CNN Campbell Brown video link

September 30, 2009

Here is the link for the Campbell Brown program aired on CNN on Sept. 29.

A special note about the parent interviewed in this segment, U.S. Navy Commander Paul Toland.  Paul is the sole surviving parent and his daughter is being retained in Japan by his former mother-in-law.  Paul’s case, and at least one other case we are aware of, is like the Elian Gonzalez case, but the aggrieved parent is from the United States, not Cuba, and the country blocking the sole surviving biological parent from contact with his child is Japan.

While the Christopher Savoie case is big news right now, it is not unique, and reflects a possible pattern of Japanese authorities selectively arresting foreign parents in Japan for something Japanese parents would not be arrested  for.

The first publicized arrest and imprisonment by Japanese authorities of a foreign parent trying to reunite with his or her children in a contested custody case occurred in 2000, when Dutch father Engel Nieman attempted to leave Japan with his daughter.  Nieman, who was still legally married to his Japanese wife at the time, and shared equal custody rights with her under Japanese law, was imprisoned for several months.  He met with Children’s Rights Council of Japan in Tokyo after he was released, and as far as we know, still is unable to have any contact with his daughter since his arrest and imprisonment.  Here is an old link from the Japan Times with details about his case:

Backup link:

Parents driven to ‘kidnap’ …

Click the one titled American jailed in Japan over custody battle.

An attorney who works closely with Children’s Rights Council of Japan, and who himself has had his children abducted to Japan, has noted that under Tennessee law parents must agree on a new visitation schedule, costs, and other relevant factors before a party may relocate with children. 
Tennessee statute further states that if the proposed move is to a foreign country whose public policy does not normally enforce visitation rights of non-custodial parents or which otherwise presents a substantial risk of specific and serious harm to a child is involved the relocation would be deemed as not having a reasonable purpose and would be disallowed.  (see Tennessee Code Unannotated 36-6-108)
This second clause as described above is the case we face with Japan.  Japan does not enforce visitation rights and in fact the culture encourages the total separation of parent and child after divorce.
Judge Jim Martin, after presented with OVERWHELMING evidence that Japan would not “participate” in any solution if things went wrong for visits and ignoring the evidence in the case, used his discretion and allowed the visit.  There is a possible conflict-of-interests here since the judge was previously a mediator in the case!  Granted, this was not a relocation case BUT anytime a court considers visits to a Non-Hague country extra caution should be taken.
Texas, California and Utah have enacted similar statutes to protect kids and they go as far to include temporary visits such as was originally proposed in this case.

CNN will be discussing Christopher Savoie’s case tonight on the Campbell Brown show at 8PM Eastern Time.  Left-behind parent Paul Toland,  whose Japanese wife has died and whose child is being retained in Japan by his former mother-in-law, will appear on the program.

As non-Japanese left-behind parents with our children kidnapped or illegally retained in Japan, we’ve always been told by the U.S. State Department and Japanese authorities that parental child abduction is not a crime in Japan, and that there is nothing that the Japanese police or other Japanese authorities can do to help us.  Now it seems there is a special treatment of parental child abduction by the Japanese authorities when the abducting parent is not Japanese.  An American father from Tennessee, Christopher Savoie, with U.S. custody orders in hand, whose two U.S. citizen children recently were illegally retained in Japan by his Japanese ex-wife, is now sitting in a Japanese prison for trying to recover his children.   Here is the link to the CNN story with the full details of Christopher Savoie’s attempt to reunite with his children:

And here is our backup link to the story:

American jailed in Japan fo…

If you are in Tokyo and are a left-behind parent, family member, or friend, please try to attend this event. Here’s the link with additional details:

With all the publicity and countless cases of child abductions to Japan, there is absolutely no excuse for the Tennessee judge in this case, Jim Martin, to have allowed the Japanese mother to travel to Japan with these two American children and enable another international child abduction to Japan.  Shame on you, Judge Martin.  Something needs to be done to make you take responsibility for the suffering and life altering tragedies you have caused.

Back-up PDF link:
Ex-Wife Abducts Two Children, Disappears to Japan – NewsChannel

Below is a translation from the Sept. 3 Mainichi Newspaper about Japanese children being kidnapped from Japan and the lack of recourse parents have because of Japan not being a signatory to the Hague Convention:

Marital Breakup and Child Abduction in Japan

7 million yen (US$76,000) to return child

Japan has not ratified the Hague Convention

No Conflict Resolution

9 cases since 2001

A specialist says this is only a small part of the problem. There are many child abductions to one parent’s home country after an international marriage falls apart and a child custody battle ensues. Because Japan has not ratified the Hague Convention, the left behind parent gets little assistance from that parent’s home country and is forced to spend large amount of money on lawyers fees to seek the return of their child. However, this is only a small part of the problem as many cases go unreported.

Mikiko Otani, of The Japanese Bar Association of Attorneys at Law of the Committee on Family Law. Legislation Japan Federation of Bar Associations, has investigated child abduction cases from the past. Since 2001, there have been 9 cases involving 12 children that were born in Japan and abducted overseas by the other parent.

To U.S.: 5 children
To Philippines: 3 children
To U.K.: 2 children
To Pakistan: 1 child
To Brazil: 1 child

An English father abducted his 2 children to England without his (Japanese) wife’s permission. If he had divorced in Japan, his wife would get custody of the children and he would never see his children again.

In another case, a Filipino mother abducted her children during the mediation proceedings. A Pakistani father returned to Pakistan with his child. He said he wanted his child to be raised in an Islamic culture, and he has not returned to Japan since.

Japan has not ratified the Hague Convention.

The left behind parent has only one choice, which is to hire a lawyer overseas. One Japanese parent spent 7 million yen to return child back to Japan.

American, British, Canadian and French consuls report 168 active child abduction cases to Japan. They have publicly requested the Japanese government to ratify the Hague Convention.

Before, Japan is accused as being the victimizer. Now, Japan is also a

Mikiko Otani said, as a result of divorce, some of the children end up developing mental problems. Japan does not have enough lawyers knowledgeable about such cases. Many of the cases are left unsolved. And the 9 cases is only a small part of the problem.

Mainichi Newspaper
September 3, 2009

Translated by Masako Akeo Suzuki