‘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

“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.”



Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brought up the international child abduction issue in public remarks in Washingiton on January 6 after meeting with Japanese Minster of Foreign Affairs Seiji  Maehara.  She mentioned that “next week, senior officials from the U.S. Government will meet with American parents whose children were wrongfully, and in some cases illegally, taken to Japan.”

Asahi link:
Mainichi links:

Japanese version  :


Japanese consulate renewed passports of children taken overseas without consent

The Japanese consulate general in Shanghai renewed the passports of two girls without permission from their Japanese mother in violation of the Passport Law, after their Chinese father took them to China in the wake of a marriage breakup, it has been learned.

The consulate general renewed the passports of the girls, now aged 18 and 17, in 2004, despite their mother’s repeated requests to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to renew the passports.

As a result of the consulate general’s actions, the girls remained in China for five more years, and the situation was not resolved until the father came to Japan in September this year and was arrested on suspicion of child abduction.

“As a result of the government’s mistake, I had to wait five years for the return of my daughters,” the children’s mother, who is in her 40s, said. “I want the government to move actively to protect the rights of children.”

Passports for minors are valid for five years. Passport Law regulations state that permission must be obtained from a person who has custody of the children for the passports to be issued.

Representatives of the woman said that she and the Chinese man, 55-year-old Qin Weijie, married in 1988 and lived in Tokyo, but she left due to domestic violence by Qin. In June 1999, Qin met his daughters as they were traveling to school near the home to which his wife had moved, and he took them to China.

Qin and his wife divorced in 2000, and she was granted custody of the children. However, as she didn’t know where they were, she repeatedly asked the Foreign Ministry not to renew their passports. She also filed a criminal complaint against Qin accusing him of abducting the children and taking them overseas. However, the consulate general renewed the passports in January 2004.

About five years later, when the deadline for renewing the passports of the children was again approaching, Qin contacted his former wife asking her to sign a consent form for renewal, but she said she wanted to meet them directly and confirm what they wanted to do, so the two came to Japan in January.

Qin was arrested after entering Japan in September this year at Narita Airport, trying to take his elder daughter, who wanted to remain in Japan, back with him. His former wife said the eldest daughter was suffering from an eating disorder and panic attacks, due in part to violent behavior from Qin.

On Thursday, Qin was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for three years, after going on trial facing international abduction and other charges. In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Manabu Kato criticized Qin’s actions, saying, “His act of taking the children away without notice deserves criticism,” but noted, “At the time Qin also held custody of the children.” Commenting on the wife’s position, the judge stated: “It is impossible to imagine the mental anguish of being separated for such a long time from the children she loved.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Japanese Nationals Overseas Safety Division admitted the mistake in renewing the passports without consent, but said it could not provide detailed background information on individual cases.