Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
In “Campbell’s Hague plea irks North abductee kin” (May 9, 2012) Mr. Teruaki Masumoto, brother of North Korean abduction victim Rumiko Masumoto, is quoted on the issue of international child abduction saying “parental child abduction is an issue that should be basically resolved between parents.” He was speaking to U.S. East Asian affairs diplomat Kurt Campbell’s comments during a meeting in Washington, D.C. that was about the North Korean abduction issue, not the Hague Convention issue. Mr. Campbell seemed to wrongly connect the two issues on the dubious hinge of the abduction theme. But Mr. Masumoto’s response is shockingly revealing about the gap between the common Japanese conception of the international child abduction problem and the actual intention of the Hague Convention. His devotion to the North Korean issue is understandable, but his understanding of the child abduction issue is wrong.
International child abduction is a crime and it is entirely appropriate to be dealt with (harshly) by the courts - not by the Foreign Ministry (“Foreign minister to handle parental abductions,” January 23, 2012) - and not left to bilateral negotiations between failed marriage partners. It’s a serious case of kidnapping. It’s heinous. It’s an act of international terrorism and I would not mind at all seeing the Japanese parents - usually mothers - treated as capital offenders.
The civilized world has been waiting since the 1980s for Japan to do the right thing. And, in recent years since American father Christopher Savoie failed in his bid to re-claim his stolen children from their criminal mother in Fukuoka (“American held in failed bid to snatch own kids,” October 1, 2009) it looked like Japan’s hand would be forced and the Diet would actually vote on some version of the pact. However, we are still waiting (“Fate of child abductions bill in Diet uncertain,” April 13, 2012), and in the meantime and it is reasonable to expect the Diet to pass a rather toothless law (“Bills could render Hague toothless,” February 8, 2012) that casts a dark shadow over Japan’s sincerity on the issue (“Hague campaigners doubt Japan’s sincerity,” August 9, 2011). Japan is NOT sincere, that’s the whole thing, and if Mr. Masumoto’s idea is representative, as I think it is, then we might say that Japanese just don’t get it.
But I hope I’m wrong.