http://www.meetup.com/Left-Behind-Parents-Japan/events/174099972/?a=ea1_grp&rv=ea1

Press conference by mothers who have had their children internationally abducted

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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.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/AJ201401250061

Japan finally signs Hague convention governing international child custody disputes

January 25, 2014

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

After years of refusing to sign, Japan on Jan. 24 officially joined the Hague convention that governs cross-border child custody disputes that result from broken marriages.

Japan came under heavy pressure from the United States and European countries to become party to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The treaty spells out the guidelines that govern cases in which children of separated or divorced couples are taken to the home country of one parent without the consent of the other.

Nearly 20,000 international marriages a year involving Japanese nationals result in divorce. In certain cases, the Japanese parent returned to Japan with their children without the consent of the other parent.

The convention goes into effect from April 1 in Japan, at which time the Japan’s Foreign Ministry will be obliged to locate children that result from such marriages if requested to do so by a parent overseas. The ministry will then be required to take steps to resolve the dispute through arbitration or other means.

According to the convention, if a marriage fails and the parents start living in separate countries, the decision on who receives parental rights to raise children under 16 falls under the jurisdiction of the country where the family resided with the child before the breakup.

If a parent who takes a child to Japan from overseas does not agree to return the child to the country of former residence, one of two family courts located in either Tokyo or Osaka will decide the matter.

The court has the authority to judge whether to return a child to another country if it believes the child might be subjected to danger or abuse, both mental and physical, if handed over.

Cases involving children taken to Japan before April 1 will be exempt from the convention. A parent overseas can still call on the Japanese government to assist in setting up a meeting with the child in such cases.

The children of Japanese couples will also be subject to the treaty if one parent flees with a child or children overseas.

The Supreme Court has already drawn up detailed guidelines on how to resolve such disputes.

The top court is now working on a manual for family court officers outlining how they should take custody of children in the event a court decides to return them overseas.

The Supreme Court estimates the cases that will go before the two courts will number in the dozens each year, with most disputes expected to be settled out of court.

A senior official with the Supreme Court said only a few of the cases are likely to require the need for officers of the court to physically separate the children from a parent living in Japan.

Judiciary officials said the first case may go before one of the courts as early as July.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

http://www.northjersey.com/community/family/Bill_may_help_left-behind_parents_pursue_kids_in_global_custody_fights.html?page=all

Bill may help ‘left-behind parents’ in global child custody fights

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2013    LAST UPDATED: WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 11, 2013, 12:15 PM
BY  HERB JACKSON
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT
THE RECORD

State Department figures show 7,000 American children were taken by a parent to a foreign country to stay between 2008 and 2012, leaving behind the other parent to fight for custody or visitation rights in places where United States court orders mean nothing.

Michael Elias of Rutherford, in 2010, with a photo of his children.

MICHAEL KARAS/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Michael Elias of Rutherford, in 2010, with a photo of his children.

The result is often heartbreak, as most children never return. Adding to it is the frustration from dealing with both the foreign government and the U.S. State Department, which parents and some in Congress say does not put enough emphasis on getting children back.

“Does the word parental in front of kidnapping make it less of a crime?” Michael Elias of Rutherford asked at a House hearing in May, the second time he’s told his story before Congress in the past three years.

A Marine veteran and Bergen County sheriff’s officer whose wife used illegally issued passports to take their son and daughter to Japan seven years ago, Elias has become one of the public faces for a group that calls itself “left-behind parents.”

His willingness to go public with his personal struggles could pay a small dividend today as the House is expected to give strong bipartisan support to a bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith that pushes the State Department to use more powerful diplomatic tools.

Unfortunately for Elias and those like him, the department is not very interested in the new powers.

In June, Japan took a step forward when it signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an agreement that lays out a framework for custody disputes. But Japan’s action will affect only future cases, and existing disputes will be in a legal limbo.

“All the left-behind parents like Michael Elias will be shut out,” said Smith, a Republican from Robbinsville who is a subcommittee chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Smith has been urging presidents and ambassadors in President Obama’s administration and President George W. Bush’s before him to raise the issue of child abductions at high-level discussions with foreign leaders.

Doing more

Smith’s bill would require the president to take specific actions — ranging from private requests all the way to economic sanctions — if abduction cases are not resolved or if countries show a pattern of non-cooperation. The State Department would have to provide Congress with statistics that Smith says are incomplete now, and pursue separate agreements known as memoranda of understanding with countries that are not likely to sign or abide by the Hague convention.

“The Pollyanna-ish, naive view that the administration keeps spouting is that Japan signing the Hague Convention might create a climate [for solving earlier cases],” Smith said. “There needs to be a memorandum of understanding or a sidebar agreement to say all of the existing cases will be solved civilly and with an eye towards justice.”

A State Department spokes¬man, when asked about Smith’s bill, recommended checking a federal website that the agency has created that spells out how different countries deal with abduction cases.

At the May hearing, the department’s special adviser for children’s issues, Susan Jacobs, disagreed with Smith that a separate agreement with Japan would make any difference.

“We have three memoranda of understanding with Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, and there’s been no enforcement mechanism and no [child] returns,” Jacobs said. “We believe the Hague Convention provides the best opportunity for resolving these cases. One of the problems with Japan is their belief about custody, that one parent is supposed to drop out of the child’s life when there is a divorce.”

She said once the convention takes effect in Japan, she hoped to be able to work on better compliance, and at least provide for some visitation for parents.

Smith’s bill is named after Sean and David Goldman, the Tinton Falls son and father whose case caught national attention after Sean Goldman’s mother took him to Brazil in 2004 and his grandparents sought custody after she died in 2008.

Smith had been pressuring the State Department to act and made two trips with David Goldman to Brazil, which had signed the Hague convention. The boy was finally returned in 2009 after Sen. Frank Lautenberg said he would block action on a trade bill Brazil wanted.

Goldman has called the forces that aligned to help his family a “perfect storm,” but said most families in the same situation struggle with little hope.

No improvement

For Elias, the only developments in recent years have been negative. He was deployed to Iraq when his wife began an affair with a Japanese man. She told Elias she wanted a divorce when he returned from the war.

Bergen County judge awarded joint custody and ordered that the children’s passports be surrendered. But his wife, who had worked in the Japanese consulate in New York, was able to get new passports issued by the Chicago consulate as she and her companion fled with the children.

Smith traveled with Elias’ parents to Japan in 2011, and at the time they were told by authorities that a criminal investigation was under way into the passport issuance.

In February, Elias received a letter notifying that the Japanese prosecutor in the region had concluded no charges would be filed. The letter was dated October 2010, or three months before Smith and Elias’ parents had been in Japan.

“It was a slap in the face,” Elias said. “People tell me I should just pick up the pieces and move on. But two of my pieces are in Japan.”

Email: jackson@northjersey.com
Blog: northjersey.com/|thepoliticalstate

– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/community/family/Bill_may_help_left-behind_parents_pursue_kids_in_global_custody_fights.html?page=all#sthash.Widoiyft.dpuf

Help support H.R. 3212

October 23, 2013

What it H.R. 3212 does:

A) Create an annual report on existing and future cases to Congress. This will raise the profile of our issue.
B) Recommend actions to the President toward countries that fail to return abducted children.
What we need to overcome:
Ignorance. Many staffers, and the representative, they work for don’t know much about International Parental Child Abduction. Or they don’t know what the bill does.
How to help:
A) Email your representative by following the steps on the website.
Of course, feel free to modify the template and tell them your child(ren) have been kidnapped to/or within Japan.
B) Get your friends, family and supporters to help.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/23/national/japan-to-join-child-custody-pact-in-april/#.UmfXgvmUSM4

Japan to join child custody pact in April

KYODO

The government aims to accede to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction on April 1.

Japan had been accused by the United States and European countries of being a “safe haven” for international child abductions.

The treaty, which currently has 89 signatories, sets out rules and procedures for the prompt return to the country of habitual residence of children under 16 taken to another country, if requested by the other parent.

The convention will enter into force in a state acceding to it on the first day of the third calendar month after the instrument of accession is deposited with the Dutch Foreign Ministry.

The Diet approved the country’s accession to the treaty in May and enacted a law in June stipulating domestic implementation procedures for the Hague treaty.

Under the legislation, a central authority will be set up in the Foreign Ministry to locate children who have been taken away and encourage the people involved to settle the dispute through consultations.

If the consultations fail, family courts in Tokyo and Osaka will decide on the child’s treatment. The legislation also allows a parent to refuse to return a child if abuse or domestic violence is feared.

The central authority will be staffed with lawyers, experts on domestic violence and child psychology counselors.

At the family courts in Tokyo and Osaka, judges have been trained on the Hague convention. The Foreign Ministry and the family courts plan to open a website to explain about the procedures to settle disputes under the pact.

The government plans to join the international treaty for settling cross-border child custody disputes in April after submitting necessary documents in January to the Dutch Foreign Ministry, which handles matters on the pact, a government source said Tuesday.

Cosponsor the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013

From: The Honorable Christopher H. Smith
Bill: H.R. 3212
Date: 10/8/2013

Cosponsor the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013

Co-Sponsors:  James Moran, Michael Burgess, George Holding, Joseph KennedyDan Lipinski, Mark Meadows, Juan VargasBrad Sherman, Frank Wolf

Organizations:  National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Bring Sean Home Foundation, BacHome, Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion, The Japan Children’s Rights Network, iChapeau Association, Children’s Rights Council of Japan, James Moran, Michael Burgess, George Holding, Joseph KennedyDan Lipinski, Mark Meadows, Juan VargasBrad Sherman, Frank Wolf,

Dear Colleague,

I urge you to cosponsor the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2013 (H.R. 3212).  Please respond by Thursday, October 10, at 10 am.

Most, if not every, member of Congress has constituents suffering the pain of separation, crippling worry, and interminable waiting caused by international parental child abduction.  More than one thousand outgoing international child abductions are reported to the State Department Office of Children’s Issues every year.  Abducted children are at risk of serious emotional and psychological problems and have been found to experience anxiety, eating problems, nightmares, mood swings, sleep disturbances, aggressive behavior, resentment, guilt and fearfulness, and as adults may struggle with identity issues, personal relationships, and parenting.

In 1983, the U.S. joined the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Parental Child Abduction in order to have a non-criminal, legal framework for the quick and orderly resolution of abductions.  However, 40% of abductions occur to countries where the Hague Convention does not apply.  Even where it does apply, less than half of our children are coming home.

David Goldman and his son Sean know this only too well.  Sean’s mother took him on a two week vacation to Brazil only to arrive and call Sean’s father to tell him that their marriage was over, that she was staying in Brazil, and that she was keeping Sean there regardless of David’s custody rights as his father.  It was a textbook case of “wrongful retention” abduction—a clear violation of the Hague Convention.  Although Brazil was a signatory to the Hague Convention and should have returned Sean to the United States within 6 weeks, David and Sean suffered numbing setbacks and delays in Brazil’s courts for 4 years.  David was never allowed to see his son; Sean was deprived of his right to see his father.  Even after David’s wife died and David was the only living parent, Brazil still would not return Sean to the United States.

The House of Representatives intervened and passed legislation (H. Res. 125) spotlighting the issue of international child abduction and calling on Brazil to abide by its commitments under the Hague Convention and immediately return Sean Goldman to the United States.  There were multiple press conferences, congressional letters and trips to Brazil.  Multiple levers were pulled and eventually Sean came home.

While the State Department’s cumulative case numbers are conceded to be incomplete and unreliable, we know there are at least one thousand new international abductions every year in which children are taken from the U.S. to a foreign country and separated from their American parent.  All of these children need assertive intervention from our government.

To that end, I have introduced H.R. 3212, to empower the President to respond with a range of a dozen mutually reinforcing sanctions against a country that has been persistently non-cooperative in the resolution of abduction cases.  My bill would also empower the Secretary of State to enter into Memoranda of Understanding with non-Hague countries for the quick and orderly return of American children who have been abducted to countries that are not signatories to the Convention, including the children of U.S. servicemen and women who are kidnapped from parents serving overseas.  H.R. 3212 will also ensure that the State Department, which is already designated by U.S. law to facilitate Hague Convention cases, is more accountable to parents and is reporting all relevant information that will assist U.S. judges in determinations of custody and travel for children when abduction is a risk. The State Department must advocate on behalf of U.S. citizen and left-behind parents and their children.

Now is the time to act.  We can and must do more when a country refuses to return abducted American children.  We can and must do all we can to bring our children home.

If you have any questions about the Goldman Act, please feel free to contact Piero Tozzi at (202) 225-3765 or piero.tozzi@mail.house.gov or Allison Hollabaugh at ahollabaugh@mail.house.gov.

Sincerely,

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Member of Congress

JIM MORAN

Member of Congress

From The Shadows announces November Screening in Canada!

November 3rd screening in Vancouver!

Hello everyone,

We wanted to announce that we have been invited by the International Rights of Children Society to come to Vancouver to screen From The Shadows.

Date/location: Sunday, Nov. 3rd at theVancity Theatre in Vancouver

Time: Doors will open at 1:30 pm and the film will begin at 2:00 pm.
There will be a discussion after the film and everything will wrap up around 4:30

Tickets: Information will be made available soon. 

Following the screening, IROCS is trying to arrange a venue for a more casual get together around a light dinner to continue the discussion on the issue.
For those in the Vancouver and Seattle areas, we very much hope we can meet up with you there! We are also inviting as many media members as we can we to impress upon them how this issue affects so many people both in and out of Japan. 

We are also trying to arrange an earlier screening on Gabriola Island on Friday November 1st in the evening.
More on that as details become available. 

Thanks so much and we look forward to seeing you there.

Matt and David

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin raised the issue of open unresolved child abduction cases with Caroline Kennedy at her confirmation hearings earlier today.  His question starts at 1:06:40 in the following video of the hearings:

http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/nomination-09-19-2013

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Kirkland-mom-accused-of-fleeing-to-Japan-to-4824996.php

Kirkland mom accused of fleeing to Japan to thwart parenting plan

BY LEVI PULKKINEN, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF
Published 7:29 pm, Wednesday, September 18, 2013
 
 
  • Maximus, pictured in a photo provided by his father Kris Morness. King County prosecutors contend Maximus's mother Chie Kawabata abducted the boy earlier this year and has taken him to Japan. Photo: Family Photos
    Maximus, pictured in a photo provided by his father Kris Morness. King County prosecutors contend Maximus’s mother Chie Kawabata abducted the boy earlier this year and has taken him to Japan. Photo: Family Photos

 

 

A Kirkland woman accused of fleeing to Japan with her son in an end run around a custody dispute now faces criminal charges.

King County prosecutors contend Chie Kawabata left the country earlier this year with her 5-year-old son, Maximus, despite court orders requiring her to keep the child in the United States. Kawabata has been charged with custodial interference, a kidnapping-related felony.

Writing the court, Deputy Prosecutor Benjamin Santos contends Kawabata has completely cut off contact with her son’s father, Vancouver, B.C., resident Kris Morness, and has no intention of returning the child.

“The defendant has ignored the conditions of the parenting plan and simply defied the court’s last order,” Santos told the court. “It appears the defendant has made arrangements to move all of her belongings to Japan. … There is little reason to believe this move is not permanent.”

Santos went on to contend the Maximus may be in danger.

Kawabata, 46, is the fourth Japanese mother in recent years to be charged in King County with taking children to Japan in violation of court orders. Because Japan has not ratified the leading international treaty on the issue, U.S. authorities are effectively blocked from returning the kidnapped children.

According to charging papers, Kawabata and Morness divorced in 2012. While Maximus lived primarily with Kawabata, the parenting plan mandated that either parent receive permission before taking Maximus out of the country.

In late 2012, Kawabata asked for a court order allowing her to take her son to Japan. King County Superior Court Judge Jean Rietschel denied her request in January, finding in part that “the detrimental effects of relocation outweigh the benefits.”

Morness learned Kawabata was missing in late July after his son didn’t show up for a weekend visitation. At his request, Kirkland police went to the woman’s home and found she’d moved out.

As it turned out, Kawabata and the boy flew to Japan on July 26. She had a one-way ticket.

In an email, Kawabata admitted she took the boy to Osaka, a Kirkland detective told the court.

“The torment I have endured in recent years have left me … emotionally ruined and forced my hands to take this step that I wish I did not have to take,” Kawabata wrote in an email to her ex-husband, according to charging papers.

Since her disappearance, Morness has launched a website describing his ex as a “senior HR manager/child abductor.” He’s also posted court documents supporting the claims made by police – chiefly that Kawabata had no authority to run off with Maximus.

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.

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.

In addition to Kawabata, prosecutors in King County have charged three other Japanese women with kidnapping their own children. None have answered the charges against them.

Most recently, prosecutors charged former Seattle resident Ryoko Fukuda with absconding with her daughter the day she was supposed to hand over the girl’s Japanese passport. According to charging documents filed in Aug. 2012, the girl’s father rushed to Sea-Tac Airport in an attempt to retrieve her. Prosecutors say Fukuda and the child were already flying to Japan.

Michiyo Imoto Morehouse, previously of Bellevue, 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.

In 2009, another former Seattle resident – Mayumi Ogawa – fled the country weeks after a King County Superior Court judge approved a parenting plan stating that her son would split his time between his parents, according to charging papers. The boy’s father has since been awarded sole control of the child.

Kawabata, like the rest of the women, remains at large. Prosecutors have requested that she be jailed if apprehended.

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 orlevipulkkinen@seattlepi.com. Follow Levi on Twitter at twitter.com/levipulk.

 

Hearings to confirm Caroline Kennedy as ambassador to Japan will be held this coming Thursday, September 19 by the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  The following is a link to the committee website, and below is also a listing of the members of the committee.

Please  contact committee members and request them to ask Caroline Kennedy what actions she will take to help American parents whose children have been abducted to or retained in Japan, and who are being denied meaningful access to their children as is legally required under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Japan has ratified in its entirety.

http://www.foreign.senate.gov/

Chairman: Robert Menendez

Robert Menendez

Chairman

Ranking Member: Bob Corker

Bob Corker

Ranking Member