MOJ Eda talks about signing the Hague
Japan is looking at signing the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is aimed at promptly returning children illegally taken by a parent out of the country of their habitual residence.
The question has arisen over whether the Civil Code should also be changed to allow dual parental rights after divorce. Eda said the Justice Ministry “is now discussing the matter, but I personally feel that allowing dual parental rights doesn’t necessarily have to” be packaged with signing the convention.
Signatory countries, particularly the United States, France and Canada, are urging Japan to join the convention against international child abductions by parents.
Some people whose former spouses don’t let them see their children in Japan argue that signing the convention doesn’t guarantee their access to children unless dual parental rights are also allowed.
This problem doesn’t only concern foreigners. Japanese parents — fathers in most cases — also can’t see their kids if their ex-spouses say no.
In Japan, those with parental rights have discretion over how often their ex-spouses can see their offspring. Shared parental rights are currently not allowed by the Civil Code because of the cultural belief that a stable environment is considered the most important factor for children.
“I guess it comes from the idea that letting a single parent have parental rights is good because it is simple,” Eda said.
Parents who were victims of abusive relationships are urging the government to keep parental rights to one person and not sign the Hague Convention because, they say, the current legal system protects them from their former spouses.
The Justice Ministry manages the Civil Code, and thus would likely be the source of any bills revising it.
Turning to other developments in the ministry, Eda said officials are studying how other countries deal with making the investigation process by police and prosecutors more transparent.
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