Press conference by mothers who have had their children internationally abducted

Tell a friend

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
3:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Judicial Correspondent Club Shiho Kisya Club (at Tokyo High Court)

1-1-4 Kasumigaseki chiyoda-ku , Tokyo (map)

The Hague Convention will ratify from April 1st. After April 1st, how will the visitation be changed? How does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs support us?
We have been waiting for today forever.
Four left behind mothers will announce about their cases at a press conference. Their children were internationally abducted by their spouses.

Date April 2

Place: Judicial Correspondent Club (at Tokyo High Court)
1-1-4 Kasumigaseki chiyoda-ku Tokyo
Tell: 03-3581-5411

Time: from 15:00PM to 15:30PM

If you will be present, please let us know or contact Judicial Correspondent Club.

We ask for the volunteers to help us.




Apr 1, 2012 | 5 Comments | 251 views

After decades of reluctance, Japan is set to join the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This international treaty, signed by more than 80 countries, is designed to prevent children from being taken from their home countries. While experts say joining the Hague Convention is a positive first step, critics argue that the real issue in Japan is not child abduction – but a lack of enforceable joint-custody laws to protect the rights of parents and children following divorce. This month, we examine the issues surrounding child custody and show why divorcing one’s spouse often means losing one’s children in Japan.

It was mid-October 2009,when Masako Akeo went to watch a choir concert at her son’s school. Akeo hadn’t seen little Kazuya in some time and was excited to hear him sing and possibly even have a word with him. After waiting patiently for the performance to end – and the applause to die down – Akeo approached her only child. 

“Kazuya!” she called out.

The little boy turned and there was a moment of recognition. But Akeo never got to follow up. To her surprise, the principal marched over and grabbed her arm. “Why did you come here?” he barked. “Why did you interrupt the concert?”

Akeo was pulled into a separate room and interrogated. She was ordered to leave the school and not talk to her son again.

“That choir concert was in the morning,” she says. “I waited outside the gate until six o’clock. But he did not come out.”

Akeo was treated like a criminal for wanting to see her son. But she was not a criminal. In fact, she was a victim of child abduction and parental alienation. And she remains so to this day.

In late summer 2006, Kazuya was spirited away from the family home by Akeo’s Japanese ex-husband. Akeo tried everything to get her son back including hiring private investigators and going to court more than 60 times. Nothing worked. Despite being a desperate mother, she has only seen the boy three times since his abduction.

“I met him two times in the Family Court,” she says. “One time was one hour – the other time was 45 minutes.

“The last mediation, my ex-husband made an agreement. I could meet my son every two months. But then final mediation, he gave the court my son’s letter. The letter said: ‘Oh, I have to study to enter high school. It is quite difficult for me now (to meet you).’

“Always, I had hope. But that day finished everything. I can’t do anything about my son.”

Takaji Takeuchi can sympathize with Akeo’s desperation. On a warm spring night in March of 2011, he tried to talk to his son who had also been taken away by his Japanese ex-spouse several years before. Japan had been hit by the horrible 3/11 tragedy and Takeuchi, like many others, was concerned about his family. He found his son at home with his ex-wife.


“They came out together,” Takeuchi says. “In front of my ex-wife, my son was standing. “I said ‘Are you okay?’ He said ‘Yeah, I’m okay. But why (did) you come here?’ I don’t have a father. I don’t need a father.” 

Both Takeuchi and Akeo’s children have been turned against them. It’s a common occurance for children separated from their mothers or fathers for lengthy periods of time. And it’s something that causes great pain on all sides.

“Every year, (at) New Year I say this year will be better,” Akeo says. “But you know, every year is getting worse. Still, I must keep going and keep doing something.”

Heartbreaking But Not Uncommon
These two cases are heartbreaking but not uncommon in Japan. In fact, there may be thousands of parents like them, who have lost contact with their children following a marital breakdown.

The reason is simple: there are no provisions for joint custody in Japan. In fact, under the country’s Meiji Era Civil Code, child custody is awarded to only one parent following a divorce, with the other parent is generally shut out. With no enforceable visitation rules, non-custodial parents generally lose access to their own children.

“Japanese Family Law is a misnomer in that there isn’t such a thing,” says Colin P. A. Jones, professor at Doshisha Law School in Kyoto. “There is not a statute that is called Family Law.

“There have never been a lot of substantive rules clearly laid out somewhere in a statute, which say parents have to do this for their children… or after divorce this is what’s supposed to happen.”

Jones says the parent-child relationship in Japan is defined in terms of a marital relationship, so essentially, divorcing a spouse also means divorcing one’s children. In the rare cases where visitation is granted, Japanese courts usually limit non-custodial parental time to a few hours per month. The custodial parent retains the right to cancel visitation at any time without penalty. This policy differs greatly from Western countries where the rights of parents are maintained and enforced – even after divorce.

“For a number of historical reasons, Japan has never really developed the notion that there are Constitutional rights associated with the parent-child relationship,” says Jones. “That is why child abduction – as we would call it – within Japan has been a problem as long, if not longer, than the international abduction cases have been.”

After a divorce in Japan, a non-custodial parent can no longer decide on their child’s health, education, living arrangements and schooling – even what name the child will carry into the future. It is common for custodial parents to move away from the other parent without notifying them of their child’s whereabouts. 

Critics say it’s a system that promotes and legitimizes child abduction and alienation.

Best Interests of the Child? 
In denying or severely limiting visitation, Japanese courts often reason that children “need protection” from the “trauma of divorce.” For example, in 2003, a desperate mother looking to visit her son was told by an Osaka High Court that “the child is satisfied with his current established lifestyle” with his father and new step-mother. The court denied the mother’s visitation request stating that “exposing the child to different lifestyles and methods of discipline can have adverse effects on the feelings and emotional stability of the child.”

This opinion flies in the face of research by child psychologists, psychiatrists and child welfare experts worldwide who argue that, despite the conflicts inherent with divorce, children need contact with both parents to grow up as healthy, well-adjusted adults.

“Empirical and longitudinal studies show that maintaining contact with non-custodial parents is beneficial for children’s well-being,” says clinical psychologist Kazuyo Tanase, a professor at Kobe Shinwa Women’s University.

In an interview with NHK, Dr. Tanase said she believes the current visitation system in Japan does not serve children or parents well. “It should be changed. Parents with no custody should be able to spend substantial amounts of time with their children like weekends and long vacations with overnights, not just several hours a month. Secondly, couples shouldn’t be allowed to separate or get divorced without a parenting plan in place. Finally, couples should be able to choose between sole custody and joint custody.”


In recent months, diplomatic officials from the US, Canada and Europe have lobbied Japan to implement a joint custody system. Senior members of the Obama Administration including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have also pushed Japan to join the 1980 Hague Convention – an international agreement that protects children from abduction. Japan is the only G8 country yet to sign the accord. The Japanese government has pledged to join the Hague Convention this year and the Justice Ministry has already released legislative proposals due to be submitted to the Diet this spring. However, critics say the proposals include so many conditions that the law will be virtually unenforceable.

“It’s pretty depressing,” says Jones, after reviewing the proposals. “It seems pretty clear that Japan is going to implement the Hague based on a number of assumptions that conflict with the assumptions of the Hague Convention.

“The implementation regime (in Japan) is basically going to assume that the taking parent has a good reason – they’re going to protect the taking parent until the left-behind parent proves otherwise.
“I don’t see it really getting anywhere – really making any changes.”

Black Hole For Child Abduction
Japan is a signatory of Article 10.2, the United Nations Convention on the Human Rights of the Child, which reads: “A child whose parents reside in different states shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis, personal relations and direct contacts with both parents.”

Yet personal relations and direct contact with both parents often does not happen in Japan. And, with its lack of respect for international court rulings and a decades-long reluctance to join the Hague Convention, some critics call Japan a “black hole” for child abduction.

In fact, the US State Department warns that “Abductions to Japan represent one of the largest portfolios in the Office of Children’s Issues and are among the most difficult to resolve. To date, the Office of Children’s Issues does not have a record of any cases resolved through a favorable Japanese court order or through the assistance of the Japanese government.”

Two high profile cases recently highlighted the need for Japan to get serious about child abduction. Last December, Wisconsin doctor Moises Garcia saw his nine-year old daughter returned after a four-year fight. The child had been abducted to Japan by her mother, who ignored a US court order granting the father custody. The child was returned as part of a plea bargain agreement when the mother was arrested in Hawaii on child abduction charges. In 2009, the Japanese ex-wife of American Christopher Savoie also ignored a US court order and took the couple’s children away. Savoie traveled to Japan to try and get the children back but was himself arrested on abduction charges. The charges were later dropped but Savoie was forced to leave Japan without his children.

In both of these cases, Japan failed to recognize US court decisions and experts say this highlights not only problems with Japanese law but also the country’s disregard for international court rulings.

Left Behind Parents
An organization known as Left Behind Parents Japan (LBPJ) has been campaigning for Japan to join the Hague Convention and to implement an enforceable visitation system. The group – which brings together foreign and Japanese parents who have lost access to their children – has taken its fight to senior levels of the Japanese government, including meetings with a former Japanese Justice Minister.

“Meeting with (former Justice Minister) Eda Satsuki was extremely important because he’s been a lawyer for over 40 years,” says LBPJ spokesperson Bruce Gherbetti. “He was a Family Court Judge early in his career, so he understands the issues at play.

“And I believe that he inherently believes that the solution is for Japan to sign the Hague Convention.

“Ultimately, Article 818-819 needs to be changed. That’s the (article of the) Civil Code that speaks to sole parental authority.

“Kyodo shinken is the answer,” says Gherbetti. “Kyodo shinken or joint custody.”

Not Only A “Foreign” Matter
From the attention given to high profile international abduction cases, one might assume the child abduction issue is a “foreign” matter in Japan. However, it is not. Japan’s divorce rate is now more than double what it was in the early 1970s and statistics show that nearly half of all marriages end in divorce (nearly 40 percent in 2010) – which means there could be thousands of permanently separated Japanese parents and children. At least 20 percent of the cases also involve left-behind mothers.

“If you’re a public school teacher, you’re looking at a class where one-third of the children probably have experienced a parental divorce,” says Jones. “Just nobody talks about it and the law really has not addressed what should happen to children after divorce. What is in their best interests after divorce.”

Despite all of the publicity surrounding the issue, it does not appear that help is coming soon from the Japanese government. In an interview with the Japan Times on February 1, 2012, Japan’s new Justice Minister Toshio Ogawa had this to say about modernizing the Civil Code: “If we allow dual parental rights, it will be difficult to decide which parent the children live with and to make other decisions. I believe a major complaint that people seeking dual parental rights have is that they don’t get to see their children enough. That can be largely solved by ensuring visitation rights.”

“The problem is that visitation rights are not enforceable under the current system,” says Gherbetti. “You could talk about visitation rights all you want, but if one parent still has veto rights over the other, then visitation provisions are essentially meaningless.

“To continue to disallow dual parental rights is a human rights violation, plain and simple,” says Gherbetti.

LBPJ member Dennis Gunn adds, “If one side has tyrannical power over the relationship with your child, then sooner or later – and usually sooner – that is going to be abused.

“They have devised a system here that is guaranteed to cause the parents… and the children to suffer.”



Suffering is what Masako Akeo continues to do. Although she devotes much of her time and attention to helping other left-behind parents, she endures on-going nightmares about her son’s whereabouts. She doesn’t know where he is, what he is doing or whether or not he is safe. His childhood was cruelly stripped from her by a vindictive ex-husband and a system that supports child abduction. 

“I’m kind of an activist,” she says. “Maybe so my son can see TV or magazine or newspaper.

Okay, Mommy’s doing this for me. That’s why I’m doing this – for my son.”


Below is a link to the notes by Bruce Gherbetti  from a meeting of members of the leadership of Left Behind Parents Japan with Yoshinori Oguchi, member of the House of Representatives in Japan, on Monday, January 16th, 2012.

Mr. Oguchi is a member of the New Komeito party, the third largest political party in the Diet, and he was a member of the MoFA committee which discussed modifying Japan’s civil code last fall in order to sign The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Here is a report of a January 11, 2012 meeting between former Justice Minister Eda and left-behind parents Masako Suzuki Akeo, Carlos Smith, and Bruce Gherbetti.

Akio Yokota Diary

October 6, 2011

Link to audio version, read by Masako Suzuki Akeo:

Final entries in diary of Akio Yokota, a left-behind Japanese father who committed suicide on September 11, 2011, provided and translated by Masako Suzuki Akeo.

Akio Yokota Diary


Restless mind Today  

 2011年08月31日15:00 死にたい。

I want to die.


I am thinking to try on this Saturday.


Already I got the medicine.


If I fail to die, I resign myself to my fate and I should live.





Somebody left a 2 year old girl who was injured. Is she abused?

http:// news.mi iew_new 2&media _id=88


Why was she abused?


I can’t understand their feelings.


Are children in fault?


I wish such stupid parents would die.


Lack of confidence 



I think my death will be suited in this real world.


I have lived for my son but I knew it is impossible for me.


When I work in my work place, I make many mistakes. My life is unstable.


I think my health and mental problems are the reasons



I should leave my will.


I’m near the end of my life-span.


Today I feel worse than yesterday.





Somebody put the new born baby in a rice farm.

http:// news.mi iew_new 0&media _id=4


Please do not do that anymore.


I question someone’s character. Please think about us who cannot raise our children and.


Please stop giving the mother sole priority and child custody in the court.


After I read this news, I thought we do not need to keep giving the mother sole priority and custody


The method


始業式前 中1女子が飛び降り?

Before a school opening ceremony, a girl in the second grade of junior high school jumped to her death.

http:// news.mi iew_new 3&media _id=4


I can understand the feeling of someone who commit suicide.


I am same as them.


I am thinking of the method.


If I jump to my death, will I be unconscious?


In my case, I want to use medicine and hang myself.


I want to die as soon as possible.


I have visitation on next week and I want to hug my son.


However, I am not sure if I’ll be alive until the next visitation.


Leave the chair on today



Justice Minister Eda.


Who is the next?


Will The Hague Convention and Domestic Child Abduction start over again?


I wish the next Justice Minister will not be a Feminist.


Please consider Child Abduction.


Child Abduction is Kidnapping.


Opinion from other people



Somebody put the new born baby in a plastic bag and put the baby in a rice field.

http:// news.mi iew_new 0&media _id=4


I copied and paste this story on my



I wish this situation becomes less



If they can deliver the baby in this world,

they could put the baby up for adoption.





If you give up your pregnancy, I can respect your decision.


If somebody has same problems like this, please let them know these website.

★赤ちゃんを救う会★  Save The Babies

http:// www2.od /~cae26 630/wa004.html

★環の会★ Circle Meeting

http:// http://www.wa- no-kai. jp/

★小さないのちを守る会★ Save the Children

http:// http://www.chi isana.o rg/

★愛の決心★ Cords of Love

http:// http://www.jes us-fami doption.html

★ベビーライフ★ The Baby Life

http:// http://www.bab ylife.o rg/inde x.html

★ISSジャパン★ ISS Japan

http:// http://www.iss

★アクロスジャパン★ Across Japan

http:// http://www.geo cities. jp/mama s5papas /

★慈恵病院紹介の24時間相談所です。★ round the clock counseling in the Jikei Hospital

http:// http://www.jik ei-hp.o rikago/3-1.htm l

0120-783-449( 悩みよ 至急 )

24時間無料電 round the clock toll free line


Please spread to everybody


I could understand the baby is very cute since I got my son.


How much I love my son. I cannot think that my son came from by body.


This is a gift from god


If I am not related to my son by blood, my life does not change.


I have seen my son’s growth.


I do not care about blood relationship.


The other day the news announced very sad story between foster child and foster parents.


I think newAdopted Child System is better than Traditional Adoption by Mutual Consent.

I think the new Specialized Adoption System should be put into use more, rather than the traditional one.


If somebody wants to put the child somewhere they should send them to an adopton center.


If a child find out the truth about their past they will be shocked about that situation


However it wouldn’t matter if they have a strong relationship with their new parents


I found this article on a website.


This mother was minor. She was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. She could not tell to anybody and she missed her period.


She wanted to forget her situation but her tummy was getting bigger.


She contacted an organization for Adopted Children Center.


She moved to this center quickly.


Then she delivered the baby. It was too late to have an abortion.


She has never seen her own baby.


The Caesarean scar left a reminder of the assault.


When she saw her scar, it made her sad.


I think this baby maybe happy in the future, a rich family may take him and he has a good life


Do not throw away children.


God cannot control a parent-child problem. We should do this in the real world.


No more positive



We have been separated for one year now. I have memories of when my son and I lived together alone.


I recall the day when my wife asked to come back to live together with us.


I agreed but 2 months later she abducted my son.


Now the situation is opposite and she lives with my son and I am alone.


I asked her to live together again. But she ignored.


She refused to give me her email address and phone number , but I know her number anyway.


I am thinking about many things but I do not see a food outcome.


Now I am checking how to kill by myself,


I have general anesthetic and a muscle relaxing fluid.


But I do not use of that one.,,,,,,,, because…….. the police will investgate of my hospital where I work.


I tried to use a towel to hang myself from a thick pipe earlier, but all I heard was q squeaking sound.


I thought to myself why de cannot I die.


If I die, I would not be a problem for everybody anymore.


How long should I suffer from this problem


I have prepared a list of people to contact when I die.


What is happiness?


My happiness is raising my son.


I am wondering if I can live together with my wife and son again.


My wife is still adamantly saying no.


Really please help me.


I wish she would accept me like I accepted her one year ago.


I am wondering, if I know her cellphone number can I send a message to her?


I wish I can find somebody to harass her by sending a lot of emails to her cell phone and make her wake up.



In this situation my son is never going to be happy.


I got a phone call from my mother in law.



Before going to my work, my mother in law phoned to me this morning.


She said that when Natsumi and kaede were biking, they had a car accident.


Then I got day off and went to mother in laws house.


She did not say hospitals name.


Anyway I will go there.


I wish just kaede will be ok.


I will tell he is ok or not latar.




They were in her house.


Mother in law said that they were fine.


My wife said to her that she does not want to see me and go home.


The next visitation will be as usual.


Then I asked to her why you phoned to me. So she replied I panicked and contacted you without my daughter’s permission.


I didn’t expect you to come here.


Your son was fine. But your wife got bruises and scratches.


Then she asked me.


Why did you come here when we are still in mediation?


Were you concerned about your wife or were you only worried your son ?



I replied both!



I felt helpless, when I left from their house.


I cannot control my emotions and I feel so angry and frustrated.


I only wanted to see my son for a few seconds. They said no, i was shocked, I felt dazed and weak like in was about to pass out.


Today’s matter 



I decided to give up by Today’s matter.


I want to die.


I pressured of my neck with towel.


I heard the sound that my neck of the bone was cracked.


However, I could not be unconscious and only my face and my tongue were numbed by this.


Hanging myself is not suited about me.


Why can everybody hang themselves very easy?


I heard the diet member hanged himself today.


I envy him.


My life is hopeless.


I cannot expect anything good from the Hague Convention. Furthermore, the Domestic Children Abduction Problem is hopeless.


Really it is difficult to live in japan.


My neck is in pain.


If I became be unconscious, I hope I leave this world.


I hate me.


Please kill me.


TV news announces about many murder cases. I can die instead of them,


Please help me. Please…..





I am not o.k.


I felt lots of generation gap in my work place. Everything bothered to me, car accident, new work place, more office work, etc.


Furthermore, trauma is coming again, I cannot think about anything. So I could not sleep for 2 nights and I got diarrhea.


This situation is same as after child abduction.


I got off my work today.


I want to die. I think I’ll attempt suicide again.


I am tired of everything






I think some of people believe what I’m saying about my story on mixi.


I met my son today.


I asked him who is dad. My son did not look at me and he was against me.


He knows this situation.


Is he worried about me?


I saw my wife for the first time in 10 month.


She was same as before.


However, I thought that she became to be more fashionable.


The other day I mixed Dormicum and Horizon and administered intravenous fluids. So I stayed in a hospital for 2 days.


I was thinking to die at that time.


I was hoping to not use general anesthetic.


Although the police would investigate how I got this medicines and I would bother my work place, this is my only way.


To everybody, I would like to keep MIXI like this.


To everybody.


Good bye

Final words from Akio Yokota

September 20, 2011

Thank you, Masako, for providing and translating this.

Akio Yokota, a left-behind Japanese father, committed suicide on September 11.

AKio Yokota Profile

My wife took my son in November 16th,

2010. Since then, I couldn’t contact then. One day I got a letter about divorce

settlement from Family Court. It said false DV, permission of abortion, financial

trouble, personal conflict and depression. On that’s time I was on medical

leave from job. It caused from depression.

Since then, I have tried to committed suicide

several times. I couldn’t get any evidence against DV and my wife didn’t have,

too. I filed about any other evidences in mediation. However, my wife said

everything was lie. 9 months after mediation, I met my son. We couldn’t see for

6 month. He didn’t remember father.

I have 2 hours visitation per month. My son

is 2 years old and still he doesn’t understand I am his father. My wife supposed

to not let give any visitation rights to me. I begged her about sleep-over visitation.

She refused to me. Then I begged 2 times visitation per month. She refused

this, too. She said this reason was my mental problem. My judge recommended to

have one more mediation about visitation and this judge said that I will give of

the court order 2 times visitation per month.

In my case, it is false DV.

I can raise my son. She can’t inculcate

moral to my son. It is very difficult to understand why she took my son from


I was thinking to commit suicide many


Still I am thinking now.

My psychiatrics doctor told me that if your son is coming

back, your depressions will be recovery.  He gave the medical certificate for me.

However, my life is hard.

I don’t have anything to live for.

I am smiling at my work. I haven’t left the house at my

day off. I remember my son and cry every day.

Kidnapping is crime and abuse.

Japanese law is nothing. The judge doesn’t think about

Children’s happiness.

Please give any good environment to our children.

Children are Japanese future.

Really I want to disappear from this world

I don’t have anything to live for and my life is


Thank you for reading my profile.

Akio Yokota

Demonstration walk in Shibuya (Yoyogi park) on Jan 16th (Sunday)
Sunday, January 16 · 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Location Yoyogi Park

Created By

More Info We will walk together with people around the world to recover our relationship with our beautiful children.~ Ratify Hague convention, achieve joint custody and shared parenting in Japan.

Date and Time : Jan 16th(Sun) at 1:00PM
Meeting Place: Outdoor stage in Yoyogi Park. As same as the place for Santa Claus demo.
Transportation: 3-minute walk from Harajuku (JR line), Yoyogi-Koen (Chiyoda line).
6-minute walk from Yoyogi-Hachiman (Odakyu line).

1:15PM: Opening:
1:20~2:30PM: Left Behind Parent’s Speech
2:30~3:30PM: Street Demonstration
From Outdoor Stage in Yoyogi Park~Shibuya Station~Outdoor Stage in Yoyogi Park
5:00PM~: Get-together party (around Shibuya Station)