More articles indicating that Prime Minister Hatoyama is publicly encouraging his government to consider joining the Hague Convention:

While this is good news, and shows that Japan is finally publicly acknowledging that there is a problem, it is even more important that the Japanese government address the currently outstanding cases of international child abduction, which number in the hundreds, if not thousands.

The timing of this, right before President Obama’s arrival in Japan, is so obvious.  Hopefully President Obama doesn’t feel the Japanese child abduction issue has been defused just because of this one gesture.  The fact is, Christopher Savoie, like thousands of other parents worldwide, has children in Japan who are being completely blocked out of his life because of the culture and legal system in Japan.  President Obama, please do something about it!


Thank you, Paul Toland, for providing the following–

For those of you who are following the President’s trip, here are the two most important times to be watching:

1. 13 November, 7 PM (Japan Time), 5 AM (Eastern Standard Time) – President Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Hatoyama, to be followed by a Joint Press Conference.

The latest on the 13 November schedule (all times are Japan times):

6:50PM THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Hatoyama of Japan hold bilateral meeting

7:10PM THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Hatoyama hold expanded bilateral meeting

8:20PM THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Hatoyama hold joint press conference

8:45PM THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Hatoyama have dinner

That means the Press Conference will be held at 6:20 AM Eastern Standard
Time in the United States.

2. 14 November, 10 AM (Japan Time), 13 Nov 8 PM (Eastern Standard Time) – President Obama will be making a speech at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, in which he will discuss his view of U.S. engagement in Asia and reaffirm the strength of Washington’s alliance with Japan. While I doubt he will address the child abduction issue at the Speech at Suntory Hall, I am hoping he does mention the issue at the Joint Press Conference, or if he does not mention it, I am hoping the press will ask about it during the Q&A. Unfortunately, the Q&A is usually only about 3 questions from each country’s press (3 Questions from Japanese press, 3 questions from American Press). There’s almost no chance that the Japanese press will raise it, so let’s hope the US press will raise it within the context of their 3 allowed questions.

Japan Times

Stars and Stripes

Thank you, Minoru Matsutani of Japan Times and Charlie Reed of Stars and Stripes, for helping get this news out!

22 U.S. Senators have signed a letter calling upon President Obama to take action on the international child abduction issue during his trip next week to Japan to meet with Prime Minister Hatoyama.

Here are links to the press releases from Senator Boxer’s and Senator Corker’s offices:

Senator Boxer press release

Senator Corker press release

Below is a copy of the actual letter.  We especially want to recognize the exceptional efforts of the office of Senator Barbara Boxer in taking the intiative on this and garnering bipartisan support for this letter.

11.5.09 Obama on Japanese Abduction11.5.09 Letter to President Obama P1

11.5.09 Obama on Japanese Abduction P211.5.09 Letter to President Obama P2

11.5.09 Obama on Japanese Abduction P311.5.09 Letter to President Obama P3

Letter to President Obama

November 5, 2009

President Obama will be making his first trip to Japan next week to meet with Prime Minister Hatoyama.  Below is a letter that Children’s Rights Council of Japan has sent President Obama.  We also have a link here so you can download a Word version of the letter that you can modify so you can send your own letter to President Obama and others.  Due to the limited time prior to his trip, it would be best to fax your letter to the White House at 202-456-2461.

Obama letter-Word Version

We are also trying to get senators to write President Obama about this, and they too can use this letter.  Here is a link to find the phone and contact details for all the senators:

Obama letter

Keiko Chiba, new justice minister of Japan (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Keiko Chiba, new justice minister of Japan (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Children’s rights activists feel encouraged by Prime Minister Hatoyama’s appointment of Keiko Chiba as the new justice minister.  Prior to the election she participated in meetings conducted by left-behind parents in Japan relating to child abduction issues in Japan.  She is concerned about not only domestic cases but international cases as well.  Hopefully we finally have a strong ally on children’s rights issues in a key position in the Japanese government!

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!