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Attorneys Vic Hill and Brad MacDonald

U.S. Resolution Condemns Japan in Abduction/Child Custody Matters

Our immediately preceding blog addressed a growing State Department concern with the difficulties that an increasing number of U.S. military service members are having with international child custody matters, most specifically, with locating and visiting their children who were taken abroad and, sometimes, with enforcing existing custody orders in their favor.

The timeliness of that post seems validated by what occurred on September 29  in the U.S. House of Representatives, where that body passed, by a 416-1 vote, a scathing resolution condemning Japan’s “abduction and wrongful retention” of children.

The resolution states that 136 children are presently in Japan against the will of a U.S. parent. Activists contend that the Japanese government has denied contact to thousands of foreign parents.

Japan is the only major industrial country to have not signed the Hague Convention, which requires that children wrongfully taken outside their usual country of residence be returned. In the past, it has stated that doing so would undermine its traditional values.

There are recent signs that the government’s stance may be changing, triggered by an image concern, and that it might ratify the treaty. Rep. Christopher Smith, a strong proponent of the House resolution, would welcome that. “Japan’s a great friend, a great ally, with whom we have so much in common,” he says. “So it’s bewildering to say the least, how they are mistreating American children.”

His view is echoed by the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State in East Asia, Kurt Campbell, who notes succinctly that, “We’re going to need to see some progress on this issue.”

Related Resource: “US raises pressure on Japan child abductions” September 29, 2010