Japan to Join Hague Convention

It seems Japan WILL at long last become a signatory of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction more news here

This is astounding news if it happens to all go to plan. In theory, this will completely change the legal system in Japan and give proper rights to left-behind parents. The reality, could well, of course, be different to that. The cynic in me says Japan will not change because of this and will continue to obfuscate and obstruct as it always does in custody cases - BUT this is still the best of all possible news we could hope for - it's a step in the right direction at the very least. Let's wait and see that firstly Japan do join, and that in actual cold, hard, reality - this represents real, tangible rights for left-behind parents. That's the whole point of the Convention.

Update (21st Feb 2012): Plans are still going ahead for Japan to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, but as predicted everything is moving slowly, and it's still not clear as to how they will enforce court orders.

Children and parents kept apart by uncaring Japanese family courts and Japanese government

Since 1951, not one single abducted child has been returned to the US from Japan - giving Japan the worst child abduction record in the world - even worse than North Korea, Libya, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. The US is just one example. Children have been abducted from the UK, Canada, mainland Europe, Australia, New Zealand amongst many other countries - kidnapped and taken to Japan.

Japan know very well about the trauma of international abduction since they had a handful of their own citizens abducted by North Koreans. This has made huge headlines in Japan - for over 30 years! But they do not seem to be bothered when children are abducted by Japanese and kidnapped to Japan - breaking international laws in the process. This is Japan's dirty secret. Now with a boom in international marriage over the last 10 years between Japanese nationals and non-Japanese nationals (it has quadrupled), it simply is not possible to keep such a secret from the mainstream public consciousness.

Kidnapping doesn't have to be international to completely deny one parent access to their child(ren). It happens within the borders of Japan too. Japan has zero support for non-custodial parents. The Japanese family courts do not care about the relationship children have with their parents, such wreckless acts of kidnap are manifestations of a couldn't-care-less family court system and government. Even elderly grandparents have kidnapped their grandchildren and assumed full-time custody. How is that right?

If you are married to a Japanese national and have children, please be aware that you have no legal protection from child abduction by your spouse or his/her family members. Japan doesn't recognise this as "abduction" - it's a family issue. Even if your child is a citizen of your home country, and your home country sees this as an abduction, it doesn't matter. Even if Interpol have an arrest warrant for international abduction, it doesn't matter
(Japan are not a signatory of the The Hague Convention of 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction).

Once this abduction occurs, everything is out of your hands - you will have no recourse to legally gain custody of your children OR EVEN VISITATION. It is a potential problem for all of those married to Japanese nationals, including Japanese nationals! Abduction can mean your kids being taken by your spouse half way around the world back to Japan, or taken from your family home in Japan to your spouse's parent's home just 5 minutes down the road. Both situations result in 100% denial of visitation or communication with your children INDEFINITELY (Japanese society sees separation as final), all with the approval of the local family court. The terrible effects this has on children and the left-behind parent is ignored by the family courts who think 100% separation of parent and child is actually "in the best interests of the child". Forgetting even countless studies that clearly show what harm such separation does to children, common sense should tell you such separation does much long-term harm.

We strongly urge anyone who is non-Japanese and thinking of having children with their Japanese-national partner (whether YOU are male or female) to consider the stark reality of high divorce/separation rates coupled with the zero-sum, brutal way the Japanese culture deals with divorce - i.e. the non-custodial parent is completely shut out of the lives of his or her children indefinitely. It is a unique risk that is different to the normal risk of divorce in any other country, where visitation for the non-custodial parent is a right. It is not a right in Japan.

"But it won't happen to me!"

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but knowing the facts beforehand is even better.

When a person becomes a parent, they cannot imagine that society and government could effectively work to keep that person away from their child. It happens in Japan. It is a reality. Abduction occurs without punishment because it is not seen as abduction in Japan, but a private family issue. To maintain the "harmony" of society, the tacit agreement is that non-custodial parents should simply move on and not cause trouble.

So it might not happen to you, but if it does, you have no resources and no rights.

With the unlikely event of Japan ever changing the way it deals with divorce / separation (certainly in the next 5-10 years), this website acts as much as a warning as it does an appeal for change.

Why accept this sword of Damocles over your head? For many of us, the sword has already fallen.

Sign our petition whether you are married to a Japanese national or separated from one, or are even a Japanese national married to a non-Japanese national - it doesn't matter. What matters is a unified allegiance against the Family Courts of Japan who care little for your children's welfare.

Print out the petition list and let your local family court in Japan (or your spouse's Family Court in Japan local to him/her) know there are many people who are demanding reform that enables meaningful and enforced (if necessary) access to children for both parents. Also send a copy of the petition to your local MP (member of parliament). It is likely to be an eye-opener to your local MP who may not even be aware that Japan is a safe-haven for child abductors.

We are a resource/community site with information regarding parental rights in Japan for those who are separated or divorced. We're also campaigning for fairer and more robust visitation rights for non-custodial parents.

More information on FRIJ.net here

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Our fundamental mission statement:-

"The Japanese Family Court laws need amending in order to uphold and enforce the fundamental birthright that a child has regular, meaningful access to BOTH of his or her parents."

Agree with the above statement? Click here to sign our petition! - 506 people already agree - please add your name; see the list (click here), print it out and send it to your nearest family court in Japan and make them realise SIMPLE reform is necessary to ensure children of divorced parents TRULY have their best interests met. Currently, the family courts of Japan are not doing their job!! Reform simply means enforcing their court orders.

With the continuing drop in the birth rate in Japan (and marriage rate) - surely it's wise to encourage people to marry and have children by letting them know they will always have their rights of a parent met regardless of divorce. As it stands, marriage is risky given the divorce rate and lack of support from the family courts in Japan - no wonder people are having less children in Japan if there are no guarantees of fulfilling the role of being a parent - the first parent to have custody of the child(ren) will win overall fulltime custody by the family court and the non-custodial parent will likely never see their child(ren) meaningfully again. Given that, currently it could be said that the drop in the birth-rate in Japan is partly a result of the Draconian family laws of Japan (amongst other reasons). In the long run, Japan will suffer economically and socially by doing nothing.