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.
While Japan has finally decided to ratify the Hague Convention child custody treaty, US officials have voiced concern that they will only be applicable to future cases. Some lawmakers have proposed imposing sanctions on Japan to force their action on open cases of child abductions due to parental custody disputes. But Susan Jacobs, the State Department's special adviser on children's issues, said sanctions are a "double-edged sword".
It took more than 30 years, but the end is finally in sight for Japan joining the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Lower House unanimously approved the signing of the international treaty and will receive Diet approval within 30 days if the Upper House will not vote on it.
The Family Court of Australia has granted sole custody of a little boy to his Japanese mother, after his Australian father abducted the child during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The court said that the boy was not at an "unacceptable risk" from radiation exposure if brought back o Japan.
It may have taken more than 30 years, but Japan is finally joining in the 1980 Hague Convention, in which it is required to return abducted children to their usual place of residence in case of failed international marriage. A government spokesman said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet has already given its approval and will immediately submit the necessary legislation to parliament.
The Japanese government has stated that it plans to set up overseas centers in order to offer Japanese citizens legal support after the country formerly ratifies the Hague Convention, an international treaty for settling child abduction and custody disputes. The treaty specifies the procedures for repatriating children, and is meant to prevent one parent from a failed international marriage from running away with the child back to their home country with the permission of the other parent.
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.
While Hillary Clinton was in Tokyo on Sunday as part of the Afghanistan development conference, a group of roughly 40 foreign and Japanese parents called on her to put pressure on Japan to sign The Hague treaty on the issue of child abductions in custody disputes. Clinton wasn't able to directly respond, but the group continued their rally with signs to bring attention to the issue. Despite the Japanese government submitting a bill in March to agree to the The Hague's 1980 Convention on International Child Abduction, the Diet has yet to discuss it or schedule at time to begin.
Imagine the plight of an abducted child…abducted by their own parent. For reasons best known to them, couples of failed marriages, and who belong to different nationalities, prefer to kidnap their child to their home country, rather than going through the legal channels for custody. The latest news in this event is the case of a Nicaraguan national living in the US and his estranged Japanese wife, who fled to Japan with their 9-year-old daughter.