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Regarding "Parents hope Japan’s new leaders OK abduction treaty," (article, Sept. 23, Pacific editions): As an attorney working on Okinawa on international family law issues, my clients and I confront the issues of child abduction and child abandonment on a regular basis. Although ratification of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction by Japan would be a major step forward for the rights of left-behind parents, a public education campaign on the rights of children is in order if we wish to proactively create change for children living in Japan.

Parents who deny child visitation, disregard valid child custody orders or fail to provide child support are violating their own children’s rights. Japan, by ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, recognizes that each child has certain human rights. The right "to maintain on a regular basis ... personal relations and direct contacts with both parents" (Article 10), the right of the child not to "be separated from his or her parents against their will" [unless] "necessary for the best interests of the child" (Article 9), and the right of each child to receive financial support from both parents (Article 27) — these are fundamental rights of all children.

It matters not whether children live in Japan or the United States, whether they are U.S. citizens, Japanese citizens, or dual citizens. No parent has the authority to take these rights away from their own child and those who do should be held accountable for their actions. If the law does not hold them accountable, someday, in two years or 20, the child will pass judgment on the parent who has done him or her an injustice.

Vera FryOkinawa


Stripes in 7

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