http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/10/national/crime-legal/u-s-father-seeking-access-to-daughter-blasts-japans-family-courts/

JAPAN TIMES

July 10, 2015

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U.S. father seeking access to daughter blasts Japan’s family courts

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Seeking to regain custody of a daughter he hasn’t seen in years, an American father called on the Tokyo Family Court on Thursday to stop “endorsing child abduction” by parents and demonstrate that it is capable of prioritizing the best interests of children.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Paul Toland is suing the mother of his Japanese ex-wife for refusing to let him see his 12-year-old daughter ever since the wife committed suicide in 2007 after taking away the child four years earlier due to a failed marriage.

Japan joined the Hague Convention on cross-border parental child kidnapping in 2014. But since the abduction was not cross-border — Toland’s family was based in Yokohama at the time it occurred — his case is not covered by the pact, which also doesn’t work retroactively.

Aside from getting back his child, Toland characterized his lawsuit as a challenge against the entrenched tendency by Japanese family courts to disregard the right of left-behind parents, a tendency that he claimed is tantamount to “endorsing child abduction” between parents.

“The current situation in Japan, where (my daughter) is shut off from her only parent and held by a third-party non-parent, would be inconceivable in the rest of the world,” Toland said in prerecorded video footage played by his lawyer Akira Ueno after the trial. “I sincerely hope the Japanese courts will recognize the universal right of parents, and do the right thing in this case.”

Lawyers representing Toland’s mother-in-law were not available for immediate comment on Friday.

During the trial, Toland was quoted by Ueno as saying his wish to see his abducted daughter “once a week” was met with laughter by a family court arbitrator, indicating that such a request was far beyond reach for a non-custodial parent. Toland himself couldn’t make it to the trial as he is now in the United States.

After his daughter was taken by his ex-wife in July 2003, Toland claims he has only been able to see her on a couple of occasions, with his attempts to communicate with her “flat-out rejected” by his mother-in-law.

“Customarily speaking, Japanese family courts are notorious for being overwhelmingly inclined to give custody to parents who took away their children first,” Ueno said.

Underlying such a tendency, he said, is the fact that family courts lack the understanding that children are better off being granted access to both parents after divorce.

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This is an excellent link for statistics and reports concerning U.S. State Department international child abduction cases, including Japan, for 2010-2012. Also useful information on relevant U.S. laws as well as child abduction related forms and documents.

http://travel.state.gov/abduction/resources/resources_3860.html

http://travel.state.gov/abduction/resources/resources_3860.html

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.

These statistics were provided by John Gomez of Kizuna-CPR (http://kizuna-cpr.org/meeting_summary_november_24_2012):

“4.6 million divorces 1992 – 2010, one child per divorce on average, 58% loss of access according to NHK Close Up Gendai yields an estimated 2.7 million children in Japan who have lost their relationship with their parent during this time, which is a human rights violation. It is about 150,000 children per year.”
That means every hour an additional 17 children living in Japan are being shut out of the life of one of their parents.  Considering the cumulative impact, not just in terms of the number of children involved, but also left-behind parents, family members, and others, this problem is having a devastating effect on a sizeable percentage of the Japanese population.

The following update is from David Hearn, one of the directors of “From the Shadows,” about the upcoming world premier screening in Philadelphia:

Hi again everyone,

I just wanted to update you all. We are running around getting everything ready for the screenings in a week’s time.
Matt is burning the midnight oil to make sure everything is in tip top shape. He has commented that the sound and HD quality of the film will make a big difference over the versions we have shown to date.
A couple things.
1. After the first screening, Tuesday October 23rd, please make sure to visit this page and rate/comment on the film:
http://filmadelphia.festivalgenius.com/2012/films/fromtheshadows0_mattantell_filmadelphia2012
It goes without saying that a high rating and interesting comments will help attract more attention to the film especially from those people who may not be aware of the issue.
2. There will be a reception (two minute walk from the theatre) at the Sheraton Society Hill immediately after the screening on Saturday October 27th. This will provide the chance to meet the filmmakers and and some the subjects of the film in person and hear their stories and where their situations stand now. There will be a light menu and drinks served. Please RSVP us if you plan to attend so we can prepare an adequate amount of food and drink.
Please also keep in mind that there are only 250 seats in the theatre for the Saturday screening. We have already had almost twice that amount of hits on our festival page so make sure to buy your tickets as early as possible!
Tickets can be bought here (same link as above):
http://filmadelphia.festivalgenius.com/2012/films/fromtheshadows0_mattantell_filmadelphia2012
Looking forward to seeing everybody there!
Regards,
David

http://www.majiroxnews.com/2012/10/11/the-hell-of-japans-divorce-laws/

 

The hell of Japan’s divorce laws

10/11/2012

By 

An ex-resident of Japan tells the story of how he may never see his daughter again, as a result of the country’s laws governing divorce

Vincent and his daughter, Emilie

MONTREAL — I need time to heal. I am still raging at my Japanese ex-wife and the way the laws of Japan allowed her to gain custody of our daughter. The shock of the outcome shook my faith in people. After living in Tokyo for 23 years, I moved back in with my parents near Montreal on June 30, 2012. 

I met my former wife on the Internet. We were divorced, she in her late 30s, I in my early 40s, and neither of us had children. After dating for a few months she got pregnant. The news was exciting and we eventually got married. Our daughter Emilie was born on February 9, 2011.

However, the marriage didn’t work out. We constantly fought and once the police were called to our house. Then after Christmas in December 2011 my wife returned to live with her parents in Tokyo and took Emilie with her.

The divorce proceedings were inhuman and brutal. I almost died. I walked out of the court mediation in shock and fainted. Luckily, I had asked my father to come for moral support. I had prepared documents that I had professionally translated, and I had hired an interpreter, but I wasn’t prepared for the process. I won’t go into details but the whole process of a contested divorce would have taken two years during which time I would not have been allowed any visits with my daughter. After walking out of the first mediation hearing, I realized the Japanese system was biased towards whomever the child was currently living with.

What I did know is that I wasn’t going to waste my life on what I believe is a rigged process. My dad couldn’t stay with me in Tokyo for the many months it would take in court, so I signed the divorce papers giving my wife full custody of Emilie. I saw what had happened to my divorced friends, how their ex-wives manipulated them or cut them off completely. If I had been employed in Japan, I would have fought on principle, but without a job I didn’t have the financial or emotional resources to do that. I left Japan soon after the divorce, a broken man.

In Montreal, I visit friends and family, I read, I go to the theatre. I wrote a short book on Shakespeare’s plays. I need to get my mind off things and when a friend invited me to sail the Caribbean with him, I said, ‘yes.’ He needs someone to help him with his boat and I need to get away. I almost died and I still need to heal.

My parents are very supportive. In order to function and to be productive and happy again, I have to do exactly as my father says: I have to move on the same way one moves on after losing a child. But I can’t just forget my daughter when I know she is alive, when I know she’s been deprived of her father. I have to juggle my feelings.

I avoid talking about Emilie with friends and family. When asked, I give a very short account but I explain that talking about it is painful. When I talk with friends, it’s difficult for me to get off the topic once I’ve started and it ruins the evening.

I believe my wife and her family treated me in a shameful manner. But I have plans to meet with my daughter again, but I don’t know how I can do it. I am hoping that in the next few years Japan will change its laws and force my ex-wife to allow contact. We’ll see what the future brings.

http://www.policymic.com/articles/15499/from-the-shadows-documentary-reflects-sad-reality-of-government-sponsored-child-abduction-in-japan

During the past year the U.S. Embassy in Japan deleted a page from its website that included statistics for the U.S., Canada, France, Australia, and the United Kingdom showing the tremondous growth in the number of international child abduction cases by Japanese spouses since 2000, with the number of cases having quadrupled from 2005 to 2009.

It is not clear why this information is being suppressed, but CRC of Japan has retrieved this information and is reposting it on our blog, at the following link:

Rapid Increase in Child Abductions to Japan

More on Keisuke’s Law

August 23, 2012

NBC interview with Randy Collins:

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/OC-Father-Champions-Bill-to-Prevent-Parental-Abductions/167124775

Press Releases from Senator Mimi Walters:

Legislature Sends Two of Senator Walters’ Bills to Governor

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Contact: Everett Rice @ (916) 651-4033

SACRAMENTO — Today, two bills authored by Senator Mimi Walters (R-Irvine), SB 1206 and SB 1174, were approved unanimously by the Legislature and now make their way to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk.

SB 1206, also known as Keisuke’s (Case-K’s) Law, would prevent parents in a custody dispute from applying for new or replacement passports for their children without consent from the other parent.  In addition, the measure would allow the District Attorney to order a freeze on the California assets of an individual who is alleged to have abducted a child.

This bill was introduced at the request of a constituent, whose son, Keisuke, was abducted to Japan from Orange County in June 2008 and has not been returned.  Since his son’s abduction Randy Collins has committed his life to deterring future child abductions.  SB 1206 was approved by the State Senate on a 37-0 vote.

The California Senate also approved SB 1174 on a 36-0 vote.  The measure would allow 56-foot motorsports trailers to operate within California.  Currently, California is the only state that does not allow these vehicles to drive within its borders.  This prohibition has created a disincentive for racing organizations and teams to attend events held at California race tracks.  SB 1174 removes a needless barrier to transporting racing vehicles and team equipment in California.  As a result, the bill will enhance local economies by encouraging NASCAR and NHRA teams to continue bringing their cars to California and participating in local racing events.

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