American paternity rights ignored by Japanese lawmakers, Part 2

By March 11, 2011Paternity

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C posted in Paternity on Friday, March 11, 2011

Our last post highlighted an ABC News Investigation into a series of international kidnapping cases involving American-Japanese couples. The article interviews a group of American fathers who were forced to lose contact with their children after marital unhappiness caused their former wives to return to Japan, taking the couple’s children with them.

US child custody laws state that one parent cannot choose to relocate the couple’s children without attaining the proper legal permission. However, under Japanese law, the international fathers have no way to enforce their paternity rights or even contact their children without the mothers’ cooperation.

ABC News reporters claim that Japan is widely recognized as a black hole for internationally abducted children; once a kidnapped child enters Japan, it is very unlikely they will be returned. Yet these fathers are not giving up, and the State Department is attempting to support their efforts. Representatives from the State Department, in addition to other US politicians and activists, have recently traveled to Japan to encourage Japanese lawmakers to sign the Hague Convention-an international treaty which would allow a parent to seek the return of their abducted children.

For the fathers of abducted children and their families, years of waiting for results have caused a good deal of frustration with the diplomatic process. In some cases, ABC News was able to access testimony from the Japanese mothers admitting that they lied to the Consulate General of Japan and used fake names for their children in order to illegally transport them to Japan. For the fathers involved in these cases, knowing that their ex-wives broke the law yet will not be punished for their crime is infuriating.

Due to increased international pressure, lawmakers believe that Japanese officials are closer to signing the Hague Convention than ever before. Yet, it may still be many years before the American fathers are allowed to reconnect with their children. In some cases, fathers who lost their children as babies will not be able to meet them again until they are fully grown, yet ABC News reports that many of the men hold out hope for a happy reunion.

Source: ABC News, “Abducted to Japan: Hundreds of American Children Taken.” Sarah Netter and Abbie Boudreau, February 16, 2011.