Divorced Parents Lack Ways To Meet Kids in Japan

In a May 10, 2012 article in The Daily Yomiuri, it has been disclosed that The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has asked local governments to encourage meetings between divorced parents and their children by arranging and overseeing such encounters. The article goes on to describe the difficulties that these local governments face in doing so.

These governments said, “the services cannot be provided because they have no officials with know-how about such meeting arrangements. Thus it is an urgent task to train personnel who can implement the services. Experts have said that meeting with parents after they get divorced is important for the children’s growth. But in many cases, meetings by those directly involved are difficult to hold because of emotional conflicts.”

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120509005259.htm

This ridiculous presumption that “meetings by those directly involved are difficult to hold because of emotional conflicts.” is so offensive it defies description. When the dissolution of a marriage occurs it is precisely then that parents must use their intellect and put the welfare of the children first. Continued meaningful contact with both parents must be maintained throughout the separation and dissolution of the marriage for the continued welfare of the children’s emotional health and development.

For any parent to claim that their own emotional disturbance precludes them from putting the children’s needs before their own and ensuring continuing, meaningful contact with the other parent is simply selfish and indicative of narcissistic personality traits and/or borderline personality disorders.

In its most extreme form, this behavior results in parental abduction and parental alienation.

In Japan, there is no proper legal system to protect children from parental abduction and parental alienation. In it’s current form, the system actually encourages parents to do this.

Japan has a long way to go to modify its laws and protect the rights of children. As the graph illustrates, many parents have no contact with their children due to the actions of the abducting parent and have requested to see their kids…

In almost every other first world country other than Japan, denial of access to one parent by the other parent is completely unacceptable and will result in the interfering parent being held to account for such action. In many cases such behavior would result in the interfering parent being closely monitored to ensure such behavior would not occur again and possibly losing custody if it had been gained.

To be forced to endure both the abduction and alienation of your children by your former spouse and the injustice of a system which does nothing to protect your children is extremely difficult.

I hope that one day things will be different in Japan. I will continue to work towards that goal. I hope that one day my daughters understand that their dad wanted to be a father to them but was stopped from doing so by their mother and a government that sanctioned her poor choices.

Despite the overwhelming difficulty in changing things in Japan, I will not give in and I will not give up.

I love you Rion, Lauren and Julia and I will continue to fight for your right to see both your parents and get to enjoy time with both your mother’s family and your father’s family.

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Rion’s 9th birthday

Dear Rion,

My eldest child. Today is your 9th birthday and there is nothing more I would like than to spend it with you. Unfortunately I cannot come to see you today. It is most certainly not because I don’t want to, but simply that I cannot come to Iwaki today. I will be sending you a card and a letter to tell you how much I love you my sweet darling.

I would dearly love to be able to call you or skype you today. Alas, I cannot do that either because your mom just won’t give me any contact information. I know that you are not allowed to use the iPad I gave you last November. It is a shame because as you know it has skype on it and we would be able to see and talk to each other.

I want you to know that nine years ago today you came into this world and daddy has loved you with all of his heart since. You will always be so very special to me Rion. You will always be my firstborn child, the girl who changed my world and enabled me to discover a love beyond description. I will always be here for you. For whatever you need. I will never stop working to be with you my love.

I hope you have a fantastic birthday today, with lots of fun and gifts and friends!

I will see you soon and I will bring you some lovely birthday presents that you will be sure to like my sweet girl.

With love,
Daddy

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I wish I could see you more

Dear Rion, Lauren, and Julia,

It has been 15 days since I was last in Iwaki. I enjoyed visiting with you, Rion, so much that day. You are so lovely and cute and funny and my heart swells with pride every time I think of you.
I truly hope that your little sisters will soon share in our visits and our fun. Of course Lauren will most likely have to be encouraged by you and mommy to visit with Daddy, she currently is alienated against me. And little Julia has unfortunately not been at home when I have visited most times.
I think of you three darling girls every day. I very much want to spend more time with you girls. I want to take you to the shops and buy you some nice things that you want. I want to play games with you and draw pictures and make cool stuff, like we used to do back in Canada. I know you remember the fun we had Rion, we spoke of it just two weeks ago when we watched the video from three years ago.
I want to bring you to Tokyo and show you around this big city. I want to take you to Disneyland in Chiba and watch the fun you would undoubtedly have. I want to tuck you into bed and read you stories and laugh together like we used to do before your mom abducted you.
I want to help you do your homework and brush your hair and do all the things daddy used to do.
One day, not too long from now, we will have a chance to do all of those things again.

Just know that I am thinking of you and i will come and see you again soon. Just as soon as I can.

I love you, forever and always,
Daddy.

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DIVORCE AND THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD

https://digital.lib.washington.edu/dspace-law/bitstream/handle/1773.1/1028/20PacRimLPolyJ563.pdf?sequence=4

This is one of the best written analyses of the problems with Japan’s Sole Custody System.

DIVORCE AND THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD:
DISPUTES OVER VISITATION AND THE JAPANESE
FAMILY COURTS
By Takao Tanase†
Translated by Matthew J. McCauley‡
Translator’s Note: The following is a translation of an article written by Professor
Takao Tanase for the December 2009 edition of Jiyū to Seigi, a Japanese legal periodical.
Divorce and familial breakdown has become a major problem in modern Japanese
society, yet the law does not provide any meaningful protection for the noncustodial
parent. Professor Tanase analyzes this issue from a comparative and theoretical
perspective, looking at the current Japanese visitation laws in place today, while
contrasting those with the system in the United States. He also looks at how those laws
affect actual families, and how the courts have implemented and enforced visitation
agreements and orders. This article concludes that not only are the rights of the
noncustodial parent insufficient to maintain a meaningful relation with their children
following divorce, but that they hardly exist at all.

To read more:

https://digital.lib.washington.edu/dspace-law/bitstream/handle/1773.1/1028/20PacRimLPolyJ563.pdf?sequence=4

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Three hours of joy & then eviction




Thursday, January 19th, 2012. Fifth visit to Iwaki.
I arrived just as Rion was getting home from school. It was nice to see her as I drove up and parked at the Suzuki home. I knocked and was greeted by my mother-in-law and father-in-law, and invited to sit down in the family room by my father-in-law. Rion changed her clothes and came down shortly thereafter. She went to the kitchen and returned with two ice cream bars, one for her and one for daddy. We hugged and talked and I showed her some video from three/four years ago back in Canada. She enjoyed seeing herself and her sisters. She particularly enjoyed seeing her littlest sister Julia as a toddler. “Kawaii”, Rion said.
Rion did her homework as I watched quietly. She explained what she was doing in Japanese and I encouraged her. She showed me her 100% mark from her last quiz, with considerable pride. Unfortunately, she has great difficulty speaking English now. Despite that fact, we were able to have significant communication together. We talked about many things, including March 11th, 2011 and the subsequent radiation. She indicated she had been quite scared of the giant earthquake and that the friend that was with her on that day had cried. She said that she had seen the tsunami on the news and how it had devastated Sendai. We spoke of the fact that it had also inundated an area just 10 km north of her house in Iwaki, near the coast.
We were together from 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 pm. Her grandfather shared the living room with us and we interacted as best we could. My middle daughter Lauren, who has been alienated against me, did not come downstairs. I hope that she will join us in the near future. The poor darling is suffering the effects of Taiko’s actions of blocking my communication and access with the children. Parental alienation is a terrible form of child abuse. Thankfully Rion is less affected by it and can enjoy time with her dad.
I was intending to remain until Taiko came home from work ( 7 p.m.) in order to speak with her about arranging future visits thereby eliminating the random nature of my appearances and the surprise created by them.

At 6:30 p.m., my brother-in-law arrived to the house in an angered state. He demanded that I leave. I told him, respectfully, that I would. I indicated to him that I had been waiting to speak with Taiko upon her arrival home from work. I bid farewell to Rion with a hug and kisses and departed.
My brother-in-law followed me outside, calling to me. He indicated with considerable displeasure that it was his wish that I do not return to his parents home claiming that it disturbs them and their routine. He indicated his extreme displeasure with this blog and my videos. I apologized to him for causing any disharmony for his mother. I told him that I would like to acquiesce to his request but that in order to do so, I would need to be able to arrange a visit with the children in another location, such as a park or restaurant nearby. I reminded him that I had tried to do so with him previously. I informed him that I had given my telephone numbers to his sister but that without her calling and arranging something with me, all I could do was what I was currently doing – visit my children at their home. He said the obvious, that Taiko did not want to do so. He told me to use the saiban (court). I told him that I had discussed that with Taiko on Dec. 26th and why would we waste money on lawyers when we could use that money for our children. I asserted that children need both parents in order to grow up happy, healthy and well adjusted. He said that was just my opinion. I asked if he had ever read any child psychology information because if he had then he would know that my statement was a fact and not an opinion. His response was that some doctors say one thing and some doctors say another. It was clear to me that he believes that the Japanese way of handling things post separation and divorce is the preferred method. (This is logical considering he is Japanese.)
He told me not to come back to the house. (I have been told this on every occasion). I indicated that I was coming to see my daughters so that they know that they are dearly loved by their father. I told him in no uncertain terms that I was going to continue to come and see my daughters and give them gifts from dad. I requested that he ask his sister to call me and arrange the next visit. I told him that if she did so, I would abide by their wishes to meet the children elsewhere in order that no discomfort be created for his parents. I told him that if he and his sister would simply act like adults and consider the children’s needs before their own it would be helpful. I explained that without communication things would continue the same way, I would continue to come and see my children at this house where they live. (It was at this time that he mentioned the police. I did not acknowledge his comment). I stated very clearly, without fear and with respect, that I would not stop coming to see my children. I explained that they need to know they have a father who loves them. I again referred to child psychologist’s reports that children can suffer greatly when they are denied contact with their parents.

It was clear to me that we were not going to reach any kind of consensus with our discussion. I chose to depart rather than getting upset with him. He softened briefly and wished me a safe drive back to Tokyo. I wished him well and told him to look after himself and his family. We shook hands and I departed.

I have not heard from Taiko. She refuses to act like an adult and communicate with me for the purposes of visitation with the children. It is abundantly clear to me that they would like me to go away and never return.

I will return.
I will, as I always have, treat my in-laws with respect, but I will not go away forever as they wish. That I cannot do.

I will continue to try to have this family come to the realization that their present course of action is harming the very children that they purport to love. They believe that it is in the best interests of my children to remain undisturbed by their own father. I reject that entirely.

I am doing what I am doing for my children. I believe the overwhelming evidence from medical professionals worldwide supports my actions. Children need both parents.

This is not easy for me. If I were to choose an easier path or course of action however, I could not live with myself.

Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a burden that a child is forced to bear when one parent fails to recognize their child’s strong need to love and be loved by the other parent. I will not allow my children to continue to be damaged by this abuse.

One day my children will be old enough to realize what has occurred.

Rion, Lauren and Julia – Your father loves you very much. I am very sorry for what you are being forced to endure. I am trying very hard to make this situation better, despite your mom’s lack of communication and efforts to block me from you. I fervently hope that she soon decides to help make things better.

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Japan firm on not addressing existing cases of parental child abduction



The leadership of Left Behind Parents Japan met with Yoshinori Oguchi on Monday, January 16th, 2012. Mr. Oguchi is a member of the New Komeito party, the third largest political party represented in the Diet. He was a member of the MoFA committee who discussed modifying Japan’s civil code last fall, in order to sign The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
We presented our policy statement calling for joint custody, criminalization of parental child abduction, policy enforcement of family court orders, meaningful visitation for non-custodial parents, addition of a new visa category for parents of Japanese children to remain in Japan after losing spousal visa status and modification of domestic violence law in Japan to preclude false allegations with no empirical evidence.
We asked if the committee had completed their recommendations to the Ministry of Justice at this time. Mr. Oguchi’s response was that joint custody and the Hague Convention were closely related. Regarding joint custody, it is a huge hurdle to overcome. Regarding the Hague Convention, we are now preparing to accede due to the foreign pressure to do so, especially from the USA.
We asked if, in his opinion, joint custody was not going to move forward in this session of the Diet? His response was that there would be discussion of joint custody in the upcoming full Diet session.

When asked about current cases of international child abduction his response was that resolving current cases was “quite impossible”.

We asked if there was any plan whatsoever to resolve existing cases his response was that the government was discussing modifying Japanese domestic law and signing the Hague and that there were groups that were both for and against signing the Hague and that these groups will be listened to during the upcoming session of the Diet. (evasive)
When we asked about guaranteeing visitation to non-custodial parents Mr. Oguchi responded that he believed that visitation was important for the children. He added that in his opinion, visitation of the non-custodial parent was crucial to reducing child abuse. He stated that he believed that children of divorce should remain in contact with both parents and have the right to be educated by both parents. He stated that visitation of the non-custodial father was a concern due to the possibility of domestic violence. (Gender stereotyping – very concerning)
When Masako asked about the right to secure information about abducted children from governments, schools etc., Mr. Oguchi’s response was that he believed that this information was attainable currently. (completely inaccurate, it is not available to non-custodial parents.)
When asked (again) about resolving existing cases for foreign parents who have had their child abducted to Japan, Mr. Oguchi reiterated that existing cases of international abduction were not open for discussion and would not be considered. He said that MoFA and the MoJ had said it was “impossible”.
Masako pointed out that Japan was continuing to press North Korea to resolve cases of abduction that occurred many years ago and that if Japan does not resolve existing cases of child abduction to Japan it will not reflect favorably upon Japan. She asserted that dealing with existing cases was very important.
Carlos stated that the GoJ MUST create a way to reunite parents and their abducted children in the existing cases, both international and domestic, to not do so was unacceptable. Mr. Oguchi did not respond to this.

I stated that currently, court ordered visitations were being denied by abductors. I asked about enforcement of court ordered visitation rights, what enforcement mechanism was the GoJ going to create to ensure that court orders are not violated? Mr. Oguchi’s response was evasive, he spoke of (jishin ho ho ho) which we questioned…Was he referring to the Civil Execution Law for property? He was. ((because children are basically property in Japan))
Oguchi then said (in complete contrast to his previous answer) that he believed children had a right to see both of their parents. We asserted that only the installation of joint custody would protect those children’s human rights. Current laws are inadequate.
We asked if Japan signs the Hague Convention, would Japan then use the police to find abducted children? Mr. Oguchi said that police were used in cases of crime. If it is a crime then the police would be used.
I asked if Japan has plans to criminalize parental child abduction?
Mr. Oguchi’s response was that if it is judged as a crime by the court then it is possible. (Japan considers abduction a crime when the non-custodial parent, who has no parental rights, takes the child away from the custodial parent.)
He continued that it is difficult to consider this a crime because it is the biological parent ( and custodial parent) who abducted the child. Japan does not consider this a crime.

Carlos asked again if Japan needed to create a law which criminalizes parental abduction by either parent?
Mr. Oguchi responded in an evasive fashion, he talked about the fact that there were current discussions about how Japan can modify domestic laws in order to accede to the Hague convention and still protect women from domestic violence. (We have known this for six months. We know that Japan is trying to find loopholes to the Hague as it is currently written. Japan continues to portray foreign fathers as abusers)
We further discussed violations of agreed upon parenting plans…When visitation is modified, revoked or changed by the custodial parent currently there is no recourse for the non-custodial parent. Mr. Oguchi’s response to this was again that the Civil Execution Law currently in place for property transfers can be used for forced custody transfers. We asserted that this was only effective when the custodial parent voluntarily agrees to give over custody, it is not actually enforcement. Mr. Oguchi stated, regarding enforcement, “it looks difficult”.

Final question by me was to request a comment from Mr. Oguchi regarding the fact that Japan is currently in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, sections 9.3 and 10.2 specifically. His response, translated, “There are many lacking points in Japanese system. Japan already ratified that Convention. I would like to recognize what you have suggested to us today. It is the base of Japanese law, so there are many opinions. We received over 800. The Japanese system regarding protecting children’s rights is inadequate. This is from the base of Japanese tradition and law. Japan, as a democratic country…of course, there will be many detailed discussions regarding domestic law ahead.”

Editor’s notes:
This Congressman was the most evasive to date. I left this meeting having discovered only one thing for sure. JAPAN IS NOT PLANNING TO ADDRESS OR RESOLVE EXISTING CASES OF ABDUCTION.

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Meeting with Justice Minister (2011) Satsuki Eda






The meeting began with Masako explaining who we were and introducing the LBPJ & APFS joint policy statement. She talked about the need for Japan to establish a system of joint custody and indicated that we knew that the Diet was about to make changes to the current family law system. Mr. Eda interjected to say that they had discussed proposals for change to the family laws in order to accede to the Hague Convention. We said that we understood that. Masako said that it was our opinion that in conjunction with signing the Hague Convention, Japan should also change to a joint custody system. Takeuchi restated that opinion. Takeuchi also stated that there are many children who cannot see their non-custodial parent at all under the current system of family law. In order to protect the rights of non-custodial parents and the human rights of children, Japan needs to adopt a joint custody system.

Mr. Eda spoke about the many supporters of the current “traditional” Japanese system, and of the Japanese system’s design and its desire to prevent “confusion” in the children. (Editors note: this really pissed me off)
I responded that most of the world’s countries and people view the denial of access for a child to either one of his/her parents is against their fundamental human rights and constitutes child abuse. I spoke about the current system promoting and contributing to domestic and international child abductions. I spoke to the recent statement submitted in writing by the Embassy of Canada in October on behalf of six nations (Canada, USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand and France) and its content stating that the interim proposals for legislation discussed in 2011, that he referred to earlier, deviate from the convention.

I stated that when Japan signs the Hague Convention it must abide by it in letter, spirit and intent. Loopholes must not be woven into the legislation they are preparing for accession. I spoke about Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Campbell’s recent statements regarding compliant accession to the Hague and that Japan address outstanding cases immediately. I related all of my statements to the fact that Japan needs to adopt a system of joint custody with joint parental authority.
Mr. Eda’s reply was that it takes time to change a culture and a system within it.
I stipulated that the younger generation of Japanese people are more globalized and many, many of them are supportive of what we propose.
Mr. Eda acknowledged that to be true.
We discussed the current sole custody system and how the judicial branch of the GoJ has not moved forward with granting meaningful access to non-custodial parents.
Carlos asked, “What is the GoJ planning to do as far as changes to the law, as to how judges will award visitation and decide on…” Mr. Eda interjected “As you know, we have a rather sensitive system of (unheard)…3 government authorities, legislative, administrative and the courts. We don’t want to interfere in any sort of court action, especially in this case, the family court. I know a little bit about the family court because I used to be a judge in the family court, not domestic cases, but general cases.” (Ed note: What???) Eda continued, “The court is now…it’s rather awkward…we need to wait to have the courts include themselves by their own effort. But now, I think, even in the family court we have some decisions for the (non-custodial) parent to be allowed some sort of meaningful visitation.”
Masako, “I don’t think so…”
Mr. Eda, “In Kobe, (switches to Japanese)…”
Kato’s translation of Mr. Eda, “In court, in Kobe, in an international case there were some positive comments about visitation with the left behind parent. It will gradually happen.”
Masako and Mr. Eda talk back and forth in Japanese…
Takeuchi, in Japanese, asks about the fact that to deprive a child of one of their parents is against the human rights of the children (and parent). He asks about the fact that the current sole custody system and the removal of parent’s authority rights is against the human rights of both parent and child.
Mr. Eda, “What I promoted in the scrutiny of the law during the last committee is that the non-custodial parent is still the parent of the child. That the husband and wife might be separated but the relationship between the parent and child cannot be separated which is most important and I emphasized that point.”
I replied, “However, there is no enforcement mechanism in place so currently my wife, who abducted our children from Canada, can tell me: No, you are not allowed to see the children at all. You cannot speak to them on the phone or skype, NOTHING; And there is nothing I can do.”

Editor’s note: The next statements I made about my case will not be published here as I know that the Suzuki family is monitoring this blog.

Masako spoke to Mr. Eda about her case, in Japanese.

We requested Mr. Eda’s opinion on which other Diet members would be influential in the drafting of new legislation as we want to meet with them and speak to them about our push for joint custody. He made his suggestions of who to talk to.

We took photos. Mr. Eda asked if we were opposed to his using our images on his website.

Meeting concluded.

Editor’s notes:
This man is a very skillful politician. It was difficult for us to get a straight answer from him in either language. Having said that, he did state that he believes Japan should sign the Hague Convention and that as Justice Minister he met with many groups who were opposed to signing it. He said that he believed he was able to illustrate to them that it would be in Japan’s best interest to accede to the Hague Convention. I believe that Mr. Eda believes that a child should have access to both of his/her parents. I believe he is well intentioned but he is just one of 750 national politicians. I believe that this was a good opportunity to meet someone with considerable influence in the Diet and in his party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

I will continue to fight for the human rights of children and parents. I will continue to fight for meaningful, positive change in this country.

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