Australian journalist Scott McIntyre said he has made numerous requests to see his children. (ABC News: Yumi Asada)
An Australian man detained for more than 40 days and convicted of illegally entering an apartment building in Tokyo said he was trying to find out the location of his children, who were taken by his Japanese mother.
- McIntyre has not seen his children since May of last year.
- He entered the common area of his father-in-law’s apartment complex
- He received a six-month jail sentence suspended for three years.
The case has drawn attention to the difficulties in Japan faced by parents who lose access to their children after their partners take them away.
While the family lived in Tokyo in May last year, Scott McIntyre’s wife told him that he was taking the children to stay with their grandparents.
The 46-year-old man has not seen them since.
The children were removed from their school, their phone numbers changed and their mother changed their email address.
“I have been denied access. I am not allowed to talk to the child. I am not allowed to know what school they attend. I am not allowed to know if they are alive or dead.” He told ABC.
McIntyre said he had made numerous requests to the police and his wife’s lawyers (the two are going through divorce mediation) to let him know if the children are safe, but the requests were ignored.
In October, he said after a devastating typhoon in Japan, he entered without authorization in the common area of his father-in-law’s apartment complex, trying to find more information about his children.
He said he had followed another resident inside, checked to see if there were any of his children outside the door of his in-laws’ apartment and left.
A month later he was arrested and placed in detention for 45 days, with the lights on 24 hours a day.
“[The constant light] it makes everyone walk like zombies, “he said.
“You are not aware of your own thoughts, you have no clarity to think.
“I was interviewed on all occasions without the presence of a lawyer.
“They arrested me with several murderers, an armed robber, a rapist, a pedophile and several gangsters.”
In the Tokyo District Court, he received a six-month prison sentence suspended for three years.
The judge said that the reason for the sentence was that McIntyre had used the intercom of the building on many occasions to contact his in-laws, despite the fact that the police asked him to stop.
He said criminal responsibility should not be taken lightly, and the case justifies more than a fine.
“However, the area was a common area and [McIntyre] It was not destructive and has no criminal record, “said the judge.
“If you violate the law again within three years, your suspension will be revoked, and if you return to the apartment and stalk, it will also be revoked.”
Mr. McIntyre fears that this decision will impair his chances of seeking custody in future family court proceedings.
At the court hearing he was surrounded by supporters, many of whom also took children without their consent.
He wore a shirt that said “Stop child parental kidnapping” in English and Japanese.
His parents, who were in Japan because of the decision, said they couldn’t believe he had been detained for so long.
“To be honest, it’s amazing that I’ve ever been [detained] first of all, for crossing a door, “Laurie McIntyre told ABC outside the court.
“In Australia that would be a misdemeanor, a slap on the wrist, a fine of $ 100 will disappear. Here, they are months in jail before even having the opportunity to [explain yourself]… is a crazy system. “
There are no laws on parental kidnapping
Mr. McIntyre was surrounded by supporters who had children taken away in court. (ABC News: Yumi Asada)
Kidnapping and alienation of parents have long been acute problems in Japan, as children often lose contact with the father without custody after a bitter division.
Unlike most developed countries, Japan does not have a shared custody system after divorce, and visitation rights ordered by the courts are often ignored with impunity.
For families with non-Japanese parents, the options are even more difficult, since cultural and language barriers are difficult to navigate.
It is difficult to estimate the number of children taken by a father without consent, but Japanese politician Seiichi Kushida said that the hundreds of cases that are known, including about 50 Australians, are just the tip of the iceberg.
“The number is very large,” he said.
“In Japan, when parents separate, there is a habit of taking children with them: it only manifests itself when one of the parents asks the court or the police for help.
“There is a part where Japan still does not believe this is a problem.”
Fourteen parents have already sued the Japanese government claiming that the absence of laws to facilitate access to their children was unconstitutional.
A United Nations treaty signed by Japan stipulates that children must have the right to maintain ties with both parents.
But a ruling by the Tokyo District Court in November last year found that the treaty was “simply an agreement to respect” those rights, but had no binding power.
“Japan lacks a strong intention to [uphold parents’ rights]. He is receiving criticism internationally … but these laws are so old [it’s not a well-known issue]”Mr. Kushida said.
“Other countries like the United States and Germany used to have sole custody, but they changed their laws 30 years ago.
“Japan needs to keep up.”
Much of that international criticism comes from Europe.
More than 20 EU ambassadors last year wrote to the Japanese government asking the country to respect the right of children to see their parents.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that the situation of several French parents of abducted children was “unacceptable” and that both he and Italy’s Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte have raised the problem with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
‘We will never see those children again’
The grandparents of the children say they are resolved to the possibility of not seeing their grandchildren again. (Supplied)
McIntyre’s parents said they found the possibility of not being able to see their grandchildren again “difficult to understand.”
“We are resolved to the prospect of never seeing them again,” said Laurie McIntyre.
It is not clear why Mr. McIntyre’s wife left him taking his daughter and son, who are now 11 and 7 years old.
You still have to respond to the request for comments from ABC.
McIntyre and his family moved to Japan in 2015 after being fired from SBS for expressing a series of controversial opinions about Anzac Day.
He tweeted on the day of Anzac that “brave” Anzacs “in Egypt, Palestine and Japan” were involved in “summary execution, widespread rape and robbery.”
He sued the broadcaster for discrimination and the parties reached an agreement in 2016.
family and children,
community and society,