U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell testified before U.S. Congress recently on international parental child abduction in Japan.
"The U.S.-Japan alliance has helped underwrite peace and stability in East Asia for over 50 years and enabled a context for economic growth and prosperity," Assistant Secretary Campbell said. "While the U.S.-Japan relationship is overwhelmingly positive . . . the perennial issue of international parental child abduction in Japan remains a point of concern for the [State] Department and the United States Government. . . As recently as 2005, the [State] Department counted only 11 reported abduction cases involving Japan. Today the [State] Department tracks 123 active abduction cases involving 173 children with Japan."
The United States Government has consistently urged Japan to ratify the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in the hopes of establishing a legal mechanism to address the rising tide of international abduction cases in Japan. The Hague Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention across international borders, which is a tragedy for all concerned. To date, 85 countries have acceded to the Hague Convention. Japan is the only G-7 nation that has not implemented the Convention.
On May 20 of this year, the Government of Japan publicly stated its intention to ratify the Hague Convention, but Japanese officials have also indicated that Japan’s implementing legislation will include reservations to the Hague Convention, thus permitting Japanese courts to reject return applications.
"We look to Japan to take the necessary steps to ensure its full compliance and commitment to the Hague Convention," Assistant Secretary Campbell concluded. "We will continue to look for ways to ensure the Hague Convention, once ratified by Japan, becomes an effective tool to address these heart-wrenching cases. . . This issue remains a top priority for the [State] Department, [and we] are prepared to use all political and legal means necessary to facilitate contact and access for parents and abducted children."