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”.
Testifying before Congress, Jacobs said that threatening countries with sanctions is sometimes not the best way to get a country’s cooperation, especially since “most of the relationships that we have are very complex and involve many issues,” she adds. Sanctioning Japan over these cases, even though it is important to resolve them, would only damage the bilateral relationship the two countries currently enjoy.
The bill proposed by Chris Smith, who heads the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee handling human rights, says that they will call off cultural or scientific exchanges or deny export licenses to countries who do not immediately resolve abduction cases. He believes just the threat of sanctions might be incentive enough to get them to take action.
Hundreds of non-Japanese parents have lost access to their children when their estranged partners took them back to Japan. Sole custody is always given to mothers in the country, and most of the overseas parents mentioned are fathers. Even though Japan has the most number of cases of abducted US children, other countries like India and Egypt are also cause for concern. The Hague Convention ensures the return of children under the age of 16 to their place of residence when they are taken by one parent after the dissolution of an international marriage. The court where the child resides will then make the decision as to which parent will gain full custody. The bill in Japan has been ratified and is awaiting the final approval from the Upper House. They are the only one of the Group of Eight nations who have not officially joined the pact.
[ via My Sinchew ]