This is totally not SEM-related, but it is worth writing about – if we can make even a small impact on this situation, it would be worth it. I’m hoping that after reading this you’ll also want to help and spread the word.
A few years ago, my friend Craig introduced me to a work colleague of his – Paul Wong. I met Paul and his wife Akemi several times – they were both really friendly, good people and I enjoyed spending time with them. Well, Craig left the law firm where he was working and Paul did as well, and I got married, had a kid, moved to Pacifica, etc, etc – long story short, I hadn’t heard much about Paul and Akemi for a few years.
Today, however, Craig sent me an email with some really sad news – Akemi died of cancer. And to make matters worse, she had just given birth to a daughter, Kaya. Paul had to raise Kaya on his own. Before Akemi died, she asked Paul to move to Japan with Kaya, so that Kaya could be closer to her maternal relatives and learn about Japanese culture. Paul agreed, quit his job, and prepared to move to Japan.
Prior to moving, he sent Kaya to live with her maternal grandparents in Kyoto. When he finally arrived in Japan, his parents-in-law suddenly decided that they didn’t want to give Kaya back to him. As he described this on another blog:
“Once I moved to Tokyo last year, the grandparents did everything possible to keep Kaya away from me. When I said I’m taking her back, they filed a lawsuit against me filled with lies and claimed I had sexually assaulted my daughter. There are no facts and the evidence is completely flimsy.”
The blog post continues: “a Japanese court investigator found that the girl was washed and inspected every day after a swimming lesson at her nursery school and her teachers never noticed signs of abuse” and that:
Despite the lack of any substantiating evidence and objective factual evidence establishing the allegations as false, the Family Court in Tokyo recently permanently stripped Paul of his parental rights and awarded his daughter to her maternal grandparents on the the basis that, even if there is no evidence, “normal” people would not make up such a story, therefore “something” must have happened. The Court ignored all evidence establishing the allegations as false, including the findings of its own court investigator; never once mentioning them in its decision.
Paul recently wrote an email to Craig, which Craig forwarded on to me. In it he writes: “through Kaya’s case, I have learned that abductions of children in Japan is a rampant problem. No child has every been returned to a foreign parents. Had I known this before, I would have never allowed Kaya to leave my side. The victim in all of this is poor little Kaya. I haven’t seen or talked to her for over 10 months now.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know Paul that well, but I’d like to think that I know him well enough to know that he’s stuck in a very unjust situation through no fault of his own. I’ve already written a friend of mine at Harry Reid’s office, and I plan to write Nancy Pelosi’s office as well. As Paul writes:
“The only way Japan will change is to shame them with international publicity. This country hates that. They will outlast everyone by dragging things on and on but the one thing they will react to right away is public humiliation. Even the Japanese here say that’s the only way if I ever hope to see my daughter again.”
So if you have a spare minute today, please help Paul out – write your senator, write a blog, do what you can. As a parent, I can’t imagine how terrible this must be for him and I’d feel horrible if I didn’t take a few minutes out of my day to try to help.