Last week, the American and Japanese press reported that a non-Japanese father had been reunited with his daughter, who had been taken to Japan from the U.S. by his Japanese ex-wife in violation of custody agreements:
The girl’s return also freed her mother from jail in Milwaukee, where she had been held on contempt and interfering with custody charges since her April arrest on a Wisconsin warrant in Hawaii, where she had gone to renew her U.S. permanent resident status.
The exchange and release ended an expensive international legal, diplomatic and cultural struggle, and is believed to be the first time one of more than 300 children kidnapped to Japan has been returned to the U.S. via legal intervention.
“I didn’t think this day would ever come,” said James Sakar, an attorney for Moises Garcia.
Garcia, 39, met his daughter at O’Hare International Airport, where she arrived with her grandmother and Garcia’s Japanese lawyer. Along with Sakar, there were several law enforcement officials, staff of the Japanese Consulate in Chicago, a psychologist, representatives of the U.S. State Department and advocates for other American parents whose children are being held in Japan, where officials have refused to sign a world convention about international child abduction.
“They blinked, I guess,” said Patrick Braden, the founder of Global Future, an advocacy group for parents, and whose own child remains in Japan.
Someone has let me know about a very interesting discussion taking place over at the blog Hoofin to You. In response to a blog post about the news story, Dr. Garcia and Patrick Braden have left several comments. Commander Paul Toland of BACHome and the infamous Christopher Savoie have also become involved in the comment thread. Definitely worth a read, if you want to learn more about the questionable tactics and practices of certain groups that claim to be acting to resolve child abduction cases.
Of particular note is a comment by Dr. Garcia. It is quoted in full below (with some minor formatting changes to make it easier to read).
As the father of the only abducted american children returned from Japan by legal means, I need to reply some of the statements here.
1)- I fully endorse Global Future and its member as a serious organization to help in the work of child abduction in Japan. I disagree with Mr. Toland when he said that both organizations (BACHOME and Bring Sean Home) never attack other parents. In fact, I was banned twice from participating in BSH forum after being publicly attacked by two parents from the BACHOME group. In addition, I had been hijacked in my Facebook account and website and I have to erase all the BACHOME member to protect my privacy. However, the date of my daughter arrival, my comments posted in Facebook where hijacked again. I traced the string as I left only one person on the BACHOME group with access to my account, and there I could find other BACHOME member invading my privacy.
Please also notice that several comments have been posted in different blogs disregarding my case a a “fluke”. There are only less than 20 people that know all the details in my case, therefore I totally disagree with the statement that I was lucky enough that my ex was stupid to travel to Hawaii. At the same token, can we say the same from Mr. Goldman?
Most recently, I have noticed activity from the Bachome group in their website by congratulating me about the case, and most recently an article at the Japan times. In both cases, they tried to attach my image to their group in spite of me sending letter requesting no to use my name or my daughter’s name as I don’t endorse the activity of the group and it is my opinion that this group make more damage than good.
2)- As there are misunderstanding about the dimension of my case, let me give you a background.
I have been sole custodian in US since February 2008. My wife fully participated in the divorce action in Wisconsin who has fully jurisdiction. I was granted permanent custody on June 2009.
As many don’t know, I became sole legal custodian under Japanese law in Septemeber 2009. My US judgment was recognized in Japan by the Osaka High Court and Tokyo Supreme Court. The reason why Karina was not ordered to return was the “Lack of enforcement” (My opinion, this is the main problem in Japan, no the fact that they have a sole custody system). The case was dragged into appeal for nearly 2 years.
I went to fight custody in Japan 9 times. Finally, the Japanese Court agreed with me and issue its final opinion on October 2011. It is true, my wife was in Jail, but the appeal was in place since march 2011. People don’t know that the court could have given custody to the grandparents who could have tried to bargain more with the US Court. Instead the Japanese court reported:
- Sole custody should be kept to me (I never lost custody in Japan)
- For the first time, a Japanese court recognized the existence of Parental Alienation as a form of child abuse.
- For the first time, a Japanese court recognized that bicultural children need more than the Japanese culture as part of their heritage.
Unfortunately, Japanese media and the Japanese government are hidden this information. It seems that groups as Bachome and BSH also want to hide this information by disregarding all my victories in Japanese court and focusing only in the fact of my wife incarceration.
TBS (Tokyo broadcasting System) did an internal survey about the news, and Japanese opinion was in my side as well due to the facts mentioned about.
It is also unfortunate, that US national media were not interested in my news due to the fact that I did not allow them to show Videos of the reunification with my daughter. That is the same media that have covered stories for the BACHOME and BSH group.
Different than in such case, US local media (Wisconsin) was utilized in this case to minimize the exposure on the child.
3)- Role of congress:
I want to make public that I received a call from Congressman Smith the date of the arrival of my daughter to Wisconsin on 12/23. However, I decided no to answer as I knew that my name and my daughter’s name could be utilized for different purpose such as supporting the above groups. I went to Mr. Smith’s office several time during the time of my daughter abduction. the last one when my ex was incarcerated to request his support. Unfortunately, I was told by his chief staff that the office could not be involved in my case as their level of involvement in Japanese case was just to the level of raising awareness among all the congressional offices. When I urged them to act like they did with Mr. Goldman, they refused in spite of several arguments done by my attorney (who was present in the meeting) and other member of Global future. My question is why now that I was successful bringing my daughter from Japan with the help of Wisconsin Law Enforcement, his office is even mentioned in published articles and in the recent article published at Japan times?
If Mr. Smith would have intervened back in June 2011, Karina could have been returned quickly minimizing the severe parental alienation subjected at the end, and the issue could have become much bigger in terms of International Pressure over Japan. What a dream case, a strong case of kidnapping with US jurisdiction and strong legal case in Japan? what a wasted opportunity for all other left behind parents. I remember that Mr. Smith had a hearing on the parental abduction issue at around the time my ex was arrested, and when I called his office to participate in the hearing, I was told that I could not be included!!! But again Mr. Goldman was there together with other BACHOME people.
4)- I am a very fortunate person to have my daughter back at home. I wish the same for all the parents in the same situation independently of our differences. However, it is strategically wrong to assume that Japan will return all the children in block without reviewing the facts on each case, to be successful we have to recognized the following:
- Japan is a sovereign country.
- The US state department and US system is a complex system with integrated laws and regulations that need to be respected. Therefore, demanding the state department to do something outside their function is pointless. We need to work hard in congress to give tools to the US state department and US justice department to function properly in this situation.
- Cases with strong US jurisdiction should be first in the list.
- Cases with DV, lack of child support (dead beat parents, unfit parents (parents on disability) should be discussed individually.
- Lastly, cases with strong Japanese jurisdiction should be included under “Human rights” violation.
If we keep putting all cases in the same basket, it will be very easy for Japan to pick one of the weakest cases and make the strong cases look weaker. They tried this strategy in my case at the Japanese courts and it was quite difficult to eliminate.
I hope this explanation could suffice some of the question that have been formulated here. I agreed with the host that Wisconsin case is an important one, and I am willing to help other parents, but this has to be done with a strategy and no with emotion, otherwise Japan will keep dragging the process longer and we could have lost an important opportunity.
I completely agree with Hoofin, who wrote that, “All people with an interest in this issue, and other issues involving bilateral relations, could gain from thinking about these words.”
In the past, I have blogged about the use of “color balls” as a crime-stopping tool in Japan. The balls, which contain paint that cannot be easily washed off, are throw or shot at suspects who are fleeing the scene of a crime, in the hope that they will be easily identifiable to pursuing police.
We can see its usefulness from this news report about a robbery in Saitama prefecture:
At around 2:15 AM this morning, a man with a knife rushed into a convenience store in the Nishi-Kawaguchi area, demanding money. The store employee handed over the cash, but wasn’t prepared to let the criminal have an easy escape. When the criminal ran out of the store and got on bicycle to flee the scene, the employee grabbed a crime prevention color ball and threw it at him. Most of the paint streaked onto the pavement, but some of it got on the bicycle. Police were later able to spot the paint-smeared bike and arrest the man.
A news report about how a holy rock in Miyagi prefecture is becoming a popular pilgrimage site for students:
The rock, located at the Tsuriishi Shrine in the city of Ishinomaki, has long been known for its ability to withstand earthquakes. This year’s massive earthquake only solidified its reputation. Despite its seemingly vulnerable position, it has not fallen.
Japanese use the same verb for “fall” and “fail,” so students who do not want to fail entrance examinations are visiting the shrine in the hope that they can borrow some of the rock’s power.
Categories: Odd / Strange
Back in October, a Japanese government plan to award 10,000 free plane tickets to foreign tourists was widely reported in the Western media. As I wrote at the time, it had yet not been approved by the government and it was by no means certain that the plan would go forward.
A few days ago, the JTO put an official announcement on its website: the plan will receive no funding, so it’s dead.
The project titled Fly to Japan! (to offer flight tickets to 10,000 foreigners with high potential to communicate Japan’s attractions), which had been covered in a number of media in autumn this year, was not approved as a governmental draft budget of FY 2012.
We express our hearty gratitude to a multitude of people for offering inquiries and messages to support Japan after its coverage.
As the recovery from the earthquake is an ongoing urgent task, Japan has been vigorously working towards its restoration with the support from the world. Almost all of Japan has been back to normal and ready to welcome visitors. We are sincerely looking forward to having you to see Japan with your own eyes.