U.S. Senator Jim M. Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, submitted a written statement for the hearing on US-Japan relations about two subjects of concern: Japan’s hesitation on relocating the U.S. Marine’s Futenma Air Station and the ever increasing abduction of children to Japan.
Since 1994, 269 children have been abducted from the United States to Japan in spite of US Department of State efforts to resolve the escalating problem.
Senator Inhofe has taken his fellow Americans’ call for help seriously. His recent statement is a needed step forward in leadership, given the grave nature of international child abduction.
Senator Inhofe stated, “I understand these American children living in Japan are often denied access to their American parent after a parental separation or divorce. And, to my knowledge, there are no joint custody or visitation rights in Japan. As a result, these children are alienated from their loving American parent, and the psychological trauma is extremely damaging. This tragedy for these American children and their left-behind American parents is overwhelming and must come to an end.
Senator Inhofe applauded Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell’s press availability, which he gave on February 2, 2010, at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, concerning the ongoing problem of child abductions. He further added, “It is my understanding that a number of those parents who attended that “Town Hall” meeting with Assistant Secretary Campbell and other senior State Department officials are in the audience today. Their organization, Bring Abducted Children Home (BAC Home) can be found at: www.bachome.org”.
Left-behind parent and BAC Home member, John Gomez stated, “Senator Inhofe called attention to the problem of child abduction to Japan at the Senate hearing on US-Japan relations on April 15, 2010, and he should be commended for that. The efforts of BAC Home – Bring Abducted Children Home, which strives to recover children abducted to Japan, were also recognized in his written statement. This public statement is a very important step in raising Congressional and public awareness about the issue, which is an essential component of how BAC Home strives to put an end to this human rights tragedy.”
Left-behind parent and BAC Home member, Douglass Berg stated, “I have two children who were abducted to Japan in August 2009. I currently do not know where they are, and I have not had any contact with them at all. It is sad to know so many other children have been wrongfully separated from a parent. I am glad that this is getting so much attention from Senators. Senator Inhofe has helped us so much by addressing this issue during the hearing on US-Japan Relations. So many children and parents are suffering because of these acts.”
Friday, April 9, 2010, United States Department of State Assistant Secretary Campbell met with left-behind parents in a Town Hall meeting. In attendance were other senior State Department officials and a representative from Japan. After two hours, the Town Hall meeting ended and a press conference was given by the left-behind parent organization, BAC Home (Bring Abducted Children Home).
Ken Connelly, former abducted child and author of “Throwing Stones: Parental Child Abduction through the Eyes of a Child,” stated, “I have high hopes that the United States Department of State will find a way to bring this horrific crime to an end. After nearly thirty years since I was abducted, you would have thought this type of problem would have come to a resolution. Senator Inhofe’s leadership and foresight to address this issue openly in the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, is the first step towards saving other children, like myself, from a life of pain and confusion. I also wish to thank the Chairman Senator Webb (D-VA) for his insight in allowing the issue of international child abduction to be addressed in his subcommittee.”
BAC Home – Bring Abducted Children Home plans to continue its work with the United States Department of State and all legislative offices to bring not only abducted children home, but also to prevent this tragic crime from happening in the future.