There have been reports that another child has been returned to Japan by virtue of the Hague Convention. Needless to say, the seeming alacrity of non-Japanese courts as to enforcing the Convention’s provisions has yet to be matched, adequately or at all, by the Japanese judicial branch. The only statistic that stands out in the above article is that of the 12 pending applications for the return of children taken to Japan. It remains to be seen what happens when one of those applications fall to be determined by the Japanese courts. Bear in mind that this figure represents 12 cases of abduction to Japan since the Hague provisions came into force in April this year. Somewhat alarmingly, it equates to about an abduction to Japan every 2 weeks or so (and only counting the reported cases) – which suggests that the Convention’s acquisition of legal force has not had any deterrent effect in Japan and things continue much as before.
The latest case concerned a child taken from Japan to the United States. The article cited above also refers to the Swiss case that I posted about 2 days’ back. Yet these cases also represent a paradox: as set out fully in this excellent blog by an American father, the return of these children to Japan, even if otherwise the right thing to do, will risk the overseas (invariably non-Japanese) parent losing all contact with the child concerned because of the refusal of Japanese courts to accept the principle of contact with the non-resident parent, let alone any notion of dual parenting.
My email to the Foreign Office in August 2014 made these points and others but has not yet been responded to. That perhaps is not surprising as the status quo is, notwithstanding Japan joining the Hague Convention, undeniably unacceptable. But, it being a matter for Japan, there is nothing that foreign governments can do about it. There remains an absolute need for a root and branch shake up of attitudes to family law in Japan as, without this, Japan’s membership of the Hague Convention will, in some cases, be an unwelcome fact.