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Why do you think successive Japanese governments have refused to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which seeks to ensure that the rights of access of both parents are pr

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The main reason, as I understand it, is cultural, in that Japanese courts feel that a child is better off with one parent than being the subject of an emotional tug-of-war after the parents divorce.

Sometimes, I think the aggrieved parent should just wait until their children grow up and get a passport. Then they can visit their dad whenever they want. I suppose the fear is that one parent will poison the mind of the child.

How come we never hear of cases of parental abductions involving teenage children, say between the ages of 14 and 17?

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Initially it was because there were not many international marriages. Typical short-sightedness on the part of the Japanese government regarding anything having to do with society. Now they won't sign it because they would have to face up to dealing with the hundreds of cases from around the world in which they would have to side with foreign governments over their own nationals. The flip side to this is that when the J-government whines about the North Korean abduction issue, they get very little sympathy from the international community. Hey J-government, welcome to the 21st century, this isn't the 19th century anymore. You want to run with the wolves, then join the pack.

Moderator: Readers, once again we remind you that the North Korean abductions are not relevant to this issue. There is absolutely nothing similar about the two issues.

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Signing the Hague Convention does not make good politics domestically here in Japan. The perceived caving in to foreign (rather than international) pressure is not a vote winner. Foreign pressure in this context is bilateral relations. This topic is often discussed in Japan as a problem between J and Country A, rather than Japan and the international community at large.

There is also the wider issue of Japan always portraying itself in the domestic media as a victim of circumstance.

For example, discussions of the Second World War in Japan always center on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Japan as a victim), whereas few column inches in the press are giving to less palatable topics such as Japan's conduct in China/South East Asia. As such, there is little linkage between different events. For example, the fact that Japan's conduct (in places like China) had a rather large bearing on the final outcome (the use of nuclear weapons against Japan).

More recently, there is the topic of abductions to North Korea (Japan again as victim - sorry Mods), while on the other hand Japanese abductions of people from the Korean peninsular in the 20th Century don't get much play in the mass media in Japan.

Finally, with regard to the Hague Convention, Japan can only see Japanese nationals as victims (escaping abusive foreign spouses, etc), being unable to comprehend the fact that there are some Japanese nationals who have consciously broken the laws of other countries in kidnapping their children back to Japan.

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Because the reject anything they do not understand. Generally Japanese people who see themselves as having authority use the law when it suits them, and ignore it when it doesn't, if they cannot ignore it they deride it. They know they can do this domestically, but not internationally.

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Japan is a very hypocritcal country.

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Why do you think successive Japanese governments have refused to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which seeks to ensure that the rights of access of both parents are protected?

Never a pen around when you need one.

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Because the treaty is at odds with Japanese citizenship law and aspects of Japanese family law concerning child custody.

I suspect the same is true in the other countries that have not signed the treaty (ie. just about all of Asia and Africa).

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Disgraceful.

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Because the treaty is at odds with Japanese citizenship law and aspects of Japanese family law concerning child custody

This is certainly true. And when you also factor in Japan's victim mentality, total contempt for foreign courts, and general infantile behaviour on the world stage, it becomes clear that it's more likely that I will be the next Japanese Emperor than it is for Japan to sign the Hague Convention. And don't forget, should (by some miracle) the Japanese actually sign it, they will never honour it.

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That is because successive Japanese governments have failed to produce the kind of leadership that recognizes moral right from wrong, and acts upon the understanding.

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Japan's unwillingness to sign this convention is not consonant with Japanese nationalist sentiment that would favour multi-racial children born from international marriages to be kept outside the realm, and ESPECIALLY if such marriages break down and lead these children to the evils of single parenting in Japan. For this reason I can only see that the Japanese public are being ignorant about full implications of the convention. Surely, if more Japanese realise that the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction is the lynchpin for Nihonjinron precepts in the 21st century, more Japanese will support their country to accede and ratify the convention.

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It's simple they need more people to fill their population with youth generation. Since the number of kids they have is getting decrease every year any little help to leverage that number would give significant help.

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Japan is a very primitive country in many regards, these abductions is but an example.

This wud be fine if Jpn just wanted to be a middle of the pack 3rd world country but no it wants to get on the UNSC etc & these abductions are one of several reasons why Jpn shud get no where near the UNSC

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Its because in doing that , they would actually seem to be in support of someone of foreign origin.

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About 100 USA citizens kidnapped. Now how many Japanese/Foreign children cannot go to Japan because of courts in other countries that do not trust citizens from countries that have not signed the Hague convention? I will bet more than 100. Implementing the Hague Convention by Japan would help a lot of citizens in the world who deal with Japan as citizens, spouses, children and other significant parties.

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Its because in doing that , they would actually seem to be in support of someone of foreign origin.

At least half part, since the other half part is Japanese. It's something hard to compromise but still better than nothing.

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Its because in doing that , they would actually seem to be in support of someone of foreign origin.

Yes, which is ironic when you expect the average gaijin hating Japanese would rather see mixed race children to be in the care of the foreign parent outside of Japan. This one reason why I hate J-Nationalism.

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Russia isn't a signatory and Japan is teeming with Russian hostesses. There must be a fair proportion of them who have married Japanese men, had kids, divorced and then returned home with the kids. I think the Japanese government hasn't signed because it just doesn't think people are important enough. I know loads of Japanese divorcees who never ever see their kids, even though they are living in the same town! Most of them (the men, anyway) don't even seem that upset about it. Perhaps inside they are dying, but superficially they all seem happy to be able to get out and go partying again.

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For starters, there haven't been successive governments. It's basically been same ol' same ol' since the fifties.

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Japan can only see Japanese nationals as victims (escaping abusive foreign spouses, etc), being unable to comprehend the fact that there are some Japanese nationals who have consciously broken the laws of other countries in kidnapping their children back to Japan.

This. Good one, Timor.

One guy I know said he thinks it's because Japanese fathers aren't so keen on seeing the kids. I guess he would know. He's a Japanese guy with two kids.

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I know loads of Japanese divorcees who never ever see their kids, even though they are living in the same town! Most of them (the men, anyway) don't even seem that upset about it.

J-men take little responsibility when married so we shud be hardly surprised many cud care less about their kids once divorced & its this kind of acceptance by men & women in Jpn that Jpn hasnt signed this treaty & they have to be embarassed in front of the world(same with child porn) in order to prod Jpn to do whats right

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Probably because some old man in an important position has a daughter who kidnapped her kids back from a foreigner...

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simple: because the japanese govt doesnt care about anybody except the japanese

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Why the j male bashing? I personally see j men spending more "quality" time with their kids than j-moms. A trip to the park on the weekend will show dad playing with the kids not standing under the tree gossiping with the group like the mothers.

As for why? Racism and all that jazz. One in 20 kids in Japan is now born to a foreigner parent. They need to get off their asses and sign before us foreigners stop breeding and propping up their pension and health care system and whatnot.

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Japanese governments dont like to be told to sign stuff... custody / whaling etc.

But when they 'create' the concept, it is pushed everywhere... Kyoto Protocol etc.

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Also, because most Japanese still see themselves as the superior race. The, "Japanese are just different from the rest of the world" attitude is how they go about all their international business.

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One in 20 kids in Japan is now born to a foreigner parent.

Is this true, tmarie? Would you please identify your source? Thx.

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Sorry- seems to be one in 30! http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080804a1.html

http://www.japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/view/one-in-every-30-babies-born-in-japan-has-at-least-one-foreign-parent-we-have-to-discuss-very-seriously-how-we-should-involve-foreign-residents-in-building-our-society

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Because some courts believe that dragging the ex-wife and kids out of their environment half way across the globe so that the two timing daddy and his former mistress can have access to the kids is for the "best interest" of the kids.

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Probably not a big priority for them. The angle that most of you probably have not cosidered is that it is mainly Japanese women that suffer because of this failure to sign. Many of them are stuck in foreign countries unable to return after divorce as courts do not trust them to comply with orders to return after a holiday back to Japan.Also foreign courts do not let them return permanently as they fear father`s will never see kids again

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I think the answer may be because the Convention does not adequately define "habitual residence".

For example, a child who lived his whole life in Japan, then went overseas for a couple of months during which time his parents divorce and battle over custody, and the mother returns to Japan with the child against the father's wishes. To most Japanese people, clearly that overseas residence was not the "habitual residence" and yet there will be anxiety that it will nonetheless be ruled as "habitual residence".

From Wikipedia article.

The Convention mandates return of any child who was “habitually resident” in a contracting nation immediately before an action that constitutes a breach of custody or access rights. The Convention does not define the term “habitual residence,” but it is not intended to be a technical term. Instead, courts should broadly read the term in the context of the Convention’s purpose to discourage unilateral removal of a child from that place in which the child lived when removed or retained, which should generally be understood as the child’s “ordinary residence.”

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Stuck?? Most of the j-chicks married to gaijin men seem to want the golden ticket out of Japan. When they realize that they won't get treated the way they think their white knight is shining armor is supposed to, they bail. The courts don't trust them because they pull this crap. If Japan would just sign I think they cases of women kidnapping their kids would lower a heck of a lot BUT would also ensure that they could move back and forth between Japan and wherever as the men would know that they cold get their kids back if the ex took off - and just using j-women and g-males as that seems to be the majority of the cases.

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It would be interesting to know in Japan / US / UK etc. what percentage of divorced females end up with the kids and what percentage of divorced males are given custody of the kids. I assume it would be 70% or 80% in favour of the mother in many countries but maybe 95% in Japan. The Japanese government seem to believe that kids are almost always better off with their mother.....

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I happened to witness a case of child abduction prevention measures in the U.S. about 4 years ago. I was travelling there on business with my partner and his two daughters. He tried to take the two daughters to Cacun, Mexico for a weekend but was denied boarding the plane in Texas because they said he needed a noterized statement of permission from the girls mother. His wife did not join us on the trip because she works and could not get vacation time. The immigration officers were very nice about it and explained that it was to prevent parental abductions and that they would accept a faxed copy from the mother through the Japanese embassy but because it was only a weekend trip there was not enough time. So they went to 6 Flags Amusement park instead. I wonder why this woman was allowed to board without the husbands consent??? Any ideas anyone???

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I think it's due to racism and nationalism forming a bad mix (as they usually do). It's something between Nihonjinron and the myth held in Japan that "Japanese" is a race, not a nationality; that mixed kids are "hafu" and not fully Japanese; that children of two Japanese parents born overseas are "nikkei" and "nissei" as a way to catalog them below the level of Japanese born of two Japanese parents on Japanese soil. It is more than obvious from the change in the physical characteristics of Japanese that live in big cities from the first half of the 20th century till now that what Marie mentioned above does make sense. Just go to any museum and look at the faces of the early 20th century and check out the sizes of old clothes and samurai armor on display; the height of trap doors in military castles and attics like Himeji Castle; how a tatami mat used to allow one person to sleep comfortably on it but now it's too small for modern people is also enlightening. Check out the craze for whitening skin, breast augmentation and eye plastic surgery; though a widespread craze it's impossible it alone has changed the faces of Japan. However admitting that the mixed population is already numerous enough to need legislation concerning their citizenry and safety is difficult to accept for the Old Boys that rule Japan. Perhaps the change of regime (after almost continuous 50 years of LDP rule) may bring more modern ideas to the table concerning internationalization and children of mixed heritage.

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For the sake of International comity Promotion of equitable rights of parents globally A lawful excuse to prevent mixed raced children living in Japan

The convention is a rare jewel that both liberals and conservatives can agree on.

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Also, because most Japanese still see themselves as the superior race.

I agree. That's why thet use another writing system to write foreign words. The problem will never be solved as long as they have this attitude.

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Japan is guilty nuff said .

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Honestly, it's simply because nobody's seriously pressured them to. There have been lots of treaties Japan hadn't signed, but when other nations put real pressure they signed in the end. This case is a developing issue.

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Why does Japan need to be pressured to sign something that every other developed nation is a signatory to? Most societies agreed to this because it's obviously fair and good, not because of pressure.

Oh, well. Fathers get more or less screwed everywhere in the event of divorce, so I guess that's how it is in the world.

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Have you ever asked a Japanese, "Who is most qualified to raise children, men or women?". I have and it was something I also studied at university in Japanese sociology (minor subject for me though). The overwhelming majority will say, "Of course women are most qualified". As women have the babies, the courts award the children to their mothers.

I think most people here will think that line of thinking is something from a much older age and very antiquated, but that is the Japan we are stuck with for the time being.

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I disagree. I think women are accepted for what is best when raising a child. Naturally. Children though, are very much a part of the male lineage and responsibilities. So signing the Hagues Convention is really pointless, as you would have to start to define the dynamics of a family. Usually it is agreed that it is best left to the people involved. Where two countries are involved, you would think the parties concerned would face that responsibility as part of their own decision making and choices.....

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Japan appears to be neither a member nor a non-member..that is strange. http://www.hcch.net/index_en.php?act=conventions.status&cid=24#nonmem Japan refuses to sign for Japan's presumed benefit,just as Japan refused to sign the geneva convention during WW2.What I would like to know is how many children have been abducted from Japan to other non-member states?

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although if you believe this, then japan may sign the treaty in 2010. http://www.internationalfamilylawfirm.com/2008/05/japan-to-sign-parental-abduction-treaty.html

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techall: I was wondering the same thing. How did the woman leave the country with her kids in the first place? I don't know the answer to this. Azrael: You raised some good points. Mixed marriages and mixed kids are still not totally accepted in Japan.

Why have they refused to sign? I suppose to protect their out-dated beliefs that one is only fully Japanese if born to two Japanese parents on Japanese soil and that women should be the primary caregiver. Both of these beliefs are discriminating and should be a thing of the past.

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Because they misread it as the HAGE CONVENTION, of which they are already members.

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altria, hahahaha nice one!

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Because we won't be told what to do by foreigners.

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Altria, did they ever get around to ratifying the Bar Code codicil of the Hage Convention?

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because it's unfair for people who are ordered by the court to be stuck somewhere for 20 yrs, their freedom is severely restricted, and that could be inhumane. Imagine you married a foreigner and moved to a foreign country and lived there for a while. Suddenly you got dumped by your spouse for infidelity,that is hard enough, and you got ordered to live close to your former spouse and cannot even leave the country,or to return to your home country to get support from your own family. Esp. if you became a single mom or dad and didn't have any means to support yourself, financially and mentally( no family, no friends), it's not hard to imagine their living condition would suffer miserably in a foreign country. There are many people who are being trapped like that . The Hague convention helps the people who married a foreigner and lived in their own country, but if the Hague sends the kids back to a"habitual residence" , still the issues of those who live overseas remain. If one got divorced in a foreign country, one has to lose the rights to choose where one wants to live?

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-->hokkaidoguy and timor, great points!

Our personal angsts about Japanese "racism" and xenophobia aside (while there may be cause), plenty of recently elected officials recognize the growing importance of foreign integration. That said, lawmakers are faced with a tough choice to sign the Hague Convention, and therefore set into motion a domino effect of reform that would upend the socio-cultural paradigm of family life in Japan. Or, not sign and therefore bolster Japan's international independance where it doesn't hurt their standing with key partners (like the US).

Reforming the Koseki is a scary proposition. It's rooted so far into their fabric, it's not really a conceivable option.

The next hurdle is finding common ground between Japanese courts and the courts of the Hague Convention signatories. But before finding common ground, what's culturally acceptable and unacceptable among the member signatories would need addressing.

The Hague Convention is for the benefit of children, indeed protection. Not parental rights (as much as I would like, as a parent myself). The notion of what's best for children is debatable in different hemispheres.

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Making no mistake, what Christopher did was a valiant thing, albeit illegal in Japan. The Hague Convention would have diffused this before it happened. Japan needs to draw consistent lines in its immigration policies, among which is the Hague.

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@ Hep "Because we won't be told what to do by foreigners."

Why break the habits of a lifetime?

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on a serious note - as I understand there is a clause in the Hague Convention that allows for the 'safety of the child' to be paramount. Any court could claim this as a reason to not return the child to the site of the abduction - like those poor Savoie children that were kidnapped from the US and before the father failed in his valiant repatriation attempts.

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