Japan’s ambassador to Australia defends youngster custody

I was appalled by Chris Zappone and Eryk Bagshaw’s article, “Japan and Australia Face Off Over Child Abduction” in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday December 15, 2021.

Unfortunately, due to the misrepresentation and misrepresentation of the facts, the article is inflammatory.

I must point out that the article is dishonest if it suggests that Japan is disregarding international standards, including the Hague Convention. I explicitly stated in the interview that children are deported in both directions and that of the four cases in which Japan requested Australia to return deported children through the Hague Convention, none resulted in their return. In the same period, in the case of requests from Australia to Japan through the Hague Convention for the Return of Removed Children, 4 out of 11 requests already resulted in child return.

Japan’s Ambassador to Australia Shingo Yamagami Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

While enforcement of court decisions in custody cases remains a challenge not only in Japan but in every other country as well, Japan has taken concrete steps to improve the effectiveness of enforcement. Since the revision of the relevant laws in April 2020, 80 percent of court decisions to return children to their country of habitual residence have been successfully enforced by the Hague Convention. The article made a conscious choice not to mention these facts.

The deportation of children by the parents also takes place within the national borders, whereby the respective national laws of the respective country apply. It is a stated policy and standard practice in Japan to treat all child abduction cases, regardless of parent’s nationality, fairly and fairly, in order to find a solution that is in the best interests of the child. The article blatantly implies that relevant Japanese laws are biased in favor of the “relocation” of parents and Japanese nationals. In a spirit of fairness, mutual understanding and respect, True Mates recognize that there are differences between our legal systems.

It was sad to read that the article portrayed me as indifferent to the fear of Australian parents having their children removed. I divorced a Japanese spouse and my son was removed from me. I can’t think of anything more painful than not being able to see your child. I know the pain never goes away.

However, I dispute the use of the term “child abduction” in these cases. The word “kidnapping” is used to refer to the North Korean state crime in which innocent Japanese men and women, including a teenage girl, were brutally kidnapped by their loved ones. This should not be associated with the deportation of children by their parents, as painful the experience as I know is for parents and children alike.

Authors should understand that inflammatory rhetoric, confused by half-truths and utterly misinformation, is against the welfare of children suffering from the separation of their parents. What is needed most is hard work and constructive dialogue between all those who share a sincere desire to protect the best interests of the children.

Shingo Yamgami is the Japanese ambassador to Australia

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