FINALLY! Japan has taken steps to address what has become more than a “gaijin” problem. By the way, in Japan:

“The Civil Code awards custody over children to only one parent, invariably to the mother, after divorce. This often means parents who do not win custody can no longer see their children when custodial partners refuse.”

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“Japan is known as a haven for disaffected Japanese spouses who, in getting divorced, abscond with their kids back to Japan. Once in Japan they can dare their foreign spouses to try getting the kids back — something that despite around 13,000 international divorces a year in Japan and more overseas, has NEVER happened.

The divorce rate within Japan is about 30% (2006), and for Japanese living overseas (take the US as an example), it is typical of the local population, so more like 50%-60%. Thus there are a lot of international separations — many of which are not amicable.” [Via Terry Lloyd at Japan, Inc. Magazine]

According to the Asahi Shimbun:

“After years of refusing to sign, Japan on Jan. 24 officially joined the Hague convention that governs cross-border child custody disputes that result from broken marriages.

Japan came under heavy pressure from the United States and European countries to become party to The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The treaty spells out the guidelines that govern cases in which children of separated or divorced couples are taken to the home country of one parent without the consent of the other.

Nearly 20,000 international marriages a year involving Japanese nationals result in divorce. In certain cases, the Japanese parent returned to Japan with their children without the consent of the other parent.

The convention goes into effect from April 1 in Japan, at which time the Japan’s Foreign Ministry will be obliged to locate children that result from such marriages if requested to do so by a parent overseas. The ministry will then be required to take steps to resolve the dispute through arbitration or other means.”

In what comes as a blow to those fighting the court system in Japan:

Cases involving children taken to Japan before April 1 will be exempt from the convention. A parent overseas can still call on the Japanese government to assist in setting up a meeting with the child in such cases.

Click here to read BT’s previous articles (shown below) on parental kidnapping and Japan and the Hague Convention.