Fathers of internationally kidnapped children speak on Father's Day.
U.S. Congressman Chris Smith provides an impassioned plea for the return of "Mochi" Atomu Imoto Morehouse and all children kidnapped to Japan by a parent. The video was released at a May 29, 2017 press conference in Tokyo by Jeffery Morehouse and attorney Akira Ueno at the Tokyo Courthouse. (full transcript in Japanese and English follows)
Jeffery Morehouse has been tenaciously and thoughtfully trying to reunite with his kidnapped son, Mochi, since 2010.
As the chairman of the official congressional subcommittee that oversees international human rights, I invited Jeffery to testify before congress to tell his story. I was deeply moved. The love he has for his son is extraordinary—as is the suffering and pain he and Mochi endure as a result of this heartbreaking and illegal separation.
As Jeffery reported to the US Congress in 2015, he has had sole custody in the United States since 2007. This fact was also recognized as legal by the courts in Japan in 2014. Thus, it is shocking that his son has not been returned to him by the Japanese government.
I can't imagine the pain of this kind of separation, and I hear it in his words every time I see him, and that is often. He is a loving father tirelessly trying and working for return of his son.
There have been hundreds of parental abductions from the U.S. to Japan since 1994. Jeffery's case underscores a serious injustice. It is false to claim that it is “in the best interest of the child” to remain in Japan—or anywhere after being kidnapped and taken there. Child abduction is a daily, ongoing form of child abuse.
Japan is a great country with many great people. It is a friend and important ally of the United States. But, no democratic, honorable government should allow this type of criminal act to continue.
In 2011, I traveled to Japan on behalf of many American parents who simply wanted to be reunited with their children. Japanese elected officials and government officials with whom I met, agree that the forced separation is deeply damaging—both for the child and the left behind parent.
Japan as we all know has since signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction—signifying the government’s intention to properly resolving these child abduction cases.
But the Morehouse case, already adjudicated in the courts years ago, continues to raise troubling questions about Japan’s human rights’ record and its commitment to reuniting families.
And so I call on my friends in the Japanese government to please take decisive action in this and other pending international child abduction cases. Please return Mochi to his loving father.
"The Canadian father is far from alone in trying to navigate a seemingly impenetrable and hostile Japanese system sometimes described as a black hole for children."
Tim Terstege, Kris Morness, and Bruce Gherbetti are among the parents who continue to try to reunite with their kidnapped children.
Dear Gunnar and Kianna:
I love you very much and I miss you very much. This week I participate in more events in Washington DC in order to gain access to you. We have been apart for far too long. I wish I knew where you lived. I just don’t know. If I knew your number I would call you right now.
By Paul Toland
“Grandmas hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever.” ~Author Unknown
A few days ago, I watched the film “From the Shadows” about the human rights tragedy of International Parental Child Abduction to Japan. The scene that struck me hardest was watching Kaya Wong’s paternal grandmother attempt to visit Kaya on her way home from school and bring her some presents including a stuffed Panda bear. Kaya’s mother Akemi died from cancer in 2005 and soon after she was abducted by her maternal grandparents, Satoru and Sumiki Yokoyama. Kaya’s father, Paul Wong, has had no access to Kaya since the abduction. Likewise, Kaya’s paternal grandparents have also had no access to her.
I tried to find you during New Year’s in Japan. I have never given up. I just wanted to give you a present, some Legos. They were always your favorite. Maybe I’d get to speak to you or give you a hug.
I walked seventeen miles through the snow and rain, over two days, trying to locate your grandparent’s house. I was hoping you might visit there for the holidays.
By Jeffery Morehouse
On my recent trip to Japan, I met with several of the leaders, activists and groups in movement there to end parental child abduction and create joint custody laws. Their domestic problem is enormous in its volume. I met parents that had some briefly monthly visitation and as extreme as a father who has not seen his children for seven years. He would later assist me as I tried to deliver a present for my son on New Year’s Day.
One of the interesting facets was to see the utilization of Japanese animation characters in doing the public outreach at the event in Gifu, Japan. Frankly at first, I thought it was strange and undercut the seriousness of this human and family rights issue. Then I looked at it through local eyes and saw its brilliance. These characters create an easy entry point to the hearts and minds of children and young women.
We miss you so much and think about you everyday and pray that you are being well taken care of but, we along with your Daddy, want you to come back to your home. There are so many fun things waiting for you here.
Original post: http://4rionandlaurenandjulia.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/rions-9th-birthday/
Rion and her sisters Lauren and Julia were abducted from Vancouver, Canada to Japan September 2009.
Without a Dry Eye
When my kids left for Japan on summer travel
That’s the moment my entire life began to unravel.
She told me they were going to the island nation
but she didn’t tell me it was for a everlasting vacation.
In just a few days it will be Christmas, and soon after that the beginning of a new year. Grandma and myself think of you always. With the advent of the holiday season we wanted you to know how much you are in our daily thoughts and hearts. Time seems to have passed by so quickly since we last held you, talked with you and laughed with you. Your smile, politeness, tender ways and infectious laugh continue to resonate within our souls daily. In just the few years we were able to be present in your daily life, you brought a life long carpet of happiness to ours.
Went to Iwaki again Friday, December 2nd.
Upon arriving at the Suzuki family home I discovered it to be very quiet. I heard a television on in a side room and upon knocking and investigation it turned out that my father-in-law was there sleeping. It seems that my middle daughter Lauren had returned from school and was upstairs either playing very quietly or (more likely) having a nap. Suzuki Akiyoshi (her grandfather) upon waking him had no idea that she was even there. What is wrong with these people that a six year old is left to fend for herself in the company of an ill old man who is unaware of her presence. Children walk the streets alone here in Japan. They are raised by schools and ostensibly must raise themselves much of the time. My father-in-law had no idea where his wife was, no clue where my eldest daughter Rion was, no information at all. Unbelievable and sad.
This was sent to me by my daughter Rion (via her mother) when Rion was 5 years old. Every summer from 2005-2009, Taiko and the girls would go to Japan for 5 weeks to visit their Japanese family while I remained home working. These summer visits were hard for me because I missed my daughters so much when they were gone, but I felt it was important that they know their Japanese heritage and visit with their Japanese family. I would speak to them every day while they were away. Sometimes I would receive emails like this one:
Another birthday approaches. I thought you would be home by now, but you are not. You are still missing.
In your room, I see your toys. They call to me. The Lego’s you love so much, waiting for you to bring them to life again. The books I read to you and you had just started to read to me, before your mother kidnapped you from the only world you had known.
Since my children were abducted to Japan two years ago, I have learned to live with a new normal. Very few things in my life are the same now that I don't have access to my children. I went from playing with Gunnar and Kianna or teaching them about life, to wondering how they are doing without a loving father in their life. Virtually no aspect of my daily life is the same anymore, nor do I expect it to return to the old normal.
Take for instance answering a simple question like ‘Do you have kids’. This no longer requires a simple answer and often leads into a very long discussion about Japanese child abductions. I guess I can answer ‘no’ and live with the guilt of denial. I really don't want to talk about child abduction. I want to talk about how my kids are doing in school, what they dressed up as for Halloween, or brag about how good they are at soccer.
On Tuesday, November 2nd, 2011, Daddy and 8 others members of two non profit organizations (Left Behind Parents Japan and Asian People’s Friendship Society) met with a Diet member (Congressman / Member of Parliament). Wet met with Mr. Hakubun Shimomura for forty five minutes. We demanded that Japan enact legislation for joint custody in Japan. Mr. Shimomura listened attentively to everything we had to say. Daddy took a framed picture of you three girls and showed it to him. When he asked daddy if I had a meishi (business card) I said, “NO, this is my meishi.” meaning the photo.
The other day I had another dream of my children. I saw my son Gunnar, he ran up to me burying his head into my chest. He didn't want to let go and neither did I. Then Kianna ran up to me hugging me and giving me kisses. Soon all three of us were crying. The images of my children were vivid and seemed so real. We had so much to catch up on since it has been over two years when we last saw each other. I was so happy to be reunited with my children again. Then suddenly I woke up and started really crying realizing it was just a mirage that faded away. Sadly, I also become conscious at that moment that I will only see my kids in my dreams.
It is hard to imagine being separated from your children through abduction. It is also hard to believe that one parent cares more about hurting their ex-spouse than they do about the welfare of their children. These situations are so hard it is hard to comprehend. Many people probably think that the left behind parent is a child abuser. However, if you delve into the details of the cases and study the situation, you will discover that the child abusers are in fact the abductors. Here are a few logical facts to consider.
On June 13, 2008, a California Superior Court judge had ruled Reiko Nakata Greenberg Collins was a flight risk and ordered 5 year old Keisuke Christian Collins passport be turned over to the authorities. On June 16, 2008, just one day after Randy and Keisuke spent Father’s Day together, Reiko violated these court orders and abducted him to Japan. Randy was devastated when he learned his only child, Keisuke Christian Collins, had been illegally abducted by his mother Reiko. Being a retired pilot with Japan Air Lines, Keisuke’s grandfather, Ken Nakata, is believed to be instrumental in assisting his daughter to avoid airport security measures to abduct Keisuke to Japan.
It has been over two years since I have last seen my children, my little buddy Gunnar and my little princess Kianna. After all this time I still find it hard that to believe you were kidnapped from me by your mother to Japan. She has caused me so much pain. I so much wish to hold your hand and hug you once again. I haven’t heard your voice since August of 2009. I still have your last voicemail on my phone. It makes me cry every time I hear it. I still dream about you Gunnar and Kianna all the time. I often have dreams where we are reunited and we get to spend time together.
Parental kidnappings do not garner the media attention and sense of urgency from law enforcement that they deserve. Experts say there is a perception among the public and law enforcement officials that children kidnapped by their parents are not in danger. While it is true that statistics from the US department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile and Delinquency Protection indicate that only 4% of children abducted by their parents are physically harmed, can we so easily forget to consider the emotional toll it takes on these innocent victims.
By Randy Collins
Father of Keisuke Christian Collins
Illegally Abducted Off US Soil June 16, 2008
We have all seen the movies in which the Japanese portray themselves as honorable and respectable. This façade has been as blatantly phony as the myth of Little Green Men attacking the earth from the movie and radio scare of, War of the Worlds. In the old radio show, Orson Wells was able to convince many people that aliens had invaded the World. This created such a scare that many people believed it to be true.
Dear Rion, Lauren and Julia,
It has been sixteen days since the earthquake and tsunami. I have worked non stop to try and make contact with you over these days, to no avail.
I have thought about you, my beautiful daughters, every day since your mother took you away. And, for the last 16 days I have thought of nothing else. I am worried about you, my precious little girls. You are still a little too young to appreciate the danger of radiation from the nuclear reactor melting down just 40km away. Your mother should have taken you south now, if she has the right information.
By Deborah Duke
Toledo- Ohio, Jessie Duke equipped with the few precious items of his children, a few photos and family records, sets out for Japan. After the earthquake, a few e-mail lines from their Japanese mother read “I am heading to another evacuee point now but remembered the conversation about you. I think they are fine. I just need to find them. Logically they should be fine and I have a feeling that they will survive.” Three days later…” Found them at the hospital. Shanon is badly injured. Riki is fine. She needs food. We see dead people on street and my room is not a place for living anymore.” The next day, “Shanon had a big piece of broken glass stick into his body and it reached to organ. Still in very serious condition. Riki is scared and hungry. We are out of everything plus one of the electric refineries is about to expose that can kill many people again and make situation worse.. Shanon needs to be where he is at which is the red cross hospital. – Then there was nothing more. Shanon is an 8 year old American boy. Riki is just four years old.