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Possible 3-year prison term for parental kidnapping

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This is a very interesting case considering the drama over the Savoie custody issue. Japanese prosecutors are seeking a three-year prison term for a Chinese man accused of parental kidnapping and keeping his two daughters in China for about 10 years. Does this case reinforce that the Japanese parent wields the power in custody disputes?

“It became clear on Nov. 17 that the Akishima Police Station has arrested Qin Weijie, 55 — a company employee from China with no fixed address — on suspicion of kidnapping his eldest and second daughters from his former wife for the purpose of transferring them to another country and other charges.

Qin allegedly kept his two daughters in China for about 10 years after taking them away from his former wife when they were still in elementary school. A trial was held on Nov. 17 at the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court where prosecutors sought three years in prison for Qin, maintaining that it was a premeditated act that took place while the divorce proceedings were underway. The court ended with the defense team’s request for a suspended sentence, claiming that Qin did not take the daughters away against their will and it was not a vicious act. The court will hand down its decision on Dec. 3.

According to the indictment and other materials, Qin, who was planning to take the two daughters to his mother country of China, approached them near their school in Akishima City on June 8, 1999, saying, “Can you spend the day with me?” and kidnapped them by car. He then allegedly flew from Kansai International Airport to China’s Hong Kong International Airport with them. The two daughters were taken into protective custody when they arrived in Japan to renew their passports in January this year, and Qin was also arrested this past September when he arrived in Japan.

According to the opening statement and other materials, in order to escape from Qin’s violence, his ex-wife moved out of the house with their daughters in 1998. That year she filed for divorce with the Tokyo Family Court’s Hachioji branch. In October 1999, the court’s Hachioji branch made a decision to hand over the two daughters to the ex-wife as their custodian, and the former wife filed a complaint with the Akishima Police Station in April 2004.

In response to questions at the court, Qin said, “I took them to China because I thought the children’s lives would be unstable (under the custody of my former wife),” and, “The children said that they were willing to live in China.””

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, pg. 35 (full), dated November 18, 2009.

By the way, here is what one lawyer in Japan thinks about the parental kidnapping issue when it involves a Japanese woman and a non-Japanese husband.

“A Japanese woman gets married to a foreigner and has a child. However, wife and husband don’t get along and she brings the child with her back to Japan. We, Japanese, react with a mere “Uhm”.

Here stories such as the ‘evil’ husband one day comes back home after work and finds no one at home because she went back to her parents` house are ordinary and don’t become a reason for a divorce lawsuit.

However, abroad this is called ‘child abduction’ and is considered a crime. In particular, in case of Japanese women, there are often cases in which they won’t listen [to their ex-husband], they ignore his letters and don’t even let him know where they live.
[…] For this reason, U.S., U.K. and France are urging Japan to join the Hague convention.

However, here such cases do not apply to International law but to household law and it’s not good to globalize everything in every case. Every country should be free to deal with the matter according to its own culture and it’s not that easy to say without any hesitation whether one should or should not sign the treaty.” Click here for the rest of this story.

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