By Debito Arudou writing in The Japan Times, 1 January 2015 (extract):
Hate, muzzle and poll: a top 10 of issues for 2014
4) Signs Japan may enforce Hague
Last year’s top 10 noted that Japan would join an international pact that says international children abducted by a family member from their habitual country of residence after divorce should be repatriated. However, JBC [Just Be Cause] doubted it would be properly enforced, in light of a propagandist Foreign Ministry pamphlet arguing that signing the Hague Convention was Japan’s means to force foreigners to send more Japanese children home (“Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents,” JBC, Oct. 8). Furthermore, with divorces between Japanese citizens commonly resulting in one parent losing all access to the children, what hope would foreigners have?
Fortunately, last year there were some positive steps, with some children abducted to Japan being returned overseas. Government-sponsored mediation resulted in a voluntary return, and a court ruling ordered a repatriation (the case is on appeal).
However, the Hague treaty requires involuntary court-ordered returns, and while Japan has received children under its new signatory status, it has not as yet sent any back. Further, filing for return and/or access in Japan under the Hague is arduous, with processes not required in other signatory countries.
Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction, and JBC hopes that respect for habitual residence continues even after international media attention on Japan has waned.