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Thread: Foreign parents usually lose their children to Japanese ex-spouse

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Exclamation Foreign parents usually lose their children to Japanese ex-spouse

    Divorced From Their Children

    Foreign spouses in Japan frequently lose their children when their marriages collapse. There is no shared custody in Japanese divorces, and visitation rights are minimal and unenforceable. The wife gets the children in an estimated 80 percent to 90 percent of the cases, according to divorce lawyers, and fathers are expected to drop out of sight.
    "In court, when I said I wanted to see my kids every weekend, they laughed at me," Reedy said.
    Family experts say divorce carries a stigma of shame in Japan, so ex-spouses avoid seeing each other. The workaholic hallmark of post-World War II Japan resulted in a clear division of responsibility, they say, in which husbands belong to their job and children belong to their mothers. The mothers take total responsibility for the children -- mothers are blamed, for instance, if their children get bad marks in school -- and are expected to retain that role after divorce. In addition, some experts argue, children's loyalties are less divided if the father is not around.
    Even if children are taken away from a parent abroad who has legal custody and are brought here, Japan is a haven from international law.

    Japan is one of the few developed countries that has refused to sign the 1980 Hague Convention promising to return abducted children to the rightful custody of an overseas parent. So a Japanese parent is not prosecuted for bringing children into the country in violation of a foreign court's custody order. Japan ranks second, behind Mexico, in the frequency of parental abduction

    Japan's stance that parental abduction is not a crime can change when a foreigner is the abductor. Engle Nieman, 46, was arrested at the Osaka port and spent four months in jail for trying to go home to the Netherlands with his 1-year-old daughter after his wife moved in with her parents.


    "People in the West don't understand," lamented Reedy. In Japan, "it has nothing to do with whether the kids would benefit by being with another parent. Once there is a divorce, the line is cut. That's it."
    Very sad how primitive Japan is on a human perspective...

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    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
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    Historically considering how xenophobic Japanese culture is, this does not surprise me in the least... One more good reason not to raise my daughter here...
    - His arrogance is matched only by his firepower.
    - La culture, c'est comme la confiture: moins on en a, plus on l'etend.
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  3. #3
    Omnipotence personified Mandylion's Avatar
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    Just as a thought experiment - What if a foreigner made it to their embassy (assuming they honor the 1980 agreement) and had legal custody of the child in their home nation? I don't know how legally such a situation work, but the press would have a field day with such a story. Maybe that is an option for parents?
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    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
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    Mmmm... Interesting.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by tasuki
    Historically considering how xenophobic Japanese culture is, this does not surprise me in the least... One more good reason not to raise my daughter here...
    Did you read the full article ? One guy actually raised his children in the States with his Japanese wife, but one day she left for Japan with the kids without notice and from there on there is nothing he could do.

  6. #6
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Mandylion
    Just as a thought experiment - What if a foreigner made it to their embassy (assuming they honor the 1980 agreement) and had legal custody of the child in their home nation? I
    And how would they get out of Japan from the embassy ? They still have to clear immigration when they go to the airport (and I don't know any embassy that has its own airport within its limits or would be willing to spend a lot of money for such family disputes. Japan didn't sign the agreements, there is nothing the embassy can do about it. They are not doing anyting illegal in Japan.

  7. #7
    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
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    No, I just read what was in the post, but I find that surprising. Once I get Canadian citizenship for my daughter, if we're in Canada and my wife leaves, custody problems would be dealt with under Canadian laws, not Japanese laws. Although I have not verified this specifically, I feel fairly certain that it's the case; we're right in the middle of the procedures. Now if my daughter was stricly a Japanese living in Canada, then... American-Japanese accords in this matter may be different, though. Being right in the immigration process for my wife and daughter-to-be, I've been very thorough in my research. But then it comes down to who takes the child and leaves first. If the Japanese mother leaves, takes the child and manages to get back to Japan before she's intercepted by the authorities, since Japan didn't sign the Hague treaty on abducted children, well, it just becomes a legal mess...

  8. #8
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Children of international marriage usually have both nationalities of the parents till they turn 18, at which point they have to choose one (except if both countries accept dual nationality, but that's not the case of Japan anyway). So, you won't have to "get" Canadian citizenship for your daughter ; she'll automaticaly be Canadian and Japanese, which is why such abductions are possible and in fact easy for either parent.

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    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    This is kind of scary for me. I have thought about this many times and thought that if something happened, there would be no way that my husband could leave here with our children. Evidently, I was wrong. The Japanese are so backward sometimes. Everything looks so modern on the outside, but inside it can be so extremely backward. This is unbelievable.

    As tasuki has done, I need to do my research and look into this much further.
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    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
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    Actually, since she'll be born in Japan, I do have to apply for Canadian citizenship for my daughter, trust me, I have the mound of paperwork on my desk at home, so no, it's not automatic. And the age also depends on the mutual agreement between Japan and the other parent's home country. In the case of Canada, this age is 20, not 18. As far as I know each country has different accords with Japan, so child nationality isn't handled the same way for each nationality. In some cases, I've read, children born in Japan from a foreign parent are not granted Japanese nationality, period.

    But we're getting away from the point. Basically what this article tells us is that if the Japanese parent abducts a child and makes it back to Japan, Japanese law and the lack of international accords in such matters make it next to impossible to get the child back. Yet, the Japanese parent would have to be prosecutable under the other parent's country's laws as most countries require them to hold visas or permanent resident status to reside in their host country for any length of time. So if I take Canada as an example again, if my wife (holding permanent residency), takes our daughter (who is a Canadian citizen at that point) back to Japan, then as a permanent resident of Canada, she becomes subject to Canadian abduction laws (Canadian permanent resident abducting a Canadian citizen), thus subject to extradition for prosecution. Whether that actually happens, is another story. I've done my homework...
    Last edited by tasuki; Jul 18, 2003 at 12:25.

  11. #11
    Omnipotence personified Mandylion's Avatar
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    But wouldn't the kids have the legal protections of their home/second nation extended to them? They might not be doing anything illegal under Japanese law, but they probably would under the other nations law. If the press got ahold of it, is there any politician in the world that wouldn't want the possible great press from "fighting" to let the mother or father of a little child get back their beloved from the clutches of a kidnapper, and a foreign one at that? Imagine the spin you could put on it. Headline stuff. Media is a powerful force in politics. Once it got that big, it doesn't matter if the foreign services want to deal with it or not, they would have to address it.

    As from getting out of the country, get enough high placed people to push enough buttons and they could leave from any airport they choose, or, in the case of the US, airlifted to an military airbase.

  12. #12
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by tasuki
    [B]As far as I know each country has different accords with Japan, so child nationality isn't handled the same way for each nationality. In some cases, I've read, children born in Japan from a foreign parent are not granted Japanese nationality, period.
    I understand that evey country has different laws about nationality. I think there are 2 categories of countries : those considering the "right through blood" and "right of land". Most immigration countries like the USA, Canada or Australia have the latter, which means they give citizenship to anybody born in that country. However, in some countries (Italy, China, or Germany till a few years ago) nationality is given by the parents wherever the child is born. In Japan, both systems are used so that one should ideally be born in Japan and be of Japanese descent. That's why Japanese Americans, Brazilians, who were born abroad are not considered Japanese anymore (also because Japan only accepts 1 nationality). That's also why foreigners born in Japan are not Japanese (just ask the 2nd and 3rd generation Koreans and Chinese here) or why the millions of 2nd, 3rd or 4th generation Turkish immigrants in Germany couldn't become German until about 5 years ago when they changed the law.

    ... then as a permanent resident of Canada, she becomes subject to Canadian abduction laws (Canadian permanent resident abducting a Canadian citizen), thus subject to extradition for prosecution. Whether that actually happens, is another story. I've done my homework...
    Permanent residency is different of citizenship. What's more, Japan doesn't extradite its own citizens, as we've seen with Fujimori. Your wife or children couldn't be extradite if they are still Japanese. What's more Canada has no power to come and fetch people in Japan. At best they could arrest the abductor if they come to Canada or ask the Japanese government to hand them over, but they probably have better to do.

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    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Maciamo
    Permanent residency is different of citizenship. What's more, Japan doesn't extradite its own citizens, as we've seen with Fujimori. Your wife or children couldn't be extradite if they are still Japanese. What's more Canada has no power to come and fetch people in Japan. At best they could arrest the abductor if they come to Canada or ask the Japanese government to hand them over, but they probably have better to do.
    Permanent residency, at least in Canada, demands the same in terms of responsibility and respect of the law... Meaning that permanent residents are under the same dooms as us poor citizens...

    You're right. The Canadian government has no power to deport citizens in Japan. The Canadian government would demand the child and parent (or at least the parent) be deported and if Japan failed to comply, then it would create, just as in Fujimori's case, a media circus and sooner or later someone would have to give. Didn't you hear that Japan was on the verge of giving Fujimori up?

  14. #14
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Mandylion

    ...or, in the case of the US, airlifted to an military airbase.
    Yeah, like in the movies. I guess they will send you the bill afterwards and how much cost a flight Japan-US in army planes readied just for you ? I imagine the scenario : the army helicopter rescuing the parent and child from the evil Japanese government at the embassy in Tokyo with troops deployment around the perimeter to defend in case the furious abductor tries to shoot them with a bazooka. Very American, indeed... but little realistic.

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by tasuki
    The Canadian government would demand the child and parent (or at least the parent) be deported and if Japan failed to comply, then it would create, just as in Fujimori's case, a media circus and sooner or later someone would have to give. Didn't you hear that Japan was on the verge of giving Fujimori up?
    Yeah, but Fujimori is was president and is serious criminal. With all cases of abductions, that would already have happened, but I've never heard such dramatic stories in the media that actually had any effect. What can ordinary citizens expect when even the powerful US government can't extradite some war criminals or terrorists without invading the country.

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    Regular Member tasuki's Avatar
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    Well... I'm not worried. We worked hard enough for my wife to get her permanent residence that she wouldn't throw it away by doing that. But better safe than sorry. Sure is an eye opener...

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    I guess you should be a happy couple now, especially if you've just had a baby. But what in 10 years' time ? (and who knows if Japan will still exist or if the law will not have changed till then...)

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    Child Abduction to Japan

    So far this has been rather theoretical, but it is a very real problem.

    My two sons, Satomi (6 years old) and Makoto (4 years old) were abducted to Japan from the UK on 2nd July. At the moment it seems unlikely that I will ever see them again.

    They have no legal protection in Japan because of the country's refusal to subscribe to the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.

    Many families are destroyed every year as a result of this policy.

    My sons will probably grow up in relative poverty and in a society in which they are racially unacceptable as alien half-breeds.

    They are beautiful, intelligent, open-hearted, loving children. A month ago they were torn away from everything they knew. Their futures were secure and are now, to say the least in doubt.

    They are in the care of a mother with no job, no family support, no money and a history of psychological illness.

    They were taken from a large house with a garden, from their friends, their cousins, grandparents.

    They are currently lodging in a rented studio flat in Yodogawa, Osaka between the railway tracks and a sewage works.

    In Japan, alone of all first world countries there is no way of getting them back. Elsewhere, the destruction of a child's family and future is seen as a crime. In Japan it is a nationalist victory.

    I am crying as I write this and yet I don't know why I am bothering - it all seems so futile. I am sitting in an emtpy house full of toys and silence.

    If you disapprove of this policy please try to change it. Write to your Diet member. Send them a copy of this message. If you have pride in your country please try to stop it causing such misery.

  19. #19
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Actually, that's exactly the kind of message that would make me think twice before having children (along with lots of other issues).

  20. #20
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Have a look at this other testimony in the Japan Times this week : Payments and pain without end

    Last week I had a settlement meeting with my wife's lawyer in Tokyo District Court, as I am currently suing her for divorce. I have paid out more than 6 million yen to her over the past 3 1/2 years, yet she wants another 4 million yen. My wife's lawyer has told me that I need his permission to see my kids -- contingent on my paying more money. I have seen for myself that the laws and guarantees of rights in Japan cover Japanese only, even though I have lived here for 13 years and pay taxes just like anybody else.

    I wish all other foreigners going through divorce the best of luck. But they shouldn't expect results for years to come. The Japanese legal system is still in prewar mode, and nobody wants to change

    I have a marriage contract of separation of money with my wife (not sure how you call it ), but I know it is not recognised legally in Japan as it doesn't exist there. How common is this in countries like the States or anywhere else ? The point of the contract is that each spouse is not financially responsible for the other, and cannot inherit from the death of the other (so if one dies, his patrimony goes back to his blood family (parents, siblings, children...), not to the spouse. If one spouse gets indebted, the other liable for him/her. Finally, it also means that bank accounts are separate and that all possesions preceding the mariage would be returned the the original owner in case of divorce. So if the husband already has a house of his own and the wife has a car, if they divorce, the husband keeps his house and the wife keeps her car. There is no divisio 50-50 of the total of possesions.

    Unfortunately, it seems that mariage and money are undividable in Japan. It's incredible to see the number of Japanese women who still hope to find a rich man to get married. It seems to be their first criterium of selection. Most of them (except those who give everything to their carrer and don't caee about marriage and end up single and childless) just want to get married to have children and stop working. Stop working and get money from their husband they hardly ever see. That's all that seems to matter for so many of them.

    Marriage doesn't have the same meaning in Japan and Western countries. Japanes get married to procreate. The man should work hard and provide for his family's needs, while the mowan should stay at home and care for the children and the house.

    Love isn't important as in the West, and I've been told too many times that the average Japanese woman loses interest in her husband once she has her first child.

    That explains why so many young people still have arranged marriages, not even because their family wants it, but because they want it. That also explains the sponsoring of "enjo kosai", usually by men above 40 whose wife has stopped caring about them. It seems to suit everyone. the wife cares about her offsprings and accepts her partner's infidelity as part and parcel of the male condition , the husband then has sex with young and fresh teen girls, who in return get enough money to buy all they ever dreamed about (brand clothes, cosmetics, oversea travel, etc.). Nobody complains in this society as everybody profits from it and no religious or moral rules prevent this kind of behaviour (we are far from puritanism here...).

    So be careful with international marriages, as Westerners don't have the same vision of life and wouldn't expect for example that a man never sees his children again once divorced.

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    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Maciamo, I couldn't agree with you more on your above post. As a matter of fact, I had a long discussion on this very subject last night. I would love to talk about it more in depth, but will spare myself from the flames that I would surely stir up.

    I have heard many views from both Japanese females and males, and have come to a conclusion which is pretty much what you're saying and pretty politically incorrect with quite a few people--Westerners in particular.

    Maybe we could discuss it sometime.

    By the way, what you're talking about is a pre-nuptial agreement, right?

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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Yes, that's it. My dictionnary tells me that "prenuptial night" is exactly waht I meant. Sorry I am not so good at legal terms in English.

    I am discussing these issues on a French forum about Japan and it seems that lots of people agree that Japanese women change radically once married and even more once they have their first child. Several Western men married to Japanese have confirmed that their wives almost comlpetely lost interest in them once she had had a baby. Most French and Belgian people on the forum also have and want to make (if they are abou to get married) a prenuptial agreement. Unfortunately, it seems not to exist in Japan and we are trying to find a good site with explanation on its validity in Japan (in case it's done at the embassy, without Japanese translation or official recognition from the Japanese government). It's a bit awkward to talk about divorce before getting married for some, but they understand that more than half of international marriages between French and Japanese end up in divorce and as the issue of money and children are both extremely important, better be prepared than suffer after.

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    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Well, I definitely don't blame you for getting one, Maciamo. I know I would in your case.

    One thing to me that says it all are the personal ads in Japan that require men to state what their yearly income is. I think that shows where the priorities are. It's not just us, either. Other groups that I belong to also say the same thing. From this and many other situations I've encountered over 7 years, I no longer have the attitude I once had towards Japanese men--and women as well.
    Last edited by kirei_na_me; Aug 5, 2003 at 21:12.

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    Unhappy misunderstandings - additional info

    I am surprised by some of the misunderstandings here about how the laws of other countries could prevent this. It's abduction people, but legal in Japan. Lots of examples and references to articles here:

    http://www.crcjapan.com

    If you have your own story, please submit it to this site. Or if you have lost contact with your child, you can submit information they might find someday when they search for themselves.

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    Taicho mdchachi's Avatar
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    I have a marriage contract of separation of money with my wife (not sure how you call it ), but I know it is not recognised legally in Japan as it doesn't exist there. How common is this in countries like the States or anywhere else ? The point of the contract is that each spouse is not financially responsible for the other, and cannot inherit from the death of the other (so if one dies, his patrimony goes back to his blood family (parents, siblings, children...), not to the spouse. If one spouse gets indebted, the other liable for him/her. Finally, it also means that bank accounts are separate and that all possesions preceding the mariage would be returned to the original owner in case of divorce. So if the husband already has a house of his own and the wife has a car, if they divorce, the husband keeps his house and the wife keeps her car. There is no divisio 50-50 of the total of possesions.
    As already mentioned, pre-nuptial agreements are quite common in the U.S. though can sometimes be nullified via litigation. For example, if the agreement is created without each party having representation by their own lawyer, there is a good chance it will not be recognized by a court. Or if the divorce is precipitated by one person not participating in the marriage in good faith (like if the divorce was caused by an abusive husband).

    In general, in the U.S. any property/money owned before marriage remain separate -- there is no need for an agreement for this. For assets acquired after marriage, it depends on the type of asset and the state where one resides. Some states are "community property" states where almost everything acquired after marriage becomes jointly owned. For example, one person's salary is considered owned by both. In other states one's own earnings would continue to be separate property.

    Pre-nups are most common for second marriages when people tend to have more complicated situations -- they might own more assets and there are often more complicated issues of inheritance (such as children from previous marriage).

    We also made some agreement before getting married but I don't think it would hold up in court if it came to that.

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