New Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto said Thursday he is aware of the importance of the international treaty to prevent estranged parents from spiriting offspring across borders but noted Tokyo must consider the Japanese people’s interests in determining whether to sign the Hague Convention.

During an interview with The Japan Times and other media outlets, Matsumoto pointed out the difficulty surrounding the so-called international parental abductions, with Japanese mothers coming back to Japan with their children for various reasons, while other Japanese parents have had their children taken to another country by their former foreign spouses.

Matsumoto said he intends to weigh both sides thoroughly before any decision is made on signing the treaty.

“The Hague Convention is an international framework that was established out of necessity amid (the rise in) international marriages,” Matsumoto said, adding, however, that any decision regarding the treaty by Tokyo must reflect “the viewpoint of the Japanese people.”

The United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and other nations have been pressuring Japan to join the convention. Matsumoto said he is under no deadline.

He meanwhile voiced hope that Japanese nationals abducted to North Korea can be repatriated.

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