Friday, May 14, 2010

Kidnapping the only safe option two internationally-wanted kidnappers say

We've heard and read of the claims by certain folk in the government and elsewhere who have said that most Japanese child abductors fleeing back to Japan do so because of abusive spouses.

Up until now, we've had to take their word for it that such a danger exists. The Japan Times---which recently raised its single issue price to ¥180 for folks with no access to the Internet or perhaps no sense---has given us an example of hard-nosed investigative journalism at its best. Custody or Abduction: Returning to Japan with kids was the only safe option, two mothers say.

As we read through the article, we are given reasons by two ladies of why they chose to kidnap their children. Both had suffered domestic violence, both verbal and physical, and one had also received an alimony award that was so small that, "I realized that my son and I could starve to death if we stayed."

I suppose we'll just have to take the word of the two that this happened as they said. No mention of restraining orders, court actions, complaints filed, or much of anything else in the story. We have to admit that it is not unknown for foreign spouses to be ignorant of the legal system in foreign countries or that they are often not able to fully exploit it to protect themselves and their children. However, we won't learn if that is the case from reading the JT article for no relevant questions were asked. Actually, I don't think any questions were asked.

Hats off to you, Masami Ito for this report. We await your interviews of more than just two of many, many internationally-wanted felons and your follow-up with the hard-hitting questions that you left out this time just to keep us all in suspense. Otherwise, we may ask ourselves why anyone would pay ¥180 for the JT when we can read it for free online. Custody or abduction? WTF does that mean?


  1. Hmm. A bit lacking in corroboration. Though these two ladies may well be telling the truth, the last line is telling:

    Kawasaki said the reason she is against Japan joining the Hague Convention is because it completely ignores the children's wishes. "It is just too cruel to ignore the children's pleas and force them to return," she said.

    - because of course children's wishes are always to remain in safe, nurturing Japan, away from their evil gaijin dads.

    I'd be interested to hear of any Japanese dads who escaped the tyranny of their abusive gaijin wives back to the nurturing fold of Mother Japan. Surely there must be a few. It would be interesting to see how the press would handle such cases.

    Must go now, must remember to be extra nice to Our Woman.

  2. Anonymous12:52 AM

    Very true! More trash from the Japan Times is not surprising, but this was below even their
    low standards. No wonder I never buy their pro-Japan paper!

  3. Well, I have been told that all those foreign women are big and strong, so I am sure that there must be at least a few men have had to follow their children's wishes and flee with them back to the land of safety and justice.

  4. Anonymous10:28 AM

    To be fair her second article on the issue is a bit better - or at least her interview with the attorney Otani at the end - I think this is the only level headed "defense" of Japan's intransigence on the issue that I have heard (ultimately from someone who favours joining the Hague convention).

  5. Yes, I saw that one, it was better done article than the one above. I found the interview with attorney Kensuke Onuki "enlightening."

    "What is important is to consider what is the best situation for the child and not the rights of the parents — whether it is better for the child to live in Japan with his or her mother, or live with the father abroad," Onuki said. "But the Hague Convention does not allow that consideration. The only situation that will stop a child from being returned is if the child would be raped or physically abused" by the left-behind parent.

    Nice, but the courts in Japan seem to always decide that it is best for the child to live in Japan.

    I agree about the interview with Otani. Now if only Ito had done something remotely similar in the article referred to above.

  6. jib Halyard8:51 AM

    I thought that Japan Times headline, "Returning to Japan with kids was only safe option, two mothers say", could use a minor re-write:
    "Returning to North Korea with kids was only safe option, submarine commanders say".
    Also, some of the text: "In North Korea, most people would say he is just a submarine commander trying to do what he thought best for his country. But under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, to which North Korea is not a member, Cmdr Kim's action is considered international kidnapping."
    Also: "Cmdr Kim said the reason he is against North Korea joining the Hague Convention is because it completely ignores the children's wishes. "It is just too cruel to ignore the children's pleas and force them to live outside the warm embrace of the Dear Leader and his revolutionary Juche philosophy which is the only possible source of human happiness," he said."
    Do you think the JT would hire me as a copy editor?

  7. You could give it a shot. You've certainly got the logic down.

  8. Anonymous6:00 AM

    The Hague Convention was designed to return quickly the abducted children to their original jurisdiction so the court with jurisdiction could make a custody determination. If there is abuse (Child or DV), this will be address at that pertinent court, and if this is true.... the abductors could return or move to any place they want, including Japan. The problem is that since Japan has not signed the Hague Convention this cause a problem as Japanese law doesn't allow "The standard Best interest of the children" that is to have significant contact to the non-custodial parent. Japan conveniently decided no to sign the Hague for the following:
    1)- There is not need to return wrongly abudcted children.
    2)- Allow the Japanese court make arbitrary custody determination, even when the children has never lived in Japan and when there are not standards for "Best interest of the Children"
    3)- In case a children is abducted to a Hague convention country, still the Japanese left behind parents can request the return of the children to Japan based on the fact that Japan is the habitual residence.
    So why Japan has to sign if get the best of deal?
    The problem is that nowadays Hague Convention countries are putting traveling restriction to Japanese spouses due to the high risk of abduction, thus hurting Japanese people and their children. However, if these Japanese decide to violate international laws. Japanese government has to justify somehow with the excuse of DV...

  9. Thank you for that.