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This forum offers parents the opportunity to voice their own experiences of international parental child abduction, and related issues, and to share useful information with others in a similar situation.

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Living in non Hague Japan

by Thomas / Posted 10/06/2013 / Updated 15/12/2016


I am married and live in Japan with my wife and our two young daughters. Japan is a non Hague country. Itīs also a sole custody country which means in the event of a separation only one parent gets the kids. And that parent is whoever has the kids at the time of separation. Parental abduction within Japan or from another country into Japan is not a crime. It bothers me greatly to live in a country where the childīs right to see both parents is not respected or protected. My marriage is stable and I am not in any immediate danger of losing my kids, but if anything did happen while I was in this country, there is no law or authority that would protect my rights and it would be entirely my wifeīs decision wheather I get to see my kids or not.

There have been afew incidents in the past year, which upset me and caused me a great deal of worry. There were afew thinly veiled threats of divorce from my wife. I realised that my wife is use to getting her own way, and if I ever disagreed strongly with her then she could mention the divorce word or gather up the kids and go to her mothers.
I donīt think this is fair behaviour at all. If we were in Europe than I would feel more equal, but knowing the consequences of what could happen here I stay quiet and avoid any sort of confrontation.

We will go back to Europe to visit my family probably this Christmas. I would like to move back but I know my wife is less keen. I would like to be honest with my wife. The truth is I do want my children to spend part of their life growing up in my country so that they can spend time with their cousins and grandparents etc. I would have no objection to living in Japan if I knew that my wife would respect my kids right to visit my home country and see my family. But I know their are no guarantees here. I know it may seem like I am being pessimistic, but my first priority is protecting my right to see my children. I do not want to become a victim of Japanīs primitive lack of family law. I know no one wants to think about divorce but no one knows what will happen in the future. I want to preserve my marriage and provide for my family. But at least in Europe both parents have rights.
Moving back to live is a sensitive topic and I canīt talk about it with my wife. My mother passed away,our kids are not in school yet. We have nothing tieing us down here. I have been here for 13 years and have only been back once a year for short holidays. I would like to spend a little while longer back home and would hope my wife could understand this. My fear is that once my wife knows my intentions she will not be happy, and when we do return to Japan any future visits back could be in jeopardy. Itīs a difficult situation to be in, because unless Japan radically reforms itīs family law system, any promise my wife makes is worthless and she could easily change her mind. The safest thing for my kids and for my peace of mind is if we stayed in my home country. I would hope my wife would be open to the challenge of living in another country, she speaks good English, has visited many times and my family are very kind. I also know other international couples, so we would have friends and I would do everything I could to ensure that she is happy. Am I being selfish in wanting a different life for my children? They are Irish-Japanese and citizens of both countries. So why canīt we live in my country for awhile.
I donīt know how things will work out, but If things turn messy I would not be comfortable allowing my wife to return here with our kids. I know she would be furious and it could destroy our marriage but I will not take any risk when it comes to my children.



From Lord Protector Al / Posted: 24/07/2013
Your children come first, my friend.
I donīt care how nice your wife is at the moment and it looks like you are mega stressed since you are not free to truly speak your mind.
Well done for beginning to open your eyes to the very real possibilities of what may happen and beginning to read up and inform yourself. I live in Europe and my marriage to a Japanese woman is in tatters. Because I had been fortunate to be advised by a good friend and also by reading up on things, I was able to read the wind and take action as needed to stop my kids being abducted. I had to go to court and fight harder than I have ever fought in my life for anything and won shared custody. Even then things are not out of the woods yet because there is still a lot she can do to undermine me and take the kids away.
I think you need to go back to your home country with your family for a trip and fight your battle from there. Fighting that battle on Japanese soil will ruin you due to the factors you mentioned and more. As much as you can, you need to even the odds in your favour as much as you can. Yes it sounds like a set up but that is where you can ensure that your daughters have access to both parents as opposed to them being denied access to you and you to them.
You are very correct to begin planning because if she can make the veiled threats you have heard, believe me when I say she will carry them out when she is ready. If she has spoken to you in such ways, then I can confidently say that she has done it to other people significant in her life before doing it to you. Think back and I am sure you will agree with me. Keep the planning and research up because this will often be the only thing that saves your daughters from being abducted even if it only prepares you for action. A prepared mind is a great assert to have because you will not take time to struggle with new concepts and new cruelties that can be used against you. I should know because I have benefited from it and my kids are still here in my home country and getting on famously with me.

I wish you and your daughters the very best.
From Thomas / Posted: 30/07/2013

Thank you very much for your reply. I have read a great deal about divorce and post divorce custody issues related to Japan. I have met victims of international abduction to Japan and also several fathers who got divorced in Japan. There is no point fighting in the courts in Japan, as they only serve to uphold the current sole custody system.

I have contacted several lawyers in my home country, however in my case my daughters would be considered habitually resident in Japan. Once back in Europe I can try to convince my wife to stay for afew months or even a year but I canīt prevent my wife from returning to Japan. If there is a messy standoff, then it will be a matter for mediation or the courts to decide. Of course this is what I want to avoid, I will know which way things are going from her reaction. I have to be prepared for any eventuality.

I would hope that the courts would realise the fact that under Japanīs domestic custody laws My childrenīs right to see both parents would not be protected. Japans reputation is terrible, there is stacks of evidence and countless īleft behind parentsī to prove this point.

What amazes me is that they feel entitled to have the kids and I am suppose to just accept it and become a victim? Who willingly would want to be a victim and forfeit their rights to their children, in Japan there are signs that people are starting to wake up. (sadly 2.7 million children here denied contact with one of their parents) however there is still a huge amount of apathy and ignorance.

Is it possible to get in touch with you by email? I know this forum is monitored..I will check this post daily for replies....

Thank you very much and well done on protecting your childrenīs rights to have both parents in their lives.

From Lord Protector / Posted: 19/09/2013
Hello Thomas,

I am sorry for such a late reply. I have not been on here for a few weeks.
Yes we can certainly keep in touch. My email address can be obtained from Reunite. If there are any problems, weīll work something out.
Keep your spirits up, my friend.
From Steve / Posted: 12/12/2013
I have every sympathy with you and your situation. I am British and have a Japanese wife (we married in the UK) with two children who were both born in the UK. Five years ago my wife went back as she felt she could not live in the UK anymore due to a very bad experience she suffered in the hands of out inadequate NHS. I could she was unhappy in the UK so agreed to her going back with the children and then I would investigate the possibility of finding work in Japan.

At first I had regular contact by telephone, e mail and skype and was able to visit as often as I liked. Then after a couple of years I was told it was not convenient for me to visit and to re-arrange a planned trip. Since then each time I ask to visit it is never convenient. Contact has also dwindled and all I get is the occasional opportunity to speak to my eldest around once every 2-3 weeks for about 10 minutes if I am lucky despite me telephoning every week.

My youngest can only speak Japanese so I am not really able to communicate. I continue to support my family financially and do everything I can to keep contact with my children but my wife controls everything. Perhaps my biggest mistake was to trust her when she told me I would always be able to have access to my children whenever I wanted. Perhaps the Japanese are not as honourable as we are led to believe and maybe I was gullable and foolish to trust and believe.Having read this forum and discovered that the Japanese legal system does not seem to support a fathers rights does not fill me with confidence for a future with my children unless my wife allows it.

I do hope things work out for you and your family and your are able to have a normal happy family life and see your children grow and flourish. Do your very best to make it work because being seperated from your children and not having contact rips you apart emotionally and believe me, time is not a healer.I would not wish this living hell on anybody.

Good luck and whatever you decide, always keep your childrens best interests at heart as ultimately they are the innocent ones who suffer the most.
From Thomas / Posted: 21/12/2013
Hello Steve,

Thank you very much for your reply. Your wrote that the original plan was for you to join your wife in Japan. Did you move there? Did things work out? As you know possession equals custody in Japan, it doesnīt matter that your kids are British citizens or have British passports.
As you are supporting your family, are you allowed see your children if you visit? If your wife is depending on you financially than could you use this as a bargaining chip to see your children?

Itīs not a good sign if your wife is saying its not convenient to visit. You should of course be allowed to see your kids anytime you want. I think the best thing you can do is try to keep the line of communication with your wife. And if possible stay on good speaking terms. At least that way you should be able to have some contact.

If you do a google search, there are many fathers whose children have been abducted to Japan and they have no contact whatsoever.

Things are good between me and my wife, my childrens happiness is the most important thing, of course I know that living here I have no rights.. For example my wife is indifferent to my family back home and wonīt even say hello on Skype. This is awkward as in the future I would at least like my kids to be able to visit. There is no use talking, I have tried. No reason is given. Thats the frustrating part, inconsiderate and my feelings obviously donīt matter. Am I just suppose to except this with no explanation given. I try to love my wife, I really do, but itīs hard to love somene when they give you nothing and donīt care about your feelings. My wife is selfish, she lacks empathy, and no reason may be given for certain behaviour or it may not be possible to resolve by talking. I have to live with that. Despite all this, I dont worry and just try to live each day and enjoy every moment with my kids. We do a lot of fun stuff as a family and enjoy our time together.

There is a group on facebook ( abduction to and within Japan) if you visit there are groups of left behind parents who will support you if you visit and can awnser any questions you have.

I agree 100% about keeping your childrenīs best interests at heart, I believe that they need a relationship with both parents. However if we did seperate my wife may not share that sentiment and thatīs the sad thing. I do not want to join the ever growing club of left behind parents. We can go abroad and have a more frank discussion, but if there is a standoff, then what? Japan is not an even playing field, and too many people fall victim. more than anything I love my kids and do not want to see them get hurt.

Thank you very much for your reply. I know Christmas must be hard without your children but I hope you can somehow enjoy the holidays and also that you get too see your children in 2014. Join the above group and keep in touch.
From Tova / Posted: 28/01/2014
My daughter was abducted at the beginning of Dec just days before her 5th birthday. we married and divorce in Texas and had joint custody which he has violated and taken her to his home country India ( non Hague) I have not been allowed to speak to her since Dec 10th the day after her 5th Birthday. Iīm no longer sure where in India he is or how she is and can hardly bear life without her.

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