Does the overwhelming victory of Yukio Hatoyama’s DPJ mean an end to the LDP’s long history of opposing any progress or resolution concerning child abduction issues?  Let’s hope so, because it’s about time.  Below is a partial listing of Japanese quotes on parental child abduction/Hague Convention since 1996:

1996 – “Kunio Koide, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official, said his government does not see the need for signing the treaty because Japan’s Protection of Personal Liberties Act prevents an individual from being illegally restrained. But Koide acknowledged that it would be difficult to prosecute a parent under that act.” Lost in a Loophole: Foreigners Who Are on the Losing End of a Custody Battle in Japan Don’t Have Much Recourse; Evelyn Iritani, Los Angeles Times, Thursday, September 19, 1996, Page E-1

1999 – “Though it helped draft the convention, Japan has yet to sign. Asked why, an official from the legal affairs bureau of the foreign ministry commented that Japan already has legislation to deal with child abduction. He cited the Protection of Personal Liberty Act, enacted shortly after World War II primarily to prohibit the buying and selling of people. Pressed further, the official admitted current legislation may not always be sufficient. In certain cases of international parental abduction, he said, “I think in Japan there is no way to bring back the child. It’s true, yes.” The official added that the ministry has invited experts on international law to discuss the practicalities of joining the Hague Convention. “I cannot promise when Japan will enter this convention,” he said.” Access Denied Children Innocent Victims of Custody Battles; Tim Large, The Daily Yomiuri, Saturday, December 11, 1999, page 7.

2000 – “A Foreign Ministry official, however, said pressure from within Japan to sign the treaty has yet to materialize.” Parents Driven to Kidnap Children; Rob Giloohy, Japan Times, December 13, 2000.

2002 – “According to an official in the Treaties Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ratification is not likely soon, since that would entail overhauling many domestic laws and procedures. “It would take a major initiative between government branches and ministries,” the official said. “This kind of cooperation does not exist at this time. The only signals we are getting are from the United States. At the domestic level, the government doesn’t feel the need exists.”” Estranged Parents Snatch Their Own Kids in “Abduction Friendly” Japan; Paul Baylis, Asahi Shimbun News Service, January 27, 2002.

2003 – “A spokesman for the treaty division of Japan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said the Hague Convention has not been ratified because “we’ve been studying it” since its ratification.” Divorced From Their Children In Japan, Foreign Fathers Have Few Custody Options; Doug Struck and Sachiko Sakamaki, Washington
Post, Thursday, July 17, 2003; Page A9

2006 – An official at the Foreign Ministry said, “We consider it an important treaty, but as we have to go over its legal aspects as well, we do not yet know when we can sign it.  The Justice Ministry has been reviewing the convention with the help of legal experts for some years.” Increased cross-national divorces raise concerns over parental abductions, Japan Economic Newswire, January 3, 2006, AND Japan remains haven for parental abductions, Sayo Sasaki, Kyodo News Service, January 6, 2006

2006 – “More than 25 years after the Hague Convention was completed, Japan’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs says that it is still studying the document. At a recent conference on child abduction held at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, a spokesman said the Ministry wasn’t opposed to the convention, but that ‘at present there is not enough support from Japanese nationals.'” Think of the Children: Japan’s prejudiced legal system encourages desperate parents to abduct their own kids; Tokyo Metropolis Magazine, January 2006.

2006 – “The Director General gave the expected responses, none of which indicated a willingness to be forward leaning and helpful. He pointed out that the Diet would have to agree to the Convention and that from a sociological and political point of view there is no Japanese constituency for such a move. He added some “personal” thoughts suggesting that abductions affected mostly military families, a contention the Consul General refuted. Director General Komatsu also suggested that the Japanese legal system is open to non-Japanese. While this is true, we countered that the courts have no power to enforce child support, visitation, or custody rulings and agreements. Therefore, this was not a useful recourse.” Letter from Andrea R. Mihailescu, Office of Children’s Issues, US State Department referring to Assistant Secretary of State Maura Harty’s meeting with Ichiro Komatsu, Director General of the International Legal Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA); February 26, 2006.

2007 – “There is no reason to hope for change any time soon: Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it is still studying the document, more than 25 years after its inception.” Remember the Children, Kevin Buckland, Tokyo Metropolis Magazine, January 19, 2007.

2008 – The Japanese government would not comment on specific cases of child abduction and in an exclusive statement to never used the word “abduction.” “We sympathize with the plight of parents and children who are faced with issues of this kind, which are increasing in number as international exchange between people expands,” reads a statement from the Japanese Embassy in Washington, D.C. The embassy said that The Hague Convention was inconsistent with Japanese law, but that joining the convention was still under review. Spirited Away: Japan Won’t Let Abducted Kids Go, Russell Goldman, ABC News, Feb 26, 2008

2008 – “Japan is taking steps to move toward joining the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This will likely take a long time” Mitoji Yabunaka, Vice Foreign Minister, Japan, in a meeting with John Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State, May 8, 2008.

2008 – “The Justice Ministry will begin work to review current laws with an eye on meeting requirements under the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.” Japan to Sign Hague Child Abduction Convention, Asahi Shinbun, Miako Ichikawa, May 10, 2008

2008 – “The ministry is at the beginning stage of considering accession to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.” “Mofa has recently decided that the Treaty had to be reviewed and considered by MOJ. Because domestic laws must be changed, ratification will “take a long time.”” Satsuki Eda, Japan Diet Upper House President meeting with US Embassy officials, September 21, 2008.

2008 – “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice are giving favorable consideration to signing the convention.” Mainichi Daily News, November 6, 2008.

2009 – “Japan has ratified many parts of The Hague Convention treaties over the years, but in terms of repatriation of kids, they have been claiming for 20 years now to be “studying” the issue. That’s Japan-speak for “we’re not interested in making any changes.”” Japan Inches Toward Signing the Hague Treaty on Child Abductions, Terrie Llyod, Japan Inc., April 4, 2009.

2009 – “Foreign Minister Nakasone said that Japan is studying its participation in the convention.” March 31, 2009 meeting between Foreign Minister Nakasone and Secretary Clinton.

Here is the link with more details:


August 28, 2009

It is not just Americans, Canadians, and British citizens who are affected by the parental abduction issue in Japan, but also Japanese as well as citizens of many other countries. Below is a link to a group focused on cases involving French citizens. They also have posted a complete copy of The Seoul Times article about the Shane Clarke case which might be a little easier to access than The Seoul Times link posted earlier on this blog, available at the following links:

Numerous parental kidnapping cases have been appealed to the Japanese Supreme Court over the years, and the Supreme Court has ALWAYS ruled in favor of the abducting parent, and against the rights of the child to have meaningful contact with the left-behind parent. Here is an excellent editorial from the Asahi Shimbun regarding the lack of transparency, and consequent lack of accountability, of Japanese Supreme Court justices:

The Seoul Times just published another article concerning Japanese child abductions, this one focusing on the case involving British citizen Shane Clarke, whose two daughters were kidnapped to Japan last year. Here is a link to the page where the article can be found:

What Shane has experienced is very typical, both as far as the Japanese government is concerned as well as his own government’s incompetency in assisting in any meaningful way to help reunite him with his children. Please send an email to the editor of The Seoul Times, Mr. Joseph Joh, at, thanking him for allowing this issue to be covered, and encouraging him to continue featuring this in future editions.

There’s reason for hope for real change in Japan now. Yukio Hatoyama could become the new prime minister of Japan in elections less than a week away. In a recent interview, he shows that he truly understands the Japanese child abduction problem, and is willing to sign the Hague Convention. This would be a breath of fresh air, after countless prime ministers in Japan who have stuck their heads in the sand and ignored international standards regarding the rights of children in Japan to both of their parents. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that Hatoyama becomes the new prime minister!

I just received the following information about a street protest planned in Tokyo on Aug. 29:

Knet-joint custody movement network is a new group of
Munakata who is ex-leader of Oyako-net.

(all in Japanese, sorry)

Meeting place:Class room 1304,
east campus,Hitotsubashi University

Demonstration starts from small park near “Starbucs”
Kunitachi Daigaku Dori, 5 min. from Kunitachi station
south exit. start time: about 16:30

mobile phone number : 090-8476-3243 (Keiko Ukai)

This story came out recently, about an American father who can’t see his child, even though the mother has died. The child is being held overseas in an orphanage in Italy.

There are similar cases involving Japan. Google “Paul Toland” and “Paul Wong” with the words “Japanese child abduction” and find just two examples that have made it to the media. Children whose mother has died and are being held overseas, deliberately blocked from the sole surviving parent involved in the early parenting years of their lives. I call them the Elian Gonzalez children of Japan.

The Seoul Times article

August 5, 2009

Letters from Tokyo
Japan Allows International Child Abduction
By Lee Jay Walker
Tokyo Correspondent

Highly recommended!

Stars & Stripes Links

August 4, 2009

Here are links to two articles on Japanese child abduction that came out in Stars & Stripes earlier this week: