http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/human/symp_en_130116.html

“Symposium on the Hague Convention
– in Considering the Modality of International Family Mediation –”
organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

December 11, 2012

The Government of Japan has been making efforts toward the conclusion of “the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Hague Convention)”. Should it be concluded, the Government of Japan will designate the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a Central Authority which provides assistance for securing the return of children and other objectives of the Convention. Under the Convention, the Ministry shall take, either directly or through any intermediary, all appropriate measures to secure the voluntary return of children or to bring about an amicable resolution of the issues. Mediation, a non-judicial form of amicable solution, encourages both parties to move voluntarily on to an agreement and often successfully avoids the increased complication of the issues. Contracting States have recognised the importance of mediation in this light and shared this view at such forum as the Special Commission Meetings. Nevertheless, currently in Japan, there are no sufficient experiences or knowledge accumulated in the field of international mediation concerning child removal issues.

The “Symposium on the Hague Convention – in Considering the Modality of International Family Mediation –” to be held on 16th January in 2013 will be a forum for discussing the modality of international mediation in Japan. The discussion will include sharing the experiences and knowledge of experts from the U.K. and Germany with a wealth of experience in mediation within the scope of the Hague Convention, and exchanging views on what modalities for international mediation should be in place in Japan after the Hague Convention comes into effect.

We are looking forward to your participation and please register your attendance as guided below.

Date

Date:
Wednesday 16th January, 2013, 13:00 – 16:30
Venue:
Mita 2-1-8, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, Mita Kaigisho
Map [PDF]
Organiser:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Cooperation:
Japan Association of Arbitrators
Sponsorship:
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
Language:
Japanese and English(For those who wish to hear a simultaneous interpreting, the limited number of earphones will be available.)
Admission:
Free of Charge
Capacity:
Approximately 200 people
Preliminary Programme
13:00 Opening
Opening Address(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
13:20
Keynote Speech
1) Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE(Solicitor and Partner at Dawson Cornwell, Chair of the Board of Trustees of reunite, United Kingdom)
Theme : “Cross-border Child Custody Disputes and the Ideal Modality of the Hague Convention and the Mediation”
2) Isomi Suzuki (Attorney at law, Chairperson of the study group on private mediation schemes of Japan Association of Arbitrators)
Theme : “Challenge of International Mediation in Japan in response to the Hague Convention Cases”
14:25 Break
14:40
Panel Discussion
Theme : “Mediation in the Framework of the Hague Convention – Learning from Experiences of Germany and the United Kingdom-”

Moderators :
Mikiko Otani (Attorney at law, Member of the study group on private mediation schemes of Japan Association of Arbitrators, Vice-chair of the Hague Convention Working Group of Japan Federation of Bar Associations)
Miyuki Sano (Attorney at law, Member of the Hague Convention Working Group of Japan Federation of Bar Association)

Panelists :

1) Sandra Fenn (Expert for the Mediation of Hague Convention, reunite, United Kingdom)
2) Masayuki Tanamura (Professor, Faculty of Law, Waseda University)
3) Yoshiko Aibara (Attorney at law, Member of the Hague Convention Working Group of Japan Federation of Bar Association)
4) Christoph Cornelius Paul (Lawyer, MiKK, Germany)
5) Isomi Suzuki (Attorney at law, Chairperson of the study group on private mediation schemes of Japan Association of Arbitrators)
6) Akio Miyajima (Deputy Director-General, Foreign Policy Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Registration for the Symposium

To register for this symposium, please email us at hague.symposium@mofa.go.jp by 18:00 on Tuesday 25th December. Your email should include the following information:
Subject:Registration for Hague Symposium
(1) Name
(2) Organisation
(3) Position
(4) Telephone number
In the case of group registration, please provide the necessary information of all participants.
Seating capacity at the symposium is limited (approximately 200 people) and we may be unable to invite all applicants if we receive more applications than available seats. We will notify you whether a seat is available or not by around a week ahead of the symposium.
Information provided by you on this registration will be processed properly and only used for the purpose of this symposium.
Please come well ahead of the starting time as we will confirm your name at the reception desk. Persons not following our staff’s guidance or instructions in the hall will be refused admission or asked to leave.
Please come to the venue by public transportation if possible as the Mita Kaigisho has no parking areas.
Enquiries about the Symposium

Hague Convention Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of Japan
Tel:03-5501-8000 (Enquiries are accepted from 9:30 to 17:30 on weekdays.)
FAX:03-5501-8239
Email:hague.symposium@mofa.go.jp

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Children’s Rights Council of Japan has obtained the following statistical summary from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children regarding the outcomes of cases it is handling involving children taken from the U.S. to Japan:

As of October 2012, NCMEC’s database reflects that in ninety-three percent (93%) of our active (unresolved) cases involving children taken from the U.S. to Japan, we have been seeking the return of the children for two years or longer and forty-four percent (44%) of these cases have remained unresolved for five years or longer. NCMEC’s database also reflects that, out of all of our closed cases involving children taken from the U.S. to Japan, seventy-six percent (76%) of the children were never recovered. To date, twenty percent (20%) of our closed cases involving children taken from the U.S to Japan, the children were returned or allowed access to the left-behind parent solely because of voluntary action on the part of the taking parent.

Children’s Rights Council of Japan is not aware of a single recovery from Japan that has resulted from a civil legal proceeding, and is aware of only one recovery following the issuance of a criminal warrant for the taking parent, in the case of Dr. Moises Garcia and his daughter, Karina Garcia.

http://www.kptv.com/story/20260132/attempted-child-abduction-reported-at-eugene-school

Attempted abduction reported at Eugene school

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 4:45 PM EST

By FOX 12 Webstaff – email

 

EUGENE, OR (KPTV) –

A 9-year-old girl at a Eugene school said a man grabbed her at a water fountain.

Police are investigating the case at Yujin Gakuen Japanese Immersion School as an attempted child abduction. The girl was able to get away and said the man ran away from the scene.

He is described as a white man, 5’10” with a medium build. He was clean shaven with short brown hair and was wearing a green shirt.

If you know anything about this case, call police at 541-682-5111 and ask for Officer Renee Tobler.

Copyright 2012 KPTV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

This resolution sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer condemns the international abduction of children and specifically mentions Japan several times.

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/sres543

Official Summary

This summary was written by the Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress. GovTrack did not write and has no control over these summaries.

9/19/2012–Reported to Senate amended.
Condemns the international abduction of all children.
Urges countries identified by the Department of State as noncompliant or demonstrating patterns of noncompliance with the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to fulfill their commitment to implement the Convention. Calls on all countries:
(1) to become a party to the Convention and institute measures to address cases of international parental child abduction, and
(2) that have not become a party to the Convention to develop a mechanism for the resolution of cases of international parental child abduction that occur prior to becoming a party to the Convention. Expresses the sense of the Senate that the United States should:
(1) pursue the return of each child abducted by a parent from the United States to another country through all appropriate means, facilitate access by the left-behind parent if the child is not returned, and, where appropriate, seek the extradition of the abductor parent;
(2) take all appropriate measures to ensure that a child abducted to a Convention country is returned to the child’s country of habitual residence;
(3) use diplomacy to encourage other countries to become a party to the Convention and to encourage countries that have not become a party to the Convention to develop a mechanism to resolve cases of international child abduction that occur prior to becoming a party to the Convention; and
(4) review the advisory services made available to U.S. citizens by the Department of State, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and other U.S. government agencies to improve the prevention of such child abduction from the United States, and to ensure that effective assistance is provided to U.S. citizen parents of such abducted children.

http://www.tokyofamilies.com/sections/entry.php?id=810

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A father’s nightmare in Japan

By Tim Johnston | On the Cover

My journey to Japan began in 1996. I came here initially for a commercial modeling assignment and to sample the wonderful Japanese cuisine. I was tired of the United States and wanted to see the world. Japan was strange yet fascinating. It is a country where “no” means “yes” and “yes” means “no.”
I met my ex-wife on the night of my birthday in Narita, close to the airport. Coincidentally, we were born on the same day. That’s how this story began. We shared drinks and laughs. She was set to leave for the United Kingdom soon to study English. She gave me her name card and I called her a few days later. We began to date. She left me her car to use while she was away. I decided to move to Japan and wait for her return. We exchanged love letters and I took a job teaching English at the beach. This allowed me to exercise my passion for surfing. She returned and we moved in together, an arrangement that lasted eleven years.
We were married for two of those eleven years. We felt we had a good relationship. We took many overseas trips together and she even spent time with my mother and sister in France. Over the years she repeatedly asked my family, “When will Tim marry me?”
Some nine years after we first met, our wonderful son Kai Endo was born. It was the best day of my life when I saw his smiling face for the first time. He had the cutest grin and was definitely a mixed-race child. He looked more caucasian than Japanese, with blondish hair, but with his mother’s forehead and almond-shaped Asian eyes. He was big too, weighing about 3,500 grams at birth.
His mother returned to the apartment we had recently purchased after the traditional six weeks with her family. She looked exhausted, as was to be expected with a young infant and the new challenges of sleep deprivation. I began to help more with the chores and be the best husband I could be.
Conversations became more rigid and she often shouted demands at me. I accepted her change in behavior as the result of her being tired or having difficulty with her new role as a mother. Increasingly, she began to mention how single mothers in Japan are entitled to all sorts of benefits, such as subsidized education, health care, etc. I confronted her. “Why would you say such a thing?” But her reply was, “I don’t need you! You’re a foreigner anyway.  Our son is Japanese and I never want to live in your country!” I asked her how she could be so mean and spiteful.
We were drifting apart. I walked on eggshells around her when she was having her moments. It wasn’t long after that she asked for a divorce. I asked her if she was joking. She said no and walked away. When I saw her the following day, she asked me when I planned to move out.  I realized that this was no joke. She wanted me out and to have nothing to do with me anymore. I tried to get her to talk but she just tuned out. I remember vividly holding my son for the final two months before I moved out and just kissing him over and over and telling him how much I loved him and that this wasn’t his fault.
I signed the divorce papers and took an apartment close by so I could be near my son. My ex-wife had the audacity to tell me I should return to the United States. I had never felt so low in my life. After having my son, I felt complete as a person and loved my ex-wife more than anything. We had a child together. Now, my world was in shock. I reminded myself that I had to be a man. I decided to study Japanese more and accept being independent in a strange land. It was so difficult and often I couldn’t sleep. My nights were filled with questions about my son. What did he eat today? What’s he doing? Is he watching his favorite cartoon?
I told his mother upon moving out that I would see my son everyday. She agreed that I could see him once a week. We would meet in a local park and play together, sing songs and study English. He was always happy to see me and I was even happier to see him. My ex-wife, on the other hand, never once looked at me or talked to me when I met my son. As a young boy, he could understand English very well.
Some four years passed, and then one day everything changed. My wife got out of her car and walked towards me. I thought, “Wow! She’s actually going to speak to me.” I will never forget that she came within two meters of me. She looked scared. Then she said, “We are busy and I don’t have time for you to see your son anymore. I’m working now and I’m too busy.”
I live in the same neighborhood, I said. I can help, I can take him where he needs to go and pick him up from kindergarten. She said no… End of story! “Why don’t you just go back to your country and leave us alone?” she suggested. My son was seeing us like this for the first time, and a tear began to roll down his face. I asked her why she is doing this in front of our son.
She finally agreed to a two-hour meeting every two weeks. I was devastated. She grabbed my son’s arm and dragged him to the car. “I love you Kai,” I shouted. “Don’t worry, everything will be OK.”
The situation soon became unbearable. I couldn’t believe someone could be so heartless. She never returned my calls or emails inquiring about my son. I would confirm our next meeting but she would refuse to reply. This was escalating into her dominance and the alienation of her son’s father. Kai was now four years old. This carried on for two more years.
Meanwhile, my son was growing into a young man. I was so proud of him. When we did meet, we had the best four hours per month, filling the time with a lot of pictures, sports, affection and whatever else he wanted.
And then came 2:46 pm, March 11. After the initial tremor of the earthquake had subsided I panicked. I called my ex-wife and sent her emails to check that my son was safe. She never replied. Not even to say he was unhurt. I drove by her apartment but the lights were out, as with most places. Her car was gone. I guessed she had gone to her mother’s. I began to panic. I knew Japan would never be the same after March 11. I needed to see my son and hear his voice. I was worried that he may be suffering from trauma.
Following the earthquake, his mother never let the two of us talk. She probably thought I would move. Perhaps she would tell my son I had evacuated or died. However, after about a month I received a letter asking me to attend mediation court. When I opened the letter I fell to my knees and sobbed. The letter from her read, “I’m busy and have stress. You can see your son after mediation court.”
I finished  my seventh mediation hearing. The court granted me one visit with my son. He was worried about me and his mother refused to tell him anything. I comforted him and was thankful he was able to see his father. However, she told the court that I couldn’t see my son anymore. She is too busy, she said.
Japan must change its child custody laws! My current situation is unacceptable. I love my only son. I won’t ever give him up. Surely I have rights too? He is my son as well!
This is where I am today. I urge Japan to change its custody laws. I and all the other left-behind parents deserve rights and access to our children. Japanese law grants sole custody, usually to the mother. This was my wife’s plan all along. I just want to be a good father and hope Japan wakes up soon and realizes children need both parents. Loving children shouldn’t be alienated from loving parents. Japan, it’s 2012! Please help me to get access to my only son.
Tim Johnston is a resident of Narita, Chiba, Japan and the father of Kai Endo.