Collective Feeling, Not Nationalism, Writes a New History (On Rui’s 12th Birthday)

“We live in a country where Americans assimilate corpses in their daily comings and goings.”
– Claudia Rankine, “The Condition of Black Life”

The appallingly truthful sentence above comes from a new book of essays I’ve recently been reading off and on, called Rebellious Mourning, a collection edited by Cindy Milstein, and published by AK Press with the subtitle The Collective Work of Grief. The book is full of beautiful and powerful texts and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The essay in which the sentiment Claudia Rankine is expressing appears commemorates Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, and Emmett Till, all victims of harsh racial violence in the United States. The essay also pays an equally deep homage to honor and recognize the grief of their mothers, the parents of these children, who have been living witnesses whose recognition provides a response to the vast and profound sleep-walking obliviousness and indifference of a surrounding larger society that struggles, but cannot yet be sufficiently roused by identification with the enormous communal and individual grief of these families and communities to put an end to the brutal violence here directed at our brother, our sister, our cousin, our nephew and niece, and our children.

In another essay in the book, “Rages of Fukushima and Grief in a No-Future Present”, this fact is echoed by Sabu Kohso and Mari Matsumoto, as they discuss the obstacles to a confrontation with the Japanese state over the mass violence and death brought about by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  The main obstacle, they explain, is “a massive obliviousness to the devastating situation” which, soon after March 11, 2010, “settled in, allowing for the continuation of business as usual.” Among the many culprits responsible for this failure of recognition – corporate interests, disaster governance that scapegoats and casts the victims aside, and more – the most emphatic for them is misdirected, politically motivated “nationalist empathy” – sentiments of the nationalist right which immediately short-circuited mourning, demanded the rapid industrial and commercial  reconstruction of Fukushima, and which is now a lethal undercurrent  in a state that is directed to militarization, exacerbating regional tension, and thereby masking the disastrous threats and increasingly precarious hold on life of millions of its directly-affected people.

Mari Matsumoto rightly praises grassroots groups of women in Japan in particular for having lead an organizational effort to oppose Japan’s institutional indifference to its people’s well-being in the aftermath of Japan’s self-nuking. Despite clear evidence supported by the World Health Organization and others, which found radioactive particles in the breast-milk of nursing mothers far away in Tokyo, the Japanese government set up supremely lax measures to respond to the nuclear disaster, doubling down on its victims, making small children into the most profoundly affected of all. As Matsumoto explained, “local governments have no measures to take” because they were mandated first and foremost by the authorities to “cover up the effects of radiation on one’s health.”

These essays drive home the necessity of helping ourselves to address those structures and persons who have harmed us by collectivizing our grief , not nationalizing it. Official attempts to direct the people of Japan to patriotic, flag-waving unity, when a sector of powerful interests had indeed issued an environmental assault on a generation, siphoned energies that ought to have been directed at challenging and changing the structures that dominate, rather than giving space to piousness, or petty outrage against those who protested the lax response of the state. This pressure to conform to that which no one should conform to exacts a heavy price, not only from the people of Japan, but in a wider swath of environmentally threatened life as well. Collective resistance to the Japanese state’s lying, cover-ups, and policy of pacification, did engender some collective relief. But it fell far short of its goals under pressure, losing the war, leaving far more Japanese suspended in precarious lives, and in denial of the dangers which persist.

There is much more to the story of Japan’s nuclear disaster, and its national deference to official indifference to the lives of its people, particularly its children. These horrors are not and should not be confused with freely-made choices of the people of the country. They are rather choices made by the agents of national actors to suppress and subject the people to the will of profiteering ruling classes and their partners in the United States and around the world.

The point I raise today, is simpler. The same indifference and instrumentalization of real, living persons must be understood to be the profound decision of Japanese and American partners in the on-going deprivation, dispossession  (extending all the way to murder) of  children and vulnerable persons in the U.S.A. and Japan. This absolutely refers to and includes our abducted children. The methods differ in detail, but the induced collective sleep-walk is comparable. We have to rededicate ourselves to relieving our kids, cousins, loved ones and unknown neighbors, to our care. If we cannot keep trying to reach the collective empathy of our fellow parents, all children of mothers, all persons who care for others and are in need of care, then we fail.

It’s late, and I can’t say more tonight. This post is dedicated with love to my son, Rui, who is now celebrating his 12th birthday and his 7th consecutive birthday without knowing how strongly his daddy and his American family loves and misses him. How much do I long every day to hold him as close in life as I hold him in my heart!

Few have an idea of those fathomless depths. But we continue to sing out to be heard.

Here is a song I recorded for Rui last week.

With love, from Daddy. ❤ ❤ ❤

With apologies and gratitude (of course) to Dante.

Posted in Brian Prager, 誘拐犯, Japan Child Abduction, Machiko Terauchi, Parental abduction, Rui Prager, Rui Terauchi, 寺内るい, 寺内真智子 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We fell asleep on the jungle gym in Washington Market Park


Phone’s off the hook No one knows where we are It’s a long time since I drank champagne The ocean is blue As blue as your eyes I’m gonna take it with me when I go Old long since gone Now way back when we lived in Coney Island Ain’t no good thing ever dies I’m gonna take it with me when I go Far far away a train whistle blows Wherever you’re goin Wherever you’ve been Waving good bye at the end of the day You’re up and you’re over and you’re far away Always for you, and forever yours It felt just like the old days We fell asleep on Beulah’s porch I’m gonna take it with me when I go All broken down by the side of the road I was never more alive or alone I’ve worn the faces off all the cards I’m gonna take it with me when I go Children are playing at the end of the day Strangers are singing on our lawn It’s got to be more than flesh and bone All that you love is all you own… I’m gonna take it with me when I go

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Unenforceability of Japanese Custody and Hague Abduction Convention Orders

Unenforceability of Japanese Custody and Hague Abduction Convention Orders

Jeremy D. Morley*

[The following post by attorney Jeremy Morley is a short summary of the current (September 2017) legal circumstances with regard to child custody and international parental abduction in Japan. It amply illustrates why the most dire warnings possible can and should be issued by any and all institutions concerned with children’s well-being and the protection of children’s and parents’ rights, as regards any and all involvement with the Japanese family court system, or any circumstance in which a child is to be brought within the geographic area of Japanese territorial sovereignty.

Children’s rights to their parents, and parents rights to their children cannot and will not under any circumstances be protected by the Japanese state. Further, its supposed law-governed courts are entirely incapable of providing even a minimum of such protection to children, a fact often explained as the absence of any protective law in Japan under which assistance can be given. In this, Japan is an outlier and menace of the first order to all parents and children. NO CHILDREN should be allowed to pass into a geographic area of Japanese territorial sovereignty at any time, or under any circumstance, unless both parents are willing to accept the uniquely high probability that, should the relationship between the two parents encounter conflicts of any kind, the children can and are encouraged to be sacrificed by the Japanese state to the whim of the parent who has the superior advantage in the Japanese legal order: that is, the Japanese citizen with physical possession of the child. Children’s security, children’s safety from abduction, children’s continuing relations with and access to their parents, and parents’ relationships with and access to their children, cannot and WILL NOT be protected by any institution operating within the territorial sovereignty of the Japanese state. One can only conclude, therefore, that you must keep your children away from Japan.

This is not an idle warning, but a serious and very consequential one. The dangers awaiting families during, for example, the upcoming seasons of Olympics sports events in 2020, will increase. Abductions will occur; and the children will not be returned by Japanese authorities to the parent from whom they have been abducted. Keep in mind that there are roughly 3 million children in Japan today with no access to, nor communications with, their parent, due to the actions of the Japanese state, thus normalizing the practice among many if not all Japanese people, making it much more difficult for your pleas for justice and the safe return of your kids to be heard. Awareness of these numerous cases is very low there; but the sub-standard role of the courts in enabling and stimulating the problem is assumed in popular sentiment. That child and parent-protective law exists elsewhere that is enforceable appears to be unknown to most Japanese, who must assume that, shoganai, (translatable as “it can’t be helped, accept your fate”) nothing can be done about family-related conflict that breaks, terrorizes and destroys children and parents.

Japanese-partnered states, particularly the global sponsor to whom it is a client state, the United States of America, will not act to assist the return of your children should Japan decide to allow them to be abducted. There are numerous resources, including some earlier posts on this blog, explaining that the U.S. Department of State, in order to manage a growing problem with respect to fluidly global international parental abductions, created a subdivision/ special office (“Children’s Issues”) within the structure of its consular division, to assist in the deferral of action in child abduction cases. Under the pretense of providing assistance to parents, the Department of State has removed the immediate burden and potential linkages by which parents might attempt to obtain direct means within the national state to which abductions take place, and has created and layered on the procedural re-routing of parents’ cases, via global conventions, formalized processes, etc., whereby the process can be slowed, rendered ineffective, and eventually dropped in the interest of maintaining good state to state relations for private, financial and military interests in the United States and around the globe. The “best case scenario” that the U.S. offers its citizens, is that you pursue your case, privately and without assistance, in the Japanese family court system in which millions of child abductions have been “rubberstamped”, or ratified post hoc.

Not all of these issues are addressed in Morley’s piece below, but it does provide a solid piece of the narrative as it currently exists today for Japanese child abduction.]

My son, Rui, and me, Brian Prager, in 2009.

The text from Jeremy Morley follows:

Child custody orders are not enforced in Japan. There is merely a provision for a fine, but it is usually de minimis and rarely employed.  It does not impede a parent with physical possession of a child from denying the other parent access to the child. This is one reason (among several) why child custody is not shared in Japan and why visitation provisions are usually limited to short, periodic and often supervised meetings, unless the parents are genuinely agreed to provide otherwise. There is no court-ordered international visitation in Japan and overnight visits are rarely ordered unless the parent who possesses the child willingly agrees otherwise.

In July 2017, the Supreme Court of Japan issued a ruling in a custody case between two Japanese parents living in Japan. It overturned a most unusual and provocative lower court ruling that had provided for extensive visitation time for the father. Indeed, the Supreme Court ordered sole custody for the mother and adopted her proposal to permit the father to meet the daughter only once a month, since that was frequent enough for an elementary school student and more time with her father would be unduly burdensome on a child. The case was commenced seven years earlier, during which the mother had allowed the father to meet the child only six times. The decision to permit visitation of not more than once a month, and then only for a meeting, not for an overnight visit, is normal and typical in Japan.

When Japan agreed  to adopt the Hague Abduction Convention (in 2014, some 35 years after it had been drafted and adopted globally), which provides for the court-ordered return of internationally-abducted children, the Government was required to make provision for the first time for enforcement of such orders. Accordingly, certain Japanese family lawyers worked extremely hard to draft enforcement measures that would, for the first time, lead to the enforcement of the terms of a Family Court order concerning children. However, their initial proposals were significantly diluted, and while the Diet ultimately adopted an extraordinarily lengthy enabling act bringing the Hague Abduction Convention into Japanese law, its provisions concerning the enforcement of Hague Convention return orders have proven to be unworkable.

Thus, in a case in Osaka in which the Osaka High Court ruled that four children, whose Japanese mother had abducted them from the United States, must be returned to their American father in the U.S. The father ultimately prevailed on so-called “enforcement officers” from the Nara District Court to make some efforts to enforce the return order, but when the mother refused to cooperate they declared that enforcement was not possible.  Early this year, the Osaka court reversed its original return order and authorized the mother to retain the abducted children in her sole custody in Japan.

Just a few days ago, an advisory panel to the Japanese Justice Ministry proposed that some enforcement measures beyond mere fines should be enacted in order to enforce orders in domestic custody cases, and it suggested that, after public comments, the matters could be submitted to the Japanese Diet “as early as 2018.” Whether any such law will ever be enacted is entirely uncertain. And whether any enforcement measures that are enacted will themselves be enforced in practice is even more uncertain.

In the meantime, the basic approach continues, whereby Japanese child custody cases merely “rubberstamp” the principle that whichever parent has physical possession of a child may in practice decide whether or not to allow the other parent to see their child.  And since physical possession means everything, parents who do not fully trust the other parent to return the child are necessarily reluctant to part with possession for even a day, which explains why visitation in Japan is generally limited to intermittent short supervised daytime meetings in a secure location.

Published Thursday, September 21, 2017 at:

* Jeremy D. Morley, an international family lawyer in New York, who works with family lawyers throughout the world. He is the author of two leading treatises on international family law, International Family Law Practice and The Hague Abduction Convention.  He frequently testifies as an expert witness on the child custody law and legal system of Japan and other countries around the world.

Posted in Hague Convention, Japan Child Abduction, Japanese Child Abduction, Machiko Terauchi, Ohnuki Kensuke Child Abductor, Parental abduction, Rui Prager, Rui Terauchi, 寺内るい, 寺内真智子 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two dollar hat. Old black stockings.

A Sunday, September 2017

The Bowery where I landed 30 years ago is no more as it was. The memory tricks are real though. There was a spot where I brought you a few times, Rui, nearby here. We only passed by, stopped for a bench rest, and moved on.

For me it’s a blue-bathed memory of a place where the brutal inequalities of our day had long been mirrored; where lost, broken, or abandoned persons passed, stopped, and moved on in time. On many walks through here, fences, railings and gates stood between me and stairwells, doors, rooms and closets, beyond which were chests, drawers, mattresses, upholstered chairs, broken locks, and men uncomfortably half-dressed against autumn cold.  Places of confinement as they were, these places have now vanished; I fear they’ve taken with them the knowledge they bore to us of what pillage and banks left in their wake. What is the sum of that enormity of passions that were spilled into these transient domiciles? There at least, the abyss stared back, refusing to be ignored.

I loved as well as feared this place. Families left the bones of their ruin here; glimpses of their psychic toll remained in evidence for eyes that looked. Things that I have learned and would always want you to know about our world played scenes against the backdrop of urban districts like these. The poetry of sorrow may have been overly common here; but these poetries are played on melodies that wounded love and longing build. Here, there was and is something of deep value to know about being human.

I miss walking with you. I miss you so, Rui.
Love, Daddy


While the wolf had her fangs
Deep in my heart
Who’s been writing the songs?

Who’s been singing?
And who’s been listening
Blue Eyes while you’ve been gone?

That two dollar hat and them old black stockings
Down on the Bowery
Hand in hand the full moon went walking
With Blue Eyes
Without me

And the tears used to sing them
And the cold wind would blow them
Down on the Bowery
Broken hearts were the only things listening
And Blue Eyes, I heard everything

That two dollar hat and them old black stockings
Down on the Bowery
Hand in hand the full moon went walking
With Blue Eyes
Without me

With blue eyes, without me.

(The song is Bowery by Jason Molina. Recorded by him with his band, the Magnolia Electric Company. The photographs are from the Internet.)

Brian March 2017

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