Every Child

Has Two Parents


Frozen out, frustrated father refuses to give up

By PAUL BAYLIS, Asahi Shimbun News Service

SOURCE: http://www.asahi.com/english/weekend/K2002012700080.html

David Brian Thomas, co-founder of the Children's Rights Council of Japan, seemed well on his way to marital bliss when he tied the knot in 1987. A TV sound technician in London, the Welshman hired a boat on the River Thames for the reception to his marriage to a Japanese former actress.

But things went sour after the couple moved to Japan. According to Thomas, after their son, Graham Hajime, was born in 1990, Thomas' mother-in-law moved into their home in Saitama Prefecture and began to freeze him out, monopolizing time with the child and making Thomas feel unwanted.

Then, in November 1992, his wife and son moved out to live with relatives. To Thomas' surprise, the family lawyer produced a document that said the child had been legally adopted by Thomas' in-laws. Later the courts found the document was forged and overturned the adoption.

After being barred access to the family house, Thomas relied on friends for a place to stay, spending all the money he earned from teaching on legal fees.

``My wife's family tried to negate my existence, but I won't be negated,'' he said.

In 1995, his wife was granted a divorce. Thomas appealed, and the courts overturned that, too. It was an important victory because it meant Thomas still had full access rights to his child. But he has been unable to exercise those rights.

Although he knows where his wife and child live in Urawa, he has not visited for fear of upsetting his son and risking police intervention.

``It hurts but I keep going,'' he said. ``I can't give up.''

Thomas has hired a detective agency, however, to record several hours of videotape of his son playing and going to school. The boy appeared healthy and well-cared for.

In 1996, along with American Walter Benda in the United States who is fighting to gain access to his two daughters in Japan, Thomas co-founded the Children's Rights Council of Japan, the first international chapter of the Washington-based CRC.

The CRC lobbies for ``the rights of children to direct, personal contacts with both parents and both sides of the family on a regular basis.'' Annual membership in the Japan chapter costs 5,000 yen, and members are accepted from all over the world. Thomas has had inquiries from Australia, the United States, Britain, Switzerland and Canada.

Thomas' role is one of explaining where parents stand legally, where to get legal help, and offering moral support. He estimates he has dealt with at least 50 cases, mostly involving international couples. Recently, he has heard from Japanese mothers who have lost children to foreign spouses, and from Japanese denied access by their Japanese partners.

``Some parents break down on the phone,'' he said.

Thomas' CRC work is strictly on a volunteer basis, and he continues to earn a living by teaching. He does not offer services in Japanese, but plans to do so soon.

The most important priority, Thomas now feels, is lobbying politicians to enact laws and establish a system to enforce visitation rights. He and others have begun writing to politicians such as Takako Doi, leader of the Social Democratic Party, and others.

But Thomas acknowledges he up against steep obstacles.

``The Japanese have got to be made aware of the problem,'' he said. ``If Japan wants to progress, they've got to address this issue.''


The information on this website concerns a matter of public interest, and is provided for educational and informational purposes only in order to raise public awareness of issues concerning left-behind parents. Unless otherwise indicated, the writers and translators of this website are not lawyers nor professional translators, so be sure to confirm anything important with your own lawyer.

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