Every Child

Has Two Parents

Sean and Carl's Story By Carl Hillman       

My five year old son Sean Hillman was abducted to Japan in violation of United States court orders (07-3-01188-2 SEA, King County Superior Court) by his mother, my ex wife, on July 5th 2008.  Since that date I have not been able to see my son or communicate with him in any way.  I have been threatened with Japanese criminal charges by my ex- wife’s attorney Kensuke Ohnuki (CRN JAPAN BLACKLIST) of the Satsuki Law Group, Tokyo if I try to make any contact with my son.

My ex wife Mayumi Ogawa Hillman is a Japanese citizen who resided in the United States for over twelve years, we were married in February of 2000, bought a house, and on March 7th 2003 Sean was born. Sean spent the first few months of his life living in Portland, Oregon where I was working before returning home to Seattle. Sean enjoyed a rich life of family and an extensive network of Japanese-American and American friends. He attended both English and Japanese co-operative pre schools, swimming lessons, gymnastics, enjoyed weekends at his grandparent’s summer cabins, and trips to Japan, Hawaii, and California to visit family and friends.

Sean spent a lot of time in the natural world, often spending evenings and weekends with me at local parks or going sailing in our dinghy around local lakes and waterways. Sean was fascinated with all things mechanical and was very social at the boat launch inquiring as to what type of engine or compass somebody may have on their boat and reminding people that they needed their life jackets.

Sean has two young cousins in Seattle who are especially feeling the impact of Sean’s sudden disappearance.

On July 4th 2008 Sean and I spent a wonderful day outside setting off fireworks prior to the city firework show starting. The next morning we woke up and made waffles as was our Saturday tradition. I dropped Sean off at his mothers house and said goodbye.  Sean was going to Japan for 2 weeks to visit family.  I knew of the possibility that he may not return but the combination of a parenting evaluation that strongly recommended travel be allowed and the fact that his mother had made some concessions and had been required to post a bond in order to travel made this difficult to prevent. The parenting evaluator had been told by two of my witnesses about the likelihood of abduction but that input was largely ignored by the evaluator. On the drive to his mother’s, Sean was excited about starting kindergarten and going to an upcoming air show at McChord air force base near Seattle.

For the first week all was well, Sean made the required calls at the appointed times but then on or around the 10th of July he called and left a phone message at my parents home, addressing my mother as Mary, which he never did, with a strange and strained tone. I guess as soon as I heard that I knew something was wrong, the message he left did not sound like him and had a scripted quality to it. On Friday July 18th around 5:30 pm just as I was finishing up work and getting excited about Sean’s return the next day I received an email from an attorney in Tokyo effectively saying that Mayumi was going to be awarded full custody of Sean, there was nothing I could do about it and that if I wanted to communicate anything it had to be through the attorney or I could be arrested for stalking the next time I visited Japan. Fortunately most of those threats have been proven to be empty.

I immediately contacted my attorney and soon was awarded full custody of Sean due to my ex wife’s custodial interference. Mayumi’s US attorney upon learning what had happened withdrew from representing her immediately and surrendered a bond of $8000.00. This money covered less than a quarter of the expenses incurred to date in dealing with this situation.

During the weeks following Sean’s abduction I spent time filing claims with the State Department, local law enforcement, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and working with a private investigative service to confirm Sean’s location.

I simultaneously began looking for translators, interpreters and an attorney to assist me if required in Japan. I did not want to enter into a custody proceeding there but if I were served with any papers requiring action I wanted to be prepared. An attorney friend of mine who spends a lot of time in Japan referred me to an attorney who specializes in children’s issues, Naoko Kunimasa at Frontier Law Group, Tokyo.  After an interesting teleconference between Naoko and my US attorneys via an interpreter I decided to retain Ms. Kunimasa and her firm for use in having my US court orders acknowledged in the Japanese courts.

During this time, contrary to the threats of my ex wife’s attorney she had not been given full custody, in fact her requests were denied in two separate court hearings. The Japanese courts stated that the jurisdiction for determining Sean’s custody should remain the US County court where our divorce and parenting plan were finalized.

In October I travelled to Tokyo for 4 days to meet with Ms. Kunimasa and confirm the investigators findings with regards to Sean’s whereabouts. I also took some time to meet with staff at the United States Embassy in Tokyo.

I followed up that trip with a second visit in December to deliver final court orders and translations to my Japanese attorney.  At this time Ms. Kunimasa proposed also filing a human rights based protection order against my ex wife to see if the courts would take custody of Sean and turn him over to me. I was apprehensive at first since it is my understanding that there is considerable hearsay allowed in the Japanese court system especially with regards to custody issues, something I did not relish getting into in a foreign court. She assured me that this would not lead to a custody case starting so I filled out an affidavit and powers of attorney.

To date most items that my family and I have sent to Sean have come back “unclaimed” or “rejected”. At Christmas time following our inability to have a State Department Welfare and Whereabouts visit carried out, and lacking a response from the Japanese Foreign Ministry, we enlisted the assistance of the Embassy staff in Tokyo to arrange a present delivery through Mayumi’s lawyer. To date we have had no confirmation that Sean received our small box of presents.

March 7th was Sean’s 6th birthday; we are waiting to see how many of the numerous birthday cards sent to him are returned to sender.

carlos_throttle (at) yahoo (dot) com


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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