The Japanese parliament has approved plans to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Earlier today, the upper house of the National Diet (parliament) unanimously approved plans to join the international treaty. The Convention allows children who have been abducted by parents from one participating country into another to be quickly returned to their homes
Japan is the only member of the G7 group of industrialised nations yet to sign the 1980 treaty, and has come under increasing pressure from other countries to do – in particular the United States.
Earlier this year, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Japanese government to sign the treaty during a visit to Washington. Her successor John Kerry has since called the country’s failure to sign the treaty a “huge issue”.
Around 120 US parents are filed custody claims the Japanese courts after the former partners fled to the country with their children, but all have been unsuccessful. Japanese law currently only allows one parent to have official custody children following divorce, and that is almost always the mother.
Japan is now expected to formally sign the treaty before the end of the current fiscal year in March 2014, following clarification of the Hague Convention’s integration into Japanese law.