The Modern Tokyo Times

International news and neglected issues

Amidst the suffering of the earthquake; please remember the left-behind parents

Amidst the suffering of the earthquake; please remember the left-behind parents

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 The hidden children of Japan

March 11 was a day which altered many coastal areas in Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and other coastal regions.  Tens of thousands of people have died and so many are still unaccountable but presumed dead.  The tragedy and ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima is also hindering the rescue and restructuring process because parts of Fukushima have come under the nuclear exclusion zone. 

You still have isolated communities whereby the true extent of what happened is still sketchy but the Japanese military, police, fire services, volunteers, and the American military are making inroads. 

Amidst all this pain and suffering you have “a hidden anguish” and this applies to left behind parents, grandparents, other family members, and friends, who have suffered from so many children being kidnapped to Japan. The problem also exists within Japan because of internal flaws within the Japanese legal system, which discriminate against foreign nationals.

Sadly, you now have so much pain, suffering, anguish, and utter disorientation in places like Ishinomaki, Otsuchi, and other places; whereby thousands of people have died in small communities because of the tsunami which swept over these areas.

Also, amidst all this pain and suffering you have news about the bravery of so many people and this certainly applies to the fire brigade in Otsuchi who sacrificed themselves in order to help the entire community.

In my article called the Fire brigade heroes of Otsuchi who died during the tsunami in Iwate I stated that “…..for the fire brigade heroes of Otsuchi they gave everything and sadly some fell while the onrushing force of the tsunami was heading straight towards them.  These brave souls, some who died during the tragedy and others who managed to survive, should be honored and remembered for their love of humanity in the face of an unrelenting force which would soon engulf Otsuchi.” 

I also stated that “…..Fujio Koshida was still sounding the warning bell while the waves were about to engulf him and sweep him away from this world.”

This bravery and love of humanity is clear for all to see and today hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless by the ravages of the earthquake, tsunami and for people in Fukushima because of the nuclear exclusion zone.

Obviously, another bleak reality of this crisis is that many children will be orphaned by this tragedy. 

Yet amidst all this pain and suffering people should also spare a thought for foreign parents, grandparents, other family members, and friends, who now are worrying every day about “the hidden children of Japan” who are being alienated from their roots, culture, religion, and are being completely alienated from their past.

The anguish that Japanese nationals are witnessing on television is all too real.  It is based on utter devastation, children being orphaned, whole communities being destroyed, and old people who feel very vulnerable.

This pain is also being watched by thousands of foreign parents who have lost their children and have had no contact with their children or very sporadic contact because of a legal system which discriminates against them in Japan.

Of course, many of the children who have been kidnapped to Japan or who have been taken away from the foreign spouse in Japan, will not be based in places like Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima or other places which were hit by the earthquake and tsunami.

However, for some parents, then this will not apply and their children will be in these regions or near to.  Also, because of the sporadic nature of contact or no contact over many years; then some of these children may have moved to these parts of Japan because in truth, they have simply “disappeared from the radar.”

The “disappearance from the radar” applies to the alienation of children from the left behind parent because of the Japanese parent who decides, and who is allowed, to break international law when it comes to international court cases. 

Also, the “disappearance from the radar” applies to the internal Japanese legal system which discriminates against the foreign parent during internal legal cases within Japan and even if the Japanese court decides to give certain rights to the foreign parent then the legal system does not have any enforcement powers.  Therefore, the Japanese parent can simply ignore the court order and clearly both the internal and external legal system is being used by the Japanese parent in cases involving mixed marriages because the Hague Convention is not ratified in Japan and the internal legal system does not have the power of enforcement.

The “disappearance from the radar” also applies to biased coverage of this reality and even more painful to say; too many international governments have simply done too little in order to protect their own nationals Therefore, Japan was allowed to flaunt international law because of economic and political factors; or simply because international governments have higher priorities or because they simply do not care enough to help left behind parents.

Getting back to the deadly earthquake and tsunami then it is clear that you have an abundance of love and humanity in Japan.  The brave fire brigade service in Otsuchi who sacrificed themselves will be an event which will have happened in other areas because so many Japanese people have given everything in order to help people who faced either immediate danger or who have lost everything.

At the same time millions of foreign nationals have donated to Japan and many national governments have provided both economic and other forms of support.

The world is getting smaller and mixed marriages will continue to grow and the same applies to international culture spreading far and wide.

Therefore, Japanese political leaders and lawmakers should understand that many international people think highly of Japan because this nation in the past gave so much economic aid to poorer nations and continues to help many nations today.

Given this reality, it is time for Japanese politicians and lawmakers to understand the pain and suffering which is being felt by thousands of international parents who have been left behind and who face so many barriers because of the flawed legal system in Japan.

It is essential that the political hierarchy and lawmakers in Japan should understand that you have an enormous amount of goodwill towards Japan in the international community.  However, this “legal blind spot and political blind spot” when it comes to implementing international law and creating an internal legal system based on equality and enforcement; is creating a negative impression of Japan and the humanity of Japan is being hindered by a legal system which is clearly biased and unjust.

Therefore, please remember “the hidden children of Japan” and the anguish, pain, sense of utter alienation and desperation, of their left behind parents, left behind grandparents, and all other family members and friends who feel such sorrow.

It may not seem appropriate to highlight this issue because at least 20,000 people in Japan have just been killed because of the earthquake and tsunami.  However, the only “small silver lining” during this ongoing tragedy is that nations and people have come together in order to support each other.

It is hoped, even if naively, that Japanese politicians and lawmakers will understand that human rights, dignity and equality are based on humanity.  Therefore, the humanity which is being shown by so many and the humanity of ordinary Japanese nationals during this tragedy is clear for all too see and the same applies to successive Japanese governments providing enormous economic support to poorer nations.

Therefore, it is time to stop this “legal blind spot and political blind spot” and to help “the hidden children of Japan” because recent events are a clear reminder of how families support each other in times of crisis. 

However, for left-behind parents they can do nothing apart from wait and hope and sadly some parents will collapse mentally, others may think about suicide, some grandparents and parents will die naturally, and so forth – it is a real tragedy which can only be understood by people who have suffered so much and continue to suffer every day.

This is simply not good enough and it is hindering the reputation of Japan and I, and the Modern Tokyo Times, and so many other people, desire to create an image of positivity because you have so much goodness in Japan.

The one small positive from the recent tragedy in Japan is that collectively both people and nations can work together during a time of crisis and ethnicity, religion, gender, and so forth, is not important. 

The legal system in Japan should be based on the same and ethnicity and gender should not dictate on who takes the child or children; instead both parents and family members should have rights within the legal system and cultural alienation and parental alienation should not be tolerated.  (Please visit to find out more about child abduction in Japan)   (Please visit to find out more about child abduction in Japan)

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