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Japanese Consulate Renewed Passports of Children Taken Overseas without Consent
December 6th, 2009

Today in the Mainichi Daily News.

The Japanese Consulate General in Shanghai renewed the passports of two girls without permission from their Japanese mother in violation of the Passport Law, after their Chinese father took them to China in the wake of a marriage breakup, it has been learned.

The consulate general renewed the passports of the girls, now aged 18 and 17, in 2004, despite their mother’s repeated requests to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to renew the passports.

As a result of the consulate general’s actions, the girls remained in China for five more years, and the situation was not resolved until the father came to Japan in September this year and was arrested on suspicion of child abduction.

“As a result of the government’s mistake, I had to wait five years for the return of my daughters,” the children’s mother, who is in her 40s, said. “I want the government to move actively to protect the rights of children.”

Passports for minors are valid for five years. Passport Law regulations state that permission must be obtained from a person who has custody of the children for the passports to be issued.

Representatives of the woman said that she and the Chinese man, 55-year-old Qin Weijie, married in 1988 and lived in Tokyo, but she left due to domestic violence by Qin. In June 1999, Qin met his daughters as they were traveling to school near the home to which his wife had moved, and he took them to China.

Qin and his wife divorced in 2000, and she was granted custody of the children. However, as she didn’t know where they were, she repeatedly asked the Foreign Ministry not to renew their passports. She also filed a criminal complaint against Qin accusing him of abducting the children and taking them overseas. However, the consulate general renewed the passports in January 2004.

About five years later, when the deadline for renewing the passports of the children was again approaching, Qin contacted his former wife asking her to sign a consent form for renewal, but she said she wanted to meet them directly and confirm what they wanted to do, so the two came to Japan in January.

Qin was arrested after entering Japan in September this year at Narita Airport, trying to take his elder daughter, who wanted to remain in Japan, back with him. His former wife said the eldest daughter was suffering from an eating disorder and panic attacks, due in part to violent behavior from Qin.

On Thursday, Qin was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for three years, after going on trial facing international abduction and other charges. In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Manabu Kato criticized Qin’s actions, saying, “His act of taking the children away without notice deserves criticism,” but noted, “At the time Qin also held custody of the children.” Commenting on the wife’s position, the judge stated: “It is impossible to imagine the mental anguish of being separated for such a long time from the children she loved.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Japanese Nationals Overseas Safety Division admitted the mistake in renewing the passports without consent, but said it could not provide detailed background information on individual cases.

——————-

国際結婚破綻:母に無断で子の旅券更新…上海日本総領事館

国際結婚した日本人妻との生活が破綻(はたん)した後、2人の娘(18歳と17歳)を母国に連れ去ったとして、国外移送誘拐などの罪に問われた中国出身の会社員の事件に絡み、在上海日本総領事館が04年、2人の旅券を、旅券法の規則に反し、親権者である元妻(40代)の同意を取らないまま更新していたことが分かった。元妻は外務省に対し更新しないよう繰り返し要請していた。

更新で2人はその後5年間中国にとどまることになり、元夫が今年9月に来日し逮捕されるまで解決が遅れる結果となった。元妻は「国のミスで5年間も娘の帰りを待たされた。国は子の人権を守るため積極的に動いてほしい」と訴えている。

未成年者の旅券の有効期限は5年間で、旅券法施行規則は発給を受ける際には親権者の同意書が必要と定めている。

元妻の弁護士らによると、夫婦は88年に結婚し東京都内で暮らしていたが、元妻は98年、夫だった中国出身の会社員、秦惟傑被告(55)による家庭内暴力に耐えかねて別居。秦被告は99年6月、元妻の別居先近くの路上で、小学校に登校途中だった娘2人(当時8歳と7歳)に声を掛けて連れ出し、中国に連れ去った。

離婚は00年に成立、元妻は親権も認められた。居場所も分からない娘との再会を希望し、外務省に旅券を更新しないよう何度も要請。国外移送誘拐容疑で刑事告訴もした。しかし、上海日本総領事館は更新期限の04年1月、元妻の同意なしに2人の旅券を更新した。

秦被告は5年が経過し旅券の再更新時期が迫ったため、元妻に「親権者の同意書にサインしてほしい」と連絡してきた。しかし、元妻は「直接会って意思を確認したい」と一時帰国を求め、2人は1月に来日した。結局、秦被告が今年9月、日本に残ることを希望した長女を連れ戻そうと成田空港から入国、逮捕されたことで、元妻は10年ぶりに長女との暮らしを取り戻すことができた。元妻によると、長女は秦被告の家庭内暴力などの影響で摂食障害やパニックを起こしているという。

外務省海外邦人安全課は毎日新聞の取材に「同意書がないまま旅券を発行したのは確か」とミスを認めたが、原因については「個々の案件について詳しい経緯は話せない」としている。【青木純】
◇国外移送誘拐罪 父親に有罪判決

この件で国外移送誘拐などの罪に問われた秦惟傑被告(55)に対し、東京地裁立川支部は3日、懲役2年、執行猶予3年(求刑・懲役3年)の判決を言い渡した。加藤学裁判長は「黙って連れ去った行為は非難に値する」としたが、「当時は被告も娘の親権を有していた」などと述べた。

判決によると、秦被告は99年6月8日、別居していた妻の自宅から登校途中だった娘2人に声を掛け、同日中に国外に連れ去った。

加藤裁判長は判決で「長い間愛するわが子と離れることを余儀なくされた(元妻の)精神的苦痛は察するに余りある」と述べた。【青木純】

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