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The Foreign Ministry has set up a new division to handle international child custody issues in response to overseas criticism that Japan allows Japanese mothers to take their children away from their divorced partners.

The division, officially launched Tuesday, will study the issue, including whether to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, whose aim is to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any signatory countries, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said.

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