Child abduction treaty to take effect in Japan
By CHIYOMI SUMIDA | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 31, 2014
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A treaty aimed a preventing cross-border parental kidnapping takes effect Tuesday in Japan after years of pressure from the international community.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction — which was first ratified in 1980 — requires a parent who flees with a child to another country to evade a custody dispute to return that child to his or her home of habitual residence.
In recent years, child custody disputes have become a larger problem in Japan. As of 2012, there were more than 190 known cases in which foreign governments have urged Japan to return children who were abducted to Japan by their Japanese parents. An additional 80 cases have been reported where children were taken out of Japan by their non-Japanese parents, according to a report compiled by the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense at the House of Councilors.
Japan ratified the treaty in January.
Becoming a signatory of the pact obligates Japan to provide assistance in locating the child and, if possible, to achieve a voluntary return of the child or an amicable resolution of the dispute.
The treaty will not be applied to the cases to return children who have been already in Japan after being removed from their original residence. However, the government will assist parents who seek to gain access to their children in Japan, according to a spokesman for the Hague Convention Affairs Office of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Two Canadian men, who asked not to be identified, hold a sign during a demonstration in August 2011 in Tokyo advocating dual custody rights for divorced parents in Japan. Japan’s legislature passed a bill May 20, 2013, authorizing the government to sign an international treaty to prevent international child abductions.
CHARLIE REED/STARS AND STRIPES