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Reporter - Abducted: A father's search for his sons

August 31, 2019

Björn Echternach from Berlin is desperate. Two years ago his wife left and returned to her homeland of Japan, taking the couple's two sons with her. Echternach has had no contact with his children ever since.


Björn Echternach has legal custody of Karl and Johann, but that doesn't seem to matter to the Japanese authorities. So he decided to take matters into his own hands and flew to Japan. With the help of a bailiff, he hoped to get his children back. The legal situation is clear: according to the Hague Convention, Japan must repatriate children within six weeks of the filing of the petition for their return. But in the five years since it ratified the Hague Convention, Japan has usually failed to comply. Even Björn Echternach's attempt to file a missing person's report with the Japanese police was hindered due to cultural differences. He's told that this is a family matter in which the law has no place. A report by Uwe Schwering.