Since writing the post yesterday evening, the Japan Times has published a further article on this; it can be read here. It quotes Paul Toland of the organisation Bring Abducted Children Home who says, as I have written about elsewhere on this blog, that Japan’s failure to address existing cases of abducted children does not bode well for how the country is going to implement the Hague Convention. The founder of the Joint Custody Network in Japan is similarly sceptical, believing that the Bill has only been introduced for political reasons arising out international pressure. Another contributor is recorded as stating that the Convention, once enacted, “might deter some would-be abductors.” That is still open to debate but, even if it were to in some cases, there remain real concerns about how and to what extent the Convention will be implemented by the Japanese and what, if anything, is going to be done about those pre-Convention cases that are not covered by it.
One slightly more positive matter of note is that this issue does seem to be reported in the media more frequently now, given the expectation that Japan will sign. In past years, there was perhaps an article every few months – if that.
The latest word on this – published in the Japan Times this week exactly 15 months after my son was taken from the UK – is that the Diet still seems set to ratify the Convention: read the article here.
Whilst searching the Japan Times website a few days later to find the link to the above for the purposes of this blog entry, I came across an opinion article by Professor Jones, who I have written about before: see blog on 14 December 2012. I mis-read the year at first, thinking it had been published the day after the above article (the Japan Times search results did not appear in date order). However, it is in fact from 21 February 2012. The article can be read here. Whilst the Convention was not enacted last year, due more than anything to political issues, article sought to look beyond the expected enactment and to address whether it would change anything on the ground. Some disconcertingly, it states that “In Japan…the ‘best interests’ that tend to get primacy are those of the people who make and apply the law rather than of children.”
The article goes on to state that “…it appears that the judicial side of implementation [of the Hague Convention] may involve a lot of business as usual for the family courts in Tokyo and Osaka charged with handling Hague cases.” For anyone with any knowledge of the status quo, this is far from satisfactory and raises the issue of what difference Japan’s ratification will actually make. The article seems doubtful that return orders would be made and even if they were that they would not be enforced.
That seems very similar to the present situation.
It has been reported in today’s Japan Times that members of the Diet might yet reject the Hague Convention despite every indication being that it would get through and the relentless pressure from the United States. Click here for the article.
North Korea’s abductions
As far back as I can remember, the issue of North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals has been a hot topic in Japan and quite rightly so. It was the lead headline in today’s (yesterday’s in Japan) Japan Times.
That said Japan needs to get its own house in order, however, as the abduction of children, whilst not condoning the past actions of the evil regime in North Korea, is something that Japan should be utterly ashamed of and should be and should have been addressing as aggressively as it has done in terms of the North Korea abductions.
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.