October 27, 2015
A senior U.S. official called on Tokyo to give American parents “direct, in-person contact” with their children living in Japan during custody battles with Japanese parents under a child abduction treaty.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Karen Christensen called for such one-on-one meetings in referring to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which stipulates what member nations should do when mothers or fathers take away their offspring without the consent of their spouses.
“We believe that the Japanese central authority really does take its responsibilities in the Hague Convention very seriously,” Christensen said in a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo.
“When we say ‘meaningful access,’ in the end we mean direct contact and unsupervised contact,” Christensen said. “We have not yet seen that kind of direct, in-person contact that we’re looking for. We would like to see this happen quickly.”
According to Washington, more than 30 Americans have requested meetings with their children living in Japan since Tokyo joined the Hague Convention in 2014.
Although some of the U.S. parents have talked to their children in Japan through video conferences or met them in the presence of observers, no in-person, unmonitored contact has been provided so far.
According to the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Japanese parents concerned about the risks of unmonitored meetings with their children have requested that such meetings be done through video conferences or under supervision.
“We will continue our proper support based on laws to realizing person-to-person contact,” a Foreign Ministry official said.
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