In Tomohiro Osaki’s April 5 article, “Child abduction agreement too late for many parents,” Miho Watanabe, divorced from an allegedly abusive American husband, is portrayed as the kind of Japanese woman whom the government has always protected in these international child custody situations: A victim of domestic violence by her foreign spouse, she flees to Japan with the children for safety.
Watanabe is said to have suffered a reverse loss when she sent her teenaged daughter to America on a visit in 2005 and the girl was kept there, not to return. I disagree with this portrayal. It might be true, but it is not proven.
What is proven is that Watanabe was the one who illegally fled American legal jurisdiction with her underage child. That was a crime making her the criminal kidnapper, not her former foreign husband.
Watanabe laments, “I was told by the American family I would become a ‘kidnapper’ if I ever tried to bring back my own girl to Japan.” It doesn’t seem to occur to her that that is exactly what she is. She sounds sincerely ignorant of being the wrongdoer in this situation. Saying “my own girl” indicates faulty logic as well. It indicates the view that young children are the physical property of their mothers.
Now Watanabe’s daughter is a legal adult and beyond the age covered by the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, so Watanabe is beyond the help that the convention offers to deprived parents. She doesn’t realize it, but that’s a good thing, because if her daughter was still a minor, she would be subject to the prescribed legal penalties.
I suggest imprisonment for life as an international terrorist for all Japanese parents of minors who illegally secret their children away from divorced foreign spouses.
In these situations, it is overwhelmingly the case that the foreign ex-husbands have been wronged by vengeful Japanese women and they deserve redress. If Japanese mothers who brought their children to Japan as refugees from bad and even dangerous family situations abroad want my sympathy and support, they will have to do more to earn it than this article describes. In almost all cases, the Japanese ex-spouses are the criminal wrongdoers.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.