Hi Blog. The following Japan Times article wouldn’t normally be put up on Debito.org yet because the negotiation is ongoing (covering much the same argumentative ground as already reported here), and nothing necessarily decisive has been decided. However, a new development in the USG’s constant-looking pressure on the GOJ to sign the Hague, and do something about its citizens using Japan as a haven for child abductions after divorce, is the fact that somebody official is bothering to answer the GOJ claim that obeying the Hague would mean sending back J children to be endangered by an abusive NJ parent (I’ll take that as a slur, thank you very much). Excerpts from the JT article below. Arudou Debito in Morioka.
DPJ rule raises Hague treaty-signing hope
‘Left-behind parent’ urges Japan to side with child-abduction pact
By MASAMI ITO
The Japan Times: Thursday, March 18, 2010 (excerpt)
… Article 1 of the Hague Convention states that its objective is “to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State.” At present, there are 82 signatory states, including Canada, the United States and Great Britain. Of the Group of Eight countries, only Japan and Russia have not signed the treaty.
“There is a part of this convention that is alienated from the Japanese legal system,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written reply to The Japan Times. “In concluding this convention, there are several issues that need to be thoroughly discussed, including the consistency with our country’s judicial system on families.”
Under Japanese law, only one parent gets custody over children after a divorce, whereas rulings on joint custody are often seen in Europe and the United States. But with the number of international marriages on the increase and a rise in divorces as well, Japan faces increasing international pressure to change the current system and sign the convention.
Last month, Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, brought up the issue during his meetings with Japanese officials in Tokyo and even held a special news conference on the topic at the U.S. Embassy.
“The U.S. government places the highest possible priority on the welfare of children who have been victims of international parental child abduction and strongly believes that children should grow up with access to both parents,” Campbell told reporters. […]
One key concern often cited in the Japanese media is cases of domestic violence in which mostly Japanese women are fleeing their abusive husbands and bringing their children to Japan to protect them.
But Article 13 of the convention stipulates that children do not need to be returned if there is a risk that the return “would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.”
[Raymond Baca, the consul general of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, who has a rather unfortunate name,] said: “There is this perception out there, and I believe it’s widely held, that if Japan joined or acceded to the Hague Convention, that Japanese parents here would be required to send their children back to an abusive environment.
“It’s important to point out that there are explicit safeguards against this within the Hague Convention,” he said.
Full article at