My novel, Losing Kei, features a foreign woman who, after losing custody/access to her bicultural son, decides to kidnap him. In real life, American Christopher Savoie is in a Japanese jail for kidnapping his children – the children he was granted custody of by an American court, the children his wife brought back to Japan without his consent and wouldn’t allow him to see.
This case has attracted media attention abroad, but not so much here in Japan, where it is not uncommon for custodial parents to deny their exes access to their children. Japanese courts do not grant joint custody, perhaps because they believe shuttling a child from house to house is disruptive. In spite of international pressure, Japan has not signed the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction which seeks to standardize laws among participating countries to insure that custody decisions protect the rights of access of both parents. According to an article in today’s Japan Times, “The government has argued that signing the convention may not protect Japanese women and their husbands from abusive foreign husbands.” To me, this sounds like a lot of bunk. Although abuse is no doubt the cause of some divorces, it’s not the only reason partners break up. And I’m sure it’ s not the only reason that some custodial parents refuse their exes to see their children. How about instituting something called a “restraining order” and allowing the rest of the mothers and fathers to see their children?