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Offline M.Capestro

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Congressmen pressure Japan on custody rights
« on: May 06, 2010, 08:49:33 AM »
Congressmen pressure Japan on custody rights
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jZKn4xTuZNNrixZA_KFUQo4wJKhAD9FH0J581
By MATTHEW BARAKAT (AP) 12 hours ago


WASHINGTON Navy Cmdr. Paul Toland hadn't been allowed to see his daughter for more than six years because of a family law system in Japan that draws international criticism. So last year he undertook an act of desperation, flying nearly 7,000 miles to greet his daughter on a Japanese street corner, knowing the surprise meeting would only last a few seconds.

"She didn't run away, but she was probably a little overwhelmed," said Toland, of Bowie, Md., "But at least now she knows that her father exists and that he came half way around the world to bring her her birthday present."

Dozens of fathers say estranged spouses have used Japan as a safe haven after taking a child. On Wednesday, a group of congressmen introduced a resolution calling on Japan to revamp its laws to allow parents to have access and visitation rights to children and to bring its family law system in compliance with international norms.

The State Department estimates that 121 American children are currently living in Japan under such circumstances.

"These American children are in Japan as a result of kidnapping. That's what we have to call it," said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., a lead sponsor of the resolution, at a news conference Wednesday.

Last year, Tennessee resident Christopher Savoie was arrested after going to Japan to reclaim his two children. Savoie was released after about two weeks, and the case against him dropped. But the children remain in Japan.

Japan has refused to sign a 1980 international convention on child abduction. Japanese law allows only one parent to have custody in cases of divorce, almost always the mother. Activists say the court system there is tilted against fathers and foreigners.

The Japanese embassy issued a statement on Wednesday saying it is "aware and sympathetic to the plight of children and families who have been affected by unfortunate child custody issues involving Japanese and American citizens."

The statement says the government is considering joining the 1980 convention. The Japanese government has issued similar statements in the past.

Toland was living with his wife Etsuko and baby daughter Erika in 2003 in Navy family housing in Yokohama. His wife, suffering from depression, moved out and took Erika with her.

Toland pursued custody in the Japanese legal system and says a judge and attorneys laughed at him when he requested weekend visitation.

Toland was denied custoday or visitation even after his wife committed suicide in 2007. Erika is cared for by Toland's mother-in-law.

"Japan's supposed to be an ally. How can another country do this to an ally?" asked Toland.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Offline M.Capestro

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Re: Congressmen pressure Japan on custody rights
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2010, 08:54:38 AM »
Japan Pressured By US Congress On Custody
http://japantherald.blogspot.com/2010/05/japan-pressured-by-us-congress-on.html
By Ron Condon
Thursday, May 6, 2010


One case illustrating the betrayed fathers is that of Cmdr. Paul Toland who has been active with the JTH in emails and Facebook groups for the issue of betrayed dads.

Navy Cmdr. Paul Toland hadn't been allowed to see his daughter for more than six years because of a family law system in Japan that draws international criticism. So last year he undertook an act of desperation, flying nearly 7,000 miles to greet his daughter on a Japanese street corner, knowing the surprise meeting would only last a few seconds.

"She didn't run away, but she was probably a little overwhelmed," said Toland, of Bowie, Md., "But at least now she knows that her father exists and that he came half way around the world to bring her her birthday present."

Dozens of fathers say estranged spouses have used Japan as a safe haven after taking a child. On Wednesday, a group of congressmen introduced a resolution calling on Japan to revamp its laws to allow parents to have access and visitation rights to children and to bring its family law system in compliance with international norms.

The State Department estimates that 121 American children are currently living in Japan under such circumstances.

"These American children are in Japan as a result of kidnapping. That's what we have to call it," said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., a lead sponsor of the resolution, at a news conference Wednesday.

Last year, Tennessee resident Christopher Savoie was arrested after going to Japan to reclaim his two children. Savoie was released after about two weeks, and the case against him dropped. But the children remain in Japan.

Japan has refused to sign a 1980 international convention on child abduction. Japanese law allows only one parent to have custody in cases of divorce, almost always the mother. Activists say the court system there is tilted against fathers and foreigners.

The Japanese embassy issued a statement on Wednesday saying it is "aware and sympathetic to the plight of children and families who have been affected by unfortunate child custody issues involving Japanese and American citizens."

The statement says the government is considering joining the 1980 convention. The Japanese government has issued similar statements in the past.

Toland was living with his wife Etsuko and baby daughter Erika in 2003 in Navy family housing in Yokohama. His wife, suffering from depression, moved out and took Erika with her.

Toland pursued custody in the Japanese legal system and says a judge and attorneys laughed at him when he requested weekend visitation.

Toland was denied custody or visitation even after his wife committed suicide in 2007. Erika is cared for by Toland's mother-in-law.

"Japan's supposed to be an ally. How can another country do this to an ally?" asked Toland.
Now members of the US Congress announced today that plan to pressure Japan to sign the Hague Convention. Members also promising economic pressure if necessary. The members said in a joint statement that they also will monitor Japan's enforcement efforts to assure that the Hague is enforced after Japan adopts the convention that prevents instances Cmdr. Toland and the many other betrayed dads find themselves in.

Posted by Daniel Rea at 2:35 PM 

Offline M.Capestro

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Re: Congressmen pressure Japan on custody rights
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2010, 09:10:07 PM »
U.S. resolution condemns Japan
Lawmakers press for action on child abductions

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100507a3.html
By ERIC JOHNSTON
Staff writer
Friday, May 7, 2010


OSAKA U.S. lawmakers introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives Wednesday that condemns Japan for being an international haven for child abductors.

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, and Rep. Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, the resolution calls on the American government to emphasize to Japan that it is a major bilateral issue that must be resolved by joining the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

"The House condemns the abduction and retention of all minor children being held in Japan away from the United States parents in violation of their human rights and United States and international law. It calls on the government of Japan to immediately facilitate the resolution of all abduction cases, to recognize U.S. court orders governing persons subject to jurisdiction in a U.S. court, and to make immediately possible access and communication for all children for their left-behind parents," the resolution reads.

The resolution, introduced on Children's Day in Japan, still needs approval by Congress. It aims to pressure Japan to account for children being held by a Japanese national against the wishes of an American parent.

Smith warned of possible sanctions against Japan.

In a telephone interview with The Japan Times Thursday morning, Paul Toland, a U.S. Navy commander now living in Maryland whose daughter Erika was taken from their home at a U.S. naval housing facility in Yokohama in 2003 by her now deceased mother, said the resolution shows that Congress is getting behind the issue, although he criticized the State Department for not doing enough to push the issue.

"We're now fighting the apathy of the Japanese government and the U.S. State Department," Toland said.

Christopher Savoie, who was arrested last September in Fukuoka when he tried to reclaim his two children who had been taken there by his ex-wife, said that the real enemy is the Japanese family court system.

Savoie, along with Toland and other parents with abducted children in Japan and their supporters, attended a Capitol Hill rally with Moran and Smith and a candlelight vigil Wednesday in front of the Japanese ambassador's residence.

PHOTO CAPTION: Spousal abduction: Fathers of American children abducted to Japan hold photos of their children Wednesday on Capitol Hill. From left are Randy Collins, William Lake, Michael Elias, Ken Connelly and Douglas Berg. AP PHOTO


Offline wicasa

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Re: Congressmen pressure Japan on custody rights
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