Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he intends to have Japan soon join the international Hague Convention on child-custody and abduction following his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington later this month. On Wednesday Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) gave approval of bills to ratify the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, meaning they are ensured to pass through parliament after being submitted in March.
The Hague Convention and participating nations agree that in an international marriage, if one parent takes their child aged 15 or younger out of the country without the other’s consent, the child should be brought back to the country where they normally reside in order for courts there to decide on custody rights. While there are 89 countries who have joined the convention, very few are from Asia, and Japan is the only Group of Eight (G-8) nation that has not committed. The U.S. and many European countries have long called on Japan to join based on the perspective of human rights.
Japanese courts almost always give child custody to the mother in domestic divorces, and in international marriage situations, custody is never given to the non-Japanese spouse. As a result, Japan is seen as a safe-haven for those who choose to flee another country without permission or notifying their spouse before hand, leaving them, most often the husband, with no ability or rights to see or contact their child. The Hague Convention stipulates that custody rights after divorce should be decided by a court in the country where the children were born and raised.