In our last post we introduced the issue of international parental child abductions and how many parents who violate U.S. child custody orders take their children to their home countries of India or Japan. In this post we will talk about the issue in the context of Japan and we will briefly examine what further steps are being taken in the United States to address international parental child abduction cases.
Like India, Japan is not a signatory of the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention is an international agreement on child custody. Also like India, Japan has said it would think about signing the Hague Convention but has not done so yet. Japan has expressed concerns that signing the Hague Convention could leave Japanese women and children open to abuse by foreign husbands or fathers.
Unlike family law in the United States, Japanese law does not provide child custody to both parents. The accepted practice in Japan is to allow only one parent, usually the mother, to have custody of a child after divorce. Fathers, both Japanese and foreign, are left without visitation rights and are unable to see their children as they grow up. The case for foreign fathers in Japan is even more negative. The State Department is not aware of any case where a child taken from the U.S. to Japan by one parent has been returned to the parent living in the United States.
Many parents believe that the United States is not putting its full effort behind persuading Japan and India to sign the Hague Convention. One United States Congressman also feels the same way. Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey wants to introduce a bill that would create an Office on International Child Abductions in the State Department. The bill would also create a way for the United States government to impose sanctions on countries that do not cooperate on international child custody issues.
Source: The Washington Post, "Japan, India Pressed to Curb Child Abductions," David Crary, 12/7/10