Rui is Eleven Years Old

November 2016

Dear Rui,

I walked today – as I always do – past the park where you and I were once locked in and let out by the NYC police that night. Do you remember that? We were so deeply into lying on the canvas net at the top of the jungle gym, looking  up at the stars, that we didn’t notice that the park was closing. It was a little scary to be locked in, but I held you and we waited until they came with a torch to cut the gate chain.

From there I walked to the train, same one where I carried you; and going past, there were so many mothers and fathers and beautiful kids of New York who were like you riding with mamas and daddies to their homes. I had the same daydreams I have always had; but each time they are- I swear to you -aimed more poignantly – sharply  at my heart – than the time before.

I am aware that you are passing the milestone of now 11 years since the day I first held you; your entry into the world in 2005.  It’s so sad and absurd to tell you from this huge distance how much I long for our old -and now distant to you- love between us.  Father and son.

I hope you are happy today, Rui. I hope that you have around you people who actually love you, and that the days we have lost have been compensated somehow by real people, real people who want more of you than your pretty face, your school-day achievements, or your private, quiet collaboration with their secrets.

I am unable still to discover your hiding place, even though it may no longer be as well hidden as it was before. Write to me, and I will know.

Happy Birthday Rui-kun.

Listen to these New York City school kids. This is where you were supposed to grow up; with kids just like these.

I’ve told the truth,
I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

I have died every day waiting for you
Darling, don’t be afraid.
I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

And all along I believed I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me
I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more

Posted in Japan Child Abduction | 2 Comments

Close to heaven, Crushed at the gate

It’s a failing that I have not posted with regular frequency here as time has rushed by. The reason is simple: it is a pain-filled activity and therefore, a hard discipline to stay with. But it is vital to my survival, my well-being, and my cause that I do. Like so many others, I have striven to live in the dream that in speaking up and writing about the issue that I deeply care about above all others, some outward influence or projection of a voice for change might be heard, and even make some difference, large or small. I find this to be one of life’s necessary illusions.

But mea culpa. I am not often strong enough to pursue this and fall prey to the demons of everyday life. The demons that prick and tug at left behind parents are vicious, relentless ones. They strike at odd times, in unexpected places. Every venture out into the public spaces of the city is a risky proposition where the psychic triggers of children’s voices, remembered parks, playgrounds, or any other place where children are kissed and carried, can be encountered. Yet, I know we can’t stay indoors and hide from the world.

In early 20th century Europe, Freud exposed the inadvertent, unconscious satisfaction we men and women sometimes tend toward, sabotaging our hopes to escape or lessen our discontent.  In his wonderful recently published book, The Trouble With Pleasure, Aaron Schuster gives us this bit of wit from French litterateur and translator, Georges Perros, “It is true that people go to a lot of trouble in order to be unhappy. But are they?”  A reply is implied by the famous Freud joke, “Not to be born would be the best thing… But this scarcely happens to one in a hundred thousand.”¹

So, attempting to restore For Rui Boy and return to making this my place to signal my part in the struggle of left behind parents, I make this post a paean to ongoing love, the undying, uncanny vividness of the bond with my boy Rui, attenuated, decayed, undermined and degraded by the systemic abduction regime of Japan, the collaboration of the U.S. government with that regime, and by the mother and family who have hidden him and kept us apart through all these most-important years.

Rui, never forgotten or out of mind for a day since the fraud was perpetrated, since his disappearance was plotted and engineered by Machiko Terauchi, Kensuke Ohunki and their cohort. Rui, my heart. Your photographs cover my walls. I close my eyes and see you every day.

Rui 2008 New York

Rui 2008 New York

I also take inspiration and comfort from those who provide them. This seems like the right time to single out one or two special ones.

My friend Bruce Gherbetti, father of three tantalizingly beautiful daughters, Rion, Lauren, and Julia, who were abducted 7 years ago, and have suffered being kept in the region surrounding the disastrously ruined Fukushima nuclear power plant since the tsunami of March, 2011 turned the soil and air toxic. Bruce knows where his children live. He moved to Japan to try to be near them as often as he could; to let these loved children know how deeply committed their father is to standing by and protecting them. He helped to start up an NGO called Kizuna CPR to work on Japanese parental abduction alongside John Gomez and others. But although his efforts to reconnect with the girls have been partially successful, they have also been thwarted in recent years by the girls’ mother, who has rationalized depriving them of the ardor and love their father offers them. Still, Bruce keeps hope alive by making the long trip to where his children are when he can from his current home in Australia. By showing himself at their home and asking for their company, they can know in their hearts that he is longing to see them and keep the bond alive.

Bruce has inspired all left behind parents with his candid displays of love and care for his children, his sacrifices, and his unsparing generosity to fellow parents of the abducted. To me, he has provided a vital link between the worlds of the sane and struggling, and the rest, sometimes lost and dying. We both have hopes that our kids might meet one day to understand what each of them has endured, and how it will always affect them.


Rion and Bruce – First hug in 2 years


Bruce with Flowers for Lauren

Bruce with Flowers for Lauren


Bruce and Julia (2016)

Bruce and Julia (2016)

Another relentless parent, engaged in recent attempts to bring public awareness to the absurdity, the inflicted pain, and the abusive process now part of the Japanese “management” of the issue of mass parental abduction of small children, is Tim TerStege. He has a campaign named for his son which he calls Liefie is Missing with Facebook links, and numerous letter writing campaigns and public demonstrations to try to reach people,  governments and news media. Most recently, Tim climbed to the top of Japan’s national-symbolic volcano, Mount Fuji, carrying banners and mementos to advertise the injustice that he and all of us are suffering. Several outlets from the Canadian news media were willing to make note of Tim’s struggle.

How shameful it is that the U.S. media has not also been willing to grant us access to popular support. Only money talks in America.

Tim Terstege climbs Fuji for Liefe.

Tim Terstege climbs Fuji for Liefe.


Japan has continued to make no meaningful progress towards eliminating the entrenched habit of allowing parents to abduct children, of denying meaningful ongoing relationships between divorced parents and their children to go on undisturbed by state practices and social pathology. There are committees in government, meetings with NGOs, pamphlets get published, proposals that get circulated, all of them inadequate and partial to the point where they serve only the function of infinite evasion.

In the meantime, there are millions of children in Japan who are growing up under this infantile form of deprivation and falsehood. An ever growing number of kids who have no authentic relationship with and, most commonly, no ongoing knowledge at all of their parents and the struggles we suffer, longing to repair what cannot be repaired.

This malicious abduction regime exists by design. It requires deep exertions on the part of the Japanese state and its partners in the U.S. Department of State to keep it going. That is what we must unfortunately document as well.

For this day, it is longing and lost love that preoccupy me. Missed opportunities in the thousands. Learning, expansiveness, and bonding missed out on. Possibilities lost. Music unsung. Poetry unspoken, unheard, and never created. Rui’s abduction is a torment of the human spirit. It is now and forever, never to be assuaged.


  1. Aaron Schuster, The Trouble with Pleasure: Deleuze and Psychoanalysis. MIT Press, 2016.

She took all my money
And my best friend
You know the story
Here it comes again
I have no pride
I have no shame
You gotta make it rain

Since you’re gone
Deep inside it hurts
I’m just another sad guest
On this dark earth

I want to believe
In the mercy of the world again
Make it rain, make it rain!

The night’s too quiet
Stretched out alone
I need the whip of thunder
And the wind’s dark moan

I’m not Abel, I’m just Cain
Open up the heavens
Make it rain.

I’m close to heaven
Crushed at the gate
*They sharpen their knives
On my mistakes*

What she done, you can’t give it a name
You gotta make it rain

Without her love
Without your kiss
Hell can’t burn me
More than this
I’m burning up all this pain
Put out the fire
Make it rain.

I’m born to trouble
I’m born to fate
Inside a promise
I can’t escape
It’s the same old world
But nothing looks the same
Make it rain!

Posted in Brian Prager, 誘拐犯, Japan Child Abduction, Machiko Terauchi, Ohnuki Kensuke Child Abductor, Parental abduction, Rui Prager, Rui Terauchi, 寺内るい, 寺内真智子 | 4 Comments

Transitional Objects

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Rui 2009 NYC 2

Rui in NY. 2009

I imagine (merely imagine) that if he could speak from this part of himself, it might sound something like this:

“I have a father.

Just like anyone, I have a father who loves me, who longs to care for me, and whose care I need; a person who is part of me who I need to know, bond with, play with, and learn from in order to form a healthy psychic self. “

I might want him to say, “I  have a grandfather as well, who doesn’t know me now. Uncles and aunts, cousins and more. I had a language and geography in which I was once finding a place for myself. All of these external persons and places, not yet fully formed in me, were becoming something.

But then, I also have a mother, who hid me, like a keeper keeps. Within a family, a blurred and narrow, painfully-induced, broken-fragment concept of what I am. Likely she doesn’t tolerate the range of things that make up a whole person. She refuses to see in me the relation between “heteronomy” and “autonomy…” The thread between the building-up frame of multiple attachments – support beams and dream spaces;  songs we sing to ready ourselves for sleep and voice-tones we hear inside the quiet – all of these attachments that we make as small, growing people, which eventually grow into those on which we must depend, though we get on with detaching from them. With guidance and help, the time we pass, the attaching and detaching, binds the fragments into a world we feel from within, and eventually hope to  share with new persons.

But – “Soul murder results in breaking the victim’s identity into contradictory fragments that function independently, without effective synthesis.” (Leonard Shengold, Soul Murder, p. 256).

From her actions, it’s clear enough that mother hadn’t acquired the concept of how profoundly the protection from the dangerous or “threatening” element in the dependencies that all children have, is part of “good” parental treatment of a loved child. Protection from the eating, ravenous, devouring object that is created between us, if we are not wary enough of it. These are hard things to express, much less to deeply intuit.

There is what Winnicott called a “resting place for the individual engaged in the perpetual human task of keeping inner and outer reality separate yet interrelated.” (in Playing and Reality.) This place, a place that exists in a ghostly imaginary in-between, is the place the protected and well-loved child pours her love into: the teddy bear space (or the thumb) become visible  evidence that this repository of this love exists, though it can be rendered unseen with insensitive eyes; eyes of blame.

I often vividly remember a plaintive sound Rui gave, turning to his mother over his left shoulder, innocently asking “why-y?” when she refused his daddy a place in the king-sized bedtime story space where he was soon comforted to sleep. She wanted The Father to Leave the Room and Shut Himself Behind the Door. To leave them to their fragment, their unitary bond. She conspired against the heteronomous person laying there under her care.  But he protested – with this intersubjective space of love almost materializing in the room above our heads, making its presence known and felt in each  of us. “Why” indeed?

As I lay down and touched his four-year-old head, he was now smiling with the cover tucked under each arm. I saw his triumphal power to satisfy his wish. It wasn’t so much to ask; it didn’t last long. I recall the way his face squeezed itself into a display-smile for his mother to understand, were she to let herself see, his defense against anxiety.

Picture 11E

Rui’s father. NY, 2015.

Posted in Brian Prager, 誘拐犯, Japan Child Abduction, Japanese Child Abduction, Machiko Terauchi, Rui Prager, Rui Terauchi, Uncategorized, 寺内るい, 寺内真智子 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Fukushima nuclear disaster is ongoing

The Fukushima nuclear disaster is ongoing

This post was written by Andrew R. Marks and published by the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

published May 23, 2016


The 5th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster and the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the two most catastrophic nuclear accidents in history, both occurred recently. Images of Chernobyl are replete with the international sign of radioactive contamination (a circle with three broad spokes radiating outward in a yellow sign). In contrast, ongoing decontamination efforts at Fukushima lack international warnings about radioactivity. Decontamination workers at Fukushima appear to be poorly protected against radiation. It is almost as if the effort is to make the Fukushima problem disappear. A more useful response would be to openly acknowledge the monumental problems inherent in managing a nuclear plant disaster. Lessons from Chernobyl are the best predictors of what the Fukushima region of Japan is coping with in terms of health and environmental problems following a nuclear catastrophe.

Five years after a tsunami caused the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, cleanup of radioactive contamination is ongoing and a formerly vibrant farming region lays largely fallow. A recent visit to northeast Japan revealed wholly unexpected aspects of the impact of the meltdown of three nuclear reactors. The area devastated by the nuclear accident is easily accessed by a two-hour train ride from Tokyo to the city of Fukushima. It is then possible to rent a car and drive to within 18 kM of the reactors, which are still in meltdown.

On the train, digital banners in Japanese and English encourage passengers to visit the beautiful cherry trees in the Fukushima district. In the rental car agency, glossy pamphlets exclaim the beauty of the region and feature the brilliant pink blossoms. On a recent April afternoon, the cherry blossoms were indeed spectacular. The roads deep into the region affected by the radioactive plume that engulfed the area in March of 2011 are clearly marked and readily accessible in a car rented at the Fukushima rail station. My Japanese-speaking colleague translated the rental agency’s map as indicating an “area not to return to,” which we carefully avoided.

Following route 114 traveling east toward the coast, progressively larger piles of large black plastic bags filled with dirt appeared on the roadside. At first, there were piles of several hundred such bags, each approximately five feet wide by five feet in height, methodically stacked one upon the other. Of note, similar bags appear to be used elsewhere in Japan to hold debris at construction and yard cleaning sites. Each bag was numbered with a white marker.

Approaching the eastern coast of Japan, the piles of bags on the roadside were more frequent and larger and larger and larger. As route 114 progresses toward the exclusion zone indicated on the car rental agency’s map, the piles of plastic bags filled with dirt reach unimaginable dimensions. Numbered in the many thousands, they eventually fill entire valleys that recede off into the horizon. In some instances, the piles of black plastic bags are covered with blue tarps with pipes inserted into their tops, presumably to provide ventilation.

Roadside radiation monitoring stations are placed near now abandoned homes, many of which are still decorated with plantings of flowers and the blossoming cherry trees that are found in the yards of most homes in this region. The readings on the radiation monitors ranged from 0.2115 to 1.115 microsieverts per hour, a measure of the relative risks imparted to biological tissues by ionizing radiation. One microsievert per hour is equivalent to four airport security screenings per hour and is almost twice the annual limit for occupational whole-body radiation dose limits established by the nuclear regulatory commission. One sievert total exposure causes a 5.5% risk of cancer (1).

To understand the health risks associated with ongoing radiation contamination and cleanup in the Fukushima region, the best comparator is Chernobyl. Two of the most important public health issues related to both the Chernobyl and the Fukushima disasters are thyroid cancers and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Assessing the effects of these nuclear accidents on the risk of thyroid cancer is confounded by the fact that the mere collection of data required to make the diagnosis (e.g., thyroid scans and ultrasounds) necessitates extranormal surveillance. Thus, true control populations are not available. Nevertheless, there have been reports of increased rates of thyroid cancer following the Chernobyl nuclear accident (2), and extrapolation from that incident to Fukushima is reasonable but as-yet unproven. The incidence of PTSD is understandably quite high following nuclear accidents (3). There are no controlled experimental data available to assess the ongoing risks of chronic low-level radiation now present throughout the Fukushima region. Thus, it is imperative that epidemiological data are collected as thoroughly as possible to provide insight concerning the risks of long-term low-level environmental radiation. Similarly, it is imperative that data are collected concerning the spread of radioactivity from the nuclear plant disaster via water (e.g., streams running through the region should be sampled regularly) and via animals (in particular birds should be banded and monitored to determine how they may be vectors for spreading radioactivity in seeds and other forms throughout Japan).

Just outside the town of Iitate, brilliant pink flags, which are the same color used for the advertisements designed to attract tourists to view the cherry blossoms in the region, flap in the breeze, announcing (only in Japanese) “radioactivity removal.” At one particularly large site near the town of Iitate, a constant stream of large trucks with entirely open containers was streaming into an excavation site located at a large mountain of brown dirt. Huge shovels were digging dirt and placing it onto conveyer belts pouring the dirt into the open trucks, which were leaving the site heading south. The men and women handling this contaminated dirt were wearing outfits similar to construction workers observed in other regions of Japan, including helmets, masks, gloves, and overalls (Figure 1). Over an approximately 5-hour period of driving through the region, the only police observed were at the turn around marking the edge of the restricted zone. No military presence was observed. On several occasions, workers were seen handling the plastic bags of radioactively contaminated dirt without gloves.

Fukushima contamination figure 1

Worker at radioactivity decontamination site near Fukushima labeling bags fFigure 1Worker at radioactivity decontamination site near Fukushima labeling bags filled with topsoil removed from contaminated areas. Image credit: Andrew R. Marks.

During the entire afternoon of driving through the region not a single sign warning of the potential dangers of radioactive contamination was observed in any language other than Japanese. There was no security at most of the contaminated sites, and thousands of plastic bags of contaminated dirt were piled high in areas without any supervision or even a fence to prevent access from the public roadway. Birds flew all through the area, presumably transporting radioactive seeds and leaving contaminated droppings throughout Japan.

It is estimated that over 100,000 individuals have been displaced from their homes due to the reactor meltdown (4). Some have been relocated to far away cities, including Tokyo. During my visit, a group of five elderly women arrived on the same train as we did and were escorted onto a waiting bus to be driven to see the cherry blossoms decorating the village they used to live in. Other displaced former residents of now unlivable villages are perhaps less fortunate and have been relocated to one of the numerous “temporary” dwellings dotting the region indicated by convenient roadside signs. Many of these were immediately adjacent to radioactivity detectors indicating levels of at least 1 microsievert per hour.

Ironically, during my visit to Fukushima on April 14, 2016, an earthquake rocked the Kumamoto region of Japan, ultimately causing at least 42 deaths and displacing thousands. This region contains the only working nuclear reactor remaining in Japan. Too far away to be felt in Fukushima, it was nevertheless a harsh reminder of the continued risk for further damage to the reactors already in meltdown.

The continued high level of radioactivity removal efforts in the Fukushima region (entire hill sides have been denuded of surface soil) indicate that the Japanese government knows the health threat caused by the contamination remains. The lack of security, the failure to provide any of the internationally accepted protective warnings against radioactivity contamination (e.g., the universal three-armed black and yellow sign warning of radioactivity), and the absence of any warning signs for non-Japanese-speaking individuals, despite the active advertising campaign to attract tourists to view the cherry blossoms on this beautiful region of Japan, is disturbing. The possibility that individuals could access enormous amounts of radioactively contaminated dirt and transport it to a sensitive area in Japan or elsewhere is frightening.

About the author

Andrew R. Marks is the chair of the Department of Physiology, founding director of the Clyde and Helen Wu Center for Molecular Cardiology, and professor of Medicine and Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and served as editor in chief of the JCI from 2002 to 2007. His research focuses on the regulation of ryanodine receptor calcium release channels that control excitation-contraction coupling in cardiac and skeletal muscle.


Conflict of interest: The author has declared that no conflict of interest exists.

Reference information:J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI88434.


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