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An Italian Case-3


English translation  日本語版下です

CORRIERE DELLA SERA | Reports | 20 February 2017



Japan, children taken from their Italian father: "I cannot see them since July"

The Japanese Diet discussed about this case. The Japanese mother moved to a different city and forbids visitation.

And the local law doesn't allow joint custody.


by Elena Tebano


By this time, even the Japanese Diet discussed about his case, still, Antonio (the name is fictional) has not been able to see his children since July, and it's difficult for the situation to change in the near future. The man, an Italian who lives in Tokyo married to a Japanese woman with whom they had two children, has lost all contact with them after his wife moved away to a different city and started to forbid visitation. He cannot do anything because of the Japanese law regarding parental rights and particularly joint custody. "In the past days I even received a letter from the Diplomatic Adviser to the President of the Italian Republic, and I hope that something can change - says Antonio on the phone from Tokyo -. On top of this, the Diet Member Kenta Matsunami discussed my case in the Budget Committee, because it clearly shows the differences of the standards by which Japan treats children with double nationality. From the government, however, I still haven't got any satisfying answer." Antonio's story, that was reported on La Stampa in January, is similar to those of many men (not only western) in Japan: just in 2015, according to the Japan Times, there have been 97 parental requests from divorced parents that had lost (access even though they had) custody, but in just 27 of these it has been awarded. The sentences to return the children to the other parent are often ignored because there are no laws to enforce this (and Habeas Corpus needs to be applied.)


The relocation to Japan

Everything started when Antonio, employee in an IT company in his thirties, decided to move to the Land of the Rising Sun with his wife. Married since 2008, they moved from Germany, where they used to live beforehand and had two children, now 4 and 2 years old. A change of life was what he was looking for: "I really love Japan and can speak Japanese. I received a good job offer, and I knew that my children would have been able to attend very good schools - he says -. Some months after the relocation, however, my wife decided to move to a different city, two hours away from Tokyo where they used to live, saying that in the capital city the waiting list for kindergartens was too high, while in her city they would have been able to be enrolled easily. Things between us were not going so well, but I would have never thought that this was an excuse not to allow me to see them anymore." Initially, Antonio managed to visit them as often as possible: "4 or 5 days a month." Then in September the email from his wife: "She simply informed me that I would never be able to see them again, even if we are still formally married. I have hired some lawyers right-away," he adds.


The Japanese law

Antonio, however, doesn't have much of a legal foothold: Japan applies the "principle of continuity and stability." It establishes that children will remain with the parent they are living at the time of separation. "This basically legalizes child abduction: the parent who wants to leave takes them away, and the other parent cannot do anything" says Antonio. "Foreigners are appealing to the Hague Convention; however in Japan it's often disregarded." To make things even more complicated for Antonio, there's even a claim of domestic violence, which he categorically denies: "This is a trick used by mothers in order to keep the children, because judges don't look for evidence, and thanks to this it's possible to block the rights to access - he says -. In my case, the judge that signed the restraining order even wrote that "considering my attachment to the children, there's the risk that I go to take them back. As if being attached to your own children was a sin!"


The new law

By next year, the government may lead an examination by the Japanese Diet of a law that finally regulates the procedures of custody in cases of separation and divorce. The Minister of Justice Katsutoshi Kaneda requested this in 2016 in a Legislative Council (an advisory body.) This is taking too much time for Antonio, who is waiting to see his children again.


CORRIERE DELLA SERA |レポート| 2017年2月20日(月)






Elena Tebano(テバノ・エレナ)





30代のIT企業の従業員であるアントニオが妻と一緒に日出づる国に転居することを決めたとき、すべてが始まった。 2009年から結婚し、彼らには現在4歳と2歳になるの子どもたち二人がいて以前住んでいたドイツから引越してきた。「私は本当に日本が大好きで、日本語も話せます。いい仕事のオファーもありました。子供たちはとても良い学校に通えるだろうと思ってました。ところが、転居した何か月か後、妻は元々住んでいた東京から2時間飛行機で離れた別の市に引越すことを決めたのです。都内では幼稚園の待機リストがあまりにも多かったのですが、彼女が引越した市では、すんなり入れてもらえそうだったからです。私たちの関係はあまりうまくいっていませんでしたが、まさかこれがもう子どもたちに会えなくなる理由になるなど思ってもいませんでした。」最初のうちは、アントニオはできるだけ頻繁に子供たちに会いに行っていた。「月に4、5回は会いに行きました。」そして9月には妻から電子メールが届いた。「彼女がただ知らせて来たのはこうです。私たちがまだ婚姻中であっても、子どもたちに二度と会えなくなるだろうと。私はすぐに何人かの弁護士を雇いました。」と彼は付け足した。



しかし、アントニオは法的な足がかりをあまり持っていない。日本は「継続性と安定性の原則」を適用している。それは、子どもが別居時に住んでいる親の元に残るという事を確立させてしまう。「これは基本的に児童の拉致を合法化するものです。離婚したい親は子どもを連れて出て行ってしまえば、もう片方の親は何もできません。」とアントニオは述べた。 「外国人はハーグ条約に基づいてこの返還の求める訴えを起こしますが、日本ではよくそれが無視されます。」アントニオにとってはさらに事を複雑にするのは、彼は明確に否定しているが、妻へのDVまでもが主張されていることだ。日本では子どもを得るために母親達がよく使う策略だ。「裁判官が証拠を探すわけではないので、そのおかげで、子どもたちへ接近を阻止することが可能である。私の場合、接近禁止命令に署名した裁判官に、『私の子どもたちへの愛着を考慮すると、子どもたちを取り戻しに行く危険がある。』と書かれました。自分の子どもたちへ愛着を持つことがまるで罪であるかのような書かれようですよ!」




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