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The government said Friday it will conduct hearings in March with experts regarding whether Japan should join an international treaty that deals with cross-border child-custody disputes.

“Given that there are people who are for or against the signing of the Hague treaty, it is important for us to listen sincerely to the opinions from both camps,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama told reporters.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations will be among those attending the hearings, Fukuyama said after the latest meeting of a government task force studying the matter.

Japan has been under international pressure to join the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is designed to help resolve cases in which foreign parents are prevented from seeing their children in Japan after their marriages with Japanese nationals fail.

In many cases, the estranged Japanese parent spirits children out of their nations of domicile, even in defiance of overseas court custody rulings.

Critics in Japan have raised concerns over joining the pact, saying it could endanger Japanese parents and their children who, they claim, have fled from abuse by non-Japanese spouses.

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