With pressure from the international community growing to have Japan finally sign the Hague Convention treaty, countries which are affected by mixed marriages to Japanese citizens are eager to finally have some semblance of hope for their citizens to at least be able to re-connect with estranged children. But government officials in the United States are doubtful if Japan will enforce the treaty agreements to their fullest effects, given that there is such a wide gap between the understanding of parental authority in Japan and in the U.S.
“Even if Japan signs the Hague Convention, it is unlikely to enforce the treaty’s provisions, given the existing family law system,” said a report on Japan-US relations released by the US Congress in May, highlighted the family law experts’ concerns. In Japan, single parental authority is often recognized by the legal system. This gives one parent full custody of a child, and with that full authority on how and where the child will live. In these situations, it is not uncommon for the other parent – the one without parental authority (almost always the father) – to be disconnected from the child for long periods of time. In contrast, legal systems in Europe and the U.S. have found it popular to grant joint custody of a child – where a couple separated by legal divorce can agree on issues such as child support and regular visiting time.
One other legal aspect where Japan has laws not aligned to the Hague Convention is with stipulations regarding child abuse. in Japan, the country’s Child Abuse Prevention Law says that violence between family members – if it takes place in front of a child – shall constitute psychological abuse. This is grounds for the legal system, and indeed the parent with authority, to reject the return of a child – which is stipulated by the Hague Convention. Violence between parents is not considered child abuse in many of the treaty’s signatory nations, and so Japan is looking to have its opinion heard on the subject. It will look to put out arguments regarding child abuse and line them up beside the treaty’s laws so that the Japanese can feel secure in that the child’s rights are protected at all times.
[via Asia One]