Is this now a feminist blog?
No, I’m not a feminist. I support diversity and equality 100% in all facets of life. However, my major area of interest is preventing child abduction.
Importantly, my ex-wife abducted our daughter. I cannot ignore the fact that a woman chose to abduct a young lady. Our daughter will be forever shaped by this. As a man, I try my best to see things through the eyes of others. This helps me to understand and better respect their challenges.
So, why do women abduct their children in that majority of Japanese parental abduction and alienation cases?
Why do Japanese women have to abduct their children?
I think society pushes many high quality Japanese women into this situation. In summary:
- They are forced into marriage.
- Once married they lose their identity and career.
- Mothers are expected to meet unrealistically lofty parenting standards.
- There’s no support when the above all comes crashing down.
Society pushes women into marriage
I have previously written about getting married in Japan. It is difficult to admit it but from the start, my ex-wife probably didn’t want to marry me. She didn’t want me to leave abruptly or end our relationship. However, her mother insisted that we marry. Abortion or a de-facto relationship were unacceptable.
The day of our paper marriage was distressing. My ex-wife was essentially dragged into the city office by her mother, sobbing her eyeballs out. She screamed even louder when I told her we didn’t have to do it. There was only one option. She was not allowed to consider alternatives.
In Japan, single mothers are treated as 2nd class citizens. They simply don’t have access to the full package of social benefits. Further, there are widespread social stigmas.
Once married, women lose their jobs (aka financial independence)
As soon as my ex-wife announced her pregnancy to work, her boss said ‘you told me you would not get pregnant! You got the job because the previous teacher got pregnant. You must resign now because you broke your promise to me’. She resigned and that was the end of her teaching career. I encouraged her to seek legal advice. However, she was strongly opposed to this because it would rock the boat.
Even now, it is heart wrenching for me to think that many women must be in the same boat. Further, a quick web search demonstrates that the man who sacked her for being pregnant is still the principal.
Women are tasked with lofty parenting standards
Japanese mothers are amazing. As an eikaiwa teacher, I experienced their unpaid work first-hand. Every situation is unique. However, all of the mothers I knew would chauffeur multiple children between various club activities in a kei pretty much 24/7. They would selflessly participate in these activities with their children.
The children were all immaculately dressed and groomed. They were fed from artistic, home-prepared lunchboxes that depicted all their favourite cartoon characters (using only the freshest, healthiest ingredients). Everything was made from scratch – no cheating! Most of these women weren’t rich either (many worked at fast-food outlets to make ends meet). However, no signs of social or financial stress ever showed. They all had extremely high standards to uphold.
Training for this is intense. My ex-wife spent most of her pregnancy studying large books about their child’s physical wellbeing. She learned how to care for children while also meeting cultural expectations (including making everything look fun and prepared to professional standards). Anything less was a failure. As support, my ex-wife lived with her mother for three months after giving birth. Then, she was on her own with a clear message. Be the perfect mum! Anything different is a failure and a shame upon your family.
No support for women when things go wrong
Respectfully, the hardest part of my first marriage was being unable to help. My ex-wife didn’t want my help or my parents’ help (she regularly locked them out when they came to visit). Mental health services offered no help. There was no hotline that showed empathy and understanding for her circumstances. During this time she got online, talked to nationalists who were pro-abduction and became shipwrecked.
No support exists. Thus, women in this situation become marginalised. Their only hope is to abduct, re-marry and cover-up their past (i.e. alienate the child).
How do men react?
A lot of men become shipwrecked. They become bitter, lose faith in Japan and seek revenge. Notably, significant numbers of men may trigger these circumstances through domestic violence.
All situations are different. It is important to consider each situation uniquely rather than jumping on a gender politics bandwagon. I dislike stereotypes because abducted children are not stereotypes. They are all unique and lovable. Above all, they are always the biggest losers! Men and women need to put their egos aside as it’s boys and girls who are being harmed.
Again, I’m not a feminist and others are better qualified to speak to that narrative. However, I think that progressing women’s rights in Japan could drastically improve outcomes for children. Children lose because there is no middle ground. Women either keep their kids or abandon them. Neither solution is ideal. Instead, the following is needed:
- More career stability for women so there is an assumption of equally shared parenting duties and families have more options.
- A new family register system that includes de-facto relationships and assumes dual custody per se.
- Support services for those who are in need. Women need somewhere to go when they are a 15 hour flight away from Japan, their marriage is on the rocks and nobody wants to hear about their challenges.
- Dual citizenship for life so that children don’t have to choose mum or dad’s country.
I think the above would be relatively inexpensive for Japan to implement and would help combat child abduction. Unfortunately right now, the only people who have time for a lot of Japanese women living overseas with children are abductors. This needs to stop. Our children need protection from reckless actions of shipwrecked parents.