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.


  1. [No authors listed]. The 2007 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection. ICRP publication 103. Ann ICRP. 2007;37(2–4):1–332.
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  1. Tuttle RM, Vaisman F, Tronko MD. Clinical presentation and clinical outcomes in Chernobyl-related paediatric thyroid cancers: what do we know now? What can we expect in the future? Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2011;23(4):268–275.
    View this article via: PubMed CrossRef Google Scholar

  1. Ben-Ezra M, et al. From Hiroshima to Fukushima: PTSD symptoms and radiation stigma across regions in Japan. J Psychiatr Res. 2015;60:185–186.
    View this article via: PubMed CrossRef Google Scholar

  1. Yamashita S, Radiation Medical Science Center for the Fukushima Health Management Survey. Comprehensive health risk management after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2016;28(4):255–262.
    View this article via: PubMed CrossRef Google Scholar
Posted in Japan Child Abduction | 1 Comment

Japan is black hole for abducted children – Vancouver Sun

The press in the United States would never dream of covering this scandal. It is always in Australian, Canadian or other papers that we see the stories that are published.

If the United States demanded justice for the children that Japan has kidnapped – and there are thousands of our kids – then this might not have gone on as it has for parents and children of all countries. The US has the lynch pin role with regard to Japan’s policy and the world’s response to it. What the US has done is: it has protected chronic habitual Japanese child abduction from scrutiny by covering it up and minimizing its impact, again and again and again. The inclusion of Japan into the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Abduction, which was touted as a big move that would alter the picture, had EXACTLY the opposite effect. The State Department and US Embassy knew this, and was told so and discussed this with parents of abducted children. The Hague Convention now stands between us and our kidnapped children’s fundamental human rights. Any cases that began before Japan’s 30-years-delayed accession, now stand untouchable. A child kidnapped a few months, or one, two, three years before the convention coming into effect in Japan, is now “legally” in a do-not-touch zone of no visits, no relationships, no contact with his or her non-Japanese or non-custodial half of his or her family. There is NOTHING in Japanese law that requires that a child’s interest in knowing his or her own parent be respected. It’s worse than a scandal; it’s an agonizing outrage, and a fully intentional one carried out by a US foreign policy establishment that regards children as an insignificant priority. You can thank the State Department and the US Executive for ensuring that we all lose our children, forever, to their “friend” the Japanese state.

Rui in Tokyo, 2009

Rui in Tokyo, 2009 Click on the photo to see a story from the Canadian press about other Japanese parental abductions.


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Buzzfeed Discovers Japanese Child Abduction For a Day.

Watanabe 10-2012-a

Watanabe-san in 2012 with a photograph of his daughter. Four years later, he regained the right of custody.

I read, or at least I tried to read, a story on the Buzzfeed Japan website during May (2016) about a Mr. Watanabe, a Japanese father who regained custody of his daughter after a six-year court battle throughout most of which he and his daughter were prevented from knowing and seeing each other. I am aware, as are all parents of Japan’s kidnapped children, of the importance of Mr Watanabe’s case. I’ve known of it for years. It was, I think, Mr. Watanabe who brought my case, and my blog posts about it to the attention of an American left behind parent; and from that moment, I came to know about many more parents and their difficulties, courtesy of Japan. I am grateful to him for this and more. Through speaking up and listening in this way, I gradually came to know the conditions under which Japanese family courts prevail against and permanently deny the rights of children to know their own parents. Through court and police actions, denial of parental relations is continually reinforced by the force of law in Japanese society. In time, I gradually learned of the incapacity of the Japanese people to impress upon a state over which they do not have control, that it is impinging on them in the worst, most pathological sort of way by destroying so many of their parent-child relationships.

[I am the father of a son, born and raised until he was nearly 5 years old, in the United States. His mother is Japanese, a professional, who made numerous back and forth trips to Japan with him throughout each year so that he could fully know his Japanese family. These trips took place two to four or so times per year. The home he knew, however, was here in New York with his mother and me.]

In 2010, just as with Mr Watanabe, my son’s mother abducted him. She flew him to Japan, and I have not seen him or had news of him since. This is because the Japanese and U.S. governments have agreed to allow child abductions to remain irrevocable, to go unpunished, and to remain impossible to defend against. Given the very gradually declining influence of the U.S. in world affairs, this is one of the most successfully achieved U.S. policy objectives with regard to Japan. The protection of child abductors from having to return the children they abduct.

As a result, my son no longer knows me, his now tragic, middle-aged father. His life was ruptured, and mine shattered. There are three million children in Japan who have no ongoing relationship that is meaningful with one half of their divorced parents’ families. They do not know their own fathers… and this is condoned and encouraged by the Japanese law, with the unqualified support of the United States. The U.S. stations 50,000 heavily armed troops in 87 locations on ostensibly Japanese territory in order to ensure that Japanese power structures and decision-making processes never change. Attempts at reform, at negotiating the removal of these occupying forces from Japan, at reconstituting Japan as an authentic democracy with a state that is responsive to and protective of its people, have been frowned upon and successfully thwarted.

I am writing this again because this tragic, life-destroying circumstance affects people worldwide who are guilty of no crime other than having loved and married a Japanese person who because of the material circumstances just touched on, felt entitled to take complete control of a child’s life, and damage it beyond repair. The only thing that will change this is if there is a tremendous outpouring of friction and protest from Japanese people that says loudly and clearly to the State that is in the wrong, that the children must have their family ties preserved, and that the children should not be the victims of the childish and selfish wants of an adult parent who does not know any better, or who has been well-taught to disavow the misery sewn by her actions.

Mr. Watanabe’s case is important for him and his daughter. It includes a recommendation that mother have about a third of the days of each year to spend with her daughter, despite her having prevented her from knowing her father for six, long years of struggle. This young girl will now have the privilege, acknowledged as rightful of children in every other country in the world, of knowing both of her parents. And her mother will have a privilege many in Japan do not; that of learning what it means to love and to share the love of a child with another person that child loves, despite her having acted upon a beastly and selfish desire to exercise control and exclude her daughter’s family from her life. She will have –  at the very least – the opportunity to learn appreciation for that of which she deprived her daughter. She will have an opportunity to gain an understanding of the interconnectedness, empathy, collaboration and cooperation that are at the root of thriving life. As a result, her daughter will have a far higher likelihood to find happiness and a full, unbroken identity. That is a privilege, it turns out.

Mr. Watanabe, whose success is to be applauded, and who has worked sincerely to spread this success to others, hails from a privileged family, with levels of support high in the government of Japan.  Japan is a state ruled by an oligarchy, a circle of patronage and exclusivity, passed down among a privileged few. It should be remembered then, that to change the circumstances of Japanese children more broadly would require that this court case be regarded as a prelude, and not as a conclusion of great significance. For one parent to regain custody after years of maddening struggle does nothing to alter the ugly reality of hundreds of thousands of abducted children who now live in Japan. Neither does it alter the circumstance of thousands of children who were not born in Japan, nor were they being raised in Japan, but whose parent used the power of the Japanese state to carry out a Hitlerian objective: to deprive ordinary, guiltless persons of their fundamental rights by bringing them over the border of one state to another in which their rights could be disposed of. The child, in all of these cases, is treated not as a person, but as an object whose fate is decided without the protection of his family, which is excluded by law. Like other commodities and objects of property law, the child  in this circumstance has no inherent rights, and in being brought to Japan is therefore brought into a condition of semi-statelessness: a non-protective environment where he has fewer privileges than a tree, a cart full of fish, or a piece of equipment.  This removal to a non-protective environment is a criminal enterprise that the Japanese press, the foreign press, and the governments of Japan and the United States (and countless others) are loath to discuss openly because it is ugly, and because it reflects so poorly on the governments and private interests involved, those of the perpetrators- who are Japanese – and their partners abroad, who are “interested parties” that brush the stories of our kids under the rug for a handful of gold pieces.*

I beg whoever is out there to cover our stories, and urge anyone with access to the press to do so as well.
I have attempted to discuss aspects of this now for 6 years. I love my son; and I want my relationship with him restored. He and I are victims of a severe, onerous crime. And it is up to the people of Japan, the United States, and all persons who love children, to alter these circumstances.

*Please see additional information and comments below in the reply/ comment section.

Posted in Japan Child Abduction | 3 Comments