Joint Statement on International Child Abduction

October 16, 2009

When one parent abducts a child with the intention of denying the other parent contact with his or her child, it is a tragedy for all concerned. Australia, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States are all parties to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“the Convention”), which was created to protect children from this tragedy.

The Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention across international borders. The Convention further establishes procedures to ensure their prompt return to the State of their habitual residence where custody decisions can be made in the appropriate court of jurisdiction. It also secures protection for rights of access for both parents to their children. To date, over 80 countries have acceded to the Convention.

Japan is the only G-7 nation that has not signed the Convention. The left-behind parents of children abducted to or from Japan have little realistic hope of having their children returned and encounter great difficulties in obtaining access to their children and exercising their parental rights and responsibilities.

Because parental child abduction involving Japan affects so many of our citizens, we, the Ambassadors to Japan of Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, and the Deputy Head of Mission from the Embassy of Australia, called on Justice Minister Chiba today to address our concerns.

We place the highest priority on the welfare of children who have been the victims of international parental child abduction and believe that our children should grow up with access to both parents. Therefore, in our meeting with Minister Chiba we called upon Japan to accede to the Convention. We also urged that Japan meanwhile identify and implement measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to maintain contact with them and to visit them.

Japan is an important friend and partner for each of our countries, and we share many values in common. This makes it all the more important to develop tangible solutions to cases of parental child abduction in Japan. We are eager to work closely and in a positive manner with the new Japanese government on this issue.