Special Advisor for Children’s Issues to Travel to Japan and the Republic of Korea

Special Advisor for Children’s Issues to Travel to Japan and the Republic of Korea

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 1, 2017

The Special Advisor for Children’s Issues, Suzanne Lawrence, will travel to Tokyo and Seoul from December 4-14.

Special Advisor Lawrence will lead the U.S. delegation in a conference focused on the Hague Abduction Convention in Tokyo, which will provide an opportunity to engage with representatives from countries throughout the Asia Pacific region on the critical issue of international parental child abduction. The Special Advisor will also meet with government officials in both Tokyo and Seoul to discuss intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction issues.

The United States is dedicated to supporting intercountry adoption as a viable option for children in need of permanency, and to preventing and resolving international parental child abduction cases.

For more information about the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues, visit: www.adoption.state.gov and www.travel.state.gov/childabduction

Source:  “Special Advisor on Children’s Issues to travel to Japan and the Republic of Korea”, US Department of State press release, 1 December 2017


Our Leadership

Suzanne Lawrence
Special Advisor for Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs

Ambassador Suzanne Lawrence

Suzanne Lawrence is the Special Advisor for Children’s Issues. Prior to arriving in Washington, she served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece. Ms. Lawrence has also served as a Senior Advisor for the Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Ms. Lawrence is a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor. Previously, she has served as the Director of the Senior Level Division in the Office of Career Development and Assignments in the Bureau of Human Resources, and as Director of the Office of Policy Coordination and Public Affairs for the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Overseas, Ms. Lawrence was the U.S. Country Consular Coordinator for Australia and Deputy Principal Officer and Consular Section Chief at the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney, Australia. Ms. Lawrence also has served overseas in Jerusalem, Dublin and Caracas.

Domestically, Ms. Lawrence has worked as a desk officer in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, as the East Asia and Pacific Division Chief in the Office of Overseas Citizens Services/American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, and as the spokesperson for the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Suzanne holds a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. Her graduate studies include a Master’s degree in international management from the American Graduate School of International Management (“Thunderbird”) and a Master’s degree in strategic studies from the National War College at the National Defense University.

Suzanne is married and has a daughter.

Source:  US Department of State (accessed on 11 December 2017)

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Japan Times: How do you find a missing spouse in Japan?

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How do you find a missing spouse in Japan?

BY 

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

A reader writes: “I live in Japan with my son. His father left us nine years ago. After a couple of months, he contacted me, though he has never contacted us since then. I have never heard any news from him. I tried also to send a letter to his parents with a picture of my son attached, but I received no reply from them. I’m so desperate to know what happened to him and even whether he is still alive or not.”

There are several ways for the reader to find her husband if she consults with a lawyer. The usual way of tracing someone’s address is to ask a lawyer to obtain their family registry (koseki-tohon) or certificate of residence (juuminhyō) from their local municipal office. Attorneys are allowed to obtain someone’s koseki-tohon or juuminhyō without the permission of that person, as long as it is deemed necessary for a case.

If the reader knows the address of where she and her husband used to live or his parents live, a lawyer can trace her husband’s present address by obtaining his koseki-tohon and juuminhyō. However, it is essential that the reader knows the kanji of her husband’s or husband’s parents’ names in order to obtain those documents. Sometimes, the fact that non-Japanese spouses do not know the kanji of their spouse’s name can stop a case moving forward.

To avoid this kind of situation, non-Japanese spouses are advised to copy the koseki-tohon or take a picture of it when they marry a Japanese national.

Once the lawyer has traced her husband’s address, the lawyer can contact and negotiate with him over the terms of the divorce, presuming that is what she wants. If he does not reply to the lawyer, she can sue him for divorce on the grounds of abandonment. If he is not living in Japan, she can still sue him at Japanese family court for divorce on the same grounds.

However, even if the husband’s address can be traced, it may be that the husband no longer lives in that place and neglected to change his address on his juuminhyō, for whatever reason.

In this kind of case, due to the possibility that he might be missing or has passed away, the wife can seek a different remedy through the courts: She can file a petition called an Adjudication of Disappearance arguing that her husband has been missing for more than seven years. If the petition is granted, her husband would be regarded as being deceased from the point seven years after the last communication with her.

Again, it’s important to stress that although the family registry and certificate of residency come in very useful when you want to trace a Japanese person’s address, a foreign spouse must know the exact kanji of their partner’s name.

Otherwise, the case risks being stuck in limbo.

Seiji Yamaura is an attorney with the Foreign nationals and International Service Section at Tokyo Public Law Office, which handles a wide range of cases involving non-Japanese in the Tokyo area (03-5979-2880; www.t-pblo.jp/fiss) FISS lawyers address readers’ queries once a month. Your questions and other comments: lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

 

Source:  “How do you find a missing spouse in Japan?”, The Japan Times, 3 December 2017

Happy 9th Birthday

Happy 9th birthday, son.  Another year has gone by.  I hope that your day is filled with joy.  It is almost impossible to believe that you, a two year old and the threshold of becoming a 3 year old when you were taken from the UK, are now halfway to adulthood.  Time passes very quickly and the older you get the greater appreciation of this you will get.

When I was about your age one of my uncles bought me a digital watch.  This was back in the late 80s and I even remember, although it did not occur to me to do so at the time, that it was a Japanese brand.  Anyway I hope you like the watch I chose for you; I tried to choose the best one I could find.

In the package, I also enclosed a camera device which you can do lots of things with.  I am sure that you can make much better use of it that I would – there are so many things I cannot do on my phone and PC.  Your great Grandma gave me a camera (her own) around the same time as I got the watch so again I thought that this would be a good time to get you something similar.

I hope the package makes it to you today, if it has not already done so – the tracking (see below) seems to suggest that it has been stuck in Kawasaki since Saturday although based on past experience the tracking service is not properly updated in Japan.

Have a good day.  I will post a message again to you soon.

Daddy

Update:  4 December 2017:  The package was delivered at about 5pm local time on your birthday itself, 28 November 2017 (see immediately below):

Birthday 2017 tracking (2)

 

Five years of blogging

Today marks 5 years to the day since this blog was established (itself 1 year to the day after my son was taken).  Prior to events of 6 years ago it had never occurred to me to write a blog.  Probably the best piece of advice that I was given however, by an Irish left behind parent soon after my son was taken, was to set up a blog so that is what I did on 20 November 2012 having by then spent a year apart from my son.  As I wrote at the time, the blog had two objectives:  to re-establish contact with my son and to raise awareness of the issue of international parental child abduction.

In terms of the first of these objectives, I have been unsuccessful.  I have not seen or heard from my son in, now, 6 years.  That is a constant source of sadness and anger, neither of which yields with the effluxion of time.  With each day that goes by and with each Easter, Father’s Day, my own birthday, my son’s birthday and Christmas I have to tell myself that my son is still too young to contact me directly.  I don’t know what his proficiency in English is or even whether if, any internet restrictions at home permitting, it would as yet even occur for him to research the circumstances of his presence in Japan online.  I know not what if anything he has been told about me and how this translates into whether he would if he could contact his father. Although I have some doubts about possibly ever seeing my son again and even were I to not until he is  well into his 20s, I hope that this fear may be misplaced.  I hope that one day he will find and read these frozen in time posts.
In terms of the second objective, I have perhaps been if not successful then certainly helpful. I have been contacted by not only fathers and mothers who have had their children abducted but also by people fearing that their partner might abduct their children.  Providing what guidance I can has I hope made some difference.  In responding to such contacts, it has certainly made me feel that a small amount of good has come out of all this.
When I started blogging, the expectation that Japan would, finally, sign the Hague Convention was reaching fever pitch and, indeed, Japan did accede to the Convention on 1 April 2014. Had my son been abducted 14 months later I could have got him back.  As it is I cannot.  Despite the accession of Japan to the Convention issues of abduction and lack of parental contact remain real and widespread ones in the Japanese legal system so I shall continue to update this blog whenever I can and continue to welcome contact from left behind parents and those fearing that they may become left behind parents.

Message for Hugo – 6 years on…

Hello Hugo
In London it has just turned midnight on 20 November 2017.
We last saw each other at an airport 6 years ago today.  I, of course, don’t expect you to remember – how could I as you were still a toddler.  The date, however, shall remain with me, as your loving father, forever.
The date coincides with two very different anniversaries.  In the UK the Queen and Prince Philip celebrate their wedding anniversary today (their 70th).  November 20 also marks the anniversary of the signing in New York in 1989 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (itself signed on the 30th anniversary of adopting of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1959).  The 1989 Convention came into force the following year and included the following provisions:
A child whose parents reside in different States shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis, save in exceptional circumstances personal relations and direct contacts with both parents. 
Article 10, sub section 2. 
States Parties shall take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad.
Article 11, sub section 1.
These are but two provisions that can be said to relate to us but, as our experience has shown these 6 years, the reality that meets these words is very different.
Earlier this year also saw the passing, on 12 May 2017, of exactly 2,000 days from when I last saw you.
As I did last year, I will leave work early later today to visit the spot at the airport where I last saw you at the time when I last saw you. Also today, as it’s your 9th birthday in 8 days’ time, I will go to the Post Office to send you your birthday package.  I will post here again on your birthday, as I always do, and also later today with a more general update about the blog.
I hope and pray that in a year’s time this will all have changed.  For now, though, please remember that there is not a moment when I am not thinking about you, my beloved and now not so little boy.  May God bless, protect and watch over you this day and all days.
Daddy