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Giant Hello Kitty-emblazoned kudos to Japan for finally signing the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. Now comes the hard part: actually making it work.

Mistakenly identified by some press accounts as an accomplishment of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan’s accession is probably more the fruit of prolonged slogging by anonymous public servants. In the fall of 2012 a senior bureaucrat involved in implementing the treaty assured me it would be signed about the time it eventually was. The fact that elections were pending in December and a change of government was a near-certainty did not factor into the prognosis!

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