Parental abduction victims hold rally to push for joint custody rights



Parents deprived of their children held a rally Friday to push for introducing joint custody to the Japanese legal system and to raise awareness of the plight faced by their offspring when marriages fall apart.

Marching through the Asakusa district in Tokyo’s Taito Ward, about 30 Japanese and foreign participants held up a multilingual banner reading, “Stop Parental Child Abduction!”

Demonstrators also carried signs reading “More visitation time” and “Affection from both parents to children” during the hour-long march on Children’s Day.

It was the first rally organized by Kodomo no Kenri wo Mamoru Bekkyo Oya Forum (Forum for Left-Behind Parents Protecting Children’s Rights) to address the problem of parental child abduction in Japan.

“I want people to know that children have the right to see both of their parents and that parents are responsible for accomplishing that,” said Daisuke Tanaka, the organizer of the event.

Tanaka has been struggling to spend time with his daughter since his wife whisked her away in March 2016. Since then, he has only been allowed to meet her twice a month for three hours at a time, he said.

Other participants told The Japan Times similar stories.

In most cases, a spouse abruptly leaves with the children before filing for divorce or custody rights. Tanaka said child abductions will only continue to fester unless Japan approves the concept of granting joint custody.

“It’s usual for the court to give custody to the parent who lives with the child, and that’s why there are so many cases of abduction. If there’s joint custody, better conversations and negotiations would likely take place,” he said.

Michihiko Sugiyama, a lawyer who participated in the demonstration, said the biggest issue is that Japanese law only allows custody to be awarded to one parent. Once separated from his family, he decided to take part in the rally to share his experience.

The civil code requires parents to decide on visitation and custody arrangements, but research shows people are increasingly forgoing such discussions and heading straight to court mediation. In fiscal 2015, 12,264 cases of mediation involving visitation rights were accepted in family courts nationwide, almost double from 10 years earlier, according to court data.

A group of lawmakers is drafting a bill to help divorced or separated parents see their children more easily, but the issue has yet to gain traction. Some are concerned that parents with a history of domestic violence are too dangerous to be granted visitation rights.

Rally participant Susumu Ishizuka, 48, claimed there must be better awareness of the issue because the current perception is that abandoned parents may have committed domestic abuse.

“People who are against such a bill are linking left-behind parents with domestic violence too easily without sufficient understanding,” said Ishizuka, whose spouse ran off with his 5-year-old child three years ago. Their divorce has not been finalized, but according to the court’s decision, he is only permitted to see his child for two hours every two months.

“I can only meet my child in an appointed place, and I’m not allowed to give them presents. This is far from a parent-child relationship,” he said.

Custody case a test for Japan, says U.S. father seeking access to girl held by grandmother



A U.S. man seeking access to his daughter said Monday that the case is an opportunity for Japan to prove to the world it no longer tolerates parental child abduction.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Paul Toland is suing the mother of his Japanese ex-wife for denying access to his 13-year-old daughter.

His former wife left with the child in 2003, at the age of 9 months, after their marriage failed. The woman committed suicide four years later.

Toland said his situation would amount to a “felony crime” in other countries with up-to-date family laws.

“In Japan, this abduction by a nonparent is not only accepted, but it is condoned. I’m the only parent in the world to (my daughter),” Toland said, who is in Japan for the first time since the trial at the Tokyo Family Court kicked off in July.

Toland said if the case is resolved it would demonstrate to the world that Japan is turning over a new leaf after years of notoriety as a “safe haven” for parental child abduction. If his daughter is not returned to him, he said, it will only alienate the nation further.

Japan joined The Hague Convention on cross-border parental child kidnapping in 2014. The pact does not apply in Toland’s case because the abduction was within Japan — Toland’s family was based in Yokohama at the time. In addition to this, the convention cannot be applied retroactively.

“How can we expect Japan to ever resolve more complicated divorce, child custody issues if it cannot even resolve this very straightforward case, which does not involve divorce and where one parent is deceased and the nonparent is withholding a child above the parent who wants to care for her?” he said.

The daughter has said in a statement submitted to the Tokyo Family Court that she does not wish to be reunited with her father, according to Akira Ueno, Toland’s lawyer.

Given that the separation occurred when the girl was a baby, this suggests that her attitude was learned from others and that she is under a misapprehension of what her father is really like, Ueno said.

“In cases this like, Japanese courts have immaturely decided that children shouldn’t be returned to parents, oblivious to the fact that they’re bound to suffer once becoming adults,” Ueno said.

The following update has been received from Paul Dalley regarding his international child abduction case.


International Japanese Child Kidnapping Case

committed to Supreme Court

as children’s rights continue to be abused


On Wednesday 5th June 2013 the dramatic attempted case of international child kidnapping by Japanese national’s UNELCO consultant Japanese national Toshihide Yasuda of New Caledonia and Yuka Dalley of Santo took another pivotal step as the Majestrate’s Court upon reviewing all the evidence agreed with the Police Public Prosecutor that there is enough evidence to warrant a criminal trial and committed the case to the Supreme Court. On 17th April 2013 Yasuda and Yuka were charged by the Public Prosecutor with attempted kidnapping for arranging to take the father’s two small children first to New Caledonia and then on to Japan where the children would forever have lost their father. The failed attempt on 29/3/13 was stopped by the Santo police from which Yuka fled with the son the next day to Vila abandoning her daughter in Santo. Among the evidence presented was 58 emails, Digicell text messages, a Western Union money transfer, hotel accommodation receipts and international air tickets all paid for by Toshihide Yasuda who himself is married. The Supreme Court will hear the plea on July 4th 2013.


There is a growing worldwide problem of Japanese nationals in international marriages suddenly kidnapping children back to Japan which refuses to return the abducted children back to their non-Japanese parents. Some sources claim over 10,000 children’s lives have been destroyed in the process. Unlike Vanuatu’s equalitarian Christian culture which promotes a legal system of sharing and compromise, Japanese culture is heirachical with a legal system that promotes complete domination by one side over the other. As well as causing all sorts of problems with their Chinese and Korean neighbours who are still resentful of the millions kidnapped by the Japanese during the war, this policy directly hurts families and their weakest members, the children. An example of this is Japan’s outdated and much criticized feudal ‘koseki’ family registration system which prohibits sharing of children in broken families and virtually guarantees in the case of split families that the children will lose one of their parents despite the psychological scaring this causes.


The kiwi father Paul Dalley, famous up in Santo for his tourist and rescue flying in his unique seaplane was very grateful that Vanuatu’s Christian laws continue to protect the children in Vanuatu. “For too long foreigners come to Vanuatu and believe that they are above the Christian laws of this wonderful nation and that they can behave as this wish and apply the mindsets that prevail in their countries such as lying, hiding from the police and denying children access to both parents. Thankfully the racist Japanese laws that promote child abduction and the archaic notion that children are simply the chattel of the Japanese parent do not apply here. In this democratic and independent nation founded on the Christian Principles we are legally and morally bound to follow her laws and conventions such as the International Convention on the Rights of Children, ratified by Vanuatu in 1992, which stipulates in Article 9 Section 3 “State Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis.”


Sources close to the case report that the mother has continually denied her children access to their father, including both hiding them in a Port Vila house as well as hiding the school she put one of the children in. Despite neither parent having custody of the children the mother is still illegally trying to prevent them returning to their home and schools and friends in Santo from where they were ripped over 70 days ago when in a dramatic inter-island pursuit the mother fled from Santo police whose quick actions in pursuing her to Vila prevented her departing the country. To pay for legal bills the father has been forced to put his Santo aviation business, seaplane and car on sale to save his children who are stuck in a legal void in Vila.


Based on his ten year’s living in Japan the father’s greatest concern is trying to save his children from a future life of bullying in Japan due to their mixed race heritage which is severely discriminated against in homogeneous Japan where such children endure a life of racial bullying as they are know as ‘halfs.’ This bullying is so harsh that it is a well known social problem called ‘ijime”and causes Japan to have one of the worlds worst child suicide rates . 


The father has spent weeks pleading not only with the police, courts, church groups and family protection advocates for the return of the children to their Santo home. In desperation at the children continually being denied their legal right to be with their father Paul this weekend was moved by the Holy Spirit to take to the streets and churches with his Christian message of ‘Equal Sharing, Equal Caring.”


Paul comments “All children deserve equal time and equal love with both their parents. All I have been trying to do since this nightmare began is return the children to their Santo home to allow both parents exactly equal 50/50 with their children until the Supreme Court determines the results of the criminal case and allocates permanent custody. The only fair solution for the children is Jesus Christ’s policy of “Do unto other’s as you would have them do unto you” and allow  the children Equal Shared Custody. This would allow the children to return to their Santo home and schools for two weeks a month and then spend two weeks with their mother in Vila. Surely allowing the children to return to their home in Santo and play on the Santo beaches is better than keeping them virtually imprisoned behind these Vila bars? As Ghandi, Mandela and Jesus Christ courageously demonstrated during their long struggles for freedom one should always push with 100% of ones energy for solutions that are fair and reasonable to all – especially to children who deserve equal time and equal love from both parents.”

New Zealand case

April 12, 2013

Custody battle turns nasty between Kiwi and Japanese wife
Posted on April 8, 2013 – 9:52am | Category: Local News

By Marc Neil – Jones
Custody battles can deeply affect children and a failed marriage in Vanuatu is turning nasty with police charges of child kidnap at the centre of a battle between a New Zealand male and his Japanese wife in Santo.

Any expatriate couple with kids living in a foreign country goes through the turmoil of child separation in a split up but it is particularly a concern when it involves a Japanese national and children as Japan is not a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction which obliges signatories to promptly return abducted children to their country of habitual residence.

Critics of the Japanese legal system say this refusal has the practical effect of facilitating international child abduction. The issue has become a cause for significant concern to signatory nations, the majority of which are Western countries. Japanese family law considers issues of divorce custody, child support or alimony as predominantly private matters. Consequently, Japan has no enforcement mechanism to enforce foreign custody rulings or recommendations made by its own domestic courts. Furthermore, Japan does not recognise joint parental authority or shared “residence” after divorce.
This in effect means a Japanese mother taking her children to Japan in defiance of visitation or joint custody orders issued by Western courts will have no action taken by the Japanese courts. A father wanting to see his children needs the wife’s permission and if this is not given can have devastating consequences for parents if they cannot see their children again.

Paul Dalley, aged 39, a New Zealand businessman running a seaplane business in Santo, has filed a police complaint with evidence including emails, bank transfers, and airline tickets that Santo police have now acted upon alleging that his wife Yuka Dalley and a Japanese businessman working for Unelco living in New Caledonia had allegedly conspired to kidnap their two children aged 10 months and three years to remove them from Vanuatu over to Japan so he would not be able to see them again.

Dalley states he managed to get the three year old girl to a safe place with Ni Vanuatu friends before contacting the police. The alleged kidnapping attempt was foiled by Dalley working with Santo police who travelled to Vila to arrest her with the youngest child at the Melanesian Hotel which is owned by Japanese and where she was allegedly staying under an assumed name waiting for Unelco consultant Toshida Yasuda from New Caledonia who Dalley alleges is also implicated.

Dalley advised Daily Post that his wife Yuka Dalley has now been reportedly charged with kidnap and police want to interview Toshida Yasuda who is alleged to be in Port Vila.

The Japanese woman has also charged her husband with Intentional Assault and Threatening Behaviour.

Police are still investigating the case and a court date is yet to be set.


Child’s right to see an absent father: Law to help millions from broken  homes

  • Government to draw up radical changes to the  1989 Children’s Act
  • £10m will be pledged to help couples settle  out of court
  • Figures show one in five children lose  contact with a parent after separation

By James Chapman UPDATED:19:14 EST, 2 February 2012

Millions of children from broken homes are to  be granted new rights to a ‘full and continuing relationship’ with both their  parents.

The move is designed to ensure that the  parent who leaves the family home – most commonly the father – cannot be cut out  of their children’s lives following an acrimonious separation.

Ministers have decided that a change in the  law is vital in the face of heartbreaking evidence that huge numbers of  youngsters whose families split up lose contact with one parent for  ever.

Ministers decided a change in the law is vital to prevent youngsters whose families split up from losing contact with a parentMinisters decided a change in the law is vital to  prevent youngsters whose families split up from losing contact with a parent

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke have been at odds over the proposals
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke have been at odds over the proposals

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Justice Secretary  Kenneth Clarke have been at odds over the proposals

Courts will be put under a duty to ensure  that unless their welfare is threatened by staying in touch with either their  mother or father, children have an ‘equal right to a proper relationship with  both’.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith  and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have dismissed objections from Justice  Secretary Kenneth Clarke and overturned the findings of a major review of family  law which was published last year.

On Monday, the Government will announce a  ministerial working group that will draw up radical changes to the 1989 Children  Act.

The Act states that the child’s needs come  first in law courts, but campaigners for fathers’ rights complain that judges  repeatedly pander to the idea that mothers are ‘more important’ than  fathers.

Unmarried fathers say they are often at a  particular disadvantage, having to apply for a ‘parental responsibility order’  through a court or have one granted through an agreement with the  mother.

‘The Act is going to be rewritten,’ said a  Government source. ‘The welfare of children must of course remain paramount – but alongside that there will be an equal right for a child to have a proper  relationship with both parents.

Children's Minister Tim Loughton said courts are 'rarely the best place' for resolving conflicts between parents about the care of children
Children's Minister Tim Loughton said courts are 'rarely the best place' for resolving conflicts between parents about the care of children

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton (right) said courts are  ‘rarely the best place’ for resolving conflicts between parents about the care  of children

‘There should be no inbuilt legal bias  towards the father or mother, and where there are no welfare issues, we want to  see this principle reinforced through law.

‘This is about children. We want to be clear  that both parents should have a full and continuing role in their children’s  life after a separation.’

Ministers will pledge £10million for  mediation services to encourage more couples to settle their disputes out of  court.

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton told the  Mail: ‘The courts are rarely the best place for resolving private disputes about  the care of children. That’s why we want to see greater use of mediation to  solve parental disputes out of court.

Betrayal of the family

‘It is also right that we continue to  encourage fathers to take responsibility as equal parents and to be fully  involved with their children from the outset.’

The decision overturns the main finding of a  family justice review, conducted for the Ministry of Justice by businessman  David Norgrove, which was published in November.

It concluded that giving fathers shared or  equal time, or even the right to maintain a meaningful relationship  with  their children, ‘would do more harm than good’.

The proposals immediately sparked a Cabinet  revolt, led by Mr Duncan Smith and Mr Clegg, who insisted that the law must be  amended to strengthen fathers’ rights.

Official figures show that one in five  children from broken homes lose touch with their absent parent, usually their  father, within three years and never see them again.

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Please help Left Behind Parents Japan with their joint custody signature campaign.  A bilingual version of the petition is at the following link: