International child abductions in Japan in the thousands?

September 30, 2010

CRC of Japan estimates cumulative cases of internationally abducted children in Japan to number in the thousands–

This is a very rough approach, but we think it’s pretty close.

How we came up with our numbers when we first calculated them a few years ago:

1.  According to a widely cited 1990 U.S. Department of Justice study called “National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway and Thrownaway Children,” 354,100 abductions per year are committed by family members in the U.S. Based on the 1990 U.S. population of 248,709,873, this works out to a U.S. per capita family abduction rate of 0.0014237.

2.  Assuming that this per capita family abduction rate is about the same for the Japanese population, based on the July 2006 estimated population of 127,463,611, the total number of estimated abductions per year in Japan by family members works out to 181,470.  Even if we are off by 20% or more in making this assumption, we will make a conservative adjustment further below that more than makes up for any possible error in this step.

3.  Looking at recent periods, such as for example 2000-2003, 4.8% of all Japanese marriages involved a foreigner marrying a Japanese. Assuming the frequency of family abductions is about the same for Japanese married to Japanese as it is for Japanese married to foreigners, we can apply this 4.8% percentage to the estimated 181,470 family abductions in 2006, and can conclude that about 8,710 of the estimated family abductions in Japan involve an international marriage between a Japanese and a foreigner.

4.  Although most of the international child abductions involving children in Japan seem to be committed by the Japanese parent, for the sake of argument  we will assume that family abductions in Japan are done equally frequently by the foreign spouse as by the Japanese spouse.  This would mean that half of the 8,710 estimated international marriage family abduction cases, or approximately 4,305 cases, involve children of international marriages abducted to or retained in Japan by the Japanese spouse.

5.  With U.S. citizens accounting for about 4.5% of the international couples, 194 of the estimated 4,305 cases would involve U.S. children being abducted to or retained in Japan.

6.  To provide for a very conservative margin of error, and adjust for the assumptions in step 2 above and other assumptions we have made, we will reduce our estimates from above by 50%.  Even so, this would mean that there are more than 2,000 international cases PER YEAR of children of international marriages being abducted to or retained in Japan, with almost 100 cases PER YEAR involving U.S. children.

Cummulatively, adding together all the cases for the past 5 or more years, the total easily could be more than 10,000 international cases and over 500 cases involving U.S. children.

Most cases, especially those where the foreign parent resides in Japan, never get reported to the U.S. State Department or other agencies in Japan or other countries.  These numbers are very hard to determine without using an estimation process as above since  there are no missing children organizations or official records about abducted/missing children in Japan.

2 Responses to “International child abductions in Japan in the thousands?”

  1. trafferazabu said

    Completely independently, we came up with very similar, very disturbing statistics. Obviously numbers are numbers. You can seen them here – http://www.iapcr.org/japan-stats/

    As you point out, the number of denial of access cases involving a child with one USA parent is over 500 children for the 5 year period. If we still consider kids to be kids until 18, we can conservatively estimate those numbers to be in the thousands. Maybe we still have a chance because of the internet. But those children who have reached adulthood are not even calculated, and likely those parents not only lost seeing their kids grow up, they’ve never regained contact. I wonder when I look at the ‘half’ talent stars, how many of them have any contact with their international relatives??? The tragedy needs to stop with this generation. Enough Japan!!!

  2. crcjapan said

    I would almost venture to say, when one factors in child abduction statistics for domestic marriages in Japan (i.e. where both spouses are Japanese), that Japan is the world leader in institutionalized child abduction. Unlike most other countries, lack of access to one’s child after a divorce or separation is the norm rather than the exception in Japan. The long term effects of this on children in Japanese society are inestimable and may explain the unusually high suicide rate in that country.

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