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.

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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.

I am not speaking for privilege, but against it. It’s not renunciation of the reality principle that we need, but renunciation of 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, the long, hottest of all summers, of 2018. I’m posting to commemorate my indelible love for Rui despite the madness, distance, and the long, spatial and temporal horrors of silence. But that’s not all.

The picture on which our faces are superimposed 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.

I remember the talks well wherein we all talked about the declining significance of the myths of Americanism, and its commonalities with the histories of the false universalism of Empires.

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, enclosed in amber, waits for you.

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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.

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American Migrant Detention Concentration Camps Are the Flip Side of Long-Standing U.S. Family and Child Policy

To recycle a piece of passing rhetoric of recent vintage, a “teaching moment” has arrived for parents of abducted children. The cause we fight for crosses paths this month  with another element of the latest monstrous, attention-compelling calamity that is the Trump presidency: caged children in Concentration Camps, and suicidal, incarcerated parents. And now, it is emerging, drugged children.

What we have before us is both a jarring indication of moral and ethical death, and a spectacle we cannot ignore.

“Hatred and hopelessness… because of race or color–a feeling whose dark intensity is matched by no other prejudice in our society.”
– Lyndon Johnson, Speech at Howard University, June 1965 ¹

As preface, it is correct to observe that the current savage treatment of families of migrants is not an isolated phenomenon, unique to this White House. This forms a part of what we eventually should and will specify, speaking as parents of U.S.-Japan child abductees. First, let’s note that the cyborgs who speak for the Trump White House make the case that they can meld their responsibility for the ruin of additional lives into the more direct and violent methods they have selected, and justify the degeneracy of ICE’s actions by the thinnest of moral subterfuges. For Sarah Huckabee Sanders, it is “biblical” to enforce the law, she says, making the maximization of cruelty to children and parents into an act of religious piety. It is also a matter, they say, of the content and intention of the sanctity of the written law; a justification for these acts of violence as the exclusive claim of the State, and thus inherently moral. This fusion of religious dimension and State dominance is not a new guise for cruelty to children; but then, Torquemada has been dead for some centuries and is seldom cited as an example for us to follow today.
Further, since May of 2017, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)  arrests have jumped, and have remained 40 to 150% higher than in the same period of previous years. And on June 20th, 2018, the model for these practices was made explicit by the current U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Thomas Homan:

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) director Thomas Homan rejected comparisons of his federal agency to that of Hitler’s Nazi regime earlier this week by saying that they are just following orders.

During a Fox News interview, Homan was asked to respond to those who have compared “your behaviour to that of the Nazis.” The ICE director responded: “I think it’s an insult to the brave men and women of the border patrol and ICE to call law enforcement officers Nazis. They are simply enforcing laws enacted by Congress.”

Homan seemed to be unaware that he used the same “just following orders” defence that was used by Nazis during the Nuremberg trials following WWII.

This is according to reporting in Newsweek and FoxNews. They’re following orders; but no, they’re not Nazis.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also appeared on Fox News where he was asked to comment on the same comparison. Sessions highlighted that Trump’s administration was not keeping immigrants from leaving the U.S., unlike Hitler’s regime, which detained Jews in concentration camps.

“Well, it’s a real exaggeration,” he said. “Of course, in Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country.”

Let’s all say thank you for that clarification to Mr. Jeff Sessions.

The pathologization of migrants, who in this instance are victims of military coups supported by the United States, collateral of violent unpoliceable drug wars, and product of the substantial extension of danger and poverty via  finance capital expropriation of land, has been in full swing for decades, alongside the similar pathologization/incarceration of Black Americans, portrayed on Fox and in press briefings as a justified outgrowth of  the victims’ “irresponsibility” The officials and their public and media supporters parrot one another, and so the story goes: the migrants know that the help they desperately seek is sanctioned by a law concerning their citizenship, from which they are excluded; and they are therefore eligible for punishment, incarceration, separation, and repatriation. The thinning, erosion, and disappearance of security for this vulnerable population perennially comes to fruition under the guise of the dissolution of territorial sovereignty – a product of the extension of corporate sovereignty into the territory in which they were previously housed, which is simultaneously historically recognized as sovereign under the law of the respective states. (But which law takes primacy, whose and where, is a political matter.) We thus have a repetition of the withdrawal of state/ citizenship protection from a large population of ordinary people who can then be disposed of in whatever fashion the still-sovereign territorial states see fit.

Still uncertain about the comparison to the incremental methods of Nazism?

Precarious life, it has been driven home, is the rule, not the exception. It is no longer necessary for neoliberal, or Western, or industrial  (or all three) states to outsource this phenomenon. We live here as everywhere with the nightmare of contingency and insecurity. The “zone of precarity” is thus broadened beyond liberal notions of rampant inequality. This should not come as news to the parents of children on whom the United States and its partners have been turning their backs for decades.

“We live as we dream – alone. While the dream disappears, the life continues painfully.”

There are elements of this issue that remain very delicate. We, parents of the abducted, have had a sense among many of us that we had origins in a privileged zone in the United States, yet we have had to contend with the poor distribution of legal protection that  masses of people have long been globally confronted with. I’m pointing no fingers horizontally; there are difficulties in expressing this clearly and carefully: I see the current fraught climate as a grave and urgently dangerous opportunity for us to join our story to those with whom it has always rightly belonged. It is a moment for parents of the abducted and many others besides, in countless social “categories”, to come to a new sense of awareness of zones of precarity, but also zones of privilege from which shock sometimes speaks.

A small but growing group among the parents have worked hard, very hard, for access to the ears of members of government agencies.  Their aim is to raise the engagement of state powers to act to bring abducted children home, and to prevent further abductions from becoming the faits accomplis that ours perennially do in America’s “friendly” state partners, such as Japan, and around the world. They have failed for a long, torturous time. Perhaps some part of the difficulty lies in the choice of alliances, and the hope that the zones of privilege will smile on them. I now see a dramatic illustration has arisen of the need to seek to share the cause of children’s security with others whose fears and pain mirror ours.

Here we have an emergency generated entirely from within the United States without the assistance of Japanese or other national systems of civil courts. It’s no longer possible for the U.S. Department of State and other agencies of the government of the United States to stand behind the child-abusive elements from abroad it ordinarily shares or divides processes with, or cedes management and control to, in order to smooth the conflicts with which it would wish otherwise not to be faced.

It’s time for all of us who care and are related to our own abducted families to recognize that we share this fate with a wider variety of the expelled than we have previously done. Official permission granted by the U.S. Department of State to stand aside and facilitate as our children are kidnapped and abused in Japan is consistent with the American practices now under scrutiny, wherein the interests of children are given lip service in the law, and tossed in the dustbin the moment officials are out of earshot or the public eye. We the LBPs must demand: detention of migrant families and children has to end. Our organizations, small and inconsequential as they are, can join in efforts at any and every level, and we are ethically enjoined to do so.

Write letters, collect signatures, invite our families and friends to join with the oppressed, march in the street, and make the inactive, inert, and guilty here in the United States hurt.

Next post: Reports are now out that children held in border Concentration Camp detention are being drugged by medical personnel.

U.S. President Donald Trump – used the Nazi language of disease and filth this week to claim that immigrants are “infesting” the United States.


Interviews with Trump officials are everywhere on the internet. Those cited above can be found here:
  1. L.B.Johnson, quote: From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, p.21


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Left-Behind Parents Must Speak Now

Revise your definition of civilization later. First, get the children out of the U.S. Border-Control Concentration Camps and restore them to their parents’ custody.

The news of thousands-and-counting ICE and DHS arrests of migrants, and their detentions in American Concentration Camps along the southern border of the United States under the orders of Donald Trump makes a demand on us. The demand is immediate and cannot be ignored for even a moment. Every child-parent separation taking place these last days along the southern border of the United States means permanent trauma for the children who are its victims, and severe distress for the parents of those children. This is our moment as left behind parents and victims of United States-Japan partnership-induced child abductions to stand up and make our collective fury heard and the sting of our blows felt. It is well-past time for us to join with our fellow parents. If we are entitled to compassion and to have our children’s rights respected, then we must stand and speak in solidarity with the children and parents who are victimized in this moral, physical, political, human fiasco. They are us and we are them; and they are all victims whose lives are vital and must be spared, now.

The trauma of children being psychologically, emotionally abused and  soul-and-spiritually murdered has shaken me and millions of others around the world. The recordings of their crying voices have circulated widely and have been shared thousands and thousands of times. We know what our children’s cries sound like; and to ignore them is a deep, fatal, moral error.

As parents of children abducted to Japan, all of whom are prevented from being reunited with us –  parents who love them – we must testify and denounce this sickening spectacle. The echos of decades of our cries and agonies can be seen in the eyes and faces of these Guatemalan, Honduran, Salvadoran, Mexican, etc. children and parents is a spinal column-agitating reminder of what we ourselves have experienced from aggression against our families, through tsunamis, open displays of governmental indifference, through hideous sins of omission and convenience from officials who are responsible. But knowing this, it is hardly adequate to convey how it feels to know intimately  what those parents are suffering, and to fear in our depths the consequences for these young children. They demand our protection. If we do NOT exercise the access to and connections some of us have with officials in the U.S. government who can and must act, then we must find some other more explosive means to expose them or suffer the shame of our failure.

If we expect or hope for the care of our brothers and sisters on behalf of our children, then we cannot stand by while the same power that stole our children from us pivots to the next successive row of vulnerable parents and children in the line waiting to be served their punishments.

We can either shunt this entire episode into the familiar stream of history (Zygmunt Bauman’s phrase) by citing assorted historic facts and precedents, or we can declare ourselves helpless to alter the orthodox understanding of the steel tendency of modernity and reduce this enormously consequential event to an example of the exception to the rule, to the pathology of society, and write a lament to etch into our tombstones.

We reject these options, and choose solidarity, against the U.S. government’s pathetic lackeys.

The choice is ours. If not now, when?


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