Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Hundreds of children taken to Japan in child custody battles
International child abduction occurs when a parent takes a child to a foreign country in violation of an American parent's child custody rights and often in violation of an American child custody order. Many countries have signed the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, an international treaty that promotes recognition and enforcement of child custody decisions across international borders. However, some of America's closest allies have not signed the Hague Convention.
Hundreds of American children have been abducted to Japan as a result of custody battles. Many of these children are taken by their own mothers, resulting in a clear violation of fathers' rights within the U.S. The Japanese government is especially notorious for not recognizing U.S. child custody orders, making the country an ideal haven for international child abduction.
Many individuals who take their children to Japan against child custody rulings openly lie in order to obtain passports, and the Japanese consulate rarely notices or even cares about the presence of an abducted child. Once the parent and child are in Japan, the parent is protected by the fact that the Japanese government has not signed the Hague Convention, which mandates the return of an abducted child to their lawful guardian.
Over the past 17 years, approximately 321 complaints of child abduction have been filed with the State Department. However, not one child has been returned to the U.S. from Japan through diplomatic means.
According to Janice Jacobs, the assistant secretary of state in consular affairs, officials at the highest levels of the Japanese and U.S. government are well aware of the child abduction issues. However, efforts thus far have failed to persuade the Japanese government to do the right thing and return children to the parents that have been left behind by parental child abduction.
Source: ABC News, "Abducted to Japan: Hundreds of American Children Taken," Sarah Netter and Abbie Boudreau, 2/16/2011