Japan sets up task force as France adds pressure on parental abduction

Posted on January 27, 2011. Filed under: Child Abduction, Hague Convention | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Wednesday 26th January, 2011

According to the Japan Today, the Japanese government set up a task force Tuesday to examine whether to join an international convention on child custody disputes.

The move came as the French Senate adopted a resolution by an overwhelming majority urging Japan to promptly join the 1980 Hague Convention to help resolve cases in which foreign parents are prevented from seeing their children in Japan following failed marriages with Japanese nationals.

The resolution followed a similar one adopted last September by the U.S. House of Representatives. Japan is being urged to join the convention to help resolve cases in which foreign parents are prevented from seeing their children in Japan after failed marriages with Japanese nationals.

The convention provides a procedure for the prompt return of children to their habitual country of residence when they are wrongfully removed or retained in the case of an international divorce. It also protects parental access rights.

The resolution calls on Japan to amend its legislation, saying Japanese laws do not grant joint custody to divorced parents and often restrict the visitation rights of French parents.

In Tokyo, Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara said Tuesday that the government has been holding discussions on the matter with the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and its coalition partner, the People’s New Party, to formulate the country’s policy.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama said after the first meeting of the newly launched government task force, comprising senior vice ministers and other top officials concerned, that Tokyo will consider ‘‘from scratch’’ whether to join the Hague Convention.

‘‘At the moment we have no plans to set a date, but we don’t intend to let discussion drag on,’’ Fukuyama said when asked how long the government will need to reach a decision on the matter.

As Japan has yet to join the convention, non-Japanese parents cannot meet their children if Japanese parents take their children to Japan from the country in which the family had been living.

Of the Group of Seven major economies, only Japan has yet to ratify the convention, which currently has 83 parties.

Hundreds of American parents have leveled accusations of kidnapping against their former Japanese spouses.

But some critics in Japan have raised concerns over joining the Hague Convention, saying it could endanger Japanese parents and their children who have fled from abuse by non-Japanese parents.

Last October, the ambassadors of 11 countries and the European Union in Japan met with then Justice Minister Minoru Yanagida and urged the Japanese government to join the convention.

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