• Kyodo


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, according to sources.

Whether lawmakers will pass the bills is uncertain because some Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers are cautious about joining the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who heads the LDP, plans to convey Japan’s determination to speed up domestic procedures to conclude the treaty during talks with U.S. President Barack Obama later this month.

The United States and numerous other countries have repeatedly urged Japan to sign the treaty.

Japan is the only member of the Group of Eight richest nations not to join the pact, which sets rules for the prompt return of children under 16 years old, taken or retained by one parent following the failure of an international marriage, to the country of their habitual residence.

Abe hopes the move will boost the Japan-U.S. alliance and show the public that his administration can achieve what predecessor Yoshihiko Noda’s government could not.

The Democratic Party of Japan administration led by Noda submitted relevant bills to the Diet last March, but they were scrapped in November when the Lower House was dissolved.

The Foreign Ministry says 89 nations are currently part of the Hague pact.

Japan becoming a signatory has been regarded as one of the key bilateral issues with the U.S. During his visit to Washington last month, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida has said Japan was ready to move forward with the issue.