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Japan Set To Join Child Custody Pact

New Jersey families with Japanese mothers will no longer face the child abduction issues that became so severe that some countries banned Japanese mothers from bringing their children to Japan even for family visits. Japan came under severe global criticism for its laws which essentially allowed Japanese mothers to flee to Japan with their children amid foreign divorces and prevent foreign fathers from seeing their children again.

These child custody disputes will now be put to an end because Japan’s cabinet has said that the country will change its laws to align with the 1980 Hague Convention on international abduction. Japan was the only G7 country not to sign the treaty.

Japan’s child custody law became the center of an international controversy in 2009 when an American father was arrested in Japan for trying to take his children back to the United States. The Japanese mother of the children violated a United States’ child custody order by fleeing Tennessee and whisking the children to Japan. The mother claimed that the father abducted the children, but the charges against the father were dropped after substantial American pressure.

The Associated Press reports that the child abduction issue was so serious that the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelming enacted a nonbinding resolution condemning the “abduction” of American children held in Japan .The resolution also stated that the abductions were in violation of international law, American law, and human rights.

The U.S. State Department said that there were over 100 active causes of American child abductions to Japan as of the beginning of this year. There are approximately 30 more cases were both parents live in Japan but one parent has denied access to the children to the other parent, according to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

Source: Associated Press, “Japan approves plan to join child custody pact,” 5/19/11