A court in London ordered a Japanese woman living in Britain to return with her child to Japan to sort out custody issues under the terms of the Hague child abduction treaty.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which took effect in Japan in April, is designed to help parents of contracting countries reclaim children taken overseas by their partners without their consent.
The court ruling involves a 7-year-old child of a Japanese couple who are estranged and have filed for divorce. It is the first time the pact has been applied to a child of Japanese nationality, the Foreign Ministry said.
According to the father’s lawyer, the mother left for Britain in March for business reasons, taking their child with her. But when she did not return to Japan on the date she had scheduled, the father’s side applied to a British governmental organization for support based on provisions of the international treaty in May. The father filed a legal application with the court in London the following month for the child’s return.
The court determined that by staying beyond her promised return date the mother had violated the Hague Convention. In its order of July 22, the court ordered the mother to return to Japan with the child on July 30. The mother offered no objections to returning to Japan, the sources said.
The couple in question are now in the midst of divorce settlement negotiations, and a Japanese family court is expected to judge which parent should get custody of the child, according to the sources.
The father’s lawyer, Hirotaka Honda, said the case has proved the usefulness of the convention.
“Thanks to the Hague Convention, the parents will be able to move forward with discussions and legal proceedings after the child is returned to Japan,” he said. “It deserves appraisal.”