Embassies should take the lead on civil rights issues–not blogs!

Keeping on this same topic this week.

I was surprised to see the correspondence going between Congressman Chris Smith in New Jersey and President Obama, regarding the kidnapping of young American children after divorce, by their Japanese parent.

This topic has really gained traction.

Here is Kurt Campbell speaking about this important issue:

What is so surprising is that this issue only gained traction when it finally became a project of a longtime congressman, the dean of the New Jersey delegation. There have been child kidnappings to Japan for many years now. However, men like Chris Savoie and Paul Toland brought the issue home. And I’m convinced more and more, that if you want “Japan” to pay attention, this is how you do it. It’s a lot easier to convince a base within 310 million people that there is a serious problem, than to try and do it as a minority-within-a-minority in a foreign country, where the power people already have the bureaucratic mazes set up.

What is shameful is that the State Department needed a fire set under its collective ass in order to get moving. This says a lot about which Americans “count” in Japan, and who doesn’t.

I know there is a group of Europeans and former Americans who is going around and trying to collect dirt about the individual Left Behind Fathers in the group. However, I think these people don’t understand how law works in Western society. In Western society, law covers everybody no matter their, how shall I put it?, “sin”. This is not a Buddhist culture where you can attain “perfection” in your spiritual life. It is a Abrahamic one where you can never attain perfection. (That is, “perfection” = God.) So I hear these commenters saying, lately: “yeah, well, this Left Behind Father has this bad thing in his past; and this one has that; and this other one, that.” They think they are like slick lawyers or something, who can’t win on the facts, and so turn to smears.

A father can even do time in an American prison, sadly for that, but when they come out of the cooler, they still are the father of a child and they have those rights respected. I think base principals are important, and so I am not impressed by people making up a gossip mill behind the scenes about Left Behind Father Number One, or Number Two, etc.

I think the Japanese started to do this with the Chris Savoie matter (dual-citizen), and had our own government taken him for Japanese and not American, it would have ended with being buried under innuendo and that police detention. Bill Lake (American, kid non-Japanese) in Florida seems to be the victim of that same sort of innuendo and digging into his personal life.

Good for Congressman Smith’s office that he is playing it based on our well-settled notion of how laws work.

[Update 9/24/11: Congressman Smith’s recent statement about the issue, in case you don’t get it as the next item on the above You Tube link.


7 Replies to “Embassies should take the lead on civil rights issues–not blogs!”

  1. I think you may have missed a crucial point…No-one believes these fathers should not have their kids or is working towards denying these fathers access rights to their kids…It[‘]s the message…misrepresentations, spin and questionable facts that some present as truth that offends me as a left behind parent..

    You see[,] there are many fathers that do not need to resort to tricks and spin to make their case. It is a matter of genuine pursuit of the children[,] and if it has to come to court and law enforcement, so be it…But as a father, who has always and only pursued reunion, I find it disappointing that in lieu of a clear path for some of these fathers, the message gets distorted and actually hinders progress.

    If there was a honest appeal and some actual responsibility for words and actions to “put the past behind me”[ — ] repent ,as your getting out of jail comment suggests[, — ]to make lasting progress on a genuine level[,] without resorting to misdirection and attacks on US govt and others[,] there could be a real united effort toward the issue of changing laws and practice…

    But alas[,] some parents cannot see beyond themselves and focus on what we should all should be fighting for individually and collectively: which is meaningful access and a permanent place in our children’s lives..

    I can’t imagine how the hate and anger some of these parents spew in public can so easily be turned into love for their children at the drop of a dime. I hope for the resolution that is in the best interest of the child, always.

    And it has become clear to me in these last 3 years in this “program” that there are other motives, agendas beyond the obvious stories presented…Just because you don’t have your kids[,] and tell some sad story[,] does not give you the right to say and do whatever you want while preaching some sort of collective unity “for the cause” The damage here is credibility in the courts, in the US, Japan and with the children..

    I am sorry that appears to me to be just beyond the surface of the issue for many of these folks. Scratch and sniff…

    1. Mr. Higgins, I didn’t miss any points.

      The problem is that the people who are speaking up against CRN, the group trying to get the kidnapped kids back from Japan, are resorting to opposition research-style tactics, like they are involved in a presidential campaign.

      I agree with you, that if a group is acting as a unit, then someone who is not putting the best face forward on the message, is someone who should be in the back lines—not on the front line. But the problem—as with so much in Japan’s relations with people of other countries—is that their strategy almost always descends into an ad hominem attack on the people delivering the opposition’s message. The foreigners who feel like they have made lives in Japan–as if they are accepted as equal to the Japanese, not just useful idiots—then go about, parroting lines that they think will make them more pleasing to their Japanese associates.

      I assume, from your comment, that you are objecting to the role of Bill Lake in the promoting of the CRN issues. My own feeling is that, if Florida says that Bill Lake is entitled to custody, then Japan has no business harboring a kidnapper. The people of Florida pay U.S. federal taxes. These taxes then support our bases in Okinawa, and the general defense of the Pacific Ocean. The people of Florida are entitled to a little respect from the Japanese (more than a little, but let’s make a low hurdle).

      Until Florida says that Bill Lake is not entitled to custody of his child, then the former Mrs. Lake has no business abducting her to Japan.

      Again, I agree with your one sentiment, but I hope you see my point.

      1. “The foreigners who feel like they have made lives in Japan–as if they are accepted as equal to the Japanese, not just useful idiots—then go about, parroting lines that they think will make them more pleasing to their Japanese associates.”

        Or perhaps some of us have looked at the issues, considered the angles, and independently reached the conclusion that Japan is right. Nothing to do with “parroting lines” to ingratiate ourselves with “the Japanese” (as though the Japanese are a monolithic entity that all thinks the same way on any given topic). But feel free to believe that if it makes you feel superior or whatever. I don’t care – but then what would I know? I am just a “useful idiot”, right Grundlach?

        1. That’s nonsense. You totally overlook the possibility that the “bring them home” faction, and the “let me see my kid” faction are two distinct groups.

          The people, mostly fathers, who want to bring their children home from Japan are those who had joint custody (or sole custody) rights in a non-Japanese jurisdiction. The child was then abducted to Japan by the spouse who didn’t have sole custody.

          The people who are saying, “let me see my kid”, are often Japan-side foreigner fathers who were not awarded joint custody, because that’s just not Japan’s common practice.

          By framing the debate as you have above, you have shown that you completely misunderstand the situation.

          Oh, and by the way, the last time you posted here, you were “kronstadt” and your e-mail was different than the one you’ve used for this post. Ask Rene Juan Jerez how easy it is to finger posters.

          1. By the way, would you please Bing the phrase “useful idiot”, so you understand the historical context. I think some of you don’t understand that the Information Era still requires you to know some of what the information is.

          2. “Oh, and by the way, the last time you posted here, you were “kronstadt” and your e-mail was different than the one you’ve used for this post. Ask Rene Juan Jerez how easy it is to finger posters.”

            Thank you for demonstrating yet again that you have little to no idea how the internet works. But then, given that you constantly reference a largely useless service like Alexa, which no-one who is serious about monitoring site traffic and stats uses anyway, some of us already knew that.


            In the vast majority of cases of so-called “parental abduction” Japan is looking out for what it perceives to be the best interests of its nationals. If a hypothetical Japanese mother gets divorced overseas and returns to Japan with her Japanese children, it is their right as citizens to live in Japan. The Japanese government is duty-bound to honor and respect that right. If that runs contrary to what some civil-jurisdiction court in another country states, then too bad. Not all of us accept the notion that violating a civil or family court decision makes one a “criminal” or “felon” and open to arrest and trial in criminal courts.

            They may be an untrustworthy individual, or not, but a mother looking out for what she perceives to be in the best interests of herself and her children is not a “criminal”. Also as has been pointed out elsewhere, more than a few of these “left behind fathers” were not “left behind”, they were “run away from”. Lake and Savoie would seem to be two stellar examples of this type.

            Or Arudou, who sued his ex for divorce and fought for it when she didn’t want to divorce. He is not “left behind”, he’s the one who walked out.

            However I will admit the Lake case is unique as the ex-wife is, as I recall, not Japanese but Russian. If so, Japan doesn’t have a dog in the fight and should (if there is an international warrant out for her) return her to the US. Still I can’t help feeling that here we are seeing exactly what some from BACHome et al. are criticizing Japan for: she’s not a US national, but the father is, as are the kids (they may be dual, but within the US that would not matter as far as US courts are concerned) therefore basically regardless of what a violent, tax-dodging, racist lout the father has revealed himself to be he has to be allowed access to his kids. Because they’re all Americans, dammit, and the American government has to look out for the interests of its citizens!

            Apparently Japan cannot do the same without being labelled a “haven for abductors”, though…

            And “joint custody”? A quaint and very recent American phenomenon. Hardly universal, and I remain to be convinced that in all but a handful of exceptional cases it is really “in the child’s best interests”. Sure, if one parent has sole custody that parent may try to estrange the child from the other. But if there is joint or shared custody you are just as likely, if not more so, to have parents playing for the child’s affection, with both badmouthing the other parent. I know people who came from both backgrounds, and the ones who only had one parent generally seem to have made it to adulthood with fewer “issues” – not “none”, mind you, but “fewer”.

            Japan’s system of “one parent takes all, all the time” may be unduly rigid, but it is in my honest opinion the lesser of two evils available when adults refuse to get along and kids are stuck in the middle.

  2. Thank you.. I do see your point and any “attacks” should be on the methods and actions not the individual. Yes agreed: best face forward. This is a very serious issue and I am sure you can agree based on your very logical and rational reply that we need to put our best cases forward. It is my feeling we need to remain focused.

    I am not focusing on Mr. Lake specifically[;] however[,] to your comments:I feel the attacks posted on Debito focused at State Dept’s “unwillingness” to assist Mr Lake by Mr’s Toland and Lake are not helpful and present an unwillingness to work together and resolve this case. I was helped to a great degree by State Dept[,] because I engaged and continued to keep my issue on their radar despite the many obvious roadblocks. I simply feel it unfair and unrealistic to absolve any individual of their own re[s]ponsibilty and then lay the burden entirely upon those trying and in the best position to help you [him]. Best cases forward[,] and the reality is: when those un-impeachable cases gain momentum[,] then all will benefit. I wish Mr. Lake the best..

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