Japan No Longer Sanctions International Child Abduction


By Jordan Trager

Recently, Japanese lawmakers approved the Hague Convention to settle child custody disputes in failed international marriages. Unfortunately, Japanese family law and legal loopholes will still need to change to guarantee enforcement.

Japan previously refused to sign the Hague Convention, citing the need to protect Japanese mothers from abusive foreign husbands, earning it a reputation as a haven for child abductors. However, after years of pressure from left behind parents, human rights activists, and several governments, Japan’s parliament unanimously approved a bill which paves the way for it to join the Hague Convention on international child abductions.

While this is welcome news, Japan’s approval of the Hague Convention will continue to have little effect, unless it is accompanied by changes in Japanese family law, where courts routinely favor Japanese mothers in custody cases involving failed international marriages, and where numerous loopholes in Japanese family law can be cited to prevent the return of children to their original country of residence.

Until Japanese family law changes, international pressure must continue until all loving fathers who are separated from their children in Japan are returned home.

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