Forever mine - PhMuseum

Forever mine

Anna Bedyńska

2021 - Ongoing

Forever mine

An estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Japanese children lose access to a parent every year. Since 1991, over 3,000,000 children have been ripped away from a parent within Japan, legally with the help of single custody laws in Japan, the only developed G8 Country with no joint custody.

The country's Shinken or parental rights system means that after a divorce a parent not only loses custody but also all parental rights. After divorce, the non-custodial parent has no say whatsoever in their child’s life. They cannot access their child’s medical or school records. They definitely cannot take part in any decisions relating to the child’s school or health. And they cannot fight the adoption or guardianship cases of their child in court.

Japan's single custody law violates the fundamental human rights of Japanese children and is contrary to the best interests of a child. Ultimately, it is the children who suffer the most from Japan’s single custody laws. Children who grow up in single-parent homes or who are abducted by one of their parents struggle with a number of socio-economic and psychological issues. They are at-risk for emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. They are more likely to suffer from poverty, limiting their access to quality education and health services. Research shows that children and adults who’ve suffered from child parental abduction also experience psychological issues and generational trauma as they’re robbed of half of their identity — sometimes losing an entire culture, language, and the support of extended family.

The project is about parents who have been deprived of the access to their children.

One day they come back home and find the house empty. From that moment on, they are advocated by many legal authorities such as police or lawyers: go home and forget about your child. Get used to it. Shoganai (Japanese nothing can be done about this) Yet, not everybody does. Some can not overcome the suffering of parental alienation and go suicidal and some go for action fighting with the system which in most cases puts them into jail for months or even years.

One of the parents presented in the project is Vincent Fichot, French left behind father. In July 2021 during the Olympics in Tokyo, Vincent decided to go on a very public hunger strike, having exhausted all other remedies as he seeks to be reunited with his children. His wife took the children away suddenly three years ago and he hasn’t seen them since. He is still married and under Japanese law, he has all the rights of a father, but Japan’s courts have failed to force his wife to allow Fichot to see his kids.

Under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), every child has the right to maintain a personal relationship and direct contact with both their parents, unless it is contrary to their interests.

The project is about parents who have been deprived of the access to their children, they don't know where they are but they do all they can to search for their children, to let them know they have a loving parent left behind.

Status of the project as for October 2021:

It is an ongoing project which will consist of documentary photography based on portraits and artefacts such as letters, diaries and goods left to the left behind parents.

I plan to photograph parents living in Japan, searching for their kids, as well as children who are reunited with their parents. In the submitted document there is a sample of photos and texts - not a final version yet.

In the research I concentrate on personal stories, legal documents, facts and statistics as well as on the opinion of the child and hostage psychologists.

As an end product, I would like to present a publication in the form of an exhibition, online and on spot both in Japan and overseas and in the form of a photobook, which I will work on together with Yumi Goto the Japanese documentary photography curator.

The left behind parents fight to change the law and jurisdictional system in Japan, yet they believe a change needs to come from outside Japan, this is why I hope this project might help to spread awareness among the international audience.

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  • Karina
    child kidnapped from the house in Tokyo by his father

    Abduction date: 21.10.2017
    Son Sion- 7 years old

    Missing at 2021 : 4 Years


    The life of Khabarovsk resident Karina Kakhiani became a real nightmare due to her marriage to a citizen of Japan. Three years after her marriage, the woman found herself in jail on a trumped-up charge, and her husband took her son away to an unknown destination.

    Before marriage, the newlyweds signed a marriage contract. On grounds of adultery, the spouse had to leave the child to the mother and pay alimony necessary for the full upbringing of the boy. In 2017, this document had a tremendous impact on all subsequent events.
    — On October 21, I got my four-year-old son to sleep, then went up to my husband, who was sitting at the computer, and, looking over his shoulder, I saw the correspondence with a mistress. There was no scandal, I did not want to frighten the child. I just took the laptop, husband's mobile phones and said that I would hand them over for examination. He was completely calm and threatened me with the police. I felt right in this situation, peacefully gave him my own smartphone and offered to act. He took the phone, pressed the call and began to speak something in Japanese — then I did not understand the language well. Later I found out that it was about domestic violence, — Karina Kakhiani said.
    It wasn’t long before the police knocked on the door. Almost 20 people entered the room, including students. According to Karina, two law enforcement officers immediately went to the 57-year-old husband of the Russian woman. They had a long chat, paying no attention to the woman who did not understand why she was being ignored.
    — They did not even try to listen to me, they took me to the police station together with my son, whose temperature was about 40. We were kept there for three hours, they were saying nonsense about my friendship with members of the Russian mafia. My husband also testified across the room and said that I allegedly pulled his hair, scratched him. I was offered to sign some papers, they said that then everything would be fine. We returned home closer to the night. I put the child to bed again, but an hour before midnight the police returned, — Karina Kakhiani recalled.

    This time, the police officers came with a warrant and demanded to open the door, threatening to break the windows in case of refusal. Karina agreed, which she later greatly regretted.
    — I was not allowed to get changed, they began to tie me up with a rope, then handcuffed, as if I was a particularly dangerous offender. They didn’t allow me to take money, documents, keys — they just took me out into the street. You know, in Japan, a veil is usually thrown over a suspect's head - if the charges are not confirmed, then the person will calmly return to everyday life. On the contrary, I was dragged down the street in front of all the neighbors, in pajamas and handcuffs, into a police car with a siren on, — the woman added.
    Karina spent 21 days in the police, as, according to the security officials, there was a possibility of her flight. However, she was never charged. The examination showed that the woman did not commit an attack on her husband, and her connection with the Russian mafia turned out to be an empty fiction. Karina was kept in the cell as long as possible. At this time, her husband filed for divorce, and took her son to relatives.



    There have been endless trials for custody of their son for the last three years. According to Karina, the Japanese have an unspoken rule - keep the child with you for six months, and they will leave him to you. The system is extremely imperfect. The fact that Karina, although she has a permanent residence permit, her own business and good earnings, is still a foreigner, complicates the situation. Local authorities still give priority to purebred Japanese. The Russian woman sees her son once a month, and visits last an hour and a half.

  • Karina
    child kidnapped from the house in Tokyo by his father

    Abduction date: 21.10.2017
    Son Sion- 7 years old

    Missing at 2021 : 4 Years

  • Mi
    child kidnapped from the house in Osaka by their mother

    Abduction date: 27.09.2016
    Daughter Mana - 16.09.2016

    Missing at 2021 : 3 Years

    We met with my wife via match making company. Quickly we understood we would like to have children. She was already 38 years old, so she was under pressure not being married at this age. It is ok for a society to be a single mother but not not an old spinster. We went in vitro. The third time was successful.
    So we got married 4 months after we first met and got
    My ex wife was brought up by her sole mother; she has never known her father. She is a well known ophthalmologist like her mother and brother. She didn't like me, she didn't respect my decisions , so she didn't want me to assist during the child delivery at the hospital. I couldn't cut the

    Two days after giving birth we had an argument.
    My wife didn't allow my family to see my kid after delivery? Though many of her friends came to visit her. 10 days after the delivery my wife did not return to our home, she went to her mother's house, I was not shocked at that time because it happens quite often in Japan. I visited her there twice a week.
    After delivery she became very nervous, we had many arguments on different topics. I thought it was a result of post delivery trauma/syndrome. But soon I realised she wanted to exclude me from her life. I realised she registered our daughter at her mother’s house, not in our common one. That was a sign something serious is happening..
    After two months, she wrote a not and left the house taking my daughter with her and all the furniture. From the moment of abduction I had no chance to see my daughter even though we were still married. I was afraid to approach the house of my mother in law because if she would call the police they might accuse me of trespassing and that would work against me, and I could even get arrested.

    26 November 2018 - That was the last time I saw my daughter in court. That was a divorce trial. I could see her via the Venice window meaning I could not hold her, I couldn't touch her, I couldn't talk to her and she couldn't see me.

    Two years ago High Osaka Court gave me a time to meet my daughter for 2 hours a month. Even though it is very little, I wasn't allowed to see her even for this little time. I send presents to my daughter twice a year because a court doesn't allow me more times and I am not sure if the presents reach my daughter. I hardly doubt anyone tells her about my existence and maybe a new partner of my ex wife with whom she got pregnant before our divirce trial is introduced to her as a father. I heard judges saying it's better for a child to have only one father, meaning the man who lives in the same household and not a biological father.

  • Mi
    child kidnapped from the house in Osaka by their mother

    Abduction date: 27.09.2016
    Daughter Mana - 16.09.2016

  • Pablo Garcia Asayama

    Twins, kidnapped from the house in Tokyo by their mother

    Abduction date: JULY 21ST, 2021

    Daughter - 6 years old
    Daughter - 6 years old

    Missing in September 2021 for : 3 months



    My name is Pablo Garcia Asayama. I was born Colombian and nationalized as Japanese.
    My Japanese wife took my 2 twin daughters away from me on 7/21 this year.
    We had a fight on 5/23 and she called the police. After that we lived together without major problems. I went to work on 7/21 like any other day, and on my return they were not at home anymore.

    My daughters turned 6 on 7/15 this year.
    my wife cut all communication, she has temporary protection from the police,
    because she says i am violent all the time, towards her and my daughters too. which is not true. She got a lawyer and set a trial for 保護命令, special protection for 6 months, so i can not get close or know where they are.
    At that time she plans to conclude the divorce and rip me from my parental rights.

  • Pablo Garcia Asayama

    Twins, kidnapped from the house in Tokyo by their mother

    Abduction date: JULY 21ST, 2021

    Daughter - 6 years old
    Daughter - 6 years old

    Missing in September 2021 for : 3 months

  • Christain Louis
    child kidnapped from the house in Akita by her mother

    Abduction date: 12.12.2014
    Daughter Happy- 11 years old

    Missing at 2021 : 7 Years


    I wish I knew what she likes,
    her favorite color, book, food
    who is her best friend,
    what she is good at,
    what she laughs at
    what she dreams about.


    As a 3 years old child she used to love a raw egg on rice.Christain Louis
    child kidnapped from the house in Akita by her mother

    Abduction date: 12.12.2014
    Daughter Happy- 11 years old

    Missing at 2021 : 7 Years


    I wish I knew what she likes,
    her favorite color, book, food
    who is her best friend,
    what she is good at,
    what she laughs at
    what she dreams about.


    As a 3 years old child she used to love a raw egg on rice.

  • Emi

    Two children kidnapped from the house in Tokyo by their father

    Abduction date: August 10th, 2013
    Son Towa - 2 years old
    Daughter Ayano - 3 months

    Missing at 2021 : 8 Years

    Our married life did not run smoothly. My ex rarely came from a full day of work to childcare. He came back home only about once a week because he was busy with his job outside. I believed him at the moment and I thought he was a real eager beaver. But I’m not sure that he really couldn’t for his job now, as he confessed before he’d rented another apartment for himself in a different place in Tokyo even when my kids were little. He said that he sometimes wanted to have individual alone time and that the location was convenient for his job. He used to say that a husband should work away from home and a wife should devote herself to housework. He didn’t try to cooperate with our children’s co-parenting at all from the start, which led to a maddening situation gradually – twisted mental and emotional circuitry involved. I became immersed in rage, frustration, and a sense of powerlessness. Not to mention, there was an ongoing hostile emotional tone between my ex and me that continued to erupt over time and in the same patterns.

    One Saturday afternoon on August 10th, 2013, I came back home with my 2-year-old son, Towa after spending just 30 to 40 minutes just going grocery shopping to find that there were some police cars parking in front of our house and my 15-week-old (3-month-old) breastfeeding baby, Ayano, went missing. It goes without saying that I lost control, then screamed and yelled in anger and frustration with the sudden disappearance of my infant daughter. I couldn’t understand what happened that time when the police told me they were called to report me being on a rampage by my ex-husband and that his brother took my baby to his house for her safety. The police tried to restrain and sedate me because I kept struggling with the officers. Meanwhile, I noticed that my two-year-old son also disappeared. That drove me really mad and I kept yelling at the officers, being just confused at the circumstances.
    It was a strategic abduction.

  • Emi

    Two children kidnapped from the house in Tokyo by their father

    Abduction date: August 10th, 2013
    Son Towa - 2 years old
    Daughter Ayano - 3 months

    Missing at 2021 : 8 Years

  • Enrique Gutierrez
    child kidnapped from the house in Nagoya by her mother

    Abduction date: 12.03.2019
    Daughter Maline - 13.03.2016

    Missing at 2021 : 3 Years

  • Enrique Gutierrez
    child kidnapped from the house in Nagoya by her mother

    Abduction date: 12.03.2019
    Daughter Maline - 13.03.2016

    Missing at 2021 : 3 Years


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