Diet session ends, Hague Convention on Int’l Child Abductions endorsement bill not passed


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Hi Blog. After much political gridlock (the likes of which have not been seen, since, oh, the LDP was in power and the DPJ controlled the Upper House — not that long ago), the current Diet session is over, and one bill that matters to did not pass: The one endorsing Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention on International Child Abductions. You know — the treaty that just about everyone else in the club of rich developed nations has signed, and the one that stops you at an international border if you’re traveling single with a child, demanding proof that you’re not abducting your child from the other parent. It’s a good idea, since divorce in Japan due to the Koseki Family Registry System results in one parent (regardless of nationality) losing all legal ties to the child, and leads in many (almost all, it’s estimated) cases to the child growing up with no contact whatsoever (since Japan does not allow joint custody) with the noncustodial parent.  It’s even worse for international marriages, and Japan has gotten a lot of pressure from other countries in recent years to sign.  Now unsuccessfully.

Entire movie at

Well, so Japan will remain a haven for child abductions, both domestic and international. But the interesting thing I’m seeing concrete evidence of these days is overseas Japanese taking advantage of this system, banding together to assist each other in abducting their children to Japan, and the Japanese embassies/consulates cooperating with them as they spirit them into Japan.  (I’ll blog about that someday once I receive permission to make that information public.)

But as I have argued before, I’m not sure it really matters if Japan signs the Hague. The GOJ has signed other treaties before (most notably the Convention for Elimination on Racial Discrimination), and refuses to enforce them under domestic laws with criminal penalties (or in Japan’s case regarding the CERD, now signed 17 years ago, refuses to create any laws at all).  In the Hague’s case, the GOJ was looking for ways to caveat themselves out of enforcing it (by creating laws of their own advantageous to Wajin spiriters of children that would trump the HCICA, or finding loopholes, such as claims of DV (that only NJ inflict upon us gentle, mild, weak, peaceful Wajin), that would allow the children to stay in Japan out of fear.)

Or, true to character, we’ll have people claiming that it’s a matter of “Japanese custom” (shuukan) the last resort for any unjustifiable situation (only this time coming from elected Japanese Dietmember Ido Masae who herself abducted her kids):

It’s pretty messy, by design, so visit the Children’s Rights Network Japan Website to try and untangle it.

So I guess the question I’d like to open up for discussion is:

Is it better for a nation-state to be bold-faced about it and just say, “We can’t enforce this treaty due to our culture, so we’re not going to sign it, and if you don’t like it, don’t marry our citizens”? Or, is it better for a nation-state to sign it, not enforce it, and face the (geopolitically mild) pressure of a broken promise? I know which route the GOJ has taken so far. Arudou Debito


Rocky, extended Diet session over; bills, treaties left in lurch
Hague, vote-value, deficit bond measures fail to clear grudge fest
The Japan Times, September 8, 2012
By MASAMI ITO Staff writer
Excerpt, rest at

The extended 229-day Diet session closes with a whimper Saturday, with piles of important bills and treaties left unaddressed and voters left only with an image of lawmakers engaging in political maneuvering for their own goals — particularly those over the contentious sales tax hike and over the next Lower House election.

And now both the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party are focused on one thing — the presidential elections for both parties to be held this month to choose the leaders who will guide their parties in that next general election…

During the current Diet session, which started in January, only 66 percent of newly submitted government-sponsored bills cleared both chambers.

Political squabbling took center stage last month when the nonbinding censure motion against Noda was approved by the Upper House, stopping almost all Diet deliberations.

Thus the government also failed to live up to its promise to the international community to pass a bill to endorse the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction to prevent estranged parents from spiriting a couple’s children across borders.

Rest at

21 comments on “Diet session ends, Hague Convention on Int’l Child Abductions endorsement bill not passed

  • They only made any moves regarding the convention while it was making news in the rest of the world. Once the international spotlight left the subject, so did the Japanese government’s purportings of intending to sign up. The storm has passed and now we can all go back to pretending there isn’t a problem that needs addressing.

  • This is why I divorced;before I had kids with a Japanese. I now feel vindicated that I made the right decision. I would not want to lose my kids.

  • Mari fujisawa says:

    Even if you are both Japanese, the mother still has the priority to get the child, disappear and make her own demands…my son is fighting over his rights for access to his 5 month old daughter..we are seeking help from the family court…nothing is happening..yet the wife continues to make demands..and all are ears to her…totally unfair and a very one way situation…we are devastated!

  • I honestly thing sometimes that the best way to get Japan to do anything as a nation might be to simple shame it in front of the face of the world. A documentary on child abduction at a film festival. A group effort by NGO’s to make a website of stories or a book of the stolen children and what the parents are facing. Interviews and statements put by the politicians and the sort of information put here.

    Humiliate and shame the entire country for allowing such a travesty to take place. There is simply no excuse. “Culture” makes it ok? Go back to the dark ages with that excuse Japan.

    — Regarding your first paragraph: That’s all being done, actually.

  • @ Mr. B above, well it worked with “The Cove”, sort of. But for the American right, that seemed like a tree huggers’ cause, ditto whaling. Hopefully with the case of child abductions, the problem cuts right across the political spectrum.

    On the other hand, Japan sells its fantasy image best, so no doubt there will still be a large segment of youth, mainly, but also the Donald Keene types who have bought into the cliches/anime/cosplay aspects of Japan and will refuse to think about anything “political”.

    Until a J divorce with kids involved happens to them.

  • (few typos in the first post, sorry about that)

    Seriously? Was completely unaware of that sadly. Hope word gets out and advertising is done so that the issue and material gets noticed. You have a link to the said material, a documentary, NGO webpages with parents stories and such?

    — Er… read my blog post. There’s a link to the Children’s Rights Network Japan, as well as an embedded share of an Australian documentary. Also, see upcoming movie (which I’ve also talked about here on before, so do some research) premiering soon at the Philadelphia Film Festival, called FROM THE SHADOWS.

  • It should at least be considered as a possibility that Japan will not effect such a change for many, many years.

    In much the way that Saudi Arabia will not change for decades or centuries regarding many aspects of basic human rights, so too with Japan.

    What may be true is that in any situation like this, in which the interests of J are competing with those of NJ, and in which a win for one is a loss for the other, that the bulk of all J will strongly and reflexively always support the J.

    A bit like Saudi Arabia in which the interests of Saudi Muslims are always more important than non-Muslims, and so custody must always be awarded to a Muslim.

    It would be useful to have data on popular sentiment amongst J to better understand the depth and intensity of nativist views.

  • It’s very far from PC to refer to such-and-such-group as animals, but there is something genuinely
    animal about Japan’s “a child stays with its mother” approach to which Masae Ido refers. That is
    what many lesser creatures do. It seems plausible that it is what most humans did until relatively recently, which is why there is a striking ring of truth to Ms. Ido’s claim that “It’s a custom”.

  • seattlefather says:

    An interesting turn of events in this arena is that my ex has once again not been granted custody by the Tokyo family court. Our son has now been there 4 years and the TFC is saying he is only here visiting and that custody jurisdiction remains in the States. Waiting to find out if an appeal was filed. Some things can change….. A little.

  • “Shuukan”, sigh. Well Ido had to say that as otherwise she is admitting she is a criminal in some countries. Which she is. Then again, it is arguably a Japanese custom to have criminal lawmakers…so they can change the law to decrimalize their crime or remain immune from prosecution!

    So it is a Japanese custom to abduct children and deprive the other party of visiting rights. Olympus is the other recent example, this time the Japanese custom is fiddling the books and corruption.

    Maybe we NJs (irony mine) should just accept the reality that the customs of Japan are child abduction and corruption, bribery, racism, exclusionism etc.

    “It is a Japanese custom to be (racist) but its not exactly (racist) because its Japanese”- even an apologist approach sounds damning.Or damned hilarious.

    This would be far more honest and enable businesses to realise that they might as well take their business to China instead (or somewhere else in the world) as its rapidly becoming six of one and half a dozen of the other!

    A sad state of affairs when the once great “westernized” country of Japan starts to resemble Communist China in terms of lawlessness…by lawmakers.

  • If you marry a Japanese and are a foreigner, make sure you get the divorce papers translated first.

    The wife will know how she can trick you, by using her puppet government who only keeps prime ministers on an average for 1 year to use the social welfare system and racist courts to abduct or alienate your child.

    It’s very unfortunate for a foreign father, who is in Japan and has a child and then has no rights within the country in which he resides. You would think the U.S. would help in this situation??

    Yet they are also hypocrites. Japan and Japanese can’t seem to communicate or have an opinion to make any rules or laws.

    They can blame other countries for unfair acts or violations, yet within Japan nobody seems to have power or a voice. Its an utter joke. Japan needs to grab it’s balls and behave like the third largest economy.

    I’m utterly appauled by the Japanese lack of government and fairness in global issues. In 2012 Japan lags behind in huuman rights issues and is in no means moving in a positive direction.

    Very sad situation within the Japanese political system/Family courts/Lawyers/City Halls and the U.S. Governmentsupporting such a Hypocritical lawless island.
    Tim Johnston Narita,Japan
    Father of Kai endo, Narita,Japan

  • Someday a Chinese or Taiwanese or Korean is going to steal a child back, get it to their embassy and then all heck will break loss (considering how much love these countries have for japan, and vice verse)

  • Exactly the point: once a child is on their territory they can claim what ever they want to, most likely what ever gives their nationals glee and ticks off the Japanese most.

  • I applied to the Australian Family Court to have my son put on an airport/departure point
    watch list and succeeded. The Family Court also ordered that the Japanese Embassy be made aware
    of these orders as well as the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.
    All done so the message I wish to say is to be proactive to participate in your child’s life

  • At the risk of being repitious (but it is close to my heart)

    Great news but it won’t change things

    If you are married to a Japanese and there are marital issues get your kids out of Japan as soon as possible
    1) to a Hague Convention Country

    2)apply to the courts of that country to have the child/children placed on a departure point
    watch list .Airports and shipping. This is what happens in Australia

    3)Be sure to notify the local Japanese Embassy or Consulate of the court decision
    This makes it impossible for the Japanese spouse to have a Japanese
    passport issued in the child’s name using the spouse’s maiden name on the child’s passport
    Besides it makes the diplomatic staff go very quiet when personally handed a copy of the

    4)Be reasonable and allow the Japanese spouse joint access but this doesn’t happen in Japan
    There is Skype and the Japanese spouse is always welcome to purchase a cheap airfare
    for a ( extended ) visit but whatever keep your kids out of Japan


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