U.S. official calls for return of all kids taken to Japan after failed marriages


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.”

  • Ron NJ

    Good on Jacobs for pressing the issue, but I don’t think anyone is fooled into believing Japan is doing anything more than going through the (very insincere) motions in order to lessen foreign pressure, and has no intention of actually enforcing this law in any manner that may result in an outcome favorable towards non-Japanese. Given that Japanese family courts will put abducted children with their Japanese grandparents before returning them to their foreign parents, it should be obvious to just about anyone how little Japan cares about actually doing the right thing here.

  • It remains to be seen if there will be any integrity behind how Japan implements the Hague convention. There are exclusions being built in that will likely ensure that no child is returned in the future. Meanwhile the abducted children will suffer and be subjected to ongoing parental alienation.

    Since 1994 there have been nearly 400 registered cases of U.S. citizen children parentally abducted to Japan. The Government of Japan has refused to aid in the return of a single child. There have additionally been children abducted from countries like Canada, Australia, Spain, the U.K, and Ireland to name a few. A statistical analysis projects 10,000 cases from within Japan involving U.S. parents being cut off from their children.

    The Government of Japan had the opportunity to include the preexisting cases through additional legislation. They chose not to. By ignoring the existing kidnappings they are choosing to remain a black hole for child abduction.