Japan’s upper and lower houses of parliament finally approved on Wednesday an international treaty on child abductions, as decades of pressure from the United States and the international community finally created the result. Before today, Japan was the only member of the Group of Eight (G8) – the global group of highly-industrialized nations – that has not put into its country’s law articles of the 1980 Hague Convention – an agreement requiring nations to return abducted children to the countries where they naturally reside.
Unlike other industrialized countries, Japan’s laws and legal system does not recognize the concept of joint custody, resulting in Japanese courts almost always forcing half-Japanese children to live with their mothers. Hundreds of male parents who live in North America and Europe are then left without any choice, as Japanese mothers usually end up with full custody of their children. Members of the United States Congress have long demanded any sort of progress on the issue from Japan, this being one of the few open disputes between Japan and the US. When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the US in February, the premier promised action after official meetings with US President Barack Obama.
The vote was a unanimous one in the Diet’s upper house on Wednesday, in the wake of a similarly strong vote by the more powerful lower house just last month. This aside, Japan’s central government will look to clear various governmental, legislative and administrative obstacles before the laws accepting the Hague Convention can take its full effectivity. Japan has set March 2014 as the target for final ratification of the law. A central organization for this specific law will be set up in Japan’s Foreign Ministry, taking charge of locating half-Japanese children who have been taken to Japan following the collapse of an international marriage. This central office will encourage the parents to settle these disputes voluntarily before taking legal action.
[via Yahoo News]