Tokyo: A senior US official on Friday pressed
Japan to work toward resolving the international child custody
issue that has prevented American parents from seeing their
children taken to Japan as a result of failed marriages.
Kurt Campbell, US Assistant Secretary of State for East
Asia and Pacific Affairs, met with Justice Minister Keiko
Chiba and called on the Japanese government to address various
problems associated with failed international marriages that
result in children being "abducted" to Japan by one parent,
Campbell had urged Tokyo to act on the matter during his
visit to Japan in February.
Speaking at a regular press conference, the minister said
she told the US official that Japan regards exchanges between
parents and children as a very important matter and has been
seriously studying the possibility of joining the 1980 Hague
Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child
The convention provides a procedure for the prompt return
of such "abducted" children to their habitual country of
residence and protects parental access rights. Campbell,
however, did not directly urge Japan to accede the treaty, the
The top US official for Asia told the minister that he
has seen parents who cannot see their children taken to Japan
and that the issue has drawn much attention in Washington,
according to Chiba.
She said Japan recognizes the need to adjust its domestic
judicial systems to establish a mechanism to better deal with
the international child custody issue.
There have been growing complaints about cases in which a
Japanese parent, often the mother, brings a child to Japan
without the consent of the foreign parent, regardless of the
custody determination in other countries, and denies the other
parent access to the child.
The problem has received increased attention in the
United States since the September 2009 arrest of American
Christopher Savoie, who traveled to Japan`s Fukuoka Prefecture
to reclaim his two children who had been taken there by his
former Japanese wife.
At present, 82 countries are parties to the Hague
Convention. Of the Group of Eight major powers, Japan and
Russia have yet to ratify the treaty.