Washington: The US House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on Japan to immediately institute legal fixes to controversial child custody practices.
These practices have long dogged failed marriages between US and Japanese citizens and led hundreds of American parents to level accusations of kidnapping against their former Japanese spouses.
"American patience has finally run out," said Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, during a Tuesday debate on the resolution, which passed yesterday by a vote of 416 to one at the full House.
The bill co-sponsored by Smith and Jim Moran, a Democrat from Virginia, calls on Tokyo to work with Washington to resolve cases in which a Japanese parent takes a child to Japan from the United States against the wishes of his or her American spouse.
Both congressmen represent constituents whose children were taken to Japan without their permission, an act that the US government considers kidnapping.
"It is intolerable that the lawless and damaging act of child abduction goes unpunished in a civilised nation," Smith said, adding that there are currently 136 children being held in Japan without visitation rights to their American parents, a situation that contravenes both US and international law.
The resolution also urges Japan to join the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Japan is not a party to the convention, which provides a procedure for the prompt return of abducted children to their habitual country of residence and protects parental access rights.