‘Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists

Pamphlet issued by Tokyo to Japan’s embassies in response to Hague convention is criticised for depicting a foreign man beating his child
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2014, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 3:31pm

Julian Ryall in Tokyo

The cartoon showing a white man beating his child has drawn condemnation from human rights activists.

Human rights activists in Japan have reacted angrily to a new pamphlet released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that they claim is racist and stereotypical for depicting white fathers beating their children.

The 11-page leaflet has been sent to Japanese embassies and consulates around the world in response to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction going into effect in Japan on April 1.

Tokyo dragged its feet on ratifying the treaty, which broadly stipulates that a child should be returned to his or her country of habitual residence when they have been taken out of that country by a parent but without the consent of the other parent.

But manga-style images of foreign fathers beating children and Japanese women portrayed as innocent victims have raised the hackles of campaigners, both those fighting discrimination against foreigners and non-Japanese who have been unable to see children who have been abducted by Japanese former spouses.

Debito Arudou said the Japanese “see themselves as the victims”.”It’s the same problem with any negotiations in which Japan looks like it has been beaten,” said Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese citizen who was born in the United States and has become a leading human rights activist.

“After being forced to give up a degree of power by signing the Hague treaty, they have to show that they have not lost face and they try to turn the narrative around,” he said. “It’s the same as in the debate over whaling.

“The Japanese always see themselves as the victims, and in this case, the narrative is that Japanese women are being abused and that the big, bad world is constantly trying to take advantage of them.”

Arudou is particularly incensed by the cover of the publication, which shows a blond-haired foreigner hitting a little girl, a foreign father taking a child from a sobbing Japanese mother and another Japanese female apparently ostracised by big-nosed foreign women.

“It is promoting the image that the outside world is against Japanese and the only place they will get a fair deal is in Japan,” said Arudou.

The rest of the pamphlet takes the form of a conversation between a cartoon character father and son, but with the storyline showing the difficulties of a Japanese woman living abroad with her half-Japanese son.

Arudou says the publication then “degenerates into the childish” with the appearance of an animated doll that is the father figure’s pride and joy, but also dispenses advice.

“As well as promoting all these stereotypes, why are they not talking about visitation issues for foreigners whose half-Japanese children have been abducted by their ex-wives?” asked Arudou.

Several foreigners who have been unable to see their children for years have already contacted Arudou to express their anger, with a number of US nationals saying they would pass the document onto lawmakers.

Arudou’s post on the issue on his website has also attracted attention, with commentators describing the pamphlet as “racist propaganda”.

“This is disgusting,” one commentator posted. “Pictures are powerful, more powerful than words. And the only time I’ve ever seen anything remotely like this is when I did a search for old anti-Japanese propaganda.

“Of course, that was disgusting too, but it was wartime!”

Another added, “What a pathetic advert for an ‘advanced’ country.

“As for the text – not wasting any more bandwidth on such utter racist, xenophobic, patronising, paranoid nonsense.”
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as ‘Racist’ cartoon sparks outrage

The following is a copy of the English language version of the pamphlet:

MOFA Hague Convention pamphlet

Notice: A Pilot Project towards concluding the Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

April 30, 2013

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will offer a telephone information service concerning cases of international parental child removal and retention on a trial basis.

The Government of Japan is now making preparations towards concluding the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (hereinafter “Hague Convention”), including the planning of a Central Authority to be established within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for its part, has decided to launch a pilot project designed to offer a telephone information service by a lawyer on the Japanese legal framework for parties to such cases residing in and outside Japan, as it anticipates that the Central Authority, once established, will receive phone calls seeking consultation. The idea is to put the experience gained through this project to good use in facilitating the implementation of the Hague Convention after the launch of the Central Authority.

For parties to a case of international parental child removal and retention who reside outside Japan

This pilot project will provide an information service by a Japanese lawyer on the Japanese legal system for parents whose child has been removed to Japan and who reside outside Japan, and are seeking a solution to the issue but unfamiliar with the Japanese legal framework. This service will be available in English or Japanese via Skype or telephone, free of charge.

1. Who is eligible to use this service?
Parents residing outside Japan whose child has been removed to Japan.
(Only a parent of the removed child can apply.
A grandfather, grandmother or other close relative of the child, as well as friends and acquaintances of the parent, are not eligible.)

2. When is this service available?
9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (Japan Standard Time), from Monday through Friday (a day of the week), from May 1st, 2013 through March 31st, 2014 (Japanese Standard Time)
Please note that this service might be terminated earlier than the date specified above, depending on the number of applicants and the launch of the Central Authority. Any changes will be posted at this page.

3. How many times and how long may I use this service?
One session only per applicant; up to one hour

4. Do you speak English?
The lawyer speaks English and Japanese.

5. What information can I get from this service?
Information on Japanese family law, family court proceedings and other aspects of the Japanese legal framework. (Please note that in this service the lawyer in charge will not offer professional consultation to solve an individual case.)

6. I’d like to use this service. What should I do?
Step 1: To arrange an information session with a Japanese lawyer in charge, send an email to the address below that includes the following information. The lawyer will report back to you regarding the time and date of the session via email.

Note: The email address below is not hyperlinked. Please type this email address.

Time and date (based on Japan Standard Time) you prefer: Provide three or more options in order of preference in the period described in Section 2 above. Please consider the time difference between your location and Japan.
The lawyer in charge might be unavailable at your requested time, so please give a number of preferred day and time slots.
i) 1st June, from 9 am (JST)
ii) 5th June, from 11 am (JST)
iii) 10th June, from 3 pm (JST)…
The specific information you want to know
Your contact phone number (including country code) or Skype name
Your country/region (if your country has multiple time zones, please also provide your city name.)
Step 2: The lawyer will call you on the date specified.

Charges for the international call to you by the lawyer will be paid by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. However, you will need to pay any incoming call charges incurred on a cellphone roaming service or the like if you use such a service. If you use Skype, you will need to pay the charges for internet access for that purpose.
The lawyer will not give you professional consultation on your specific case. This pilot project is designed to allow you, who reside outside Japan, to gain a deeper understanding as to what scheme currently available in Japan might be of help to you.
The emails to be sent under Section 6 Step 1 above will be only for the purpose of arranging a telephone information session, not for seeking or giving professional consultation on your specific case.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the lawyer will treat the information you give with complete confidentiality.
Foreign Policy Bureau

“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.


Wednesday 16th January, 2013, 13:00 – 16:30
Mita 2-1-8, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, Mita Kaigisho
Map [PDF]
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Japan Association of Arbitrators
Japan Federation of Bar Associations
Japanese and English(For those who wish to hear a simultaneous interpreting, the limited number of earphones will be available.)
Free of Charge
Approximately 200 people
Preliminary Programme
13:00 Opening
Opening Address(Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
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
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 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.)


Comments delivered:  Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tokyo, Japan, Jan. 6, 2012


Remarks to the Media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Tokyo, Japan
January 6, 2012



ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: First of all, good evening everyone, and I’m sorry to keep you waiting. Let me just say, on behalf of my delegation, it’s wonderful to be back in Tokyo, in Japan. I’ve had a series of meetings today with my key interlocutors and others in the Japanese government. I’ve had a good opportunity to discuss issues of mutual concern with our excellent ambassador here, Ambassador Roos, and his team. Let me just say that we are enjoying an extraordinarily close period of partnership between the United States and Japan. We were able to review our progress last year in the outstanding meeting that took place between the Prime Minister and the President in Hawaii, and we reviewed our game plan going forward – areas that we need to enhance our cooperation. We talked in some detail about developments on the Korean Peninsula, and the need for close coordination between the United States and Japan and South Korea; we talked extensively about our mutual desire to see peace and stability, and to share information with all the key players, including China. In addition to these matters, we talked about a range of other issues of interest to the United States and Japan: our mutual efforts in Burma; our coordination in multilateral fora such as the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum. 

I also had a chance to visit the Justice Ministry. We reviewed the progress to date on the Japanese commitment to follow through on accession to the Hague Convention. The President, as you know, discussed this with the Prime Minister in Hawaii, and the Justice Minister spoke with us about next steps. We told him that we will be following closely issues associated with implementing legislation, and we want very much for that legislation to adhere to global norms in which Japan can work closely with other countries associated with issues associated with child welfare. We also underscored how important it will be for Japan to demonstrate progress on the existing cases. This is of enormous significance, importance, to us – and we want to work closely to ensure visitation, to ensure that the left-behind parents have the opportunity to interact with their children. We called on the Ministry and other key players to take the necessary steps. The United States has been very patient — we support this relationship very strongly — but we’re going to need to see some progress going forward.

I think with that, I’d be very pleased to take your questions. I only have a few minutes, but would be happy to answer questions going forward.

QUESTION: Did you discuss any details on the environmental assessment report on relocation of Futenma Air Base?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: We did, in some of our meetings, talk about the need to move forward on Futenma, and the submission of the report. I think we all understand the importance of making progress. I think it’s clear that yesterday, the President and Secretary Panetta underscored that even while the United States is making adjustments in its global military posture, we are intent on maintaining a very strong, enduring military presence in the Asia-Pacific region. And I just want to underscore that, overall, our commitment to the security of Japan and to regional security in Asia will continue. And we will also be taking steps to strengthen and diversify our security relationships around the Pacific.

QUESTION: Did you discuss any details about legislation on Iran sanctions, and how it’s going to affect Japan?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Yes. The Japanese government has raised some concerns about this legislation. We understand some of the difficulties these raise for Japan and other partners. But I think we all share an interest in making sure that Iran is dissuaded from steps that lead towards unacceptable nuclear options.

QUESTION: About the North Korean issue: will the trilateral meeting with South Korea and Japan be held in Washington on the 16th of this month?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think we’ve agreed that we’ll be holding a meeting in the near future. I think the exact date, we are still coordinating among our partners.

QUESTION: There was a rumor in the Seoul stock exchange that there was an explosion in a North Korean nuclear facility. Did you hear anything about that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I haven’t yet. I’ve just heard that rumor, but I’ve heard nothing further. I can’t confirm or deny, and I just simply don’t know.

I’ll take one last question.

QUESTION: Is there any way that Japan can keep some of its Iranian oil imports, while avoiding the U.S. sanctions?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think I won’t get into further details beyond what I’ve already said, so I think, simply stated, we understand some of the concerns but we also have made clear what our ultimate goal will be with respect to putting the necessary pressure on Iran.

One last question, anyone?

QUESTION: When do you expect the Prime Minister to go to the States?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I don’t think… well, ultimately, a formal invitation, and the timing of an invitation, is handled by the White House. And I really have nothing further to say, beyond that obviously, we look forward to very close relations and high-level visits between the United States and Japan. Next year is the 100th anniversary of the magnificent gift of the cherry trees from the United States to Japan*. We’ll have about a month of festivities; I think very high-level Americans are going to participate in that. We hope to be able to make a reciprocal gift to Japan, and we will be working closely with Japanese colleagues about appropriate timing for visits. I think the Foreign Minister had a very good visit with Secretary Clinton in December, and we just look forward to continuing high-level engagements as we move forward.

Thank you all very much.

QUESTION: One question about the Hague Convention: do you see any progress in the situation in resolving the current ongoing cases?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: We haven’t seen enough progress, no. Thank you.

*should read “to the United States from Japan.”