Era of LDP stonewalling coming to an end?

August 31, 2009

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 ABCNEWS.com 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.

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