The cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan formally approved today Japan’s policy of joining an international treaty that sets procedures for settling cross-border child custody disputes, after coming under foreign pressure to accede to the pact for years.
With the Cabinet approval, Japan launched preparations for signing the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction by crafting domestic legislation to endorse the pact.
The outline of bills expected to be submitted to the Diet by the end of this year for concluding the treaty stipulates that the Japanese Foreign Ministry will be designated as the central authority to locate children wrongfully removed or retained by one parent and secure the voluntary return of them.
The domestic legislation would also indicate that children will not have to be returned when the parent has fled from an abusive spouse or could face criminal prosecution in his or her country of habitual residence.
An advisory panel to Justice Minister Satsuki Eda will start discussing in early June necessary judicial procedures for Japan to return children abducted by their parents under the Hague Convention based on the outline of the bills, government officials said.
Japan has been urged by European countries and the United States to join at an early date the treaty to deal with cross-border child custody disputes as a result of failed international marriages.
Comment: I just hope the action does not get lost in the huge bureacratic system for years. And will the opposition - the Liberal Democratic Party support the change of policy, as the way things are going, they will win the next election!
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