WASHINGTON – A State Department official on Thursday called for the return to American parents of all children taken to Japan without their consent by their former Japanese partners after failed international marriages.
“We will not be satisfied until all those children are home where they belong,” Susan Jacobs, special adviser for children’s issues at the department, said in a hearing of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
Although Japan is set to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in April, which mandates the return in principle of children taken away from their countries of habitual residence, the pact will not be applied to cases that occurred before Japan becomes a party.
The United States and numerous other countries have repeatedly urged Japan to sign the treaty. The government plans to resubmit in mid-March a set of bills to the Diet necessary for Japan to join the international treaty on settling cross-border child custody disputes.
Jacobs thus sought further action by Tokyo so as to ensure the return of children taken away from their American parents and moved to Japan before the treaty takes effect in Japan.
During the hearing, Jacobs revealed there are 80 such children whose custody is requested by their American parents.
“We have not forgotten cases that still exist,” Jacobs said.
In a statement to the Senate committee, Jacobs said, “We look forward to continued progress with the Japanese government on resolving existing cases in the spirit of the convention.”