Left-behind parents waiting
By PAUL TOLAND
Special to The Japan Times
WASHINGTON — Ever since Christopher Savoie was arrested in 2009 after a failed attempt to retrieve his abducted children, Japan has been overwhelmed by international pressure to resolve its ever-increasing number of abduction cases. After years of demarches and public pleas by foreign governments, Japan has finally announced its intention to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
For the 85 other governments that have signed onto to this treaty, it represents a guideline for returning children who have been abducted abroad, and it represents a promise that a foreign court will not simply usurp custody orders and "steal" jurisdiction away from a child's habitual residence.
While the rest of the world has greeted Japan's announcement with cautious optimism, left-behind parents who have been victimized by this human rights tragedy have followed the government's discussions closely, and with growing concern. Watching the parliamentary debates that have been taking place in the Japanese Diet, it is difficult to believe that Japan intends to abide by the Hague treaty in good faith.
To date, most debate within the Japanese Diet has revolved around creating "exceptions" under which Japan would not have to return abducted children. These telling debates are in obvious opposition to the spirit of the Hague treaty in which signatories purport to want to return a child to his or her home following an abduction. Read More