Kyodo: Japan to join The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Uncertain when.


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Hi Blog.  The GOJ just said it will join the Hague Convention (on Child Abductions, not child custody, as entitled below; guess that’s more palatable to readers), something sorely needed in in a society which acts as a haven for international child kidnapping after divorce.  It’s an important announcement, with a couple of caveats:  1) It hasn’t happened yet (or it’s uncertain when it will happen, so it’s not quite news), and 2) it’s unclear, as the article notes (and many Readers believe, according to a recent poll here) that Japan will properly enforce it if it does ratify (as it has done in the past with, say, the Convention on Racial Discrimination) with laws guaranteeing joint custody and/or visitation rights.  Good news, kinda.  Wait and see.  More on the issue from here.  Arudou Debito on holiday.


Japan to join The Hague convention on child custody
Kyodo News/Japan Today Sunday 15th August, 2010, courtesy of JK

TOKYO — Japan has decided to become a party to a global treaty on child custody as early as next year amid growing calls abroad for the country to join it to help resolve custody problems resulting from failed international marriages, government sources said Saturday.

The government will develop domestic laws in line with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides a procedure for the prompt return of ‘‘abducted’’ children to their habitual country of residence and protects parental access rights, the sources said.

Complaints have been growing over cases in which a Japanese parent, often a mother, brings a child to Japan without the consent of the foreign parent, or regardless of custody determination in other countries, and denies the other parent access to the child.

Japan has come under pressure from the United States and European countries to join the 1980 treaty aimed at preventing one of the parents in a failed international marriage from taking their offspring across national borders against an existing child custody arrangement.

The government has judged it necessary to resolve the issue as soon as possible, given that leaving it unresolved for a long term would undermine Japan’s international standing, the sources said.

However, the government has yet to determine when to ratify the treaty, as it is expected to take time to develop related domestic laws because of differences in the legal systems of Japan and other signatory nations.

For example, on parental rights, Japan’s law gives a single parent full custody of children in a divorce, virtually allowing the custodial parent to take the children away without the consent of the noncustodial parent, while the United States and Europe allow joint custody.

Japan’s Civil Code also does not mention visitation rights for noncustodial parents and many Japanese parents awarded custody are known to refuse the other parent access to the child.

Many civic groups active on the issue urge the Japanese government to amend the Civil Code to allow joint custody but the government is set to forgo such an amendment at this stage, according to the sources.

In January, ambassadors of the United States and seven other nations urged Japan to sign the Hague convention in a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in Tokyo.

Amid growing global concerns over the so-called child abductions, the Japanese government set up a division in the Foreign Ministry to specifically deal with the issue in December last year, while then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in February suggested that he was considering Japan’s accession to the treaty.

Japan and Russia are the only two countries among the Group of Eight industrialized nations that are not a party to the Hague Convention.

11 comments on “Kyodo: Japan to join The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Uncertain when.

  • Holy shit!

    This just shows if we keep bitching and telling people about this, eventually CHANGE can happen!

    Now if only they could stop pouring all that nuclear waste into the ocean and having all those damn lizards and moths stop attacking us

    but seriously, all your buds that have asked you to post their blogs and what not should be really happy about this, huh?

  • Good news indeed, though taken with a healthy grain of salt. Signing a paper is one thing, actually backing what you signed is another. I’ll believe it when I see it, but I’ll applaud any step so long as it’s in the right direction.

  • I am afraid this is a bad example of journalism.

    According to the Constitution of Japan, a unanimous resolution of the Cabinet is required to sign a treaty. Consent of lower house is required to ratify a treaty. Neither is easily obtained in this political climate.

    Reporting “Japan has decided” is way too inaccurate.

  • As perhaps no person better understands than you, Debito, Japan also signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Since signing on in 1995, what has Japan done to enforce its provisions? Why would anyone think this signing is any more significant? It’s all done to make Japan look better internationally, not to affect any changes domestically.

  • [repeated boilerplate that we’ve addressed repeatedly here before deleted]

    Bob, not so many Japanese support child abduction convention. Feminists are against it because of DV issues. Conservatives are against it because of traditional family values. The only people supporting it are MoFA.
    MoFA is still soliciting public comment on the convention. You can write to them.

  • HO, it’s a stretch to say that the only people supporting this convention are the MofA. There is more to the rest of society than just feminists and conservatives, you know. And I fail to see how ‘traditional family values’ would play any part in this. If anything, a ‘traditional’ family should consist of both the mother and the father of the child/children. Or, are you trying to say that a foreign parent doesn’t qualify to be considered a part of a ‘traditional’ Japanese family?

    In a way, I find it sad that nobody seems to be thinking about the children in this whole affair. Children need both parents. They need to grow up in an environment that they feel comfortable and safe in. Being forcefully removed from their family home and forbidden to have any kind of contact with a parent can leave deep scars.

  • Lets get real, these feminist groups are concerned about loosing their benefits from the social services the government pays them from being single mothers. The government should alleviate those fears by making it clear that social services will not be cut if the LBP has visitation rights and cannot afford to make up the difference. The benefits should be cut in commensurate with the non-custodial parents ability to pay, but not without assurances.


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