Source: Modern Tokyo Times
President Obama of America raised the issue of the Hague Convention with regards to the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction with Prime Minister Noda of Japan. The issue is clearly delicate in Japan and domestic law also infringes on the rights of Japanese nationals when it comes to joint custody.
Domestic law in Japan and the Hague Convention may be separate issues but enforcement and other areas overlap despite the situation being very different. Therefore, if Prime Minister Noda is serious about implementing the Hague Convention which relates to Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a complete overhaul of the justice system will need reforming in family law and issues related to joint custody in Japan.
It surely would be strange if Japan abided by enforcing the Hague Convention without enabling the enforcement of domestic laws related to joint custody and other aspects. Also, it is clear that Prime Minister Noda is still learning the ropes and only time will tell if Japan is really serious about implementing reforms and allowing loving parents to see their missing child or children.
In saying this, it is clear that international pressure is mounting on Japan about this issue and the DPJ is more open-minded.
If Japan does start to recognize international law and court orders related to child abduction then clearly this will bring music to the ears of many parents, grandparents and other relatives and friends, who have also suffered great anxiety.
President Obama also highlighted existing abduction cases and how these needed to be resolved. This is very important because it is feared that these cases would be in limbo but according to the sensitive conversation between both leaders then it would appear that existing cases will also be prioritized.
It must be stated that the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) appears to be much more serious about this issue than past Liberal Democratic Party governments.
The Hague Convention and the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is one of many different areas in Japan which relates to parental alienation. After all, Japanese left-behind parents are also victims and some foreign nationals will have got married in Japan. Therefore, issues related to equality in the internal legal system are a major issue. This applies to the bias towards Japanese nationals in domestic courts and parental alienation in cases involving family courts irrespective of the ethnic background of the individual. .
However, it is heartening for parents, grandparents, and other relatives, that light is starting to flicker in a cave which was so dark for many decades. President Obama also must be praised for taking this bold step and highlighting the need to solve existing cases.
According to The Asahi Shimbun they report that “Obama also praised Japan’s efforts to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.”
Prime Minister Noda commented that “We are preparing the domestic laws that will be needed to enter into the convention at the earliest possible date.”
Brian Prager commented that “This was a statement made by Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell yesterday, September 21, 2011, after Barack Obama met the new Japanese PM Noda at the U.N. General Assembly. Our pain and agony, Japanese International Child Abduction, has finally reached the level of the President of the United States.”
“It is not the public statement from Barack Obama that we are hoping for, but it is a significant step in the right direction. It shows that at the executive level there is much greater awareness of Japanese International Child Abduction today than ever before.”
It is clear that both America and Japan will have vetted each other before talks began between both nations who have friendly relations and strong bonds. Also, from the DPJ’s point of view they may have desired President Obama to have raised this issue because President Obama’s thinking carries a lot of weight in Japan.
Therefore, without any cross-party support to implement legal reforms in Japan the statement by Obama will carry a lot of importance.
Obviously, for the vast majority of left behind parents they may be either surprised or angry by President Obama praising “Japan’s efforts to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction” which was reported by the Asahi Shimbun.
However, the DPJ, unlike the LDP, does appear to have moved dramatically in the right direction, even if “the extra mile” is still not seen because implementation will take time until domestic laws are put into place. Also, pressure will be put on the DPJ to implement some safety measures from the Japanese point of view.
Despite this, the current government in Japan is much more open to change than prior LDP governments which either turned a blind eye or just dragged their feet by leaving it to the next administration but without any real conviction to change anything.
Therefore, while the vast majority of parents will be at a loss by President Obama speaking positively about“Japan’s efforts” this must be viewed by past governments in Japan who did little to nothing about this very important and tragic situation.
Obviously, many obstacles are still in the way and the road remains to be long but some hope is being seen at the end of the tunnel. However, until real change is implemented and images of children are seen with parents who have been disenfranchised and abandoned by a brutal system, then doubts will always remain about sincerity.
It is essential that individuals and pressure groups keep on demanding their rights and building a positive network with senior politicians and important agencies which have influence.
However, like Brian Prager comments “It shows that at the executive level there is much greater awareness of Japanese International Child Abduction today than ever before.”
http://www.crcjapan.com/ Children’s Rights Council of Japan
http://bachome.org/wordpress/ Bring Abducted Children Home
Children First http://www.childrenfirst.jp/