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The need for a children’s rights network

By on June 8, 2011
As early as 1996 news articles discussing Japan’s “other abductions” began appearing in major publications.

These brought to light the issues faced by non-custodial parents in Japan. Foreign fathers and mothers going through divorce in Japan were being left in a state of shock when their final dissolution was handed down and along with the end of their marriage there was also a total loss of parental rights. Divorcing parents living in Japan were expressing outrage that they were being denied the right to visit their own flesh and blood. At the same time there was also an increasing problem taking place overseas. There was a rapid rise in cases of Japanese citizens living abroad unilaterally deciding it was better for their child(ren) to live in Japan and parentally abducting them from their birthplace.

In many cases the child had no Japanese language ability and some had never even visited Japan. Japan seemed to be a first world nation, but its “family law” was something left over from the 15th century. Japanese law supports a system of only one custodial parent after divorce and joint custody is non-existent.

The Japan Children’s Rights Network website (crnjapan.net) took shape and launched in its initial form in December 2003. Headlines read “Japanese Government sanctions abduction” and “In Japan, possession equals custody.” At the time of its inception there was little to no information regarding international parental abduction to, from or within Japan available to the public.

There were websites, such as AmyKalmus.com discussing the pain left behind parents felt but nothing available to assist them in their fight for reunification, or even assist in locating a missing child.

CRN Japan was created to give parents who found themselves trying to understand Japan’s archaic family laws a place to start. As it says in the opening paragraph found on crnjapan “Our Mission is to disseminate information to help change attitudes and laws in Japan in order to assure all children of direct, meaningful and continuing contact with both parents.” Information on Japanese law translated into foreign language was nearly non-existent and contact with other parents longing for their children was a closely guarded government secret. CRN Japan hoped to fill that void with information and contact as it helped to create a virtual support network for left behind parents with children in Japan.In December 2003, CRN Japan shared the stories of eight children as told by their left behind parent. It also gave abducted children the ability to locate the parent they had been taken from with the “find my parent” section. The CRN discussion group brought minds together to help make real change. Cases first doubled, then tripled, and recently quadrupled as stated by the US Embassy Tokyo in January 2010*. Children and parents have been reunited through the resource that CRN has become. As The Japan Children’s Rights Network nears a decade of page views and its two millionth visitor the content has grown to include over thirty personal stories, and nearly one hundred eighty five members.

Sadly, CRNJapan will continue to grow as long as Japan continues to abduct.

Erik Kalmus is the founder of CRN Japan

About Eric Kalmus