You Are Not Alone

As per information provided submitted in Lord Goldsmiths report, there are an estimated 1,400 British children currently parentally abducted to or within Japan. There are an estimated 150,000 children every year in Japan that loose contact with one of their parents. There are an ever growing number of parents speaking out on this issue and campaigning to help Japan change. Many parents going through this have found that seeking out other left behind parents to help understand their own situation has helped them as a coping mechanism.

Our opinions on what to do if your child has been parentally abducted to or within Japan or you have a concern that your child is about to be parentally abducted by their parent to or within Japan.

Our opinions and advice is based on our interpratations and recomendations of the actions of a number of left behind parents who are experiencing losing their children to the child abduction issue in Japan.

Look After Your Mental Health

Of all the cases we have experienced, the one common theme affecting all parent victims of having their child abducted to or within Japan, or experiencing concern that their children are about to be taken, is the sheer amount of mental burden this takes out of you. There will no doubt be days where you experience dark thoughts, depression, a feeling of helplessness, anxiety, panic attacks, a feeling of helplessness for your children, uncontrolable sadness and tears, frustration that nothing is working, governments arent listening to the help you know your children need, the sheer length time it takes for anything in Japan to happen. Staying strong and positive in the fight for your children is one of the most important things you can do. Your firends and family will be extremely important to you during this time.

Remember that you and your health are important to your chid / children. There may be times when continuing your search for your children could drain you financially and emotionally to a point where you can no longer currently contiue or that continuing to do so is causing you harm. At this point it is important for you to perhaps step back until you become well enough to continue again.

A number of parents we have spoken to have had a good experience with the mental health charity Mind. Finding the right people to listen is good help.

Im Concerned My Child May Be Abducted TO or WITHIN JAPAN

My Child Has Been Parentally Abducted TO JAPAN

My Child Has Been Parentally Abducted WITHIN JAPAN

Our Opinions On What To Do Based On Your Situation

Understanding The Situation You & Your Children Are In

Unfortunately, nothing can fully prepare you for this situation. It is important to understand that there is no effective legal solution for you or your children once they have been abducted to or within Japan. The options available are routes through Hague Returns, Hage Visitations, a Mediation process in Japan, this can lead to a process with a Judge resided court decision ("Shinpan"), a High Court and a Court of Appeals. Regardless of whatever outcome you receive in these situations, due to a lack of family law in Japan and enforcement in Japan, the taking parent can simply say "no" to any mediation process and even directly disobey a court order from a Judge regarding visitation and access without any issue. No one will come and arrest the taking parent for not complying.

Going through these process in Japan is a very lengthy process. It is a huge drain on your energy, mental health and finances. A typical mediation process can take a year and at every stage the taking parent can just say "no" to all suggestions. You will feel that nothing is moving quick enough and that you are in a state of agonised limbo. It is important to perpare yourself mentally for this.

Often coupled with child abductions to or within Japan come allegations by the taking parent towards the left behind parent of domestic violence either by the left behind parent to the taking parent or by the left behind parent to the children. This is a stratergy advised by lawyers in Japan towards the taking parent. Be prepared for this event. Document everything. Make notes of interactions so that you have these at hand for if / when

   1. Prepare yourself mentally for a long battle ahead.

   2. Document everything (texts and conversations) with dates and times.

It is helpful to understand parental alienation and what your children will likely be going through as well as understanding the effects that this will have on you. Please visit the links in our Parental Alienation section under our Media page for an overview of the issue.

A book (available also in Audiobook format) to consider is:

Adult Children Of Parental Alienation Syndrome by Dr. Amy J.L Baker

please note we are not affiliated with Amazon we are just providing a link

The British Government currently provides the following help and advice to the above cases.

The British Government currently provides the following help and advice to ALL the above cases.

Updating... we are working on this section to offer the best advice we can. Please visit back soon.

GaijinPot Blog: Divorce with Kids in Japan - Part.1 - Her Mother Kidnapped Her

GaijinPot Blog: Divorce with Kids in Japan - Part.2 - The Stress of No Joint Child Custody

Recommended Reads

Henrik Teton: Kidnapped In Japan - A True Story

(amazon link - note we are not affiliated with amazon, we are just providing a link)

Any action you can take in the UK before your child is abducted to Japan is much more effective than any action you can take after your child has been abducted to Japan. International Charity group Reunite provides in-depth steps to take depending on the severity of and immediancy of abduction threats. In summary, you can apply for:

- Child Arrangement Orders

- Prohibited Steps Orders

- Port Alerts

In our experience talking with left behind British parents applying for these, they are not easy nor quick processes to apply for. In the case of a Prohibited Steps Order for example, cases are presented to a judge on both sides why and why not a Prohibited Steps Order is appropriate. The process will involve laywers. Part of the difficulty is that lawyers are generally unfamiliar with the situation of parental child abductions to Japan and Japan's pattern of non compliance. There is a lot of cost of time, money, effort in the beginning to have a lawyer become familiar with the issue first before even understanding your own case. This then needs to be summarised and explained to the judge granting the Prohibited Steps Order. In many cases the fact that Japan is a signatory to the Hague Convention is often seen as a reson to deny the order. It is often difficult for them to understand the extent of Japan's non compliance with the Hague convention and that there are situations that the Hague Convention does not cover. For example, the Hague Convention on returns is only applicable for the first year your child is abducted. After your child has been abducted for more than a period of one year, you cannot apply for a Hague Convention return order.

Write, telephone and inform the British Embassy in Japan AND British Foreign, Commonwealth & Domestic Office (FCDO) of what has happened. Provide them with an overview of your case and raise the issue with them that you would like your childs / childrens abduction cases recorded in their official statistics. Ask them if they can provide you with any further help for your children other than their advice written on their government website. You could ask them if it is possible for them to call the abducting parent directly as part of their consular responsibilities to check on the health and wellbeing of the child / children. You may have to be polite and persistent in this request. Not every parent we have contacted have recieved this support. Also it may be prudent to ask them to inform the abducting parent that they have been made aware of your child's / childrens's situation and are monitoring the issue.

Within UK Call: 020 7008 5000

Within Japan Call: 03 5211 1100

Keep a record and date of all interactions, messages, emails, texts, letters, photos, videos to and from the parent you are concerned may be taking the child / has taken the child. You will likely need to rely on this to present during any mediation, court, judge, police or official process.

Generally your options will be:

- Mediation in Japan (this will generally last 1 year and consist of a number of monthly sessions).

If mediation fails this generally will lead to the possibility of obtaining the option of a Japanese Court, Judge resided decision (Shinpan). A ruling from the Shinpan may take between 6 months to be heard and recieving a decision).

A Japanese Court Decision (Shinpan) may rule in your favor or against you. You can appeal a Shinpan decision and take the case to the High Court in Japan. An appeal to the High Court may take 6 months to 1 year to recieve a decision.

The above steps are a process and you will generally not be able to go to the High Court without a Shinpan or a Shinpan without going through mediation first.

The above process takes a long time, is costly and is in no way guaranteed of any positive outcome for you or your children. There are success cases within this system, but this generally comes down to the actions and sensibilities of the abducting parent. There is no effective family law in Japan for parental child abduction or enforcement of a court ruling. Even if you recieve a positive judgement, the abducting parent will not be arrested or punished for not complying. A positive outcome in the court system in Japan may be quite hollow. From experiences of the parents we have spoken to, a positive court ruling in Japan may only include court ruled video chats with your children at set times and perhaps ocasional physical visitations. You are very unlikely to recieve a judgement for you and your children that would allow you to both have a meaningful relationship.

Outside of the above options, there are international options available via Hague Application:

It is important to remember that Hague Returns Applications MUST be made within 1 year of your child being abducted. Hague Returns Applications only apply to children 16 or under.

- Hague Return Application

- Hague Visitation Application

(these applications are made to the Central Authority in YOUR home country)

The international charity Reunite also offers some advice on options available