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Japan says will sign child abduction treaty

20 january 2013, 18:35
0
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. ©AFP
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. ©AFP
Japan's foreign minister said Friday his country's new government would sign a treaty on child abductions, addressing one of the few rifts in relations with its main ally the United States, AFP reports.

Japan has not signed or ratified the 1980 Hague Convention, which requires the return of wrongfully held children to the countries where they usually live, but a previous left-leaning government had said it planned to do so.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, whose conservative Liberal Democratic Party returned to power last month, said on a visit to Washington that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government would take the same stance.

"The government of Japan is intending to go through the necessary procedures for early signing of the treaty," Kishida told a news conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton said she hoped that Japan's parliament would pass legislation on the Hague treaty during its upcoming session.

Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Masaru Sato, asked about the time frame urged by Clinton, said that the government was serious about taking action.

"We will make our best efforts -- all we can -- so that early ratification of the convention will be able to be achieved," Sato told reporters in Washington.

Japanese courts virtually never grant custody to foreign parents or to fathers, leaving few legal avenues for fathers whose former partners have fled to Japan with their children.

Hundreds of US parents have complained that they have no recourse to see their half-Japanese children. At least 120 have filed cases in Japan, invariably to no avail.

The US Congress has repeatedly pressed Japan to take up the issue, with one lawmaker last year proposing counter-measures such as canceling official visits or refusing export licenses for products if Japan does not act.

The previous Japanese government's position had initially heartened US officials, but their hopes dimmed as Tokyo delayed action on the Hague treaty and indicated that a ratification would only apply to future cases.

Japanese critics of the Hague convention have previously argued that the country needs to protect women from potentially abusive foreign men.

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