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Japan to sign Hague child abduction treaty

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has announced plans to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.

More formally known as the ‘Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction’, this international treaty provides a legal mechanism for the return of children abducted by a parent from one participating country into another. To date, 89 countries have signed the Convention.

Speaking at a news conference in Washington with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Kishida said:

“The government [of Japan] is intending to go through the necessary procedures for the early signing of the treaty. We will make our best efforts so that the early ratification of the convention will be achieved.”

Clinton said she hoped the National Diet (Japanese parliament) would ratify the treaty during its next session, set to begin later this month.

Japanese courts have traditionally been unsympathetic to foreign partners of Japanese women, almost never granting custody or access to their children. There has also been little legal recourse available if Japanese women return to the country with their children after the end of a relationship. According to a report in The Japan Times, at least 120 US parents have filed cases with the Japanese courts but all have been unsuccessful.

The US Congress pressed the previous Japanese government for action but it was slow to respond and suggested any ratification of the Hague Convention could only apply to future cases.

Fumio Kishida is a member of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party, under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Patrick says:

    They are already backtracking on this…

    MoFA likely made the statement on the Hague to bargin with the Department of State on getting public support for their dispute with China of the islands. Now that Japan got the US statement, they will continue to drag their feet on the Hague and any real solution to the common Japanese practice of Parental abduction.

    Japan has repeatedly stated that they would sign the Hague… it has never happened. In addition, the Hague is NOT retroactive. So it will not address any of the existing cases of abducted American/UK/Canadian/etc. children. Unless Japan updates its domestic family law – to provide for joint parenting (they ONLY have sole-custody) and ENFORCEABLE visitation – the signing of the Hague treaty will be largely meaningless.

    As it stands, Japan is ALREADY a signatory to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which ALREADY has provisions both against parental abduction and providing for the right of children to know both parents. However, Japan has been ignoring that treaty since they ratified it in 1994.

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