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.

For anyone with children in Japan, this short film, “blind,” is very powerful, and very scary, as it doesn’t seem all that unrealistic to imagine.
This map by Japanese professor Yukio Hayakawa suggests that the nuclear contamination that came from Fukushima may be pretty widespread, including the Tokyo metropolitan region.

Japan custody heartache for foreign fathers

By Roland BuerkBBC News, Tokyo

Thousands of Japanese people marry foreigners every year. Many are happy – but if the marriage breaks down the foreign spouse may end up cut out of the children’s lives.

Alex KahneyAlex Kahney often visits the places he used to take his children

Alex Kahney, who works for a medical publisher, still lives in what was once the family home, now nearly bare of furniture but full of memories.

There are photographs of his daughters on the walls of the small four-storey town house in one of the nicer Tokyo neighbourhoods.

Their favourite stuffed toys, a dog and a mouse, are on the back of the sofa – reminders of the little girls, aged nine and seven, who he has not seen for months.

His Japanese wife took them with her, along with much of the contents of the house, when their marriage broke down, and is refusing to let him see them.

Mr Kahney first tried the police.

But when he told them that his wife had abducted their children, they laughed at him.

What makes it more painful is that their new home is just down the road.

Pressure for change

“They’re on a second-floor apartment,” he says. “I can hear them talking inside. I go and stand underneath the balcony listening to them. It’s tough.

“For the first few months I cried, I howled. For half an hour sometimes. I hardly sleep. I’m usually awake most of the night. And I have dreams, I dream about my children every night.”

Lef-Behind Parents demonstratingMany Japanese parents are also campaigning for change

In Japan, the courts normally give custody to one parent after a marriage breakdown and it is up to that parent if they let the other parent have any access.

Many separating couples come to amicable agreements, but it is not unusual for one parent to be cut out of their children’s lives forever.

When the former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi divorced, he got custody of his two eldest sons, who have not seen their mother since.

She was six months pregnant at the time, and Mr Koizumi has never met his youngest son.

But now there is pressure for a change in the law.

Every few weeks Alex Kahney joins a demonstration organised by a group called Left-Behind Parents, Japan.

They have lobbied members of the Diet, and on a recent Sunday they marched, more than 100 strong, through the centre of Tokyo.

Among the demonstrators were many Japanese parents.

Courts defied

There are a quarter of a million divorces in Japan every year, which is relatively low by international standards, but a dramatic increase from earlier generations.

Continue reading the main story 

Number of cases

Twelve countries have been urging Japan to sign up to the Hague Convention:

  • US: 131
  • Canada: 38
  • UK: 38
  • France: 30
  • Germany 2
  • Australia, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand and Spain – no figures available
  • Belgium and Colombia – 0 cases

It is the cases involving foreigners, though, that are drawing the most attention.

Japan’s customs around divorce have become a diplomatic issue because the country has yet to sign up to the 1980 Hague Convention on child abduction. As a result, Japanese parents who bring their children home after a divorce abroad can defy joint custody orders made by foreign courts.

The British embassy is dealing with 38 cases involving children, other embassies many more.

“There are 12 embassies involved in this,” says David Warren, the British ambassador in Tokyo.

“We have been making frequent representations to the Japanese government. We’ve been saying to them that Japan cannot any longer go on without becoming part of the international legal framework for resolving these cases.”

Abusive relationships

Japan is considering ratifying the Hague Convention.

A newspaper report earlier this month said an announcement could come as soon as the spring.

Continue reading the main story 

‘Women look after the children’

Osamu, who doesn’t want to use his full name, got divorced five years ago and his daughters are now 17 and 14. He sees the younger girl once every two months, the older girl about twice a year.

“I thought about their best interests,” he says. “So I gave in and let their mother have custody.”

Osamu says that at the time of the divorce he thought of splitting up his daughters, with the parents having custody of one each. But he decided it would not be good for them.

“In Japan traditionally men go out to work and women look after children. We tend to think women will be better off taking care of them, especially when they are small.

“Of course, there are exceptions. Maybe the father’s family has a business and needs the next generation to take over.”

Osamu added that men tend to think they can go on, get married again and start a new family more easily than women. From his experience it’s usual for fathers not to see children at all.

But implementation is likely to be a long process.

It would mean a change from the expectation that families should largely work things out for themselves, to the state enforcing agreements on access and child-support payments.

Some people are also worried that the convention could hinder Japanese trying to flee abusive relationships abroad.

Akiko Oshima is a marriage counsellor who has worked as a mediator in the family court.

“These women who come back, do not do it because they want to,” she says.

“They feel this is the only way out. They want their child to be brought up in Japan, and not in the host country where the father is abusive and she has no control over her children’s education, and so forth. Not even, say, getting a job to support herself. This is the problem.”

Alex Kahney spends a lot of time visiting places he went with his children, like the playground near his home.

He says he was a good parent and his daughters were daddy’s girls.

If he is to see them again he must only hope their mother takes pity on him.

Announcing a new Meetup for Left Behind Parents Japan!

What: Signature-collecting campaign to save Kevin and candlelight for our children

When: December 19, 2009 1:00 PM

In front of Odakyu department store
1-1-3 Nishi-shinjyuku, Shinjyuku
080-3388-3618( my cell)

Christmas is coming and our hearts feel empty. We miss Christmas time and our children is not with us.
Whethere you are still reeling from the shock of what’s going on your life or need to feel like you are not alone.

The first event

Kayoko Yamada: Her husband is Czechoslovakian and their son Kevin who is 5 years old . He abducted her son from Japan to somewhere on August 23. He said that we were going to buy toy. And they never come back. Her husband phoned her ” we are in Germany”. Then they are still missing.
We will do signature-collecting campaign to save Kevin.
Time: from 1PM to 3PM

The second event

We will sing Christmas song for our children.
I prepare Santa clause and reindeer clothes. For passer by in the street, we make balloons, give them and sing Christmas songs for our children.
Christmas comes only once a year and parents want to fulfill their children’s wishes for this special occasion,
Time ; from 4:30PM to 6:30PM

The third event

Christmas party will be Izakaya.
Please bring 500yen present.
We will give and take each other.
Please reply RSVP. (Because er have to reserve Izakaya)
Izakaya is cheap price and it will be around from 2000yen to 3000yen.

Learn more here:

Here is a link to an event being held with Japanese Diet members in Tokyo this week, focusing on the Hague Convention and how other countries handle family law matters

Almost simultaneously, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission in the U.S. Congress is having hearings, which will include a look at the international child abduction problem with Japan.

Here is an updated schedule for the upcoming Congressional hearing on
International Child Abduction set for 2 December:

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC)

Hearing Announcement:

International Child Abduction and Parental Access

Wednesday, December 2
10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Longworth 1310

Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a timely hearing to
discuss barriers and solutions to the growing problem of international child
abduction. In the last three years, reported cases of international child
abduction have increased 60 percent. In some countries, such as Japan, no
mechanism exists for the return of American children. Current mechanisms for
resolving abductions with other countries, such as the Hague Convention on
the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, often fail for lack of

To discuss this important topic we welcome the following witnesses:

Panel I
Judge Peter Messitte, U.S. District Court, Maryland, and U.S.
Representative, Judicial Network on the Hague Convention on the Civil
Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Panel II
David Goldman, father of Sean Goldman who has been held in Brazil since 2004
Commander Paul Toland, father of Erika Toland who as been held in Japan
since 2003
Patrick Braden, father of Melissa Braden who has been held in Japan since
Tom Sylvester, father of Carina Sylvester who has been held in Austria since

Panel III
Patricia Apy, international child custody expert, law firm of Paras, Apy,
Ernie Allen, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children.

***Witness list subject to change.


Below is a downloadable flier with details for the street rally being held in Tokyo on October 24.  A lot of media, especially Japanese media, is expected at this event, so please try to attend.

Street Rally (Oct. 24, 2009)

While the Christopher Savoie case is big news right now, it is not unique, and reflects a possible pattern of Japanese authorities selectively arresting foreign parents in Japan for something Japanese parents would not be arrested  for.

The first publicized arrest and imprisonment by Japanese authorities of a foreign parent trying to reunite with his or her children in a contested custody case occurred in 2000, when Dutch father Engel Nieman attempted to leave Japan with his daughter.  Nieman, who was still legally married to his Japanese wife at the time, and shared equal custody rights with her under Japanese law, was imprisoned for several months.  He met with Children’s Rights Council of Japan in Tokyo after he was released, and as far as we know, still is unable to have any contact with his daughter since his arrest and imprisonment.  Here is an old link from the Japan Times with details about his case:

Backup link:

Parents driven to ‘kidnap’ …

This protest by left-behind parents in Tokyo shortly before Christmas last year shows that the Japanese child abduction problem impacts not just foreigners and not just fathers, but even Japanese mothers.  The “Santa Claus” in this video is Children’s Rights Council of Japan co-founder, David Brian Thomas.

Many thanks to Steve Christie for producing this video and to Ayumi Temlock for organizing the protest in Tokyo.

Here is the link with more details: