Canada, U.S. nudge Japan to join child abduction resolution framework

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Canadian and the U.S. government officials and a law expert Friday urged Japan to join an international legal framework to resolve cross-border cases of child abduction by parents and others.

As the number of international marriages rises, there will be a corresponding rise in divorces among multinational couples. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction states that children removed or retained from a signatory state by a parent without the other’s permission must be returned promptly to the original country of residence.

The convention can also help parents exercise visitation rights abroad.

Japan is not among the 80 signatories to the convention. When kids are abducted to nonsignatory countries, it can take years to make any progress, and sometimes all efforts are in vain.

Ottawa is dealing with more than 620 unresolved child-abduction and custody-related cases, Bill Crosbie, the Canadian Foreign Affairs and International Trade Department’s deputy minister for consular services, said at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. Twenty-nine of them, the highest number in any one country, are in Japan, he said.

The U.S. currently has 40 cases of international child abduction involving Japan, the third-largest after Mexico and India, said Kathleen Ruckman, deputy director of the U.S. State Department’s Children’s Issues Office.

“What the Hague Convention is about to say (is) where the decision has to be made about the child’s future,” said William Duncan, deputy secretary general of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.