This week, Japan became the 91st signatory to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides protection for children under 16 from being taken from their country of residence by one parent against the wishes of the other. However, the convention does not work retroactively, so parents whose children have already been taken are urging the Japanese government to stand by provisions of the treaty in their cases as well.
A group of left-behind parents organized a march in Washington, D.C., on Monday to hand-deliver 28 applications for assistance reuniting with their children to the U.S. Department of State and to submit a petition for the return of abducted children to the Japanese embassy.
The organization, Bring Abducted Children Home, says 400 U.S. children have been abducted to Japan since 1994, and no special provisions have been made on how to handle those cases now that Japan is a Hague signatory. Many of the parents involved indicated that they didn’t think Japan would be of assistance, calling it a “black hole” of child custody and speculating that their cases would be passed to local family courts unfamiliar with the terms of the treaty and with a heavy bias towards Japanese parents, in particular mothers. There is no reciprocal custody agreement between the two countries.
The representative from the State Department said that Japan’s ratification was a “a positive change,” and said her office has been working on 58 other cases involving 80 children over the last month as well. The office is working with the Japanese government to resolve these cases. The convention does include provisions for arranging visitations, regardless of when the child was taken.
A lawyer for the parents’ group said he expects to submit a further 200 applications by the end of the year.
Source: Niconico News
Images: Left Behind Parents Japan , Bring Abducted Children Home