I reproduce below an article taken from the Mainichi Daily News which I have only just seen. Despite what it (initially) states, it is the not the first case of a court-ordered return of a child from Japan – as the article itself later seemingly acknowledges – although it is the first case to involve the Tokyo Family Court. I most recently wrote about the first ordered return here (February 2015) and here (last week). The latest decision is open to appeal to the Tokyo High Court and thereafter to the Supreme Court. In addition, it is not clear whether the child remains in Japan or not – and it will be the enforcement of this decision, and the earlier one involving that Osaka Family Court, that will be the real test. The decision, issued on 20 March 2015, does not appear to have been reported elsewhere.
Tokyo Family Court orders child to be returned overseas under Hague Convention
The ruling is apparently the first to order that a child be returned overseas in a case involving an international marriage dispute since the convention, commonly known as the Hague Convention, came into effect in Japan in April last year.
According to the father’s lawyer, Masayuki Honda, his client married the child’s mother in Turkey, where the couple continued to live following the birth of their son. In December of last year, however, the mother returned to Japan with the child.
Working through Honda, the child’s father made an appeal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan to help ensure the child’s return to him in accordance with the Hague Convention. At the beginning of February this year, judicial proceedings were then initiated at the Tokyo Family Court, aiming to return the child to Turkey.
The court attempted to set up mediation and reconciliation proceedings, to no avail, before announcing on March 20 that a decision had been made to order the child’s return to Turkey.
Tokyo and Osaka are the only two locations in Japan where family courts have the authority to decide whether or not to return children overseas in accordance with the Hague Convention. In both cities, proceedings are closed to the public.
Last year in November, the Osaka Family Court ordered a Japanese woman who had come to Japan with her daughter to return the child to her father, who is also Japanese, in Sri Lanka. That was the country’s first such ruling since the convention went into effect.
The most recent ruling also apparently represented the first time that the Tokyo Family Court has ever ordered the return of a child.
March 25, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)