http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004447319

Japan on U.S. list of nations noncompliant with Hague Treaty

 

Jiji PressWASHINGTON (Jiji Press) — The U.S. State Department on Wednesday listed Japan as one of countries showing a pattern of noncompliance with the so-called Hague Treaty that sets procedures to settle cross-border parental child abduction cases.

Japan joined the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in 2014, and it is the first time since then that the nation has been put on the list in the department’s annual report on the issue of children taken by one parent following the breakup of international marriages.

The listing may help put greater pressure on Japan to comply with the treaty, pundits said.

The 2018 report said Japan has made “measurable progress” on international parental child abduction, noting that the average number of children reported abducted to the country each year has decreased by 44 percent since 2014.

While noting that “a strong and productive relationship” between the Japanese and U.S. governments has facilitated the resolution of abduction cases, the report said that “there were no effective means” to enforce court return orders.

As a result, 22 percent of requests for the return of abducted children under the treaty remained unresolved for more than one year, the report said, adding the enforcement process is “extremely long.”

A total of 12 countries, also including China, India, Brazil and Argentina, were on the 2018 list of countries showing a pattern of noncompliance.

“Now is an opportunity for the government of Japan to demonstrate a true commitment to reforming its inability to enforce its own judicial rulings,” said Jeffery Morehouse, who is seeking to gain custody of his son in Japan.

Paul Toland, who hopes to reunite with his daughter in Japan, said, “Japan will need a complete reform of their family law system and will have to change the way they view the rights of a child to know and love both parents after a divorce if they ever want to be compliant with the Hague [treaty].”

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Here is a link to video of the protest at the Consulate-General of Japan booth at the Aki Matsuri festival at the Bellevue College Main Campus in Bellevue, WA:

 

http://www.bachome.org/wordpress/2012/09/the-government-of-japan-is-monitoring-bachome-org/

https://www.facebook.com/events/455708434462771/

If you are in the Seattle area, come join in the protest at the Consulate-General of Japan booth at the Aki Matsuri festival at the Bellevue College Main Campus 3000 Landerholm Circle SE, Bellevue, WA 98007. Contact Jeffery Morehouse with any specific questions. We will meet up at the Tully’s Coffee at 3080 148th Ave SE, Bellevue, WA 98007 to hand out the “Black Hole” t-shirts in advance.

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Charge-Unhappy-with-parenting-plan-Seattle-mom-3788325.php

 

Charge: Unhappy with parenting plan, Seattle mom took daughter to Japan

Mom latest of several such parents to face such charges in King County
BY LEVI PULKKINEN, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF
Published 11:10 p.m., Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Seattle mom accused of fleeing the country with her young daughter during a custody dispute is now facing felony charges in King County.

Prosecutors there claim Ryoko Fukuda absconded with her daughter the day she was supposed to hand over the girl’s Japanese passport.

According to charging documents, the girl’s father rushed to Sea-Tac Airport in an attempt to retrieve her. But prosecutors say Fukuda and the child were already flying to Japan.

Writing the court, Senior Deputy Prosecutor David Martin noted Fukuda had been ordered not to take the girl out of the country hours before she did exactly that.

Fukuda and the girl’s father dated but had broken up by the time Fukuda gave birth to the girl, Seattle Detective Jason Stolt told the court. The girl’s father and Fukuda each took out domestic violence protection orders against the other; the man told police he didn’t learn his daughter existed until 2009.

A parenting plan was first ordered in 2010. The plan gave the girl’s father visitation rights and required that either parent let the other know if their daughter was going to travel out of Washington.

On May 16, Fukuda, 34, and the girl’s father met with a King County court commissioner to discuss Fukuda’s plan to take the child to Japan. The girl’s father objected to the move.

The commissioner ordered both parents to surrender their daughter’s passports to Fukuda’s attorney for safekeeping until a final decision could be made. Stolt noted Fukuda had the girl’s Japanese passport.

At 2 p.m. the following day, the girl’s father called 911 to report that his daughter failed to arrive at her Broadview neighborhood elementary school that morning. Nor was the girl or Fukuda at their apartment.

Meeting with police an hour later, the man said Fukuda had failed to turn over their daughter’s Japanese passport. He said he was concerned Fukuda was preparing to flee the country, and he worried he’d never see his daughter again.

Leaving the meeting with police, the man drove to Sea-Tac Airport hoping to learn whether his daughter had been flown out of the country. With the help of Port of Seattle police and State Department officials, the man determined Fukuda and his daughter left the country at 2 a.m. that morning.

The detective told the court he has since confirmed that Fukuda and the girl are in Japan.

Fukuda has now been charged with first-degree custodial interference.

If similar cases filed in recent years are any measure, prosecutors will have a difficult time getting Fukuda before a King County judge.

Similar charges filed separately against two other Japanese women alleged to have fled the Seattle area for Japan have gone nowhere so far.

In 2009, Mayumi Ogawa fled the country weeks after a Superior Court judge approved an parenting plan stating that her son would split his time between his parents. The boy’s father has since been awarded sole control of the child, Ogawa remains at large and charged with first-degree custodial interference.

Michiyo Imoto Morehouse, 44, was charged with the same crime in 2010 after fleeing the country with her son. Her ex-husband had been awarded sole custody of the child; she remains at large.

In recent years, U.S. authorities have seen an increase in the number of international custodial child abductions. Watchdogs on the issue say there are currently more than 1,000 such open cases involving U.S. parents whose children have been taken overseas.

Speaking with seattlepi.com in 2009, Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said custodial child abduction is on the rise.

Unlike the United States and 80 other countries, the Japanese government has not ratified the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. The 29-year-old United Nations accord requires that member countries honor custody agreements made outside their borders unless doing so threatens the child involved.

Allen said that even when the country in question has signed on to the Hague Convention, a child’s return is not assured.

“The cases where we don’t get children returned aren’t just from places like Iran,” Allen said in March 2009. “There are a host of horror stories out there.”

Another recent case has had something of a happy ending.

After months of work, the Redmond mother of a boy whose father had taken him to Morocco was able to retrieve her son and return him to Washington. Still, the boy’s father, Mouad Aimane Elbou, has not faced the charge against him.

Check the Seattle 911 crime blog for more Seattle crime news. Visit seattlepi.com‘s home page for more Seattle news.

Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or levipulkkinen@seattlepi.com. Follow Levi on Twitter at twitter.com/levipulk.

http://baltimorepostexaminer.com/parents-urge-japan-to-return-abducted-children/2012/07/10

 

Parents urge Japan to return abducted children

BY  · JULY 10, 2012 · NO COMMENTS
·

Jeffrey and Mochi

Imagine getting a phone call stating that your children have been kidnapped. Your spouse has taken your kids to Japan, using the country’s laws to maintain custody. Every day becomes an exhausting task of contacting government officials to help, but little is accomplished.

This scenario is very real to Patrick McPike and the parents of nearly 400 abducted U.S. children living in Japan. Including Japanese children, an estimated 10,000 have been abducted by parents within Japan.

Japan has never returned any of them.

McPike traveled with his family to Japan to complete an assignment for his company. His marriage strained and his wife did the unthinkable.

“It seemed like a good opportunity to provide my wife’s family with an opportunity to spend some time with their grandchildren while they were still young,” McPike said. “When my assignment was up and it was time to come home, my wife abducted the children.”

McPike’s wife cut him off from communication with his two sons, Kai and Koh. The children became victims of Japanese law, which treats child abduction as a custody dispute rather than a felony crime. His wife is living in Japan, but could not be reached or found for comment.

Japan’s view of child abduction is different from the rest of the world. They are not a member of The Hague Convention – a treaty designed to return internationally abducted children to their home nations – and their courts favor one parent having sole custody. In 90 percent of cases, the rights go to the mother.

Japan is revising laws to open the possibility ratifying The Hague, but these changes may not be a total acceptance of The Hague in its current form.

“If we look at the domestic laws submitted by the government in order to execute the Convention, changes have been made with current Japanese public opinion and family court practices in mind, and it is questionable whether the intent of the Hague Convention has been incorporated,” said Takao Tanase, a professor who specializes in Japanese law.

During a U.S. Department of State briefing on U.S. child abductions to Japan, Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell spoke about persuading Japan to join The Hague.

“The President also very strongly affirmed the Japanese decision to enter into The Hague Convention,” Campbell said. “He asked that these steps be taken clearly and that the necessary implementing legislation would be addressed.

“This is a human tragedy, that unless you get to experience and get to know these brave parents, it’s just impossible to imagine,” Campbell said.

Getting Japan to join The Hague would be helpful, but McPike says it will not be enough, by itself, to bring back all the missing children.

“The Hague is not enforceable,” McPike said. “The decision to comply with a Hague return is determined by the courts of the abducting country. To solve the problem requires reform of the Japanese system.  They need to hold courts and judges responsible for following the law.  They need to enforce kidnapping laws consistently and they need to provide for joint-custody.”

There have also been concerns about the lack of action from the U.S. per policy, the U.S. Department of State has not formally requested from Japan the return of any abducted U.S. children.

Kai and Koh together laughing in happier times. (Courtesy photo.)

Susan Jacobs, a special adviser for children’s issues for the U.S. Department of State, said that individual cases are raised with the permission of parents and the parents are updated on these discussions. However, most parents say they have not been told of their personal cases being discussed with Japanese government officials.

Ironically, Japan refuses to return U.S. children but they want their own citizens who are abducted to be returned. From 1978-1981, about 16 Japanese teenagers were abducted by North Korea. Five of those children were returned and about six have died. The others are still missing. Japan has come to the U.S. and the U.N. asking for help to get North Korea to return these children.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama have met with Japanese families and assured they would provide help. Yet they have not met with any U.S. parents about their children being abducted to Japan, giving the appearance that they are more concerned with helping Japan.

Parents also question efforts by the U.S. Department of State because of the Mary Lake case.

In 2005, William Lake’s daughter was abducted by his ex-wife and taken to Japan. No one in the Lake family was Japanese, but William’s ex-wife knew of Japan’s custody laws.

On August 24, 2011, Mary Lake went to the U.S. Consulate in Japan and spoke with an official who told her to return home to her abductor since she did not have the money for a plane ticket to the states. Pressure was put on the U.S. Consulate and they aided Mary Lake’s effort to go home to her father the second time.

The return of Mary Lake gave parents of abducted children a small glimmer of hope for their own cases. For McPike and others like Jeffrey Morehouse and Randy Collins, getting their children back has become a daily job.

Morehouse and Collins serve as regional directors for Bring Abducted Children Home (BACHome), an organization established in 2010 to raise awareness of the missing U.S. citizen children kidnapped to in Japan.

Both men testified before the California State Senate Judiciary Committee for Senate Bill 1206 – Child Abduction Prevention. This is just one of many hearings they have attended to gather support.

During his testimony, Morehouse explained that he dropped his son Mochi off with his ex-wife for a parental visit in 2010. His ex-wife had threatened to kidnap Mochi before but the passport policy stated “when both parents have custody of the child, and the child is taken out of the country by one of the parents without consent of the other parent, it is punishable by criminal law.”

The Portland consulate violated the policy and provided his ex-wife with the passport for Mochi. Six days later he received a phone call from the police telling him his wife and child were missing. His wife kidnapped their son to Japan.

“In that moment, my life was shattered,” Morehouse said. “My days became consumed with dealing with local law enforcement, the U.S. Department of State, Japanese consular officials and anything I could think of to find my little boy.

“Every morning I wake up twice. The first time, I rush out of bed and prepare to get him ready for school. I can hear his voice in my head and my heart skips a beat. And then I really wake up and realize he’s still missing. The ongoing nightmare continues. The last time I held his hand, the last time I heard his voice was on Father’s Day 2010 and I’m still spending every day trying to locate my son.”

Morehouse, Collins and the other members of BacHome continue to exhaust their resources to locate their children.

They recently wrote a letter in advance of Clinton’s July 8 trip to Japan. Urging officials to help return their children, it was addressed to the Prime Minister to the Los Angeles consulate, four other Japanese consulates, members of the media, the Department of State, White House Office staff, all U.S. Senate offices, and members of the House of Representatives.

During Clinton’s visit about 40 parents of abducted children in Japan participated in a rally attempting to secure her help in pressuring Japan to address the issue of child custody.

Parents will continue to fight and hope that those in charge take notice and urge Japan to return their children.

“Imagine that tomorrow your child is going to be abducted,” Collins said. “What would you do today to prevent that from happening tomorrow?”

“I haven’t seen or heard from my son in almost four years. I don’t know what he’s thinking. But I did everything my government told me I was supposed to do to protect my son. I did everything that the courts told me to do to protect my son. Nobody protected my son.”