Ambassadors push Japan to join Hague treaty on child abduction

by Masami Ito

Signing the Hague Convention to prevent cross-border parental child abductions would not only benefit member states but also Japanese nationals whose children have been snatched by ex-spouses, 11 ambassadors to Japan said Wednesday in a joint statement.

The ambassadors from Australia, Canada, Colombia, the European Union, France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States met with Parliamentary Vice Minister Ikuo Yamahana of the Foreign Ministry and once again urged the government to ratify the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

“The convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention across international borders, which can be a tragedy for all concerned,” they said.

In response, Yamahana told the meeting held at the Foreign Ministry in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, that he understands “that the ambassadors have a great interest in the Hague Convention.” Yamahana is a member of a government panel launched last month to study the issue.

Japan has come under mounting international pressure to sign the convention, given the increasing number of cases in which failed international marriages have resulted in Japanese mothers abducting the children, returning to Japan and cutting off contact with the father.

In response to strong domestic opposition to the treaty, especially from mothers who were allegedly victims of domestic violence, the ambassadors stressed during the meeting that children would not be forced to return to an abusive environment.

They also noted that signing the Hague treaty would help Japanese nationals whose children have been abducted by foreign ex-spouses, if the estranged partners have taken kids to a signatory nation.