Cabinet OKs bills for Hague treaty

Kyodo

The Cabinet approved bills Friday for Japan to join an international treaty on settling cross-border child-custody disputes, paving the way for Diet passage in May.

The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction sets rules for the prompt return of children under 16 who are taken or retained by one parent following the failure of an international marriage, to the nation of their habitual residence.

The Cabinet planned to submit the bills, including the convention, to the Diet the same day. The bills are certain to be passed because they were endorsed by the ruling camp and the Democratic Party of Japan, which was in power when the bills were first submitted to the Diet last year.

The legislation related to the pact states the process for returning children to their habitual residence. Exemptions will be made for cases where child abuse or domestic violence is involved.

The United States, Japan’s main ally, has been urging Tokyo to join the treaty as soon as possible, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hopes doing so will bolster the bilateral alliance.

Abe’s government apparently sees participating in the convention and the negotiations on the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks as two important ways it can strengthen ties.

The former DPJ-led government submitted the bills to the Diet last March, but deliberations hit a snag and the bills were scrapped in November following the dissolution of the House of Representatives.