Parents invited to ‘meet’ their children online

Parents invited to ‘meet’ their children online following failure of couple’s international marriage


Jul 26, 2015
The Foreign Ministry has launched a program enabling parents and children to meet online despite being split across international borders following the failure of the parents’ marriage.

Launched in June, the program uses third-party monitors to follow the conversation and watch for parents threatening their children or leveling unfair accusations against their former partners. If that happens, the conversation is terminated.

The program is based on the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a treaty focusing on child custody after the breakup of international marriages. The program allows parents whose children were abducted by their former partners to ask signatory countries to help set up meetings with their children.

Under Japan’s system, online meetings using personal computers or smartphones are set up if a request by one parent is approved by the other.

The plug is pulled if third-party monitors decide that the conversation is inappropriate.

“The presence of third-party monitors can increase options for meetings between parents and children,” one official said.

The monitors are from three Japanese institutions, including the Family Problems Information Center, a public-interest corporation tasked with addressing family problems.

Some other nations also convene online meetings of this kind, but it is rare to have the involvement of third-party monitors, ministry officials said.

Cases that date from before Japan joined the treaty are also eligible for the meeting support program, they said.

Source:  “Parents invited to ‘meet’ their children online following failure of couple’s international marriage”, The Japan Times, 26 July 2015

Organizers reveal emblem for 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The official emblem of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic (left) and Paralympic Games is unveiled by the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee to a large crowed gathered in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office on Friday night. | KYODO

Organizers reveal emblem for 2020 Tokyo Olympics


Jul 25, 2015

Japanese organizers revealed the emblem of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Friday, five years to the day before the opening ceremony.The emblem is based on “T,” standing for Tokyo, tomorrow, and team.

It was designed by Japanese artist Kenjiro Sano.

The ceremony was held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office in the Shinjuku district and was attended by Tokyo 2020 Games Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori, Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe and IOC Vice President John Coates.

“(The) emblem reflects the vibrant nature of the city and the welcoming spirit of its citizens,” Coates said.

Tokyo’s preparations have been bogged down lately by controversy over the planned new National Stadium. After initially selecting a design by award-winning architect Zaha Hadid, the government last week scrapped the design amid spiraling costs that soared to ¥252 billion — almost double the government’s initial estimate.

Construction of the stadium was supposed to begin in October and be completed in May 2019 in time for that year’s Rugby World Cup.

The government will now have to choose a new design through an international competition, meaning the new National Stadium won’t be finished until spring 2020.

Source:  “Organizers reveal emblem for 2020 Olympic Games”, The Japan Times, 25 July 2015

Walk Across Borders: Spain to UK charity walk by Steven Monk-Dalton

Between 23 August 2015 and 5 October 2015, Steven Monk-Dalton, whose daughter is a victim of international parental child abduction, will walk from Orihuela in Spain to the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand in London in support of the charity Reunite.  I hope to be able to join the last leg of this journey from Brentford to central London on 5 October.  Please support this walk by sharing the links to his Facebook and Just Giving pages as widely as possible, joining the walk (for readers based in Spain, France and/or the UK) and by sponsoring him also.

2 judges to join Hague Convention network

2 judges to join Hague Convention network

2:50 am, June 30, 2015

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The Supreme Court has decided to register two Japanese judges as members of the Hague Convention Attorney Network, which comprises judges from 65 signatories to the Hague Convention (see below), to help determine whether children of broken international marriages should be returned to their countries of habitual residence.

The measure is expected to give family court judges in Japan better access to information related to such proceedings via the network.

Through e-mails and other communications from their counterparts overseas, family court judges will be able to obtain constant, up-to-date information about legal and other systems to protect children and their mothers in other nations.

Lawyers specializing in such cases of parental child abduction have expressed high hopes. “Having detailed knowledge of the situation in the countries where children will be returned could make it easier to reach decisions,” one said.

The Supreme Court said 97 judges, drawn from 65 of the total 93 countries joining the convention, were registered in the network as of March.

Family laws differ among the signatory countries, and in the United States, they can even vary among states. Network members can exchange information about various legal systems and share their views on rulings in specific trials.

When the convention went into effect in Japan in April last year, the idea of registering Japanese court judges in the network was considered.

But some legal experts reportedly voiced concerns, saying that providing details of domestic trials to judges in other countries could hurt the independence of the judiciary.

Court judges experienced in handling such cases sought to enroll in the network. “I want to hear about the latest cases in other signatory countries so I can use them as reference,” one explained.

Consequently, the Supreme Court decided to register two judges who belong to its Family Bureau of the General Secretariat, rather than judges working in courts.

The two member judges are expected to liaise over the phone and e-mail after collecting questions from family courts and other related entities.

For example, in cases of suspected domestic violence, Japanese court judges will be able to inquire in advance whether mothers and their children are eligible to receive assistance from administrative authorities if they repatriate.

If the conditions for returning the children are decided through legal mediation, Japanese court judges will be able to verify whether the terms decided in Japan are also legally binding in the other country.

The sources said the network members occasionally hold gatherings and exchange opinions.

“Participation in the network means that judgments based on the convention [in Japan] will be more aligned with international standards,” said Toshiteru Shibaike, a lawyer and expert on the convention. “In the future, court judges will hopefully make more flexible judgments that emphasize the welfare of children while using the perspectives of their peers abroad as reference.”

■ The Hague Convention

Formally called the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, it went into effect in April 2014 in Japan. As of April this year, 93 countries were signatories. If children are taken to Japan, family courts make decisions over whether to accept requests to return the children filed by parents in other countries. As of the end of March, Japanese family courts had received a total of 16 such requests, nine of which were granted.

Source: “2 judges to join Hague Convention network”, The Yomiuri Shimbun, 29 June 2015