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These are my daughters, I suppose.
But where in the world did the children vanish?
~Phyllis McGinley, "Ballad of Lost Objects," 1954


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Japan Joins International Child Custody Pact PDF Print E-mail
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Written by MARI YAMAGUCHI   

TOKYO — Japan's Cabinet approved a plan to join a global child custody treaty Friday, amid foreign pressure on Tokyo to revise policies some say allow Japanese mothers to too easily take their children away from foreign fathers.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan's Cabinet endorsed the move, which would spur changes in Japanese laws to bring them in line with the 1980 Hague Convention on international abduction, said Yusuke Asakura, an official at the Cabinet Office.

Japan is the only Group of Seven nation that hasn't signed the Hague pact. Asakura said the Cabinet plan must be approved by parliament for it to take effect, and it could face resistance there.

The United States, Britain, France and other countries have repeatedly urged Japan to join the convention.

Japanese law allows only one parent to have custody of children in divorce cases – nearly always the mother. That's kept some foreign fathers from seeing their children until they are grown. Activists say Japan's court system is tilted against fathers and foreigners.

The convention seeks to ensure that custody decisions are made by the courts in a child's original country of residence and that the rights of access of both parents are protected.

The issue over joining the Hague convention gained attention in 2009, when American Christopher Savoie was arrested in Japan after his Japanese ex-wife accused him of abducting their two children as they walked to school. His ex-wife Noriko Savoie had violated a U.S. court custody decision by taking the children from Tennessee to Japan.

Japanese prosecutors eventually dropped the case against Savoie.

Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives turned up the pressure on Japan by voting overwhelmingly for a nonbinding resolution that "condemns the abduction and retention" of children held in Japan "in violation of their human rights and United States and international law."


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