Parental abduction victims hold rally to push for joint custody rights

The Japan Times

/

Parental abduction victims hold rally to push for joint custody rights

BY

STAFF WRITER

Parents deprived of their children held a rally Friday to push for introducing joint custody to the Japanese legal system and to raise awareness of the plight faced by their offspring when marriages fall apart.

Marching through the Asakusa district in Tokyo’s Taito Ward, about 30 Japanese and foreign participants held up a multilingual banner reading, “Stop Parental Child Abduction!”

Demonstrators also carried signs reading “More visitation time” and “Affection from both parents to children” during the hour-long march on Children’s Day.

It was the first rally organized by Kodomo no Kenri wo Mamoru Bekkyo Oya Forum (Forum for Left-Behind Parents Protecting Children’s Rights) to address the problem of parental child abduction in Japan.

“I want people to know that children have the right to see both of their parents and that parents are responsible for accomplishing that,” said Daisuke Tanaka, the organizer of the event.

Tanaka has been struggling to spend time with his daughter since his wife whisked her away in March 2016. Since then, he has only been allowed to meet her twice a month for three hours at a time, he said.

Other participants told The Japan Times similar stories.

In most cases, a spouse abruptly leaves with the children before filing for divorce or custody rights. Tanaka said child abductions will only continue to fester unless Japan approves the concept of granting joint custody.

“It’s usual for the court to give custody to the parent who lives with the child, and that’s why there are so many cases of abduction. If there’s joint custody, better conversations and negotiations would likely take place,” he said.

Michihiko Sugiyama, a lawyer who participated in the demonstration, said the biggest issue is that Japanese law only allows custody to be awarded to one parent. Once separated from his family, he decided to take part in the rally to share his experience.

The civil code requires parents to decide on visitation and custody arrangements, but research shows people are increasingly forgoing such discussions and heading straight to court mediation. In fiscal 2015, 12,264 cases of mediation involving visitation rights were accepted in family courts nationwide, almost double from 10 years earlier, according to court data.

A group of lawmakers is drafting a bill to help divorced or separated parents see their children more easily, but the issue has yet to gain traction. Some are concerned that parents with a history of domestic violence are too dangerous to be granted visitation rights.

Rally participant Susumu Ishizuka, 48, claimed there must be better awareness of the issue because the current perception is that abandoned parents may have committed domestic abuse.

“People who are against such a bill are linking left-behind parents with domestic violence too easily without sufficient understanding,” said Ishizuka, whose spouse ran off with his 5-year-old child three years ago. Their divorce has not been finalized, but according to the court’s decision, he is only permitted to see his child for two hours every two months.

“I can only meet my child in an appointed place, and I’m not allowed to give them presents. This is far from a parent-child relationship,” he said.

Source:  “Parental child abduction victims hold rally to push for joint custody rights”, The Japan Times, 5 May 2017 

Universal Children’s Day

The irony that Universal Children’s Day falls on the anniversary (yesterday) of my son’s abduction was not lost on me – all the more so as the focus of the day seems from yesterday’s piece in the Telegraph (below) seems to be more on refugee children rather than the many victims of domestic and international family law arrangements.

The Telegraph

What is Universal Children’s Day and why is Google celebrating it with a Doodle?

What is Universal Children’s Day?

Established by the United Nations in 1954, Children’s Day is marked on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare.

The UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on November 20, 1959, and then 30 years later it adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child on that same day.

The convention, which is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty, lays out a number of children’s rights including the “right to life, to health, to education and to play, as well as the right to family life, to be protected from violence, to not be discriminated, and to have their views heard”.

 

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said Universal Children’s Day was “an annual opportunity to recommit ourselves to protecting the rights of every child”.

Google is marking Universal Children's Day with a doodle
Google is marking Universal Children’s Day with a doodle CREDIT: GOOGLE

“These children are the future leaders of their societies. The future engines of their national economies. The future parents and protectors of the next generation.

“When we protect their rights, we are not only preventing their suffering. We are not only safeguarding their lives. We are protecting our common future.”

Best five Google DoodlesPlay!02:46

How is it celebrated?

As well as Google marking the day with a Doodle in its search engines around the world, the UN children’s body, Unicef, launched a short stories week to celebrate the day and to mark the agency’s 70th anniversary.  More than 200 prominent writers penned “tiny stories” – each around seven lines long – to highlight Children’s Day and the challenges many of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged children still face.

“As writers we are able to advocate through the simplicity of storytelling. With this worthy and necessary campaign, we advocate for the protection of the rights of precious children all over the world,” said Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie.

Among the writers is one the world’s youngest published authors – seven-year-old Michelle Nkamankeng from South Africa.

“It is shocking to see that the lives of many children are still so heavily impacted by the horror of conflict, inequality, poverty and discrimination. I hope these Tiny Stories can remind the world that we must sustain our commitment to all of these children whose lives and futures are at stake,” said Paloma Escudero, Unicef spokesperson.

State of the world today for children

In many developed countries, children have never had it so good, with access to education, health care, the internet and much more.

But millions more are facing unprecedented upheaval. More than 50 million children have been uprooted from their homes due to conflict, poverty and climate change while millions more face violence in their communities. According to the UN, around 263 million children do not attend school and last year nearly six million children under five died from mostly preventable diseases.

This picture of a wounded Syrian boy captures just a fragment of the horrors of AleppoPlay!00:40

Children in Syria are living in fear every day. The relentless bombardment forced schools in east Aleppo, many of which already operate from basements because of government attacks, to close on Saturday and Sunday “for the safety of students and teachers, after the barbarous aerial strikes”, according to humanitarian coordinator for Syria Ali al-Za’atari and regional humanitarian coordinator Kevin Kennedy. Staff were forced to evacuate the east’s only children’s hospital because of repeated attacks, removing babies from incubators.

“On this Children’s Day, we must confront the uncomfortable truth that around the world, the rights of millions of children are being violated every day,” Anthony Lake, Unicef Executive Director, said.

Children collect firewood amid the rubble of Aleppo this week
Children collect firewood amid the rubble of Aleppo this week CREDIT: REUTERS

“They’re being violated in eastern Aleppo and other besieged areas across Syria, where children are cut off from food, water, and medical care,” he said, adding their rights were also being violated in Yemen, northeastern Nigeria and South Sudan.

“They’re being violated around the world, in every country, wherever children are the victims of violence, abuse and exploitation,” he said.

How to help

There are many ways to help promote children’s rights and donate money, but one of the most high-profile causes in the UK is Children in Need, which took place on Friday.

This year the live Appeal Show raised a record total of nearly £47 million in a night of tributes to the late Sir Terry Wogan – an impressive rise from last year’s total of £37.1 million.

Announcing the sum, Presenter Rochelle Humes said: “That’s absolutely incredible and I just know how proud Sir Terry would have been.”

Children In Need aims to protect every child in the UK and currently supports 2,400 projects across the nation.

Source:  “What is Universal Children’s Day and why is Google celebrating it with a Doodle?”, Telegraph online, 20 November 2016 

 

End of Summer 2016 message

Hello Hugo

So ends another summer, your 5th in Japan, although yours will last well into September.

I shall send you a package shortly to bridge the gap between Children’s Day in Japan and your birthday in November.  I will post photographs below after doing so, either tomorrow or next week – I still have some items to buy.

It has been an eventful summer.  The UK voted for “Brexit” and this month saw the 2016 summer Olympics take place in Rio; the UK took second place in the medal tally, eclipsing even the London Olympics 4 years back.  That success  has been attributed to the (at the time slightly controversial) launch of the National Lottery in 1994 to provide funding for arts, heritage, sport, community projects etc.

I wrote about the London Olympics here, the day after Tokyo was successful in its bid to host the 2020 event.  I have posted this, this and this in relation to the Tokyo Olympics – no doubt there will be more such posts over the next 4 years.   No doubt, also, that the 2020 Games will be one of the key events in your childhood – I well remember the 1988 and 1992 Olympics and, more vaguely, the 1984 ones, all of which took place when I was a boy.  You were born in 2008, itself an Olympic year.

I have had something of an Olympic year myself work-wise but the less said about that the better.  The weather has been nice in London for the most part these past months, including this incredibly hot day in July.

Although I don’t want to say too much here just now so as not to prejudice anything that may happen, there are some signs that the Foreign Office here is beginning to take your situation more seriously, albeit 5 years on from your removal to Japan.  I pray that something concrete will emerge.

summer-2016-1

summer-2016-2

summer-2016-3-receipts