Start Learning Japanese in the next 30 Seconds with
a Free Lifetime Account

Or sign up using Facebook

Abduction in Japan

Learn more about the community and how they are learning Japanese and about Japan. Do a little listener-to-listener chit chat. Keep it civil, and everything else goes.

Moderators: Admin Team, Moderator Team

Expert on Something
Posts: 244
Joined: November 22nd, 2007 6:52 pm
Location: 兵庫県

Abduction in Japan

Postby josiah » September 16th, 2008 9:52 am

I don't know how aware of this people here are, so I'd like to draw to your attention this terrible problem in Japan.
It really concerns international marriage between a foreign born person and a Japanese person.
Basicly, if you marry a Japanese person, have children, then divorce, and then she goes to Japan, or you're already both in Japan,
Then it's likely that you're screwed and will never see your kids again!

Here's an article which is related from the Guardian UK

Family: Custody battle in Japan highlights loophole in child abduction cases

· Girls taken from UK on pretext, claims father
· Courts ‘habitually’ side with Japanese parents ... protection

By Justin McCurry in Tokyo, Monday September 15 2008

Shane Clarke had no reason to be suspicious when his wife took their two children to Japan to see their ill grandmother in January.

The couple had married four years earlier after meeting online, and settled down with their daughters, aged three and one, in the west Midlands. Clarke, they agreed, would join his family in Japan in May for a holiday, and they would all return together.

Last week, however, he faced his wife and her lawyer in a Japanese courtroom, uncertain if he would ever see his children again. When his wife left the UK, Clarke now believes, she never had any intention of returning with him, or of letting her children see him.

“From the moment I met her at Narita airport I knew something was wrong,” Clarke told the Guardian before a custody hearing in Mito, north of Tokyo. “I soon realised she’d played me like a grand piano. The whole thing had been orchestrated,” he claims.

Clarke, a 38-year-old management consultant from West Bromwich, has gone to great lengths to win custody. The Crown Prosecution Service said his wife could be prosecuted in the UK under the 1984 child abduction act.

However, he can expect little sympathy from Japanese courts, which do not recognise parental child abduction as a crime and habitually rule in favour of the custodial - Japanese - parent.

Japan is the only G7 nation not to have signed the 1980 Hague convention on civil aspects of child abduction, which requires parents accused of abducting their children to return them to their country of habitual residence. He is one of an estimated 10,000 parents, divorced or separated from their Japanese spouses, who have been denied access to their children. Since the Hague treaty came into effect, not a single ruling in Japan has gone in favour of the foreign parent.

Campaigners say Japan’s refusal to join the treaty’s 80 other signatories has turned it into a haven for child abductors.

The European Union, Canada and the US have urged Japan to sign, but Takao Tanase, a law professor at Chuo University, says international pressure is unlikely to have much impact. “In Japan, if the child is secure in its new environment and doesn’t want more disruption, family courts don’t believe that it is in the child’s best interest to force it to see the non-custodial parent,” he said.

Japanese courts prefer to leave it to divorced couples to negotiate custody arrangements, Takase said. Officials say the government is looking at signing the Hague treaty, though not soon.

“We recognise that the convention is a useful tool to secure children’s rights and we are seriously considering the possibility of signing the convention, but we’ve yet to reach a conclusion,” said Yasuhisa Kawamura, a foreign ministry spokesman.

“We understand the anxieties of international parents, but there is no difference between the western approach and ours.”

Clarke’s two custody hearings this week did not go well. An interpreter arranged by the foreign office failed to materialise. The British embassy in Tokyo provided him with a list of alternative interpreters but said it could offer no more help.

The judge was forced to postpone his ruling, but Clarke is convinced he will never see his daughters again.

“We are talking about two British citizens, and no one will help me. The message our government is sending out to foreign nationals is that it’s perfectly all right for them to commit a crime on British soil, and as long as they leave the country quickly enough, they’ll get away scot-free.”

The rise in the number of parental child abductions has been fuelled by a dramatic increase in marriages between Japanese and foreign nationals. According to the health and welfare ministry, there were 44,701 such marriages in 2006, compared with 7,261 in 1980, the vast majority between Japanese and Chinese, Koreans and Filipinos. An estimated 20,000 children are born to Japanese-foreign couples every year. Though Japan does not keep an official count, there are 47 unresolved cases of US children being taken to Japan - only Mexico and India are more popular destinations - and 30 involving Canadian citizens. British officials are dealing with 10 cases, a foreign office spokeswoman told the Guardian, including that of Shane Clarke.




Expert on Something
Posts: 845
Joined: January 10th, 2007 5:33 pm
Location: The Big City

Postby Psy » September 16th, 2008 12:13 pm

The tatemae in that article stinks like a dead rat. Welcome to the ugly side of Japan. This is one reason why it's never a bad idea to have a strong command of the language. I feel for the guy, but I feel especially for the children who will likely never know their father.

Three cheers for racism. Hip hip, hooray. :x
High time to finish what I've started. || Anki vocabulary drive: 5,000/10k. Restart coming soon. || Dig my Road to Katakana tutorial on the App store.

Get your free gifts of the month
Expert on Something
Posts: 302
Joined: December 20th, 2006 11:35 am
Location: 東京

Postby JonB » September 16th, 2008 1:47 pm

this is not just about foreigners - Japanese mum seems to have the right in Japan no matter how far off teh rails she is! I know a Japanese guy that has not seen his daughter for well over 10 years.

Make sure you stop the alomony! Pay school fees etc straight to the school and not the mum etc etc

Expert on Something
Posts: 845
Joined: January 10th, 2007 5:33 pm
Location: The Big City

Postby Psy » September 16th, 2008 6:58 pm

Wow. That honestly surprises me, JonB. Just... wow.
High time to finish what I've started. || Anki vocabulary drive: 5,000/10k. Restart coming soon. || Dig my Road to Katakana tutorial on the App store.

Expert on Something
Posts: 752
Joined: June 16th, 2006 8:39 pm
Location: ロンドン • London

Postby Belton » September 16th, 2008 8:00 pm

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make.
What's your agenda in this matter?

Life can be cruel and messy and impermanent. But if you don't go out to face it you end up too scared to leave your little village.

When you fall in love and marry, divorce and child custody aren't on your mind. Even if they are you don't think it'd happen to you. You have to trust your spouse or potential spouse completely. When/if it does happen you have to deal with it then. An international marriage has a fair deal of extra problems to overcome. It is also more troublesome and expensive to enter into usually. So maybe it requires some extra commitment.

I sympathise with the father. His life is probably shattered emotionally and financially. It’s a bit shameful that his Embassy won't / can't aid him in any meaningful way.
And the children may well not be British citizens. Japan doesn't recognise dual citizenship. Even if it did the Embassy is still powerless to act on behalf of the dual-citizen in their home country.

The mother did what most people would do in this situation. She looked out for herself and what she saw as the best interests of the children. I doubt she made the decision lightly. Faced with the prospect of a divorce and custody battle in an unfamiliar country where she might not have full command of the language she moved it to her home ground. It would be likely that the first stage in an English dispute would be to petition that she could not have unsupervised access to her children in case she returned to Japan with them.

I'm not sure she did abduct the children and has most likely stayed within the law. If the CPS believe a crime was committed they should prosecute her, albeit in absentia. As they haven't she has only been accused of abduction by her husband so the Hague Convention probably wouldn't apply yet.
She left with the children with her husbands consent and probably his help. She then filed for divorce and custody within Japan's laws.

Anyway we have no information about the true facts of the case.

The Japanese courts, like a lot of family courts, will act in what they see as the best interests of the child. Often this means a mother will get custody. Even in the UK.
That's all that matters in the middle of the dispute between parents; the children aren't goods. What is best for them? At this stage what's best considering their young age is probably that they stay with their mother and within the Japanese courts jurisdiction where their welfare can be supervised. The Japanese court has no power or assurances over what might happen in the UK and given that they have probably now have some legal responsibility for the children they are unlikely to relinquish it. I would hope that it would rule that the father can have access to the children as well. Although how that would work in practice is another matter.

I can't see there being anything about race in the article. Nationality perhaps, but that's different. International treaties certainly. I'm not sure he's being treated any differently because he is British than a Japanese would be in the same situation. (what if it were a Japanese couple settled in the UK?) I wonder what would happen if a British mother fled to England with her Japan-born children.

A lot of countries have unequal international dealings. (for instance the extradition situation between the UK and US is unequal in favour of US citizens within the US.) Usually governments tend to act in what they see as their country's (and by extension their citizens') interests. Ideally it'd be good for Japan to sign the convention but it's low on any international agenda so I'm not sure how you'd convince the Japanese to do it. And foreign governments telling you what to do doesn't go down well anywhere.

It's not unique to Japan. I've read stories, probably in The Guardian as well, of mothers abducting their children from Middle Eastern countries because they didn't like the courts system there. But those stories were more supportive of the abductions. Given the nature of the British press it's only a story because there's a British angle and then they understandably side with the British point of view.

So it's a sad story and interesting.
It could even happen to me, but I wouldn't let that stop me from marrying or having children.

(oh and you probably shouldn't copy full articles from another site. A link is enough)

Return to “JapanesePod101 Listener's Lounge”