Every Child

Has Two Parents


Japanese Wife in Germany Decides Joint Custody Allows International Abduction. German Court Disagrees.


My daughter Nina was born in Yamakawa, Japan and had been living in Germany since December of 1996.  Although my wife and I separated in early 1999, Nina was living in Germany and regularly attending German schools.  Then, sometime between the beginning of the German Christmas holiday (after the 22nd of December 2002) and the beginning of the new year 2003, my ex-wife abducted our 7 year old daughter Nina to Osaka Japan  without my agreement or even my knowledge.  Since October 2002 my ex-wife had refused the contact between my daughter and me.

I heard about the abduction for the first time on the 9th of January 2003 from a telephone conversation with my German attorney. He told me that he got a letter from my ex-wife's attorney, which says that my ex-wife and our daughter relocated to Japan. There was a hearing before the German family court on the 23rd of January. I got a decree on the 27th of January that my ex-wife have to bring back our daughter Nina to Düsseldorf Germany.  I will try to enforce the German decree in Japan, but this will take some time and it is still in progress. 

From now, I will try to enforce the German decree in Japan. In the moment maybe my situation is a little bit better, compared to the other people, because I know the place my daughter is staying. Also I have telephone and letter contact, but I notice that my daughter forget her German language skills little by little. For the future, worst case if my daughter will not come back to Germany, I will try go hold contact and next year I will make a travel to Osaka Japan to see my daughter. I know that I'm a important person for my daughter. and my daughter is a important person for me. I will never give up.

I received very little useful advice or support in the process from the Japanese legal system and/or foreign authorities. The most information I got was through the Internet.  Layers in Japan are very expensive. The German consulate in Osaka can only offer little help, saying it's a private thing and you have to go through Japanese legal system.

It is important for the children development to have a relationship to both parents. Abduction and hiding from the other parent will cut a part of the identity of the child and will never be a solution. Both parents have to respect the relationship of the child to the other parent  (A child has the right to have both parents). There is no prevention against child abduction.

  1. July 1995: Shoko Yamakawa comes to Germany

  2. August 1995: Marriage

  3. December 1995: My then wife went to Japan, so that our child will be born in Japan

  4. February 1996: Birth of Nina Born / Yamakawa

  5. November 1996: Shoko and Nina come back to Germany

  6. January 1997: Shoko's father died, so she and Nina went to Japan.

  7. July 1997: Shoko and Nina came back to Germany

  8. February 1999: Separation. Our daughter is living in the mother's household. Visitation right for me to see Nina every second weekend, national holidays and two other weeks of holiday.

  9. August 1999: Nina started to attend German kindergarten.

  10. November 2000: Divorce, both parents having child custody

  11. September 2002: Nina started to attend German elementary school.

  12. End of December 2002: My ex-wife abducted Nina to Japan.

Stefan's story in German is here.

Letters sent to a Japanese lawyer and a foreign lawyer and their responses.  Note that either the Japanese lawyer does not know what he is getting into, or the foreign lawyer is exaggerating his fees.  But since we know that the foreign lawyer has experience in this area (even though he is on our Blacklist) he likely has a better idea of how long this will take.


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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