now. See what you are. See what I see. Look into my eyes now. Let me look into yours. It’s time to leave your prison. It’s time that you go free. Look into my eyes. Love… See yourself in me. And forgive me. And forgive me… Let me love you. Let me take your place. Let me free you. Look, Love… Let me end with you.

What a dream I had!
Pressed in organdy
Clothed in crinoline of smoky Burgundy
Softer than the rain.
I wandered empty streets down
Past the shop displays
I heard cathedral bells
Tripping down the alleyways
As I walked on.
And when you ran to me,
Your cheeks flushed with the night
We walked on frosted fields of juniper and lamplight
I held your hand.
And when I awoke and felt you warm and near
I kissed your honey hair with my grateful tears
Oh, I love you, girl
Oh, how I love you.


Rui, my heart is enclosed in amber. It still waits for us.

Posted in Japan Child Abduction | 1 Comment

Soul Murders: Abductions, Detentions, Psychiatric and Physical Tortures

Detained Migrant Children Have Been Forcibly Injected, Beaten, Kept Tied to Chairs in Cells, Naked

The soul murders continue. We are seeing news stories like these every day.
This is the government to ask to restore the rights of children that Japan has abducted?

Detained Migrant Children Have Been Forcibly Injected With Powerful Psychiatric Drugs

June 21, 2018

Immigrant children say they were beaten, kept in cells naked and tied to chairs at center

Immigrant children say they were beaten, kept in cells naked and tied to chairs at center
Children separated from their families are being help Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Virginia

Immigrant children locked up at a Virginia center say they were beaten, left naked in cells and strapped to chairs by guards.

Around 30 unaccompanied minors are being held at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center and have suffered from an abusive atmosphere, according to a federal court case filed on behalf of an unidentified undocumented 17-year-old boy from Mexico.

The boy spent time at a San Antonio center and in New York’s Mercy First Residential Treatment Center after being taken into custody at the border before being transferred to Virginia for alleged violent behavior.

What he allegedly found there were prison-like conditions with cells, no privacy from guards to use the bathroom, one hour of recreation time per day, racist taunts such as being called a “Mexican monkey,” physical hitting as well as harsh punishments.

“Several immigrant detainees have reported being stripped of their clothes, occasionally including their underwear,” the Virginia suit says, adding that the plaintiff was punished by being tied to a chair for hours and other children put in restraints for long periods of time.

One 15-year-old Honduran boy joining the suit said that he had been slammed against the ground and the wall after an argument over holding a door open, another 15-year-old said he was restrained to a chair with a bag over his head.

Children at the center who say they have been abused are as young as 14 years old.

The suit also alleges that the mental health of the children, some of whom have suffered trauma in their native countries or on the road to the U.S., is not cared for despite diagnoses and suicide attempts.

“Kill yourself already,” one unidentified child was allegedly told by staff at Shenandoah.

In response to the suit, the center denied abuse, and said that children had only been restrained to keep them from hurting themselves, and that they were kept in their rooms without clothes or a mattress only after they had destroyed their clothes or bed.

The children also say that Latino immigrant children were treated different than the juvenile detainees normally in the center, who were largely white and regular access to Xbox gaming systems.

Allegations against the Virginia center, filed in October, have come to light after attention on the affects of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy that split up children from their parents accused of breaking the law by entering the U.S. illegally.

Pictures of children in cages, some of the few released from the centers, shocked observers, leading Trump to change the policy with an order on Wednesday after originally saying that there was nothing he could do.

Allegations of abuse of immigrant children were also filed against the Shiloh Treatment Center in Texas, where staff reportedly used powerful psychotropic drugs to treat children who were not behaving with a “chemical straightjacket.”

The drugs were administered without parental approval even though it could have been available and raised the risk of diabetes and suicide for the young children, according to filings from April by the Center for Human Rights & Constitutional Law.

Carlos Holguin, a lawyer for the group, told the Daily News that nearly all of the children he had met had been medicated.

Posted in Japan Child Abduction | 1 Comment