Every Child

Has Two Parents


Publié le 18 mai 2011 à 00h00 | Mis à jour à 09h05

Dozens of Canadian children hidden in Japan - ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Original French Version Here - http://www.cyberpresse.ca/actualites/quebec-canada/national/201105/17/01-4400435-des-dizaines-de-petits-canadiens-caches-au-japon.php

Christian Larochelle is devastated. A year ago, the Superior Court authorized his ex-wife to move to Japan with Sophie, daughter of 2 years because that Immigration Canada was in danger of deportation and that his prospects were better there.

Marie-Claude Malboeuf

In the last four years the number of Canadian children, American, French and British kidnapped and hidden in Japan - usually by their mother - has quadrupled. Among fathers in mourning, a 41 year old Montreal resident mourns his 3 year old daughter, of whom he has had no news in 7 months. This problem, which leads to diplomatic tensions worldwide, has already caused at least three suicides last year.

Christian Larochelle is devastated. A year ago, the Superior Court authorized his ex-wife to move to Japan with Sophie, his daughter, because of danger of deportation from Immigration Canada and that her prospects were better there. The judge ruled at the same time that the 41 year old Montreal resident could have custody of his daughter 3 weekends out of 4 if he lived one day in Japan. Meanwhile, the judge ordered that he talk to her four times a week, either by phone or webcam.

Mr. Larochelle feared the worst, the worst happened “The last time I saw my child was in the Montmorency metro station, when she was half asleep,” denounced Larochelle, a truck driver by profession. “My ex has cut off all communication, while I  prepare to bring the decision to an appeal. For seven months, I have had no news. At the moment, Sophie probably couldn’t even understand the French language.”

“It's illegal!” Pina Arcamone denounces, Director of Children's Network. “When a judge allows a parent to move with a child, this does not justify depriving the other parent of  their right to access and contact.”

“In 2011, if you can not come into contact either by computer or telephone, there's something not working.”, added the  family law specialist Alain Roy, professor at the University of Montreal.

Five years ago, the FBI arrested Olympic champion Myriam Bedard, who fled to the United States with her daughter for an indefinite period and did not respond to calls from her ex-husband. She was convicted of international parental child abduction, an offense under the Criminal Code.

The problem is that, unlike the U.S., Japan does not respect the foreign judgments in matters of custody and tolerates parental abduction, even when the father had sole custody of his children. This country is a veritable "black hole", a haven for kidnappers, denounces Bring Abducted Children Home, one of many support groups for parents affected by the inaction of Japan.

In the last four years the number of Canadian, American, French, British, and Australian citizens children taken to Japan by quadrupled, according to American View, a webzine published by the American Embassy in that country. By itself, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs handles 33 cases of abduction and custody involving Japan, which represents almost half of the 77 cases of kidnapping of which he is responsible. France, the UK and the United States, there are two to three times more cases. “I help hundreds of other fathers, who are convinced that the authorities can do nothing for them,” says  Californian Eric Kalmus, founder of the Japan Children’s Rights Network.

“The number of cases has exploded since the advent of the internet. Women that abduct help each other online,” he revealed. “They swap tips on networking site Mixi.jp, Facebook Japanese.”

"A truly disastrous situation"

Last year, three French fathers committed suicide a few months apart. “Me too, I thought,” says Christian Larochelle. “If I did not have a son from my previous marriage, I do not know what I would have done…”.

“When I ride alone at night, when I see the moon, that Sophie loved, I can not accept that I'll never do it again.  I won’t ever bring her to the farm or the candy store, I cant go into a party school anymore.”

In March 2010 the situation was a little less desperate. Ten days after the arrival of his daughter in Tokyo, Larochelle had at least received a brief email. And during the first few months, he managed to talk to her every week.

Last September, he found that Sophie’s comprehension of the French language had suffered greatly, she no longer understood him, nor could he comprehend her. Her mother, contrary to what she had promised the court, had not entered Sophie in a French nursery. Since then there is silence. “I call, I write several times a week, there's nothing else I can do,” he said, brandishing the copies of hundreds of attempts to contact her.

The only consolation, due to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he knew that Sophie was safe after the earthquake and tsunami of  March 11th.

The assistance of the authorities goes, “Prosecutors have other things to do than fight for the phone calls of 15 minutes advance there. I was told to bring a private complaint. But I'm not brave enough to contend with another refusal. When you pay taxes, and respect the rules, it is desperate to feel so helpless.”

“The father is in a really disastrous situation,” confirms Professor Alain Roy. “It would probably do little good to have a criminal trial against a Japanese citizen that cannot be extradited.”

Should Canadian courts be more cautious about Japan? “Since he could not presume the bad faith of the mother, the court failed to investigate whether Japan was a signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of Internal Child Abduction or not,” said Benedict J. Emery, the lawyer representing Christian Larochelle in his case.

Christian Larochelle is convinced that what happened was "written in heaven." “It was good tour: he said.  Without knowing what would have pleased the judge, we had no idea how to fight . At least other will have case law to help in their fights.”


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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