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31 MAY 2013

Japan to ratify Hague Convention on Child Abduction

Child in airportThe Upper House of the Japanese Parliament passed a bill on Wednesday to ratify the Hague Convention on Child Abduction by March 2014, according to the Japan Times.  

The Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return.

There has been frustration among international family lawyers over cases where Japanese parents bring a child to Japan without the consent of the other parent.

A central authority will be set up in the Japanese Foreign Ministry to deal with international children cases and encourage parents to resolve their disputes collaboratively.  

Currently, Japanese law does not permit joint child custody by separate parents and in cases of divorce, the couple must decide who gets custody of the child, or the court decides.

International family lawyer, David Hodson, explained in 2010: "Under Japanese law, only one parent is given parental authority which then gives exclusive entitlement to decide all issues regarding the child including location of residence. There is no statutory visitation or contact entitlement to the other parent who has almost no say in the child's subsequent upbringing such as education, health, adoption etc. There are no or minimal joint or shared parental residency arrangements."

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