Mikiko Otani

I saw the article reproduced below for the first time last night.  The concept of a Japanese lawyer, particularly one such as Ms Otani, being appointed to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child was, to say the least, surprising.

 

The Japan Times

Lawyer from Osaka first Japanese to join U.N. child rights panel

KYODO

Lawyer Mikiko Otani on Thursday became the first Japanese independent expert to be elected to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Otani, 51, and an Ethiopian candidate both garnered 152 votes, the highest among the nine experts elected to the committee.

“I think this is a result of trust in and expectation for Japan, rather than me. I want to try my best to help protect the human rights of children around the world,” she told Kyodo News.

Otani is an expert on international human rights law. She served as an alternate representative of the Japanese delegation to the U.N. General Assembly’s Third Committee on human rights in 2005 and 2006.

A native of Hirakata, Osaka Prefecture, Otani graduated from the Faculty of Law of Tokyo’s Sophia University in 1987. She earned a master’s of international affairs degree at Columbia University in 1999.

The committee, which monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its member states, is comprised of 18 individuals who serve four-year terms. Half of the group’s term will expire next Feb. 28.

Otani and the other eight new members will serve beginning next March through 2021.

Source:  “Lawyer from Osaka first Japanese to join UN child rights panel”, The Japan Times, 1 July 2016

Brexit: David Cameron to quit after UK votes to leave EU

BBC

Results in full

EU Referendum results, counting complete

Leave

Vote share

51.9%
Votes 17,410,742 Votes
Remain

Vote share

48.1%
Votes 16,141,241 Votes
0 results left to declare

 

Brexit: David Cameron to quit after UK votes to leave EU

  • 1 minute ago
  • From the section EU Referendum

Prime Minister David Cameron is to step down by October after the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Mr Cameron made the announcement in a statement outside Downing Street after the final result was announced.

He said he would attempt to “steady the ship” over the coming weeks and months but that “fresh leadership” was needed.

The PM had urged the country to vote Remain, warning of economic and security consequences of an exit, but the UK voted to Leave by 52% to 48%.

England and Wales voted strongly for Brexit, while London, Scotland and Northern Ireland backed staying in.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailed it as the UK’s “independence day” but the Remain camp called it a “catastrophe”.

The pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 as the markets reacted to the results.

Flanked by wife Samantha, Mr Cameron said he had informed the Queen of his decision to remain in place for the short term and to then hand over to a new prime minister by the time of the Conservative conference in October.

It would be for the new prime minister to carry out negotiations with the EU and invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would give the UK two years to negotiate its withdrawal, he said.

“The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected,” said Mr Cameron. “The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.”

The referendum turnout was 71.8% – with more than 30 million people voting – the highest turnout at a UK-wide vote since 1992.

Labour’s Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the Bank of England may have to intervene to shore up the pound, which lost 3% within moments of the first result showing a strong result for Leave in Sunderland and fell as much as 6.5% against the euro.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage – who has campaigned for the past 20 years for Britain to leave the EU – told cheering supporters “this will be a victory for ordinary people, for decent people”.

Mr Farage – who predicted a Remain win at the start of the night after polls suggested that would happen – said it would “go down in history as our independence day”.

He called on Prime Minister David Cameron, who called the referendum but campaigned passionately for a Remain vote, to quit “immediately”.

Maps

Area-by-area in maps: See how people voted

Labour sources also said David Cameron “should seriously consider his position”.

But pro-Leave Conservatives including Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have signed a letter to Mr Cameron urging him to stay on whatever the result.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who called for the UK to remain in the EU but was accused of a lukewarm campaign, said poorer communities were “fed up” with cuts and felt “marginalised by successive governments”.

“Clearly there are some very difficult days ahead,” he said, adding that “there will be job consequences as a result of this decision”.

He said the point he had made during the campaign was that “there were good things” about the EU but also “other things that had not been addressed properly”.

Former Labour Europe Minister Keith Vaz told the BBC the British people had voted with their “emotions” and rejected the advice of experts who had warned about the economic impact of leaving the EU.

He said the EU should call an emergency summit to deal with the aftermath of the vote, which he described as “catastrophic for our country, for the rest of Europe and for the rest of the world”.

Germany’s foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier described the referendum result as as “a sad day for Europe and Great Britain”.

But Leave supporting Tory MP Liam Fox said voters had shown great “courage” by deciding to “change the course of history” for the UK and, he hoped, the rest of Europe.

And he called for a “period of calm, a period of reflection, to let it all sink in and to work through what the actual technicalities are,” insisting that Mr Cameron must stay on as PM.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the EU vote “makes clear that the people of Scotland see their future as part of the European Union” after all 32 local authority areas returned majorities for Remain.


Analysis by Prof John Curtice

Remain campaignersImage copyright PA

London has voted to stay in the EU by around 60% to 40%.

However, no other region of England has voted in favour of remaining.

The referendum has underlined the social and cultural gap between London and provincial England.

Remain’s defeat seems to have been primarily the product of the decisions made by voters living north of the M4.

Throughout the Midlands and the North of England the level of support for Remain was well below what was required for it to win at least 50% of the vote across the UK as a whole.


Britain is set to be the first country to leave the EU since its formation – but the Leave vote does not immediately mean Britain ceases to be a member of the 28-nation bloc.

That process could take a minimum of two years, with Leave campaigners suggesting during the referendum campaign that it should not be completed until 2020 – the date of the next scheduled general election.

Foreign exchange in TokyoImage copyright AP
Image caption Traders in Tokyo monitor exchange rates

The prime minister will have to decide when to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which would give the UK two years to negotiate its withdrawal.

Once Article 50 has been triggered a country can not rejoin without the consent of all member states.

Mr Cameron has previously said he would trigger Article 50 as soon as possible after a Leave vote but Boris Johnson and Michael Gove who led the campaign to get Britain out of the EU have said he should not rush into it.

But they also said they want to make immediate changes before the UK actually leaves the EU, such as curbing the power of EU judges and limiting the free movement of workers, potentially in breach the UK’s treaty obligations.

The government will also have to negotiate its future trading relationship with the EU and fix trade deals with non-EU countries.

In Whitehall and Westminster, there will now begin the massive task of unstitching the UK from more than 40 years of EU law, deciding which directives and regulations to keep, amend or ditch.

The Leave campaign argued during a bitter four-month referendum campaign that the only way Britain could “take back control” of its own affairs would be to leave the EU.

Leave dismissed warnings from economists and international bodies about the economic impact of Brexit as “scaremongering” by a self-serving elite.

Source:  “Brexit: David Cameron to quit after UK votes to leave EU”, BBC News, 24 June 2016

Children as chattel in Japan

One of the first non-English legal words I encountered when reading law was not, as I had expected, Latin but French – chattel.  I had been a bad student of French at school which is why I had not encountered it prior to that.  In law chattel means items within a property other than the property itself.  In Japan it is not just tables and chairs and the like that are seen as chattel but children too – and completely without controversy .  Parents (or in the case of international parental child abduction) a parent can and do control children and make decisions for them – because they see them as belonging to them in the same way as furniture in their home belongs to them.

This post has been prompted by the recent abandonment of Yamato Tanooka by his parents in a remote and mountainous part of Hokkaido.  The same age as my son, he looks a charming little boy though no doubt also one capable of great mischief.  His parents abandoned him at the roadside because he was said to have been throwing stones at passers by and other cars.  As, after being abandoned, he did not encounter anyone for 6 days until he was found sheltering in a military training camp, the suspicion has to be that the behaviour complained of took place some time before the actual abandonment, suggesting that this was not a spur of the moment reaction on the part of the parents.

Most fortunately and despite the parents’ sheer stupidity and the fading hopes of finding the boy safe and well, Yamato was found by an SDF soldier on the 6th day.  My prayers and the prayers of many, many others were answered; the first thing I did in the morning for those days was to check online for the status of the news about him.  The father was deeply apologetic and the indications are that no action is going to be taken against the parents but I am left asking myself how any parent could do this.

I am sure that the father has learnt his lesson because, having been separated from his son for those 6 long days, and this is the point, he would have realised what his life would have been like without Yamato.  I am sure that he will be a much better father to his son now.  He is in a small minority of Japanese who have that awareness of the harm that their selfish actions can cause.  Parents who love their children should have the foresight not to behave so abominably towards them in the first place – whether this means abandoning them by the roadside or denying them access to the other parent, whether that parents is in Japan or abroad.  Children are not chattel to be treated in this way but in Japan children continue to be treated in this way by parents and by a state and judicial system that fails to recognise the concept of joint parenting.  The circumstances of the Yamato Tanooka case are, it goes without saying, exceptional but those circumstances whilst exceptional also prove the rule.

Yamato Tanooka

BBC

Japanese missing boy Yamato Tanooka found alive in Hokkaido

  • 1 hour ago
  • From the section Asia
Yamato Tanooka (undated police handout)Image copyright AFP
Image caption Yamato Tanooka, seen here in an older picture, had not been seen since last Saturday

A boy missing in remote woods in Japan since Saturday after being left alone by his parents as punishment has been found alive and well.

Seven-year-old Yamato Tanooka was found in military barracks near Shikabe in northern Hokkaido, just a few kilometres from where he was left.

His parents initially said he had got lost, but eventually admitted briefly abandoning him for being naughty.

His father has apologised to his son and rescuers, saying,”we went too far”.

How did Yamato survive?

The lost boy and Japan’s parenting debate

“My excessive act forced my son to have a painful time,” Takayuki Tanooka said in an emotional news briefing outside Hakodate hospital, where the boy was taken for checks.

“I deeply apologise to people at his school, people in the rescue operation, and everybody for causing them trouble,” he said.

“I have poured all my love into my son, but from now on, I would want to do more, together with him. I would like to protect him while he grows up. Thank you very much.”

How Yamato survived

Search teams including the Self-Defence Forces (SDF) have been combing the remote area, home to brown bears, for a week.

They had found no trace of Yamato and hopes were fading.

But shortly before 08:00 on Friday morning (23:00 GMT on Thursday) he was found inside a building at the SDF base about 4km (2.5 miles) from where he was left.

Aerial photo of the Shikabe base and surrounding forests in Hokkaido, Japan (3 June 2016)Image copyright AP
Image caption The base was not far from where Yamato went missing, but surrounding by dense woods

“One of our soldiers was preparing for drills this morning and opened the door of a building on the base, and there he was,” an SDF member told NHK.

“When he asked ‘are you Yamato?’ the boy said, ‘Yes’. Then he said he was hungry, so the soldier gave him some water, bread and rice balls.”

NHK said he had told rescuers he “walked through the mountains” until he found the shelter.

He was taken to hospital by a medical helicopter. A doctor later said he was in very good condition, despite only having had water during his six-day ordeal.

The hut where Yamato Tanooka was found at a military base in Hokkaido (3 June 2016)Image copyright AP
Image caption The boy is thought to have sheltered in a military hut since he disappeared
An SDF members shows the mattress where Yamato Tanooka had been sleeping (3 June 2016)Image copyright AP
Image caption Soldiers showed the media that Yamato had found a mattress inside the hut to sleep on

Yamato’s parents initially said he got lost while foraging for vegetables. But they later admitted they had driven off, briefly leaving him alone on a mountain road as a punishment for throwing stones earlier. When they returned to collect him shortly afterwards, he had disappeared, they said.

He was wearing only daytime clothing at the time.

Searchers work through undergrowth in Hokkaido, Japan (2 June 2016)Image copyright Reuters
Image caption They have been scouring the dense forest since the boy went missing on Saturday
A Japanese SDF member on a motorbike in Hokkaido (1 June 2016)Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The SDF said the boy was found only a few kilometres from where he went missing
Media gather outside the hospital where the boy has been taken in Hakodate, Hokkaido (3 June 2016)Image copyright AP
Image caption Though he was reported to be in good health Yamato was taken to hospital for checks

Police have said the parents could face charges for negligence.

The case has gripped Japan, sparking discussions about acceptable levels of discipline for children.

Map