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Japan agrees to sign international child abduction treaty

Japan announced Friday that they will be signing the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction [text] at next week's G8 summit [Guardian archiver]. Signatories of the Convention are required to return a child who has been "wrongfully removed" from his or her country of habitual residence, typically through international custody disputes. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano [official website, in Japanese] stated that the decision was made for the welfare of children [Japan Times report], and that Prime Minister Naoto Kan [official website, in Japanese] and the cabinet were in favor of signing. Current Japanese law favors giving custody to one parent [BBC report] and allowing that parent to choose whether the other receives visitation. There is also opposition from a significant portion of mothers who fled from abusive spouses to Japan due to their custody laws. Edano stated that this will be taken into account in the new laws.

The Hague Convention, which currently has 84 signatories [text], seeks to eliminate difficulties that arise when a court in one country does not recognize custody decisions [DOS backgrounder] of a foreign court. Japan was urged to sign the treaty [JURIST report] by 10 other nations early last year. Russia remains the only G8 nation to not sign the treaty. China is also not a signatory.

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