Two sad stories

There was once a forum on the main site for foreigners in Japan, Gaijinpot, and one thread was about ‘relationships’.  Here there moped a sad fellow known as Kansai Ben.  To tell his whole story would be too much for now, and would simply mirror the experience of thousands of other Gaijin like him, but in short he was divorced from a J-girl, was struggling to meet child support payments as he was unable to do anything in Japan but teach English, and he never saw his kids.

So far, so sad.

His ex always talked shit about him to the kids, about how he was a deadbeat and never helped them out, to the extent that they didn’t want to see him anymore.  There’s no joint custody in Japan and access orders are unenforced and routinely ignored.  Many, many dads never see their kids again.

One day he was on the train and he saw his middle-school aged daughter there with her friends.  He had not seen her for a year or so.  He smiled at her.  She looked away and pretended not to know him for the rest of the journey.

That’s a pretty sad story.

But not as sad as this one I heard from Italy.  There was a quiet American, another English teacher.  He never said much.  He always seemed very tired.  One day my friend saw him sleeping at his desk.  Colleagues explained that he often didn’t get enough sleep at night because he lived in shelter for the homeless.

How could this be?

Under Italian law, a divorced father has to pay for his children’s education until they finish.  The mother does not.  This fellow’s son was at medical school and he had to pay for it.  As he was doing nothing but English teaching, he had to essentially be homeless in order to make the required payments.  He was finally hospitalized for depression and killed himself a few months after that.

This is why we can’t have nice things – like a birthrate over replacement level, or a sustainable civilization.  The Ice People are in collapse.


Image credit: Gary Nicholls



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  1. Himself · March 18, 2020

    Why don’t they leave? They lost.

    The second dude should move back to America. Let them come collect.


    • dickycone · March 18, 2020

      Do you have kids? I’d have wondered the same thing before I had them. I used to wonder why people do insane things like kidnapping their children after they lose custody. Now I completely understand.


      • Nikolai Vladivostok · March 19, 2020

        I don’t. In Japan I was aware that if I married then divorced, I might never see my kids again.



        • dickycone · March 19, 2020

          I meant that maybe these guys are hanging around in the countries where their children live because they’re desperate to see them, somehow, even if only for a fleeting moment on the subway like the one in Japan. That was heart-wrenching for me to read. I often miss my children almost unbearably just being away from them at work for the day. Like I said, I know it’s incomprehensible to guys who are childless because it was to me too before I had kids.


          • Nikolai Vladivostok · March 19, 2020

            I can understand it just enough to be terrified by it. I admire the bravery of men who try.


          • Wolf · March 19, 2020

            I have kids.
            You have to be willing to split. Otherwise you lose all leverage and everything rots.
            The moment I was willing to cut her off, things improved dramatically.

            Liked by 1 person

            • dickycone · March 19, 2020

              Do you mean that you let your wife/baby mama know you were willing to leave her and therefore managed to stay with her and in your kids life? That’s dread game, classic Heartiste school move. I agree that it’s effective.

              Or did you mean that you were in the same boat as these guys in Japan and Italy, separated from your ex and your kids, and you left your ex’s country and gave up on ever seeing your kids again? If you meant that, did it somehow lead to seeing your children again?


              • Wolf · March 21, 2020

                Actually, we were already separated but she was always giving me crap. One of her methods was to imply that I would not be able to see my kids again. Worked for several long years. Finally I made it clear that I no longer cared. Now she’s sweet to me and begs me to visit or at least call them from time to time.


    • Nikolai Vladivostok · March 19, 2020

      Some people suggested to Kansai Ben that he earn more money abroad, or just benefit from a change of scenery, but he’d been in Japan so long he couldn’t imagine leaving.
      As for the one in Italy, perhaps the government could collect if he went home. I don’t know.
      In both cases they’d been fly-by-night English teachers for so long that they could no longer do much else. It’s a common problem. Old hands warn newbies about it when they arrive: ‘Don’t knock up a Japanese girl and don’t stay so long that you have no other career, or you’re stuck.’ But they never listen.


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