Every Child

Has Two Parents


Grieving Japanese Parents Seek Comfort, Empowerment from Americans by Amy Savoie


Imagine coming home from an errand one day to find your children and spouse have vanished —and this horrifying discovery is only the beginning of the nightmare that will conclude with 1) your eventual divorce and 2) the complete and immediate alienation from your children.

No phone calls, no birthday parties, no taking a trip to the store for an ice cream cone, no parent-child visitation whatsoever. Never. And all without a good-bye hug.

This is a "Japanese divorce,'' where the first parent to the steal the kids wins custody, and the left-behind parent agonizes over his or her last memory of the children. If only I had known that I would never see them again …

This incomprehensible reality, and the lack of any recourse in the Japanese family court system, has been, until recently, Japan's peculiar and hidden secret. While other nations think such a system is bizarre and even barbaric, in Japan it is normal for the left-behind parent to be completely "cut out'' of a child's life following the breakup of a marriage.

This peculiarity stems from the fact that in Japan 1) parental abduction is not considered to be a crime, and 2) only one parent is given custody following a divorce. Since Japanese police do not get involved in family matters, divorces in Japan routinely start with a proactive and strategic abduction of the children and end with the abductor being awarded sole, permanent custody. In other words, the kidnapper is rewarded for his or her audacity.

In most cases, the Japanese mother pre-emptively commits the first kidnapping, but thousands of fathers have likewise wrested custody from mothers in this same bizarre and devastating manner.

Global community is learning truth at last

With the number of international marriages exploding and the number of international divorces rising right along with it, Japanese peculiarities regarding child custody are affecting thousands of parents from countries other than Japan.

Now, international media outlets are accusing Japan of having "very strange'' divorce and child custody laws, and governments from other nations are asking questions. Japan is floundering for answers.

Japanese left-behind parents have now found themselves arm in arm with a team of unexpected allies: huge numbers of vociferous and outraged non-Japanese parents who are victims of the same injustice. Japan's Alice-in-Wonderland parental "kidnapping culture'' has yielded a legion of foreign parents, American and otherwise, who are victims of the same barbaric Japanese laws and the twisted courts that enforce them.

Now talented and motivated multilingual Japanese mothers and fathers are using social media to connect with worldly, multilingual parents from other countries.

Hundreds of tweets, blogs and Facebook messages are being posted hourly — in French, Spanish, English and Japanese — all strategizing to push the Japanese government to change its draconian domestic laws and to allow parental visitation, recognize joint custody as a natural right of the parent and the child, and to put an end to the all-too-common scourge of parental kidnapping of children.

For too long, the pain of the Japanese left-behind parents has been ignored by their government. They were told to get over it. This is Japanese culture. Move on. Forget about your kids.

Now, at long last, these heartbroken mothers and fathers are not only benefiting from the camaraderie and validation of foreign parents who understand their unique plight, they are basking in the sympathy of these foreign parents — sympathy that their own government has never given to them.

Amy J. Savoie is a second-year law student at the Nashville School of Law.

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.

Copyright © 2003-2009                                                                Contact us


Please bear with us while we reconstruct CRN Japan.  You may find links that are broken and data that is not in it’s place.  Please understand we are working to fix all issues.  Thank you for your understanding.

   Search CRN Japan

sponsored by abp world group child recovery and security www.abpworld.com