A 5-year-old boy was reunited with his father in Germany last month under the Hague convention, the first case in which a child was returned from Japan to another country in accordance with the treaty on cross-border child custody disputes, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
The child, born to a German father and Japanese mother and who lived in Germany with his parents, was taken to Japan in June by his mother after she left her husband, according to a ministry official.
At the end of August, the father applied for help from the ministry through the German government to return the child under the treaty. After negotiations, the mother voluntarily took the boy back to Germany in mid-October, the official said.
The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which took effect in Japan last April 1, stipulates rules and procedures for the prompt return of children under 16 to the country of habitual residence taken or retained by one parent, if requested by the other parent.
The treaty can also provide assistance to parents seeking visitations, regardless of when they were separated from their children.
Parents who have had children taken to Japan can ask for support from the foreign affairs ministry or the central authority in their own country in charge of locating children who have been abducted.
The treaty was applied for the first time in July for the return of a child to Japan, when a British court ordered the return of a 7-year-old who had been taken to Britain by the child’s Japanese mother.
Two other cases have followed: An 8-year-old child was returned from Switzerland and a 3-year-old from the United States, both in September.
As of Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry had received 82 requests for assistance under the pact, according to the official.
Of those requests, 14 sought the return of a child taken to Japan from overseas and nine sought the return of a child taken abroad from Japan, the official said.
The remaining 59 cases involved parents seeking visitations, with 46 wanting to see a child taken to Japan and 13 to meet a child taken abroad from Japan, according to the official.