Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Japanese abductees

A long-running story in the Japanese press has been the fate of the 13-16 people who were abducted from Japan to North Korea, apparently to teach Japanese to spies. It's been used repeatedly as a stick to beat the nasty North Koreans with (and of course it is a rather shocking story).

Recently, the USA's might has been enlisted to back up the Japanese outrage, complete with a congressional hearing and photo-op with Bush himself, at which he said:
"It is hard to believe that a country would foster abduction. It's hard for Americans to imagine that a leader of any country would encourage the abduction of a young child. It's a heartless country that would separate loved ones."
However, a quick google on Japan child abduction tells rather a different, but equally shocking, story. The links that come up first do not talk about the handful of Japanese abducted to North Korea...but instead, the much much larger number of children abducted TO Japan, following the breakdown of their parents' relationship. Yes, Japan is internationally renowned as a safe haven for child abduction - refusing to sign up to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, and routinely ignoring and over-ruling any settlements made in a foreign court, irrespective of where the child has been raised. Even the USA itself condemns this behaviour in strong language:
in cases of international parental child abduction, foreign parents are greatly disadvantaged in Japanese courts, both in terms of obtaining the return of children to the United States, and in achieving any kind of enforceable visitation rights in Japan. The Department of State is not aware of any case in which a child taken from the United States by one parent has been ordered returned to the United States by Japanese courts, even when the left-behind parent has a United States custody decree.
The possibility of any mainstream Japanese media commenting on the obvious hypocrisy in this is vanishingly small, of course.