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More on parental abductions in Japan


Here is more on the continuing coverage of parental child abductions in Japan. The post below has tidbits of Terry’s article posted at Japan Today. My previous posts on the issue.

Terry Lloyd (Japan, Inc.) writes: “After the U.S. presidential election, the first foreign trip by new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to Japan. Then in a symbolic action within a symbolic trip, Clinton visited with the Japanese families whose children and relatives were abducted by the North Koreans over a 30-year period since the 1970s.

Clinton told reporters, “On a very personal and, you know, human basis, I don’t know that I’ll be meeting as a secretary of state any more than I will be meeting with them as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister.” 

But there was one segment of the population in Japan that felt Clinton’s words were more like daggers than bandages. That segment is the foreign parents of children from international marriages, who have had their children kidnapped by the Japanese parent back to Japan, never to see them again. And while there have been a handful of those North Korean abductees returned to Japan, there has NEVER been a successful return of a mixed nationality child to the foreign parent through diplomacy or court action. Further, U.S. officials say they only know of three cases where mutually agreed returns have occurred. And yet many court actions have been brought against Japanese abductors over the years.

Japan has no concept of joint child custody and that abduction by one parent is not a crime. The judiciary in its wisdom still follows the feudal “Iie system” (house system) whereby it believes that the child should belong to one house only.

Officially, of the 166,000 children involved in divorces in Japan every year, less than 20% of them wind up with the father, and of course in the case of foreign fathers, the number is zero.”

Read the full article here. Follow Japan, Inc. on Twitter.

BTW, here is an interesting comment by hakujinsensei:  “it makes no difference where the child is born or how many passports as long as it is registered in the womans family registry. A woman can start her own registry, but a foreign national may not. He is listed on her registry as a note; married to american national Bob Tom. As soon as they are listed in the that registry, they are property primarily of japan and secondarily of the mother and thirdly of her parents or relatives. Her father is irrelevant. Bottom line, if you marry a japanese national, and you love your children, divorce is NOT an option unless you want to just walk away.”

What’s your take on this?


  1. R. Mullen R. Mullen

    This problem is not new, and it is not limited to foreign born parents.

    A Japanese expatriate would have the same problem, because a Japanese court is highly unlikely to order a Japanese parent to send that child to a foreign country. Is the burden extraordinarily placed on foreign parents of double kids? Certainly, but this is something people need to know about and deal with before they get married. Is it primarily an issue for men? Yes, because that’s how international marriage in Japan tends to be.

    Pre-marital counseling sounds heavy handed, but people need to understand that courts are not going to change their basic policies because parents can’t get along. I’d be interested in hearing whether mediated agreements would be upheld in this case. Any Japanese attorneys out there who know?

    Understand that it would also be shocking for a United States court to force a child born in America to live in another country. They’re not going to do it without a compelling reason. If there exists even one case of a US court, essentially, expelling a citizen child pursuant to a divorce (without extraordinary circumstances), I’d like to hear about it.

    The best thing people can do is be aware of the problem and before it gets to the point of fighting over their children, decide that the kids come first. Mediation can go a LONG way towards alleviating these problems, if both parents are truly looking out for the best interests of their children…and not simply using them as pawns in a battle designed to continue the marriage under the guise of war.

  2. zeus zeus

    well i’m married to a japanese women and i’ve dated many women before. most of you will not agree with what i have to say but it is true and it works, you just have to have faith.

    cheaters! if you want to cheat on your women, you need to let them know because they will find out. i went three-years cheating with many women but i eventually got caught. all the women found out that i was cheating on them but still wanted to be with me.

    i have to say that i am a guy and when i got married i thought my wife was the perfect most beautifulest woman i ever met. but then, every other women i met was more beautiful and as perfect as they come but i hold true to my wife because i know when i married her it was forever.

    now that she found out, i told her about all my affair’s (over 25) but everything is still good. i’m not braggin’ or anything, just saying when you marry someone, even though you have those needs to be with other women, know who is number one and treat her like a god.

    now that i have a daughter, i settled down and me and my wife never fight. if you are respectfull to your wife and fill her heart with love there should be no need for divorce.

    any way ladies, a new women every once in a while can make his love stronger for you and seeing that i didnt have a father when i was little, the last thing i would want is to lose my daughter but if any problem arise i would do anything to be with my daughter.

    marriage is a lifetime thing and if you want a divorce or to hit your wife be prepared to never see your child again

    life in japan is vere difficult especially for young black males, there are many beautiful women. your wife is comfortably in her home but when you take here out that environment you must be ready to teach her to swim or she will drown.

    one should marry for love and have that mindset that its going to be forever. my wife never cheat on me but i must still be ready to have that mind set if she did.

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