If Japan wants to promote the best interests of children, it should sign the Hague Convention, the special adviser to the U.S. State Department on issues pertaining to international parental child abductions urged Tuesday.
Susan Jacobs, in Tokyo on a four-day visit during which she met with officials at the Foreign and Justice ministries, said the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction acts as a deterrent to parental child abductions.
Members of the Hague Convention “are very interested in having Japan join this convention because the convention sets out a legal framework for the return of children who have been abducted from one country to another country,” Jacobs said. “And I think that we have found that when this convention is in place, it lowers the number of abductions and encourages parents to reach custody agreements with each other in the best interests of the child.”
Japan has been under international pressure to sign the treaty, but there is strong domestic opposition, especially among mothers who took their kids to Japan, claiming they were fleeing domestic violence.
Jacobs pointed out that while the Hague treaty is not about domestic violence, women in many member states have resources to turn to, including the police, social services and shelters to seek protection from abuse.
“There is no need for anyone to continue to be subjected to domestic violence,” Jacobs said. “It is wrong, however, for someone who may or may not have been the victim of domestic violence to abduct their children from one country and take them to another when there is recourse in the country in which they were living.”
The government launched a study panel last month to discuss whether Japan should sign the Hague Convention. Jacobs expressed optimism with the recent progress made, including interest by the Japanese media and the public.