Diet opens debate on Hague Convention bills

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

Amid mounting international pressure on Japan to rectify cross-border parental abductions of offspring, the House of Representatives on Thursday started deliberating bills related to joining the Hague Convention.

Signing the accord was one of the pledges Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made to U.S. President Barack Obama at their summit in February to bolster the Japan-U.S. alliance. The bills are expected to clear the Diet in the coming weeks with approval from the opposition.

“It’s very regrettable that some foreign media are treating the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea and this issue on the same level,” said Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the Diet. “Japan’s image has been impaired by the allegation that we are endorsing such parental abductions.”

The Hague treaty stipulates that abducted children should be sent back to their country of habitual residence to protect their human rights. Once the child has been returned, the parents can demand custody via government channels.

Whether a child can stay or go is based on family court rulings.

The focus of Thursday’s Diet session was whether a child whose mother fled an abusive spouse should be sent back to the country of habitual residence. While the number of international marriages has declined, divorce cases involving Japanese married to non-Japanese have climbed in the past decade, leading to several cases of alleged abduction.

Both Kishida and Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki offered assurances that the related bills provide legal options for rejecting requests to hand over children if the court identifies the involvement of domestic violence.

  • socaln8ive

    “The focus of Thursday’s Diet session was whether a child whose mother fled an abusive spouse should be sent back to the country of habitual residence.”

    This is the rhetoric the Japanese government continues to use without ANY basis of fact. No one supports or condones abuse. But making such unsubstantiated allegations without proof is a slap in the face of those who really do suffer from such atrocities

    The FACTS are Japan does harbor, support, condone, and encourage the abduction of innocent children and allows its citizens to make “Accusations” with out any basis of fact or evidence to support such claims. The Japanese courts have proven time and time again it’s racial and gender bias towards non Japanese citizens, and all men in and out of Japan. I have personally dealt with this racism and its complete disregard for rules of law, pre existing court orders, and the court orders of other countries. Japan can’t hold North Korea to the same standards by which Japan is not willing to live up to itself.

    Abduction is Abduction is Abduction.

    R Collins

    Father of Keisuke Christian Collins-Illegally abducted from The United States June 16, 2008

    • Erik Stanford

      Hear, hear! Thank you both for speaking the truth. The time is now. Japan must embrace these long overdue human rights issues, domestically and internationally, beginning with reform of the broken domestic Japanese family law system and prompt ENFORCEMENT of any new laws and treaties as they are adopted. Children must have the fundamental human RIGHT to have a relationship with both their parents, and both parents with their children, except when EXCEPTIONAL circumstances exist, such as in verifiable cases of abuse which do not include culturally biased, sexist, or racist accusations fabricated only to support the abductor’s crimes. It is time that Japan finally acknowledge, change, and enforce against these human rights violations, and not at the cultural snail’s pace that has paralyzed the country’s progress in so many ways.

  • http://twitter.com/p_mcpike patrick mcpike

    The author omits the fact that Japan ratified a UN Human Rights Treaty in 1994 – the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Per the UNCRC, Japan should *already* be helping to prevent International Parental Abduction, and should *already* have agreements in place with other countries to arrange for the return of abducted children:

    UNCRC Article 11:

    1) States Parties shall take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad. (as noted by unicef this SPECIFICALLY is addressing parental abduction -http://www.unicef.org/crc/file… )

    2) To this end, States Parties shall promote the conclusion of bilateral or multilateral agreements or accession to existing agreements.

    In addition, Per Article 9 section 3:

    3) States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests.

    NOTE: “contrary to the child’s best interests” does NOT mean merely because the abducting parent doesn’t want the child to meet with the non-abducting parent. It is a Human Rights presumption that a child has the RIGHT to have a relationship with both parents:

    As stated in Article 10:

    2. A child whose parents reside in different States shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis, save in EXCEPTIONAL circumstances personal relations and direct contacts with both parents.

    Repeat: “save in EXCEPTIONAL circumstances”

    The treaty assumes that parents in the same country already provide the right of access – something that Japan does only on a limited basis, and does not enforce.

    Japan has violated this human rights treaty commitment for nearly 20 years.

    Which, is ALSO a violation of article 98 section 2 of the Japanese Constitution:

    “The treaties concluded by Japan and established laws of nations shall be faithfully observed.”

    Fundamentally, this is NOT a foreign issue. This is really an issue of the broken domestic Japanese family law system – which ignores it’s commitment to protect the human rights of children – forcing itself onto foreign parents, and denying children their fundamental human right to know and have a relationship with both parents.