U.S. House of Representatives tells Japan to stop kidnapping children.

Via Debito.org, who has been promoting the various abandoned parents[‘] organizations on this issue.

When I attended a Tokyo FRANCA meeting, I wasn’t 100% impressed with the agenda items, but the custody issue that a lot of non-Japanese find themselves in whenever they divorce a Japanese spouse was something that I think should concern everyone.

For the life of me, I don’t understand what the Japanese government thinks it’s getting away with by not honoring joint custody decisions rendered in other countries. This just seems to go to the stereotype or bad image of Japan as a country that wants only the benefits out of any deal, and won’t keep up their end of an agreement. One that burns the candle at both ends One that is always looking for a way out.

I don’t know whether young Japanese are taught that this kind of thing really angers people. What makes it worse, is this uncomfortable “oops” that seems to be part of the back-tracking, when it isn’t that the matter is just stalled for years on years.

The Chinese, who, from what I learned in America, almost to a person believe they understand the Japanese better than we do, deal much differently, as the Senkaku Island incident showed. Japan took the captain, China rounded up 4 Fujita employees, started to shut down the tourism trade, and cut off trade in rare earth metals. Like that. Just like that.

The U.S. Congress passes a 416-1 resolution (where were the other 15 or 16 representatives who abstained?), and Japan will promptly ignore it. Kid gloves. And they’ll even do it a week after China put the squeeze around their necks.

I am confident that the issue is being looked at much more deeply in Nagatacho than the government is letting on. I think whatever group is responsible there is taking it through some decision-making, brainstorming process to figure out how to get the best solution for Japan. But sometimes you have to wonder whether these folks even know what the best interest of Japan would be?

The idea that you let people in international marriages think that the one partner can just abscond with the children to Japan, and that is that, is really dangerous. This is a dangerous world. Not all the gaikokujin victims are going to just sit and take it.

Coverage from Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, via AFP: here.

Quote about Congressman Smith of New Jersey, who has been in front on this initiative:

Representative Christopher Smith, who spearheaded the House resolution, said that parents’ patience was wearing thin as abducted children often suffered severe psychological problems.

“It is the strongest language we could have possibly put into the resolution because, frankly, time is up,” said Smith, a Republican from New Jersey.

Smith flew to Brazil last Christmas and helped another US father bring his son back to the United States after a five-year battle. But Smith said he has received no response from Japan to requests for a meeting.

“Japan’s a great friend, a great ally, with whom we have so much in common. So it’s bewildering, to say the least, how they are mistreating American children,” Smith said.

6 thoughts on “U.S. House of Representatives tells Japan to stop kidnapping children.

  1. As the mom of three Japanese (American) kids, this is one issue that really hits home……

    My marriage is fine (knock wood), but I don’t take anything for granted, and I know the laws are on my husband’s side here. I have seen foreign women in my situation lose everything worth living for.

    1. Lisa, this one of Japan’s problems. The national policy basically says that if a Japanese marries a foreign person, the Japanese government gets total control of the family–no matter where the family resides in the world.

      1) If the people stay together, fine.

      2) If the one partner decides to split, and doesn’t want to rely on the government’s veiled kidnapping policy, fine.

      3) If the partner splits with the kids for Japan, the bureaucracy will take of the situation.

      This is just more, “heads we win; tails, er, uh, we win that, too.” The wiser move is recognized joint custody–excepting the severe situations, which mostly these aren’t.

      Most international relationships work out fine, it looks to me. So it’s a shame that the ones which don’t have to be politicked like crazy all over the news [to get a result].

  2. Exactly how workable is “joint custody” when one parent wants to live a quarter of the way around the world from the other and feels the child(ren) should too?

    N.B. I am NOT, by any means defending Japan (or any other country for that matter) in this. But claiming that Japan signing the Hague convention will solve all the problems of a messy divorce is absolutely ludicrous and delusional.

    1. I think that agreeing to the Hague does two things:

      1) It changes the planning in messy divorce situations. For example, there would have been no reason for Chris Savoie to forum shop his divorce. He could have done it right in Japan.

      2) You are right. The children are international kids, but practically they can only build a life in one place. So joint custody rules prevent one parent from totally freezing out the other. It may simply be that the children spend summers with the other parent, or key holidays. I bet if you ask any of these folks caught in a situation of being freezed out, they would heppily take 10% or 15% instead of zero.

      1. Even had the Hague been signed, I believe Chris Savoie would have ended up in the same situation he is in now.

        Well, maybe *slightly* better off in that he could have at least tried to play nice and ask that his kids spend time with him rather than try to force the situation by forcing them to move away from where they spent most of their lives. Too much of trying to have his cake and eating it too.

        But even in the US, when a parent wants/needs to move to another city/state, the children are going to suffer regardless. In theory, joint custody is probably a desirable thing. In practice, I can see how it causes a whole lot of problems.

        I don’t advocate either one. Divorces are messy. And kids will be caught in the middle and used as bargaining chips/chattel in FAR too many cases. It is a shame that the adults can’t be adult about these things.

        1. Chuckers, you may be right that if Savoie had sought a divorce in Japan and been granted a Joint custody, he’d probably be back in the States flying in to see them. But his Tennessee divorce gave him more rights, and he could have demanded that Japan and Mrs. Savoie send the kids back.

          The best thing is to prevent a shut-out (one parent gets 100% control). Shared control forces a cooperation, where the incentive to break the agreement by one party means that that the other party will have a forceful remedy. Right now, the remedy is use up the U.S. Congress’ time, and make Japan look bad internationally.

          The idea is to write a rule that forces all the parties to do what they should do; not what they think they can get away with.

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