James Walker

In April this year, I posted an article here about the case of James Walker, formerly a US servicemen stationed in Japan, and his long-lost daughter, Kim Hashimoto.

Then in May, and in response to the post, I was contacted by Dean Chandler, the person helping organise the social media campaign designed to track down the daughter James last saw when deployed to Vietnam from Japan 46 years ago.  I added the link to James’ daughter’s Facebook page to this blog in response to that contact and, though ill-equipped as I felt to do so, offered what advice I could.

At the end of last week, I was again contacted by Dean with the astonishing news that James’ daughter, now known as Emi McGowan, and living not in Japan but the States, had been found.

Leaving aside what all this must mean to the people involved in this case, three thoughts stand out:

  • The shocking passage of time:  James must have begun to wonder whether he would ever see his daughter again.
  • The equally shocking disclosure that there had been a number of hoaxes.
  • The decisive role played by the internet in bringing about a resolution to the case.

I reproduce below, first, the Facebook news of daughter finding father and, below that, the Stars and Stripes write-up from 20 July 2015:



“Your search is over.. I am found.. i love you Dad heart emoticon” – – – Emi McGowan (Kim Hashimoto), daughter of James Walker, 18/07/2015

46 years later, daughter finds long lost veteran father on facebook

James Walker response, 19/07/2015

“Thank each of you for all the hard work in the search for my daughter, We did not give up and turned over every rock until she was found. 46 years is along time to search but in the end it was worth it all. Just look how many new friends that I have made along the way, The search may be over but our friendship remains forever. We are all over the world and what a team we make. Thanks again to each of you that took your time and joined in our search. I will never forget you. God Bless . ”

46 years later, daughter finds long lost veteran father on facebook

4 decades on, former sailor still searching for lost daughter in Japan – March 2015

Deepest and sincerest thanks for your help and support

Grace & Gratitude,

Dean A Chandler



Stars and Stripes Logo

40 years later, former sailor finds daughter he left behind in Japan

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The words that Navy veteran James Walker had longed to hear for almost 46 years appeared on his Facebook page Saturday.

“Your search is over .. I am found .. i love you Dad,” said the message from a woman claiming to be the daughter he left behind in Japan when he went off to fight in the Vietnam War.

Walker contacted the person who made the post, Emi McGowan of Sarasota, Fla., and then questioned her mother, Tomie Miller of Mesa, Ariz.

“I called her mother, and she told me things that only her mother would know,” he said, noting that he’s been contacted by numerous scam artists claiming to be his daughter since Stars and Stripes ran a story about his search in March.

“You never know if somebody is trying to pull something over on you,” he said.

Now, he’s convinced that his search is over.

Shortly after his daughter’s birth in 1968, Walker got orders to return to the U.S. from Japan. At the time, he was a petty officer third class at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, near Tokyo.

Walker wrote to the girl many times and made other unsuccessful efforts to track her down, including a trip back to their old neighborhood near Atsugi. He credited the Stars and Stripes article, which was translated into Japanese and widely shared on Facebook, with helping him make the breakthrough.

McGowan, who said she has been searching for her father since she was 18, reported that a friend saw the story and sent her the accompanying photo.

“I looked at the baby in the picture and I was looking at myself in the mirror. My face has really not changed,” she said.

The pair’s first phone conversation was emotional, with father and daughter in tears at times.

“She has been trying to find me,” Walker said. “She was doing everything she could but didn’t know how to go about it. The Lord stayed with us, and we kept working.”

They were quickly swapping photographs online. Walker got to see how his daughter had grown into a woman.

Walker was told that, after he left Japan, his girlfriend started dating another sailor and the pair got married. McGowan grew up in U.S. military communities in Japan, California and Hawaii, she said.

When her stepfather was sent to Yokosuka, Japan, she attended elementary school there. After stints in Pennsylvania and Hawaii, she ended up living with her mother in Oceanside, Calif., she said.

“I didn’t know that my first stepfather wasn’t my real dad until I was 9 years old,” McGowan said.

Her search for her father was complicated since she had known only his name, age and a little of what he looked like, she said.

“I never had a picture,” she said. “I knew he had blonde hair and blue eyes and a cleft chin. I have the same cleft chin.”

Walker’s search was likely complicated by her mother’s four marriages and multiple name changes, she said.

McGowan said her life hasn’t been easy. She ran a flower shop and worked other jobs in California but nowadays she’s homeless and living in front of a church in Sarasota.

She said she has three children of her own.

Walker said he and his wife are planning to visit his daughter in Florida this winter.

Source:  “40 years later, former sailor finds daughter he left behind in Japan”, Stars and Stripes, 20 July 2015

Summer 2015 case law round up

There have been two child abduction cases of note in the higher courts over the summer, both concerned, in part at least, with objections by children to the making of return orders under the Hague Convention:

High Court

My print out of the High Court (Family Division) judgment in Re F (Abduction: Acquiescence: Child’s Objection) [2015] EWHC 2045 (Fam) runs to 35 pages. I will try and explain it in a much more concise manner below.

The case was about 4 children aged between 13 and 9. Their parents were separated. Up until December 2014 the children lived with their mother in Australia. With her agreement, the children spent their Australian summer holidays in the UK with their father. They were due to return to Australia on 23 January 2015. They did not; the father pre-empting this by, ahead of this date, informing the mother that they could not be returning to Australia on the basis that they wishes to remain.

It was this, the suggestion that the children did not wish to return to Australia, that was central to the determination of this case as the father accepted that his retention of the children in the UK was wrongful, as defined by the Hague Convention.

Given all of this, the issue for the Court was whether the mother acquiesced to the retention of the children in the UK or whether, failing that, if the children objected in a legal sense to their return to Australia, whether the Court should, in the exercise of its discretion, go behind the raison d’etre of the Hague Convention and not order a return of the children because of that.

The Court quickly rejected the suggestion that the mother had acquiesced in the wrongful retention of the children: see paragraph 99 of the judgment. The reasoning for this, set out at paragraphs 87 to 98 draws heavily on the “power imbalance” between the parents arising out of the father’s prior financial support to the mother and children in Australia. Because the father controlled the purse strings, the Court decided that the mother had no alternative to return to the UK but that her actions in doing so could not be regarded as retrospective consent to the wrongful retention.

Recognizing that the case would turn on the issue of whether the children’s “objection” to return amounted to an objection as a matter of law, the judge met with the children prior to giving judgment: see the judgment at paragraphs 60 to 65. See also paragraphs 77 to 81 for the circumstances in which this may occur.

In terms of the Court’s approach to the objections raised by each child to their return to Australia between paragraphs 108 and 115, the Court concluded that none of the children objected, in a legal sense, to returning to Australia; their preference may have been to remain in the UK for the reasons given by them in the evidence before the Court but this did not amount to an objection. Owing to this finding, the Court did not have to decide whether to exercise the discretion it had as to whether, if valid objections had been shown (which they had not), the return of the children should not take place – despite the fact that the father accepted that a wrongful retention had occurred.

In concluding at paragraph 124, the Court found that the father ought to have adopted the “honourable approach” to making an application to the Australian family court to relocate the children to the UK. He did not and in consequence the Court ordered the summary return of all of the children to Australia.

Court of Appeal

Again, there has been only one case of note in the Court of Appeal this summer, that of Re K (1980 Hague Convention) (Lithuania) [2015] EWCA Civ 720. The case was concerned with Lithuanian parents. The mother was appealing against an initial decision made by a High Court judge to require her 11-year old daughter to return to Lithuania under the Hague Convention. The mother accepted that she had wrongfully retained the child in the UK but argued that a return should not occur because the child objected and because there was a grave risk of physical/psychological harm or that the child, if returned, would be placed in an intolerable situation. The father, who resisted return, accepted that the child objected to returning to Lithuania but that, in the exercise of its discretion in this situation, the judge still ought to have ordered return – as the judge did in the High Court. The High Court judge rejected the argument that the child would be at risk of harm or would be placed in an intolerable situation if returned (paragraph 36 of judgment) and concluded that the child’s objection to return was not “determinative” (paragraph 35).

The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s decision to order the return of the child, rejecting all challenges brought against the original decision, noting that the judge, Hogg J, had “…enormous experience of Hague abduction cases…” (paragraph 39). The Court of Appeal rejected any suggestion that the High Court judge had made up her mind prematurely or approached the evidence selectively (paragraph 42). The Court concluded that the decision made was one that was reasonably open to the original judge (paragraph 45) and that her concerns about the evidence of the CAFCASS officer – the only person to give evidence at the original trial – were open to her also (paragraph 46). Perhaps the point of more general interest is the approach adopted to the suggestion that the child, in objecting to return, was influenced in that regard by the mother. At paragraph 49 the Court of Appeal, remarking on the approach of the initial judge in this regard, said:

It is certainly correct to say that the question of influence weighed heavily in the judge’s mind. She was bound to consider it because it was relevant to the weight that should be put on [the child]’s views, but it was far from being the only thing she considered. Furthermore, the fact that [the child] had been influenced certainly did not lead her to leave [the child’s] views completely out of account. Instead, she weighed them up critically to see where they took her in deciding whether to order a return.

The Court concluded that the original judge’s conclusion that the child should return to Lithuania despite objecting to this course of action was one that was “undoubtedly” open to the original judge (paragraph 51).

The State Department should do more to address international abductions (Washington Post editorial)

The State Department should do more to address international abductions

The Washington Post

August 12, 2015

EVER SINCE his ex-wife wrongly took his son, now 11, to Japan five years ago, Jeffery Morehouse has been fighting for the boy’s return. Mr. Morehouse had been recognized as the sole custodial parent in Washington state, and a Japanese court affirmed that the ruling applies in Japan. Nonetheless, there has been no reunion, no visits, no contact of any sort.

Mr. Morehouse sadly is not alone. Nearly 1,000 children are abducted each year from the United States by a parent and taken to a foreign country; fewer than half of them ever come home. Recognizing the need to help the American parents left behind and bereft, Congress last year gave the State Department more tools to deal with abduction cases by passing the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act. The measure aims to put teeth in U.S. diplomacy by identifying a series of actions — increasing in severity from official protests to suspension of assistance — the State Department may take in bringing abducted children home or getting their cases fairly adjudicated.

A key requirement of the law is that the State Department compile and release an annual report to quantify unresolved cases and identify problem countries. But release of the first report revealed shortcomings in the State Department’s willingness to hold foreign governments to account. Recent hearings held by Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), who sponsored the Goldman act, spotlighted what he called major gaps, even misleading information, in the report.

Countries were listed as having zero pending abduction cases even when there were cases that had been discussed in previous hearings and the State Department was involved with affected parents. Most notable, as Mr. Smith pointed out, was that in the key section of the report Japan was recorded as having no unresolved cases when there are more than 50 outstanding. The State Department gave Japan a pass for signing on last year to the Hague Convention that governs cross-border child custody disputes, not cataloguing the prior cases. That, of course, is of no help to parents such as Mr. Morehouse.

State Department officials acknowledged the report had gaps; it “did not meet all expectations,” said Susan Jacobs, the department’s special adviser for children’s issues. After Mr. Smith conducted two hearings on the matter, the department revised its report, acknowledging the unresolved cases in Japan. But Mr. Smith said the law demands more than scorekeeping. “With more accurate data reported, it is incumbent upon the Administration to make the other critical adjustments,” he said in a statement, “such as naming Japan along with the 22 other ‘non-compliant’ countries that are now subject to a strong response by the State Department.”

These reports are not academic exercises. They provide guidance to family court judges and parents assessing the risk of abduction in a child’s travel, and they inform congressional decisions about foreign assistance. If the State Department fails to call things as they are, it sends a message that nothing really needs to change after all.

Read more about this topic:

The Post’s View: Give parents more tools in international abduction cases

Five myths about missing children

Source:  “The State Department should do more to address international abductions”, The Washington Post (editorial), 12 August 2015

Hiroshima marks 70 years since atomic bomb

Hiroshima marks 70 years since atomic bomb

BBC News

6 August 2015

Residents in the Japanese city of Hiroshima are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the first atomic bomb being dropped by a US aircraft.

A ceremony, attended by PM Shinzo Abe, was held at Hiroshima’s memorial park before thousands of lanterns are released on the city’s Motoyasu river.

The bombing – and a second one on Nagasaki three days later – is credited with bringing to an end World War Two.

But it claimed the lives of at least 140,000 people in the city.

A US B-29 bomber called the Enola Gay dropped the uranium bomb, exploding some 600m (1,800ft) above the city, at around 08:10 on 6 August 1945.

People offer prayers for victims of the atomic bombing in front of a cenotaph at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (06 August 2015)
People offered prayers for victims of the atomic bombing in front of a cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

On that day alone, at least 70,000 people are believed to have been killed. Many more died of horrific injuries caused by radiation poisoning in the days, weeks and months that followed.

People across Japan have observed a minute’s silence to mark the anniversary. In Hiroshima a bell tolled at 08:15 local time – when the US aircraft dropped the bomb that flattened the city centre.

The ‘sanitised narrative’ of Hiroshima’s atomic bombing: The US view the bombing was necessary to end the war ignores a terrible and enduring cost.

Japan revisionists deny WW2 sex slave atrocities: Examining the rise of revisionism and the fraught issue of comfort women.

The tram that survived the Hiroshima bomb

In pictures: The first atomic bomb


Addressing 40,000 people who attended the commemoration ceremony at Hiroshima’s peace park near the epicentre of the 1945 attack, Mr Abe called for worldwide nuclear disarmament.

He said that that atomic bomb not only killed thousands of people in Hiroshima but also caused unspeakable suffering to survivors.

“Today Hiroshima has been revived,” the prime minister said, “and has become a city of culture and prosperity.

“Seventy years on I want to reemphasise the necessity of world peace.”

Doves fly over the Atomic Bomb Dome during the peace memorial ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Peace Park in Hiroshima (06 August 2015)
Doves were released over the Atomic Bomb Dome during the peace memorial ceremony
A man lights an incense stick while others offer prayers for victims of the atomic bombing during World War Two in Hiroshima (06 August 2015)
Incense sticks were burnt in the city on Thursday morning
A man offers a prayer for victims of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima (06 August 2015)
Prayers were said throughout Hiroshima on Thursday
Children stage a die-in in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima
Children staged a die-in in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a speech during the peace memorial ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of the city at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Mr Abe said that as the sole country to face nuclear attack, Japan has a duty to push for nuclear weapons elimination

Mr Abe and Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matusi were joined by US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy for the official ceremony of remembrance on Thursday, which included silent prayers, the release of doves and a declaration of peace.

Mr Matsui described nuclear weapons as an “absolute evil” while urging the world to put an end to them forever.

“To coexist we must abolish the… ultimate inhumanity that is nuclear weapons. Now is the time to start taking action,” he said in his annual speech.

Later in the day, thousands of paper lanterns will be released on the city’s Motoyasu River – symbolising the journey to the afterlife of those who died.

The anniversary comes as divisions in Japan rise over Mr Abe’s bid to pass unpopular legislation to expand the country’s military role worldwide.


The bomb that changed the world

A mushroom cloud over Hiroshima following the explosion of an atomic bomb
  • The bomb was nicknamed “Little Boy” and was thought to have the explosive force of 20,000 tonnes of TNT.
  • Colonel Paul Tibbets, a 30-year-old colonel from Illinois, led the mission to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.
  • The Enola Gay, the plane which dropped the bomb, was named in tribute to Col Tibbets’ mother.
  • The final target was decided less than an hour before the bomb was dropped. The good weather conditions over Hiroshima sealed the city’s fate.
  • On detonation, the temperature in Hiroshima reached 60 million degrees, killing and injuring thousands of people instantly.

Find out what happened in the hours before the bomb was dropped

Was it right to drop the bomb on Hiroshima?

Source:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-33792789

Editorial in yesterday’s Sunday Express

Agony of family splits

Express on Sunday

2 August 2015

News that one child is abducted by a parent and taken abroad from the UK every 12 hours makes for sombre reading.

With the rise of migration, particularly within the EU, more and more Britons are having children with foreign partners.

This has led to a startling increase in children being taken illegally abroad by a parent when the relationships break down.

The agony this causes, particularly when siblings are separated from each other, is truly heartbreaking.

Even support from the courts does not guarantee a resolution.

The police in many countries seems unable or unwilling to carry out the courts’ orders.

As a result, people are increasingly turning to specialists to get their youngsters back.

Just one investigator working for Child Abduction Recovery International claims to have retrieved 100 abducted children from 50 countries.

However,the tactics, which involve laying in wait to snatch the missing son or daughter, are traumatic for everyone.

All governments must work together to ensure that justice is done and the interests of these children are put first.

Source:  “Agony of family splits” (editorial), Express Newspapers, 2 August 2015