Foreign Policy Blogs

Int’l child abduction may be worse than official numbers let on

Kai and Koh, two American-born boys abducted by their Japanese mother in March.

I recently got an e-mail from one Patrick McPike, the father of two American-born sons who were abducted in Japan by their Japanese mother in March. He has since been fighting an uphill battle against Japan’s backwards and incompetent legal system in order to gain access to his sons. He chronicles his story on his blog: Letters to Kai and Koh.

In one post, “Child Abduction in Japan… The REAL Numbers — Part 1,” Patrick claims that the number of children abducted by a Japanese parent is much higher than the U.S. government’s official number of 230 cases. Patrick believes the actual number to be around 10,000. Whether the number is actually that high, he does make a good case that the number of abducted children is higher than the official figure.

Japan has recently decided to join the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, but the convention will only apply to future child abduction cases, which is cold comfort to parents like Patrick. Patrick’s blog gives an enlightening account of international child abduction from the point-of-view of the left-behind parent.

  • R Collins

    My son was abducted to Japan on June 16, 2008 in direct violation of California Superior Court orders. Japan is a haven for abduction. Since Japan regained its sovereignty in 1952, not one child illegally abducted has ever been returned. Dispite several Joint DeMarche’s by countries like France, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Spain, Canada, Italy, and the US, Japan continues to support, condone, and reward the abduction of our children. Until these countries get a backbone to stand up for its children, this will continue to be an ever-growing epidemic. There is currently a bill going through the House of Representaives , HR 1940, The International Child Abduction Prevention a& Recovery Act of 2010. This bill is vital to assisting us Left-Behind-Parents the access and return of our children. More more information on this issue, please visit our web site

  • Jeffery Morehouse

    For the past 50 years, Japan has denied loving American parents (and loving parents worldwide) custodial rights or any access to their abducted children. Yet Japanese Prime Ministers have no reservation about publicly demanding the return of Japanese citizens abducted to North Korea. Last week Prime Minister Noda stated they would spare no effort towards achieving the return of all abductees. We at Bring Abducted Children Home ( implore President Obama to immediately follow his example and publicly address the abduction of U.S. children to and within Japan during this week’s meeting in New York with Prime Minister Noda and that public efforts continue until:
    • all American children abducted from the U.S. are immediately returned home in compliance with U.S. law.
    • all American children abducted within Japan have immediate and unfettered access to their American parent.

  • Ray Rose

    I have been denied access to my daughter in Japan for the past 9 months. My beautiful little girl was only 10 months old the last time I saw her, which means SHE PROBABLY DOESN’T KNOW I EXIST. There are thousands of cases like mine. JAPAN CONDONES PARENTAL ALIENATION!

  • Regan Haight

    My children were taken by there father 3 years ago. I was able to get them back, by forming and surrounding myself with support, went there, faced him, casued a rukus in his neighborhood and local police station. The police actually assisted me in encouraging him to return them to me…I said encourage, he didn’t have to. Not only has Japan denied parents access to love and raise their children, they allow it to happen. I KNOW that my husband would not have attempted such an exteme act, if he did not KNOW that he would be kept safe from prosecution by me or the US simply because Japan opts out of enfocing any legal system. Avoidance is a common Japanese trait I have found, ignore, use silence, as a way to get your way. He made is plans based on reading about people from BAChome, knowing that many others have done it, researching how best to do it, and following through, all because he knew he could.

    I have many family members who are high ranking officers in the US Army: JAG Officer, Ranger Battalion Commander, Warren Officer 4, 2 who work in the Pentogon. I have always been proud of this, and when my husband left, one of my first thoughts was “He is going to be sorry he did this becasue my country will help me and hold him accountable.” It didn’t take long for me to find out what a hopeless and helpless situation I was in. I was sickened by how government officials told me, in an accepting manner, that there was simply nothing they could do…sorry. The fight it would take even try to get them back by legal means is so huge, I can see how parents give up the fight and live in a hopeless, helpless, defeated manner, knowing their children were taken and there was no recource.

    I hope that someday soon, Japan will sign the Hauge, children already taken will be contacted and the parents will be called to court to face a Judge that will have someway of tearing down the walls that keep one parent away, but also, that the US will devise a plan, somewhat like and Amber alert, that once a child is reported ot be abducted, US officials are immediately allowed to investigate and enforce US law in Japan, to return the child to where they were taken and allow proper custody proceedings to take place and be enforced. Time is everything. A clear procedure needs to be in place, Japan needs to step aside or assist in the return of children back to their home of origin. If abuse is an issue, a safe place for children should be arranged while that is being worked out, but it should not be okay just to let them stay with the abductor, be influenced and brain washed. Just after 3 months of being away from me, my kids were told I didn;t want them, to forget about me becasue I didn’t want to be with them, were showered with gifts daily. It has caused some emotional harm and the impact of that 3 months was great.

    • Timothy Miller

      Hi Regan,

      My daughter was abducted by her Indonesian mother February 19th, 2012. It’s been five months and she has refused to reply to myself, my family, our friends … no one. Like Japan, Indonesia is not party to the Hague convention.

      I have been working with the US State Dept. and the FBI. About six weeks ago, I was informed that the FBI had located my daughter in Surabya. I was told the FBI was going to talk to my wife, and try and convince her to returnt to the US. However, I’ve heard nothing.

      I can’t believe she could do this. I have to believe her family convinced her to do this, and they are now hiding her. We had a difficult marriage, but we never argued or didn’t not get along, she just hated Arizona, and was terribly home sick. My daughter will be 2 in August.

      I’m torn, becasue I do NOT want to rip my daughter from her mother, like her mother has ripped her from my life. However, it’s clear to me, my (now ex) wife has no intentions of me ever being part of my child’s life. I have been given sole legal and physical custody.

      I have been told that the State Dept will drop all felony charges against my wife if she returns. I could never trust her again, and I know we will never be a couple again, but I believe BOTH parents need to be part of a child’s life. If I can get my daughter back in the US, I will make arrangements for her mother to be here as often as she wants. This is the only viable solution I can see.

      I’m trying to find a third party child recovery specialist. I understand you used Steve Johnson? I’ve found MANY of the individuals who claim to be child recovery experts to be little more than scam artist.

      Is Steve the real deal and can you recommend him?

      Tim Miller

  • Watts

    The problem exists in Russia as well, even though they have recently joined the Hague Convention. The Grin case is a primary example and people are waiting to see whether Russia is serious about returning abducted children.
    There is much skepticism as to whether Russia will honor it’s obligations.
    Here is one link to the story, as described at the place where the abduction occurred.
    The story describes an abduction by a Harvard-educated lawyer, Marianne Grin, a dual US-Russian citizen who was being divorced in Italy by her husband, a US citizen. After the court found Ms. Grin to suffer from serious psychiatric illness, “paranoid delusions” posing a danger to her children, sole custody of the couple’s four children was given to the father. Grin then abducted them to Russia. The scary thing is that there was a similar case in Germany where the mother, after having been found to be psychology unfit, also with paranoid delusions, abducted her 2 children to Turkey. Ms. Mellersh then sadly committed suicide taking her two poor children with her.


Dustin Dye
Dustin Dye

Dustin Dye is the author of the YAKUZA DYNASTY series, available through the Amazon Kindle.

He lived in Okayama, Japan, where he taught English at a junior high school through the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program for three years. He is a graduate from the University of Kansas, where he received a bachelor's degree in anthropology.

His interest in Japan began in elementary school after seeing Godzilla fight Ghidorah, the three-headed monster. But it wasn't until he discovered Akira Kurosawa's films through their spaghetti Western remakes that he truly became fascinated in the people and culture of Japan.

He lives in Kansas with his wife, daughter and guinea pig.

Visit him online at
E-mail him: [email protected]