Every Child

Has Two Parents

 
 

Success Stories

 

The best definition of success is when a child is able to have "frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with both natural parents, regardless of citizenship, marital status or gender."  But the inadequacies and biases of family law in Japan often prevent this.  This page documents stories where one parent who was being denied access or was afraid of being denied access to his or her child by the Japanese parent, was able to regain or protect their own relationship with the child.  Unfortunately Japanese law sometimes forces this to be at the expense of the Japanese parent's access to the child.  But until these parents, grandparents and relatives suffer, there may be no political incentive for change.  We also document successes in using this website or the Internet in general to locate children abducted by a Japanese parent and left behind parents.

Now that the inadequacies and biases of family law in Japan are becoming well known outside Japan, non-Japanese are using foreign courts to prevent Japanese parents from abducting children to Japan.  This can include restraining orders preventing the Japanese parent from traveling to Japan with their children, requiring supervised visitation by the Japanese parent, denying requests for relocation to Japan by a divorced Japanese parent, imposing large bonds before travel by the Japanese parent, and other such legal restrictions.  We are documenting these types of success cases on our page about Family Law Cases Outside Japan.  The Visitation Precedents page describes actual court rulings on visitation that could be used as precedent, whether or not the parent was actually successful in getting that visitation.

Abducted Child Contacted Parent or Escaped on Own

  1. On August 31, 2006, 15 year old Chris Gulbraa, with assistance from the US State Department, the FBI, and other federal agencies, bravely escaped from his abducting parent in Japan and traveled back to the United States on his own. He is now living with his father.  This case was heavily documented on CRN Japan and other places on the internet as well as in the press.  The father reports that this internet documentation played a significant role in his recovery.

  2. Japanese wife denies visitation, moves out of Japan, but 10 years later, son contacts father.  This case was heavily documented on CRN Japan and other places on the internet. The 17 year old son used information available on the internet to find and contact his left-behind father.  Part of the arrangement between the abducting parent and the left-behind parent to restore contact is an agreement to remove information from the internet.

  3. Two daughters were domestically abducted in Japan and kept from seeing their American father for many years.  This case was heavily documented in the press as well as on CRN Japan and other places on the Internet.  One daughter, in her late teens, has contacted the father.  Part of the arrangement to restore contact is an agreement to remove information from the internet.

Parent Escaped Japan with Child

  1. US military Parent Successfully Avoids Japan Family Law by leaving Japan - Facing a stay behind abduction, a US military father escaped from Japan with his children and found that US judges do always not have to apply the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) to cases from Japan.

  2. Mother and child, abused during pregnancy and after birth by the Japanese father, avoided Japanese family law by leaving Japan.  The mother was granted a divorce in the UK four months later.  When the father filed separately for divorce in Japan, he asked for custody of their child. Yet when the Japanese court also granted a divorce, it upheld the status quo by granting custody to the mother, even though she never showed up and was still living in the UK.

  3. One case in 2005 is known where a mother being severely abused by the Japanese husband and father escaped to the UK in order to avoid losing her residency visa and children.  We have lost contact with her, but have a report that she has been granted custody and is doing well.

  4. In October 2006, a father writes, "Just want to say thanks for the website and good luck to all those struggling with the Japanese legal system. I went through a separation and eventual divorce from my wife in Japan two years ago. Having the website available was a big help and I got both my daughters out of Japan and back to the UK where we're happy and thriving."  We hope to have further details soon.

  5. * After eight years in Japan, a divorcing father, wanting a US court to rule on custody, relocated to Ohio.  The court granted the father emergency temporary custody of child and issued a restraining order preventing the mother from traveling with the child.  The divorce was granted.  The mother was restricted to supervised parenting time, all passports were held by the court, and notifications of the result were sent to the  US State Dept and the Japanese embassy.

  6. * In July 2004, a Japanese mother came to Canada on a visitors visa with her child to escape an abusive Polish husband.  The Canadian judge used the United Nations Convention on Right of the Child treaty to assume jurisdiction, since both Canada and Japan are parties.  The court gave the mother interim custody.

  7. * This divorce started in Japan but jurisdiction changed to the US after the father relocated in order to "escape ... a hostile Japanese legal environment."  Since joint custody is not legal in Japan, the US court granted sole custody of the two sons to the father.  He has removed them from the mother's koseki (Family Registration) so that he can move back to Japan and work.

Recovery / Snatchback / Reverse Abduction

  1. Early 2006 recovery of one of two children.  A Canadian father was able to travel to Japan and recover one of two children soon after the Japanese mother abducted them to Japan.  The key to this dangerous recovery was reportedly 1) understanding before the abduction how grave the situation was based on CRN Japan website and other information, and 2) being prepared and ready to act quickly after the abduction to Japan.  The other child unfortunately remains in Japan.

  2. Steven Riddell 1983 abduction case - The father Peter Riddell, with the help of a cult called The Family, abducted their son Steven from Australia to Japan.  The 22 year old mother Julie traveled to Japan to retrieve her son.  It does not appear that there were any family court sessions prior to her recovery, and its unclear whether the mother knew of the family law problems in Japan. There is various documentation on the site.

Children Returned from Japan

  1. Japanese grandparents abducted their two US citizen grandchildren from the United States as their divorced daughter dies of cancer.  Note that this was not a parental abduction, but a relative without any legal claim to custody at all.  The children were not registered on the abductors' koseki in Japan.  After approximately six months in Japanese court, the children were returned to the father.

CRN Japan Website or Internet Related Results

  1. The whereabouts of Ikumi Sommer, aka Ikumi Yamada, abducted by her mother in 1991 have been reported by several anonymous readers of the CRN Japan website since 2004.  She is a well known "teen model" in Japan.  Thanks to one of these readers, her residence and workplace is now known, and attempts are ongoing to contact her.

  2. In November 2005, after more than three years without contact, Junko Tateno requested that all website and Internet related information concerning her and son Yoshiya.  Yoshiya's webpage was removed, but requests for evidence of her goodwill went unanswered, so the page was restored several months later.

  3. Two daughters were domestically abducted in Japan and kept from seeing their American father for many years.  This case was heavily documented in the press as well as on CRN Japan and other places on the Internet.  One daughter, in her late teens, has contacted the father.  Part of the arrangement to restore contact is an agreement to remove information from the internet.

  4. There have been several requests by abducting parents for information about them to be removed from the CRN Japan website. These were referred to the left behind parent who posted the information.

  5. There have been requests by two lawyers on the CRN Japan lawyers blacklist or watch list to have their information removed. These were referred to the left behind parent who posted the information.

Non-Japanese Awarded Custody of a Child in Japan

  1. Sweden v. Yamaguchi.  In this 1956 case a Japanese nanny named Fumi Yamaguchi (Kaneko) abducted a foreign baby, now named Maryanne Wilson, and there was intense public pressure to let her keep it. The case name is Case of Demand for Delivery of an Infant, No. Wa-154, 1956 Yokohama District Court (Yokohama Kan'i-saiban-sho). The Swedish government brought suit in Japan and was awarded the child, who lived to adulthood in the care of the ambassador.  Its a complex case and a fascinating story, which also illustrates how far back you have to go to find a case of custody awarded to a non-Japanese instead of a Japanese, who in this case was not even a natural parent.

Preventing Japanese Parents From Traveling to Japan With Children

Now that the inadequacies and biases of family law in Japan are becoming well known outside Japan, non-Japanese are using foreign courts to prevent Japanese parents from abducting children to Japan.  This can include restraining orders preventing the Japanese parent from traveling to Japan with their children, requiring supervised visitation by the Japanese parent, denying requests for relocation to Japan by a divorced Japanese parent, imposing large bonds before travel by the Japanese parent, and other such legal restrictions.  The following types of success cases are documented on our page about Family Law Cases Outside Japan.

Description

Number of documented cases

Refusal of relocation request by Japanese parent

1

Court issues travel restraining order preventing Japanese parent resident in a foreign country from taking a child to Japan.

3

Court orders passports of Japanese parent and child resident outside Japan to be held.

2

Court orders bond to be deposited before Japanese parent is allowed to travel to Japan with child.

1 (USD $25,000)

1 (AUD $20,000)

1 (Canada $25,000)

Other

  1. One case is known where the Japanese mother was reportedly so unfit that the Japanese judge was willing to deferred to a US court in order not to have to rule against the Japanese citizen for custody.  This is unusual, since reports of abuse by a parent and psychological instability of a parent are generally ignored in family law court cases.  We have seen documentation that the US court awarded sole custody to the father, but have not seen other details, so cannot verify all claims.

Personal (Non-Court) Negotiation With an Uncooperative Japanese Parent

If you have a case where you successfully negotiated a resolution personally, with an uncooperative Japanese parent out of court, or despite unfavorable court rulings, please send us details and we will add your case here!

  1. We believe we know of three cases which we hope to document here in the future: SH, JH and IP.  Please look back soon.

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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