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Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010

HAVE YOUR SAY

Deadbeat dads, navy abuse case, visas and Futenma: readers' views

The other side of the fence

Re: "Japan must end the scourge of parental child abduction" by Amy Savoie (Hotline to Nagatacho, Nov. 9):

Just a thought from the other side of the fence:

What has the U.S. government — or any government for that matter — done for the mothers and children of the deadbeat dads that up and leave the families when things get to complicated with a Japanese wife in Japan, or when they figure out that living with a Japanese national in the States is too much of a hassle?

The divorce rate among American- Japanese couples is disgustingly high, and child support and alimony is hardly ever given and offered. What do you expect mothers to do when they are faced with these type of issues?

The articles on the major U.S. news websites, your site and the embassy home page exaggerate the small amount of "real abduction" cases. Mothers do not take their children away from their fathers unless they feel it is necessary.

These so-called "fathers" tell the side of the story that we Americans want to hear: Poor American father trying to be a father now, when they were not husbands first.

I know that all cases are not the same, but why would a Japanese national just up and leave all personal belongings, and face humiliation back in Japan with a gaijin child without a father, just to go back to Japan?

Why, because most of the fathers are not making the effort to make life for the Japanese spouse bearable in the States.

I assume that in most cases this is the reason. But, again, you only hear one side of the story; only the parents and God know the real truth behind family matters.

I can speak about this issue because I am a half-American, half-Japanese who lived in the States until I was 15, but had a deadbeat dad and had no other choice but to come to Japan with my mom. My biological father has never looked me up since.

I went to high school with many other mixed-race people with the same background. More people share my hardships, and I can bet we outnumber the "real" abduction cases 1,000 times over.

So, to get back to my question: Can we get the Japanese government to press the rest of the world to start taking care of the children in all divorce cases?

OLEN JASON LOFTIS
Yokosuka, Kanagawa

Worst time of our lives

Re: "Muslims in shock over police 'terror' leak" by David McNeill (Zeit Gist, Nov. 9):

Muslims are not the only people picked on here in Japan, and complaining, I fear, will accomplish nothing.

But that's not why I am sending this mail. This part of the article should be commented on:

"Bakkali Said, for example, who works as a chauffeur for the Iraqi Embassy in Tokyo, says the special police approached him after he forgot to renew his residence visa in 2007 — a common error among foreigners here, usually solved with a handwritten apology."

A handwritten apology?

I overstayed my visa one Friday, went down to the immigration office on Tuesday and spent the next eight months in hell, visiting the Shinagawa office every week and supplying bank books, photos of myself and my wife, being interviewed separately — we were literally interrogated.

My wife and I had just been married, my family was here and I had a lot on my plate. I made a mistake on the day of the month I should have handed in my papers.

Immigration requested I deport myself, and when my wife — who at the time was still studying to be a nurse — started crying, they told her to quit school and go with me. I spoke little Japanese at the time and not once was a translator offered.

I spoke to a lawyer and he said I was screwed, and that if I wanted to stay, my family was going to have to support me until the visa came through (which would take anywhere from three months to three years).

Leaving would confirm my guilt, and I could be barred from Japan for 15 or more years. So I stayed, worked illegally (a man has to eat) and waited until the visa finally came. It was the most difficult time of both of our lives.

That was over five years ago now, and I am still terrified some immigration officer may have a bad day and make an example of me.

I wish a written apology had been enough. Please, don't let people think lightly of overstaying their visa.

NAME WITHHELD

Picking on U.S. servicemen

Re: "Justice not served in navy abuse case" by Richard Smart (Zeit Gist, Nov. 30):

I don't know why this story, among a myriad of other alleged cases worldwide of justice not being served, appeared in The Japan Times. Just because at one time he was stationed in Japan? This trend of making servicemen in Japan look bad appears intentional and goes against journalistic ethics when this is the sole intent.

This doctor did not "go free," as he is a convicted sex offender and must be registered as such. His medical license was revoked, so he can no longer practice medicine, anywhere. He was fined and has a felony conviction.

He did not receive any retirement benefits for his military service, and although I have no doubt his abuses were widespread, only the provable ones are considered in judicial processes. Hearsay is not permitted, unfortunately. There is plea bargaining in the "real world" too and this is not unique to military courts.

Amanda, hiding behind a pseudonym in the article, alleges the plea bargain was forced and it was about a reluctance to spend $200,000, yet she or the author does not cite a single fact or reference to support this.

Although this behavior for which the doctor was convicted is reprehensible, this kind of article belongs in a tabloid where opinions are not required to be supported by facts and real names other than the accused can be hidden.

NAME WITHHELD
Chiba

The reason for Futenma

In a recent "Hotline to Nagatacho" segment ("Ditch Futenma to resurrect Japan-U.S. ties," Nov. 30), Paul de Vries had this to say about Futenma Air Station and how the governor of Okinawa should approach it with the U.S. government:

"Demand specific scenarios in which the base could actually be of some practical use, in the form of 'China/North Korea/Russia does this, then the U.S. does this, the U.N. says this and then the U.S. Marines at Futenma do this.' And 'the reasons why the marines could only have come from a base on Okinawa are these.' "

It is quite easy to answer this:

China attacks Taiwan. A base in Okinawa provides the most immediate location from which to launch an air counter-attack, which is why the U.S. Air Force as well as the marines have air bases there. This location also provides a relatively convenient place from which to launch attacks against North Korea should doing so become necessary, though it is certainly not the only location that would be utilized for such purposes.

Back to the issue of China. The leading assumption among those of us who track military affairs in East Asia is that with China building a blue-water navy as well as advancing into fifth-generation fighters, it is moving towards the capability to launch a crippling strike against Taiwan. Such a strike could lead to the destruction of Taiwan's air defenses before American forces could get there if stationed too far away.

While U.S. Marine ground forces are pulling back to Guam (something often forgotten in the Futenma discussion), our air forces need to have the quick response capability to defend our ally, Taiwan.

Before closing my letter, I'd like to touch on Korea one more time.

Yes, there are ample U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula to bear the brunt of an initial attack. However, believe it or not, 40,000 troops is not a lot for a sustained military action. One also needs to remember that it is unwise to put all your eggs in one basket, which is why America is well advised not to concentrate all their air power on the Korean Peninsula. This is why American air bases are scattered throughout Japan — including Okinawa.

JAMES GUTHRIE
Tucson, Arizona

Whole lotta head-shaking

Re: "Bothered by night-flight racket from Futenma air base" (Lifelines, Nov. 30):

What, this writer didn't notice the U.S. Marines' air station there before he moved in? Or did he believe the landlord when he said that they hardly ever flew planes out of the base?

I always shake my head in wonderment when someone moves in next to an airport and then complains about the noise of airplanes or moves in next to a dairy and complains about the smell and the flies.

C. E. VOIGTSBERGER
Ventura, California

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