Japan and the Hague Convention: but will foreign parents really see their kids?
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
It appears that the Japanese government is mulling over signing the Hague Convention and giving rights to international parents. However, it is abundantly clear that for parents who are caught up in “this ongoing nightmare” and for future foreign parents; then the signing may become “a dead letter?”
This article is not based on the Hague Convention because I believe that major barriers will still be put in place. Also, what are the ramifications of the Hague Convention for the international parent who got married in Japan and whose children were brought up in Japan?
My focus is on the countermeasures which will be used by the Japanese legal system, marriage counselors, solicitors representing the Japanese parent, politicians who oppose the ratification, and other vested parties.
In several articles in the Japanese press, and also commented on in the BBC, it specified that “Critics have raised concerns over joining the pact, saying it could endanger Japanese parents and kids who have fled abusive relationships.”
Roland Buerk who is a correspondent for the BBC highlighted the case of Alex Kahney who is a British national. However, while the article was sympathetic towards Alex Kahney and other fathers and parents who are caught up within the failed Japanese legal system.
He failed to challenge or give credence to the statement by Akiko Oshima who is a marriage counselor. Therefore, Roland Buerk from the BBC allowed Akiko Oshima to state “These women who come back, do not do it because they want to.”
“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.”
Firstly, why does Akiko Oshima imply that the father is always abusive? Are we meant to believe that every single foreign father in every case is the problem and not the Japanese spouse?
This comment is tinged with sexism and racism because each case must be judged on merit and not based on the ethnicity of the individual or the sex of the parent.
Even more alarming; why didn’t Roland Buerk challenge this comment or at least state facts about the implication of what Akiko Oshima was stating?
It appears that Akiko Oshima by her comment is implying that Japan cares about “child abuse” but why didn’t Roland Buerk challenge her on this issue?
After all, you have very few articles which highlight this serious situation and all the positives were negated. Therefore, let us see if Akiko Oshima is factual about Japan caring about “child abuse” because she implies that women are leaving foreign nations because “They want their child to be brought up in Japan, and not in the host country where the father is abusive.”
However, when did Japan take child abuse seriously? In 2008 you had 42,664 cases of child abuse and in 2009 you had 44,210 cases of child abuse. New laws passed were meant to give welfare workers more power to apply for warrants in child abuse cases.
However, in 2008 only two warrants were asked for and astonishingly in 2009 only one warrant was asked for. This fact paints a different picture to the one being painted by Akiko Oshima and her statement should have been backed up by facts.
Therefore, basically, out of over 86,000 reports of child abuse only three child warrants were asked for. Given this, then clearly the rights of the child in Japan is not being taken seriously and Akiko Oshima should focus on reforming the Japanese legal system and systematic thinking; rather than making “sweeping comments” and implying that Japan is a haven for child rights who are being protected by abusive foreign fathers.
In a case involving two young children who were starved to death by their “abusive mother” then let us analyze this sad and tragic case. After all, international parents need to know that countermeasures are being taken in order to deprive them from seeing their children and the sweeping comment by Akiko Oshima should set off alarm bells.
In this tragic case Japanese neighbors tried to help these two young children who were starved to death slowly by their mother. Therefore, neighbors contacted the child welfare department in Osaka but sadly like the earlier figure states, nothing was done.
Yes, child welfare officers knocked on the door five times but at no point do they seek a warrant or to see the children. They also did not contact the police and because of this systematic failure these two young children died slowly and in mass pain and suffering.
If people within Japan or organizations are concerned about child abuse and abusive parents then let me be frank; they have 86,000 cases in order to help the innocent child being abused in Japan between 2008 and 2009.
Also, these are only the reported cases because silence appears to rule the day or maybe people have given up because of the inept system?
The decomposed bodies of 3 year old Sakurako Hagi and her baby brother, Kaede, aged 1, were found after months of inactivity by the child welfare organizations.
The mother, Shimomura, aged 23, stated that she wanted “to flee from everything and have time to myself…I knew they wouldn’t be able to survive if not given food or water. I abandoned them and killed them as a result.”
Shimomura killed her children but the child welfare institution was also behind the deaths of these two children because they failed to help and rescue them from the pits of hell.
In another case in Osaka a mother killed her child because the child had thrown away her console game.
Shizuku Tanaka, aged three, was suffocated and put in a garbage bag by her mother and boyfriend. This child had her hands and feet taped up and died in agonizing pain because Yui Tanaka, her mother, and her boyfriend, wanted to play a game and apparently the child was noisy.
Her mother stated that “Even when we scolded her, she didn’t listen.” Apparently Yui Tanaka had stated the previous year that “Even if this kid died, I wouldn’t cry.”
Randy Collins, father of Keisuke Christian Collins, stated in his article called The Façade of Honor and Respect that “Another façade by the Japanese is that when confronted with these staggering numbers, the same mantra is said over and over again: ‘We are protecting our women and children from abuse of the Americans’.”
Like Randy Collins comments, and the figure of only three warrants out of 86,000 reported child abuse cases implies in 2008 and 2009; then the concern of protecting the rights of the Japanese national from the abusive father is “a red herring.”
I have not focused on the Hague Convention because it is abundantly clear that countless obstacles will be put in the way. Also, how about the rights of the international parent who was married in Japan and whose child or children were born in Japan?
Not only this; how about the rights of Japanese nationals who can’t see their children in Japan. You have so many areas which the Hague Convention does not cover.
Yes, it is clearly a huge step in the right direction but I fear that it will become “a dead letter” for many parents who are already caught up in this nightmare.
The same applies to future parents who will face the sad reality of the Japanese legal system.
I believe that it is essential for international parents and Japanese parents to focus on countermeasures and obstacles which will be put in their way. Therefore, the facts must be given in order to debunk individuals who want to play “the Japanese female victim card.”
Every case must be judged on merit and when you have two parents who love their child or children then joint access is essential. In some cases the best sole parent may be the Japanese mother, the Japanese father, the international mother or the international father.
In truth, each case will have special factors but let us not forget the child or children because it sometimes appears that they do not count in the legal system of Japan.
Racism must be taken out of the legal system and the same applies to sexism and enforcement powers in Japan are needed.
International parents who have pressurized national governments and embassy staff have done well to get so far. However, the path ahead remains difficult and countermeasures are being taken before the ratification of the Hague Convention.
Therefore, it is vital that stereotypes are debunked and this certainly applies to “the female victim card” and the issue of “abuse.”
I also must add that many females have also been victims of the Japanese legal system because enforcement powers are ineffective within the Japanese legal system.
In truth, so many areas need to be changed in order to give rights to left behind parents and left behind grandparents.
http://www.crcjapan.com/ (please visit for important information about the rights of children)
http://www.bachome.org (please visit for important information about the rights of children)
http://moderntokyotimes.com (please visit)