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.