Recent news of Americans in Japan

10 Oct

First of all, today is the beginning of a three-day-weekend in Japan.
Monday is 「体育の日」 (Sports Day).

Until a few years ago, this holiday was on October 10th (today), and if that day fell on a Saturday (like it is this year), the day off would be “lost”. (If the 10th was a Sunday, it would be observed on the following day, though).

But now the holiday is the second Monday of October…so it’s always a three-day-weekend.
(Click here to read my short FAQ about this holiday).

Anyways, here are few recent Japan-related news items that involve Americans:

  • Japanese Prime Minister Hatoyama sent his congratulations to U.S. President Obama for receiving a Nobel Peace Prize, saying in part that he was pleased by Obama’s call for a nuclear-free world and that it must be difficult for the leader of the nation with the most nuclear weapons in the world to make such a statement.

    Japanese survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also expressed their happiness by Obama’s plan to rid the world of nuclear arms and their support of his Nobel Prize.
    They also reiterated their invitation for him to visit their cities.

  • U.S. President Obama is scheduled to make his first official visit to Japan on (2009) November 12 – 13.
  • An American man was arrested for bringing a handgun into Japan on a flight from America.
    His gun was found by Japanese airport customs officers when he passed through customs at Narita Airport near Tokyo trying to transit to a flight to Thailand.

    It is unclear how he managed to get the gun through U.S. customs at the Dallas / Ft. Worth Airport, where he boarded the plane for Japan.

  • Another American man is in Japanese prison for attempting to kidnap his children from his Japanese ex-wife and bring them back to America.He divorced his Japanese wife in America and the U.S. courts gave him custody of their two young children.

    But his ex-wife (the children’s mother) took the kids to Japan on “holiday” and never returned. So there is an arrest-warrant for her in America…that can only be enforced if she steps foot on U.S. soil again (which is unlikely).
    The Japanese courts, though, granted her full-custody of the children and when their father came to Japan to take the kids back, he was arrested.

    This case shows one of the many differences between American and Japanese culture.
    In America, when parents divorce it is common for both parents to “share” custody.
    But that’s extremely uncommon in Japan. The divorce-rate is still very low in Japan…but it is climbing. And when parents divorce here it is felt that it’s in the children’s best interest to try to keep life as stable as possible by having the father (usually) simply move on and keep out of their lives.

Have you heard about any of these cases? What’s your opinion?

5 Responses to “Recent news of Americans in Japan”

  1. Tsukareru October 14, 2009 at 5:53 pm #

    I saw the kidnapping case on CNN. It’s cruel to keep a child apart from either parent. I feel sorry for the man because he was desperate. He should have tried through some sort of legal means in Japan first. I know that Japan didn’t sign the international child abduction act in the 1980s… Perhaps he felt that he had no other choice?


    • tokyo5 October 15, 2009 at 1:06 am #

      >I saw the kidnapping case on CNN.

      I don’t have the CNN channel.
      But I heard that their reporting of this case wasn’t impartial…they made the Japanese ex-wife and the Japanese legal system look out of touch and generally wrong.

      >It’s cruel to keep a child apart from either parent.

      Yes, it is. But this case isn’t quite so simple.
      In general, Japanese believe that divorce is stressful for all involved…especially children…and it’s best to try to keep their lives as stable as possible—and back and forth between parents doesn’t help them as much as just staying with one parent and keeping life consistent.

      >I feel sorry for the man

      Do you know that it seems he had been living with his Japanese wife in Japan for fourteen years…but he didn’t tell her that he wanted to get divorced and go back to America because he knew that if they got divorced in Japan, she’d be granted custody of the children so that they could stay in Japan (where they were born and raised).
      So he told his Japanese wife that they were gonna move to America suddenly…and then once they got there, he filed for divorce.
      He remarried and was given joint-custody of the children.

      >I know that Japan didn’t sign the international child abduction act in the 1980s…

      Do you know why?
      The Hague Convention on Child Abduction that you’re referring to says, basically, that children should be returned to their last residence if one parents takes them from the other.

      So, in the case of the children in this current case, if Japan had signed that Convention, they would have to be returned to America where they only lived one year.
      The Japanese courts consider Japan those children’s home since they spent almost their whole lives here.

      >Perhaps he felt that he had no other choice?

      I feel bad for the father.
      But on the other hand, how about the mother? It seems that she was lied to so that the father could try to keep the kids in his country.
      If he had talked about wanting a divorce with his ex-wife beforehand, maybe she would’ve been willing to try to work something out with him.


      • Tsukareru October 15, 2009 at 7:53 am #

        Nether nation’s coverage is completely unbiased. That’s plain to see.

        The father’s adultery or whatever is rather irrelevant to whether or not he deserves to see his children or have joint custody.

        The idea of just one parent in a child’s life is terrible! Could you just walk away from your wonderful daughters? Never!

        In the US, the courts strongly favor the mother with regard to custody. The fact that the courts here granted joint custody is deeply surprising to me. This father was lucky to get it, rather than just visitation with his kids.

        Perhaps I’m bias in this case, but not for the nationalistic reasons that you are assuming.

        My parents divorced when I was three years old. My mother ran and hid me away from my father for six years.
        Not only was I deprived of my father, but that entire side of my chromosomes. My older brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc. My father didn’t know where I was or even if I was still alive.

        Now, as an adult I have a wonderful relationship with my father, but I can never get that time back with him or the rest of my family.

        That’s why this news story tugged at my heart.

        In this case, there has to be some agreement that can satisfy to both sides and serve in the best interest of those children. Both parents have acted in a rash and desperate way.
        I sincerely hope that things turn well for their children.


      • tokyo5 October 16, 2009 at 12:46 am #

        >Nether nation’s coverage is completely unbiased.

        Japanese news programs are very different from American ones.
        I think the Japanese news is much more neutral.

        >The father’s adultery or whatever is rather irrelevant to whether or not he deserves to see his children or have joint custody.

        That’s correct…but bringing his wife halfway around the world when he knew he wanted to divorce and abandon her was quite unkind.

        >Could you just walk away from your wonderful daughters?

        Of course not. He and his wife should have discussed their future and not left it up to the courts.

        >I sincerely hope that things turn well for their children.

        Yes, of course that’s best.


  2. tokyo5 October 10, 2009 at 11:56 am #

    I mentioned in this post that U.S. President Obama will visit Tokyo next month…but I forgot to mention a link to a post I wrote earlier about Obama and Japanese PM Hatoyama’s first meeting, in America last month.

    Click here to see it.


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