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Cablegate: Daily Summary of Japanese Press 10/15/09

DE RUEHKO #2375/01 2880637
P 150637Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


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(1) U.S. Ambassador to Japan gives greatest consideration to
Hatoyama administration (Mainichi)

(2) Interview with Ambassador Roos: U.S. to continue support to
resolve abduction issue (Sankei)

(3) Editorial: Afghan strategy - Time for drastic review (Asahi)

(4) Twists and turns expected before settlement of Futenma
relocation issue (Nikkei)

(5) Editorial: Government should change policy and accept Futenma
relocation within Okinawa (Yomiuri)

(6) Editorial: Futenma Air Station: Prime Minister should decide on
relocation within Okinawa (Sankei)

(7) Editorial: Futenma relocation: The real negotiations have yet to
begin (Asahi)

(8) Prime Minister Hatoyama lauds President Obama's Nobel Peace
Prize, saying, "Under Mr. Obama's leadership, the world is changing"

(9) Japan, U.S. differ on handling of parental rights in failed
international marriages, urged to sign Hague Convention (Tokyo


(1) U.S. Ambassador to Japan gives greatest consideration to
Hatoyama administration

MAINICHI (Page 7) (Full)
October 15, 2009

Naoya Sugio

During an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun, U.S. Ambassador to
Japan John Roos showed full consideration for Japan, where the new
administration has just gotten under way, saying, "Japan and the
U.S. are equal partners." There are a number of challenges in store
for the two countries, such as the realignment of U.S. forces in
Japan and the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling mission in the
Indian Ocean, which will likely be terminated in January next year.
Roos made a comment supportive (of the Hatoyama administration),
saying, "Following its inauguration, the Obama administration also
reviewed (past) policies." It appears that he is cautiously
searching for a new bilateral relationship between Japan and the
U.S. at a crucial time when the change of government has just taken
place in Japan.

The Hatoyama administration is now taking time to reexamine such
issues as relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in
Okinawa Prefecture. Roos said: "It is a newly-launched
administration. It is not fair to set a deadline." He thus indicated
a stance of waiting for Japan to reach a decision.

Before his arrival at his post in Japan, Roos was an able attorney,
who had nurtured many high-tech companies in California. However,
when asked about Hiroshima, the site of the first atomic bombing, he

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became serious in trying to show consideration for Japan. On Oct. 4,
Roos visited Hiroshima with his parents and son. When asked about
this, he appeared to be careful in his choice of words. "My heart
was deeply shaken, and I became emotional."

U.S. President Obama will visit Japan in November for the first
time. He has won the Nobel Peace Prize. There are also growing
expectations for his visit to Hiroshima. Roos said the question of
whether Obama will visit Hiroshima was a "deeply personal matter,"
and the president will make up his mind on his own.

Asked whether Roos himself will participate in a peace memorial
ceremony to be held in Hiroshima in August next year, he said, "I
would like to consider it seriously." No U.S. ambassadors to Japan
have ever participated in this ceremony annually held in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki in August. If Roos attends it, he will be the first
U.S. ambassador to do so.

(2) Interview with Ambassador Roos: U.S. to continue support to
resolve abduction issue

SANKEI (Page 9) (Full)
October 15, 2009

(Japan-U.S. relations)

Japan and the U.S. are equal partners. It is important for them to
continue this relationship. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary
of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty next year, the two countries
should not only celebrate the past solid bilateral relationship but
also pledge to build a more solid relationship.

We need to continue our efforts to resolve global economic issues.
There are also such issues as the rise of China and infections
pandemic, as well as problems related to North Korea, Iraq,
Afghanistan and Pakistan. In addition, there are such challenges as
nuclear abolition and nuclear nonproliferation, which President
Obama and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama discussed for hours. In
addition, there is climate change, too. It is necessary for Japan
and the U.S., as good friends and as close allies, to work

(Refueling mission in Indian Ocean)

I do not want to prejudge the final decision to be made by the
Hatoyama government. The government is reexamining the refueling
mission. What I can say now is that the U.S., the international
community and its allies have greatly appreciated Japan's refueling
mission. Many countries are hopeful of its continuation. I hope that
Japan will continue significant efforts in a significant way.

(Relocation of Futenma air station)

The Hatoyama administration is now reexamining the (U.S. force
realignment) road map. In the U.S., as well, the Obama
administration, when it came into office early this year, reexamined
it and reaffirmed the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance and the
road map. It is the hope and expectation of the U.S. that the
Japanese government will return to the road map after reexamining

The agreement was reached through many years of negotiations and is

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the result of the examination of all possible options. It is the
best option (for the two countries) to move forward and is a vital
agreement. It is not productive to focus on parts of the agreed
package and pose questions.

(Concept of East Asian Community)

The Japanese leader also has revealed his intention to strengthen
Japan-U.S. relations, so I am not feeling anxiety. In view of
successfully dealing with global thorny issues, it is constructive
for Japan to strengthen relations with its neighbors. The U.S. is a
state in the Pacific region and one of the core states that are
indispensable for the development of a regional framework. (The
Japan-U.S. relationship) is not a zero-sum game.

(Abduction issue)

I met family members of abduction victims, including the parents of
Ms. Megumi Yokota. Any parents should not have such an experience. I
told the state minister for abduction issue (Hiroshi Nakai) that the
U.S. will continue various forms of support in an effort to settle
the issue.

(Visit to Hiroshima, Nagasaki)

The decision on whether President Obama would visit (Hiroshima and
Nagasaki) should be a personal decision to be made by the President.
I have not talked about this issue after (the President) won the
Nobel Peace Prize, so I am looking forward to (discussing it with
the President).

(3) Editorial: Afghan strategy - Time for drastic review

ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
October 14, 2009

On his visit to Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told
President Hamid Karzai that Japan will provide Afghanistan with new
assistance measures such as vocational training for former Taliban

It will soon be eight years since the Taliban regime collapsed in
the Afghan war after the 9/11 terrorist attack. The results of the
presidential election in August have yet to be confirmed due to a
series of reports on wrongdoings by the Karzai government. The
Afghan situation is extremely unstable because of a spate of
terrorist attacks by the Taliban, which has regained its power.

We approve of Okada's visit to Afghanistan under such a situation to
explain Japan's policy of continuing assistance to the war-torn

As the U.S. Obama administration underscored in its comprehensive
new strategy toward Afghanistan that was compiled in March, it is
crystal clear that military power alone cannot break the present
deadlock. Japan has offered great contributions to Afghanistan by
building an agriculture infrastructure and paying the salaries of

In order to prevent the Afghan situation from becoming unstable, it
is important for Japan to consider what it can do under such severe
conditions including the security situation. Japan must show its

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stance of continuing and expanding its assistance. Assistance for
former Taliban militants is also necessary to prevent the Taliban's
military power from expanding. Okada should also give considerable
thought to how to support education and agriculture in Afghanistan.

The Obama administration is reexamining its strategy. It is now
being forced to make a difficult decision. The U.S. Naval Forces
Japan commander has requested that another 40,000 troops be
dispatched. However, there are objections in the U. S. that such a
dispatch might turn the situation into a hopeless mess.

Actually, a mood of war-weariness is spreading both in the United
States and in European countries, which have participated in the
International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAFA),
because the number of soldiers suffering casualties has been
increasing rapidly.

Obama's argument that the Afghan war is a necessary war is becoming
weaker. The Al Qaeda international terrorist network used to have
its base in Afghanistan, but it has moved to Pakistan and North
Africa. Osama bin Laden's whereabouts still remain unknown.

As the U.S.'s new strategy has already indicated, assistance to
Pakistan should be considered together with assistance to
Afghanistan. In Pakistan, many terrorist attacks, believed to be
carried out by local Taliban forces, have continued to occur. The
recent terrorist attack on Pakistan's military headquarters
amplified concerns over the country's control of nuclear weapons.

A dispatch of more troops to Afghanistan might increase civilian
casualties. If that is the case, the dispatch would have little
effect on an improvement of public security. We hope that President
Obama will drastically review the Afghan strategy so that he can
effectively contain terrorism. The Obama administration should not
make Afghanistan "Obama's Vietnam."

The term of the refueling mission, which Japan has carried out as a
less expensive and effective contribution, will expire next January.
While the United States is being pressed to review its entire Afghan
strategy, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama should thoroughly explain to
Obama his administration's contributions, designed mainly for the
civilian sector, and seek his understanding for the Japanese
government's policy.

Moreover, Japan should proactively seek its own contributions to
stabilizing Afghanistan as well as to antiterrorism measures. That
is a responsibility that Japan should fulfill an ally of the United

(4) Twists and turns expected before settlement of Futenma
relocation issue

NIKKEI (Page 2) (Slightly abridged)
October 14, 2009

Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima proposed that an alternative to
the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station (in Ginowan City, Okinawa
Prefecture) be built offshore from Camp Schwab. In response, the
government intends to hurriedly work out specific measures. By
specifying the "offshore plan" in his position paper on the
assessment of the environmental impact of the existing plan
(submitted to the Okinawa Defense Bureau), Nakaima is aiming to pave

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the way toward an early solution to the Futenma relocation issue.
Although Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama appears to be gradually
reaching the conclusion that turning a proposal to relocate the
Futenma air station outside the prefecture into reality would be
difficult, many twists and turns are expected before the issue can
be resolved.

Governor's torment implied

The position paper produced by Nakaima includes this paragraph:
"Although moving the air station outside the prefecture would be the
best choice, the Okinawa government had to accept the relocation of
the facility within the prefecture in order to remove the danger of
the Futenma facility." This passage represents his torment over the
fact that the local government had to accept the plan so that the
Futenma air station, which is located in a densely populated area,
would be swiftly relocated to another place.

In April 2006, then Defense Agency director general Fukushiro Nukaga
and then Nago mayor Yoshikazu Shimabukuro agreed on the current plan
to build a V-shaped pair of runways at Camp Schwab. Afterward, the
Aso government unofficially sounded out the U.S. side on a plan to
move the construction site into the sea. It had anticipated that the
U.S. would respond to Japan's call for discussing this new proposal.
Nakaima also appears to have expected that Japan and the U.S. would
be able to agree to revise the existing plan.

Over the Futenma issue, however, the political map of Okinawa is
complicated. In the Okinawa prefectural assembly, a majority of
members are calling for relocating the Futenma facility outside the
prefecture. In the latest House of Representatives election,
candidates opposed to relocation within the prefecture were elected
in four constituencies in the prefecture. Next January, a mayoral
election will be held in Nago City. The incumbent mayor, who has
agreed to accept the alternative facility on the condition of moving
the construction site offshore, will seek reelection, but other
potential candidates in favor of moving the alternative facility
outside the prefecture are also gaining influence. That is why
Nakaima is eager to speed up the process for an early solution of
the Futenma issue.

On the government side, there is also a reason (for it to be unable
to swiftly decide its policy on the Futenma issue). The Democratic
Party of Japan (DPJ) specified in its policy manifesto for the Lower
House in 2005: "The party aims to relocate the Marine Corps' Futenma
Air Station in Okinawa outside the prefecture." Also in the campaign
for the Lower House election in August of this year, Hatoyama said:
"We want to make active efforts toward moving the facility at least
outside the prefecture." The DPJ has thus expressed its
determination to move the Futenma functions outside Okinawa, or even
outside Japan.

Limited potential sites for alternative location

However, Hatoyama seems to be gradually realizing that it would be
difficult to relocate the facility out of the prefecture. An aide to
the prime minister said: "It would be desirable to find a potential
site outside the prefecture, but it would be undesirable to take
another 10 or 20 years." As seen from the past process of searching
for potential sites, the alternatives are extremely limited.

A senior Defense Ministry official pointed out: "The DPJ is

TOKYO 00002375 006 OF 012

beginning to focus on reality." A senior member of the U.S. Marine
Corps stressed the need for an early solution to the Futenma
relocation issue, remarking: "Priority must be given to a settlement
of (the base issue in) Okinawa. The refueling mission and assistance
for Afghanistan should be discussed next."

Members of the Social Democratic Party have strongly opposed the
relocation of the Futenma functions within the prefecture. Under
this situation, coordination of views is unlikely to be easy within
the ruling coalition.

An increasing number of people anticipate that the government may
have to put off a final decision until sometime after U.S. President
Barack Obama visits Japan on Nov. 12. Defense Minister Toshimi
Kitazawa said yesterday: "It will probably be impossible to settle
everything by the time of President Obama's visit to Japan."

(5) Editorial: Government should change policy and accept Futenma
relocation within Okinawa

YOMIURI (Page 3) (Full)
October 15, 2009

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama should change his policy and accept
the relocation of the U.S. Marines' Futenma Air Station within
Okinawa Prefecture to maintain the reliability of the Japan-U.S.
alliance and drastically reduce the burden imposed by the U.S.
military bases on the prefecture.

The Okinawa prefectural government has released a position paper of
Governor Hirokazu Nakaima concerning the preparatory documents on
the environmental impact assessment of the site of the Futenma
base's replacement facility which demands moving the facility
further offshore than originally planned.

Although the governor said that moving the Futenma facility out of
the prefecture is "the best choice," he reiterated his acceptance of
the Futenma relocation within the prefecture so the danger posed by
Futenma could be removed as soon as possible.

This position paper clearly shows that Okinawa wants the realization
of this second best plan at an early date since there is yet no
realistic plan for relocation outside the prefecture. The central
government needs to respond to this wish squarely.

Hatoyama hinted last week at the possibility of accepting the
relocation of Futenma airfield's heliport functions within Okinawa,
saying he "would not deny the possibility of changing" the pledge
the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) made during the House of
Representatives election campaign "on account of the passing of

However, he reversed his remark the following day and said that the
"most important basic policy" is the accord of the three coalition
parties, which includes reviewing the U.S. force realignment plans.
He has been wavering in his statements.

The Social Democratic Party (SDP), one of the DPJ's two coalition
partner, strongly advocates a review of the existing relocation
plan. Hatoyama apparently has to give certain consideration to the
SDP in its management of the coalition government. But, as the head
of the government, Hatoyama should put priority on national

TOKYO 00002375 007 OF 012

interests and should rather persuade the SDP to accept the plan.

The return of Futenma to Japan has gone through 13 years of twists
and turns. It is not wise to undo past negotiations, and the
shortest way to realize the alleviation of the burden on Okinawa is
to carry out the agreement that has been built up between Japan and
the United States.

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa has admitted that it would be
difficult to relocate Futenma outside the prefecture. We think his
view is reasonable because it is not easy to find a local government
outside Okinawa willing to accept a U.S. base, and also because
there are military requirements for the Futenma-based helicopter
transport unit to stay close to the U.S. Marines in the prefecture.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is scheduled to visit Japan next
week, and President Barack Obama is expected in mid-November. Japan
and the United States have numerous issues to tackle together,
including North Korea's development of nuclear weapons and missiles,
countermeasures against international terrorism, and China's growing
military power.

It is not productive to expend a lot of energy on the Futenma issue,
which would not be on the agenda if the Japanese side had not raised
the problem.

Both the U.S. government and the Okinawa prefectural government
support the relocation of Futenma within the prefecture. It is very
strange that only the central government is being obsessed with the
DPJ's pledge made in the Lower House election and insisting on
moving the base outside Okinawa.

The government should focus its energy on bridging the gap between
Okinawa and the U.S. government over the location of the replacement
facility and realize the relocation.

(6) Editorial: Futenma Air Station: Prime Minister should decide on
relocation within Okinawa

SANKEI (Page 2) (Full)
October 15, 2009

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima has issued a position paper indicating his
acceptance of the plan to relocate the U.S. forces' Futenma Air
Station (in Ginowan City, Okinawa) to the coastal area of Camp
Schwab in Nago City under the Japan-U.S. agreement, on condition
that the new facility's runways are moved further offshore. He asked
the government to decide on a policy at an early date.

Setting aside the pros and cons of moving the runways further
offshore, we welcome Okinawa Prefecture's realistic stance of
accepting relocation within the prefecture. While Prime Minister
Yukio Hatoyama and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano have
indicated that the option of relocation out of Okinawa is still
being looked into by saying "we need to find out the overall
consensus of the people of Okinawa," we think the only possible
solution is to make a decision in line with the Japan-U.S. agreement
at an early date.

The danger posed by the Futenma base to the local residents also
needs to be removed as soon as possible. The irresponsible pursuit
of the option of relocation out of Okinawa will only undermine the

TOKYO 00002375 008 OF 012

foundation of the Japan-U.S. alliance.

The governor's opinion is expressed in a position paper on the
preparatory documents for the environmental assessment (of the
proposed relocation site) drawn up by the Ministry of Defense (MOD).
The governor asks for making utmost efforts to contain the loss of
coral by moving the runways as far offshore as possible. The mayor
of Nago City also cites moving the runways offshore as the condition
for accepting the relocation plan.

MOD's preparatory documents compared the current plan with six other
options with different locations for the runways and concluded that
the present plan will produce the least noise and have the least
impact on the environment, and is, therefore, the most appropriate.

Okinawa Prefecture and Nago City have long argued for moving the
runways under the current plan by 100-200 meters further offshore.
This will entail major modifications to the plan under the bilateral
agreement and may require redoing the environmental assessment.

The MOD also takes the rightful position that "change is not
possible without a valid reason." The fact that the preparatory
documents even mentioned the proposal to move the runways further
offshore is meant to indicate that Okinawa's view has been given due

The U.S. and Japanese governments finally reached an agreement three
years ago after a tortuous process in which Okinawa Prefecture and
other parties overturned previous agreements after the two
governments first agreed on the return of Futenma in 1996. The
Japanese government's international commitment is a serious matter.
The new facility is supposed to be completed in 2014 under the
current plan. Full-fledged construction work has to begin in the
next fiscal year to achieve this goal.

The Prime Minister should realize that any further delay will have
an adverse effect on Japan-U.S. relations, and quickly come to a
conclusion that may involve withdrawing his assertion that the
facility should be relocated outside Okinawa.

(7) Editorial: Futenma relocation: The real negotiations have yet to

ASAHI (Page 3) (Full)
October 15, 2009

The U.S. Marines' Futenma Air Station is located in a
densely-populated residential area in Ginowan City, Okinawa, and is
said to be the "most dangerous airfield in the world." Will this
military base be moved to Henoko, Nago City in the prefecture in
accordance with the 2006 Japan-U.S. agreement or will it be moved
out of Okinawa? The Hatoyama administration is faced with a

In its manifesto for the recent House of Representatives election,
the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) pledged to "review U.S. Forces
Japan (USFJ) realignment and U.S. military bases in Japan in the
direction of a review," proposing to review the plan for relocation
to Henoko drawn up under the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)

However, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama stated the other day that, "I

TOKYO 00002375 009 OF 012

do not deny the possibility of the manifesto being changed over
time," which has been taken to mean that he might accept relocation
to Henoko.

Relocation out of Okinawa is everyone's wish. Yet, there is no clear
prospect for finding another relocation site. Hatoyama might have
been thinking of broadening his options to include a change in the
DPJ's pledge ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Japan
in November.

If that is the case, he cannot avoid being criticized for giving in
so soon.

The USFJ's presence plays an important role not only for Japan's
defense, but also for the security of Asia and the Pacific. The DPJ,
like the previous administration, regards the Japan-U.S. alliance as
the linchpin of its foreign and security policy.

However, we want to remind the Prime Minister once again of the
seriousness of the fact that massive amounts of foreign troops are
being stationed in a sovereign state. Furthermore, 75 percent of the
U.S. military bases in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa, imposing
an immeasurable burden on the people of Okinawa.

During the LDP era, the status quo of USFJ deployment and the
provision of bases and facilities were considered almost a matter of
course. The change of administration will only be meaningful if this
state of affairs is reviewed with a broad perspective.

The Obama administration implemented policy changes to withdraw
troops from Iraq and discontinue missile defense deployment in East
Europe after its inauguration. Changes in specific policies are
possible with a change of administration.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada says that he will examine the process
through which the relocation site was selected under the previous
administration. It is quite natural for the new administration to
look into whether there are other possible relocation sites, whether
integration with other existing facilities is possible, and such
other options.

Thirteen years have passed since the first agreement on the return
of Futenma was made. The fact that no progress has been made on this
issue illustrates the difficulty of relocation within Okinawa. While
we would like to remove the danger posed by Futenma as quickly as
possible, a rough-and-ready approach should be avoided and all
options should be considered.

In the recent general election, all four districts in Okinawa
elected candidates opposed to the Henoko relocation plan. This
public opinion cannot be taken lightly.

Although the U.S. government is negative about reviewing the
existing plan, we hope that the Prime Minister will talk to
President Obama candidly based on the expressed will of the people.
He should strive to find a solution in the larger context of
Japan-U.S. cooperation on global warming prevention, Afghan aid, and
other issues while maintaining the relationship of trust in the

The real negotiations have yet to begin.

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(8) Prime Minister Hatoyama lauds President Obama's Nobel Peace
Prize, saying, "Under Mr. Obama's leadership, the world is

ASAHI (Page 2) (Excerpts)
October 10, 2009

Kengo Sakajiri in Beijing, and Kei Ukai

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who is making efforts to deal with
the issue of eliminating nuclear weapons, welcomed the awarding of
the Nobel Peace Prize to U.S. President Barack Obama. This is
because there is a possibility that if the award boosts efforts for
the elimination of nuclear weapons in the United States, it will
lead to an early effectuation of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban
Treaty (CTBT), which the Japanese government has called on the
international community to ratify.

On Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, Hatoyama said to reporters on Oct. 9
in Beijing: "I feel that the world is changing under the President's
leadership. His speech calling for a nuclear free world was
terrific. It is difficult for the president of the country
possessing the largest amount of nuclear weapons to deliver such a
speech. I believe that (the Nobel committee) decided to offer the
Peace Prize to the President out of a sense of expectation (for
Obama's future efforts)."

Hatoyama delivered a speech on Sept. 24 at the summit of the UN
Security Council members on nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear
disarmament. Referring in it to his experience of having heard from
atomic-bomb victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Hatoyama stressed
that Japan as the only atomic-bombed country has a moral
responsibility to make efforts toward the elimination of nuclear
weapons. Referring also to Obama's initiative for a "nuclear free
world," Hatoyama appealed to the world when he said, "Now is the
time that we must take action." For this reason, he said "I'm really
pleased" about Obama's Nobel Peace Prize.

With Obama winning the prize, there is a possibility that
expectations will become stronger in Japan that Obama will visit
Hiroshima and Nagasaki when he comes to Japan next month. However,
the resistance is strong on the part of the United States. Chief
Cabinet Secretary Hirofumi Hirano stated on Oct. 9, "It would be
extremely difficult because he (will stay in Japan) for only two

Some have voiced doubts about blindly praising Obama's Nobel Peace
Prize. Regarding the U.S.'s efforts toward the elimination of
nuclear weapons, a senior Foreign Ministry official made the
analysis that although the United States has involved China and
Russia in its efforts toward nuclear disarmament, it has done so
under a situation in which it has an advantage on China and Russia.
He also said that the U.S. is not acting based on an idealistic
perspective. The senior official pointed out the possibility that
Obama might find it difficult to take military action, noting, "His
political hands will be tied" because he received the Nobel Prize.

(9) Japan, U.S. differ on handling of parental rights in failed
international marriages, urged to sign Hague Convention

TOKYO SHIMBUN (Pages 26-27) (Excerpts)
October 15, 2009

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Miki Kato in New York

"Why was he arrested?" "The Japanese (ex-wife) was the abductor."
The case of an American father who was arrested in Fukuoka
Prefecture while attempting to reclaim his two children whom his
ex-wife had taken away to Japan has been attracting a lot of
attention in the U.S. The Hague Convention stipulates rules for
resolving parental rights issues in failed international marriages,
but Japan is not a signatory. The United States criticizes the
Japanese for virtually allowing "abductors" to go scot free, but it
appears that there is a significant difference in the thinking in
the two countries on bringing up children after divorce.

Christopher Savoie, 38, a businessman living in Tennessee, was
arrested and has been detained by the Fukuoka Prefectural Police for
taking away his 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter on their way
to school in Yanagawa City, Fukuoka, on Sep. 28 on the charge of
abduction of minors. His ex-wife had brought the children back to
Japan in August without his permission.

The taking away of children by divorced parents is a serious offense
in the U.S. and most reports have been sympathetic to Savoie's
actions or have portrayed him as a hero.

Savoie's American lawyer asserted on Oct. 12 that how Savoie is
being treated in Japan amounts to "torture," and voiced criticism
that he is being detained for a prolonged period of time before
indictment and that he is not even allowed to meet his lawyer in
private or receive medication for hypertension. The Yanagawa Police
Station of the Fukuoka Police has refuted such accusations.

In the midst of prominent coverage of the Savoie incident by the
U.S. media, American family members who have had similar experiences
held a protest rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Washington
on Oct. 3, demanding Savoie's release.

One of the protesters, Patrick Braden, 49, an art dealer from Los
Angeles, also had his 4-year old daughter taken away to Japan by his
Japanese ex-wife, 36, three years ago. While he admitted that what
Savoie did "was not right," he said, "I can understand very well his
frustration and feeling of desperation."

In order to bring public attention to cases of taking children away
across national boundaries, Braden has been lobbying the U.S.
Congress and has petitioned with over 100 members of Congress. He
said that he met with President Obama when he was a senator and the
members of the association of family members of Japanese abductees.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a unanimous resolution in
March asking all non-signatories of the Hague Convention to sign

According to the resolution, 455 children were taken away from the
U.S. to non-signatory states in 2008, of which the largest number,
101, were taken to Japan, followed by 67 to India and 37 to Russia.

The resolution also cited Braden's case and pointed out the flaws in
Japanese laws. "While the Japanese family law does not discriminate
based on nationality, the courts do not recognize parental rights
for foreigners. U.S. court rulings on child support and visitation
rights are also not executed."

TOKYO 00002375 012 OF 012

Walter Benda, 52, founder of the NGO Children's Rights Council of
Japan, also had his two daughters taken away by his Japanese wife 14
years ago. He pointed out that: "In America, both parents are
involved with the children's lives even after divorce. In Japan,
only one parent -- in most cases, the mother - has parental rights
and the other parent is cut off from the children." He claimed that
the thinking of Japanese and Americans on bringing up children after
divorce is completely different.

The taking away of children to Japan is becoming a diplomatic issue
between Japan and the U.S. At the confirmation hearing of the Senate
Foreign Affairs Committee for Assistant Secretary of State for East
Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell in June, Campbell promised
to take up this issue with Japan in his first bilateral meeting.
U.S. Ambassador Roos to Japan John Roos also remarked on Oct. 2 that
the taking away of children is a "major difference between Japan and
the U.S."

The U.S. journal Foreign Affairs (online edition) has reported on a
statement by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in July, before the
recent general election, that "this issue also affects Japanese
fathers," indicating his positive stance on signing up to the Hague
Convention. It also quoted U.S. government officials as commenting
that they have "great expectations" on the Japanese government's

Fukuoka police say case being investigated under Japanese law

Yuji Kato

The Yanagawa Police Station of the Fukuoka police takes the position
that Savoie "is charged with a domestic crime, so he is being
investigated under Japanese law." It asserts that, "In this case,
Savoie forcibly took the children away even though they resisted.
There are also indications of the involvement of a third party. This
is a bit different from what he claims was an act of an American
parent trying to reclaim his children."

According to the police station, CNN and two other U.S. media
outlets have come to cover the case.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) says that it is in the
process of "considering whether signing the Hague Convention is
possible." Most of the signatories are Western countries, and Sri
Lanka, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Macau are the only Asian countries
that have signed it.

MOFA cites differences in the thinking on marriage and divorce as
the reason why Japan has not signed the convention so far. It
explains that before doing so, "the merits and demerits for Japan
have to be examined closely, and we also have to think about the
institutional requirements for such matters as procedures for taking
children back to the other parent's country if Japan does become a
signatory to the convention."


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