I ‘abducted’ my daughters

Following is a reader’s response to Michael Hassett’s Aug. 26 “Zeit Gist” article on parental abduction to Japan (” Coming out of the shadows.”)

I am always fascinated to read stories on this issue because, in 1994, I “abducted” my two daughters from their Japanese father and brought them to the United States.

He saw them only once before he died of his alcoholism in 1997.

I was fortunate in that neither my husband nor his family attempted to have the children returned to Japan, recognizing that in his illness my husband was unable to care for them.

My in-laws, at least, also recognized that I was driven to this choice only because I was unable to receive any kind of protection from domestic violence while still in Japan (I was told by the authorities that the violence was my fault for having a job and being too independent).

Had they chosen to pursue the matter, I would almost certainly have lost my children permanently; since Japan was our usual place of residence, the United States would have recognized the authority of the Japanese courts to determine the custody case and forced their return.

I think our story demonstrates another argument for re-examining the lack of any provision for joint custody in Japan as well as the bias toward the Japanese parent.

The way I did things was hardly ideal for my children, my late husband or me, and I regret every day that my children and husband lost those final years together. I was simply unable to find any other way to ensure their safety as well as my own, and I hope that the law in Japan recognizes this issue in the future and provides better legal solutions for parents and children.

Kate Chiba

Portland, Ore.