Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Japan Denies Being 'Black Hole' for Children Abducted by Estranged Parent

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Japan Denies Being 'Black Hole' for Children Abducted by Estranged Parent

Article excerpt

Tokyo: Japan no child-abduction 'black hole'

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TORONTO - The Japanese government insists it has been complying with international child-abduction rules despite criticism to the contrary from Canadian parents who have been unable to gain access to their children in Japan.

In a statement, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said its top priority is to protect the interests of the children involved in such disputes.

"It is not right to see Japan as having legitimized child abduction in custody disputes, or of being a black hole for children whose parents are separated/divorced," the ministry said.

"We consider it highly important to deal with international child abduction in accordance with internationally standardized rules."

Earlier this week, The Canadian Press reported on the difficulties Canadian and other non-Japanese parents -- mostly fathers -- have in accessing their children in Japan after marital breakdowns. In some cases and despite court orders, the mothers have abducted the children and fled to Japan, where they remain with impunity, leaving the other parent frozen out.

Japan signed on to the Hague Convention on international child abductions in 2014 but parents say it has been of little help in getting their children returned to Canada, or even in getting access to them.

Colin Jones, a Canadian lawyer in Kyoto, said in an interview Wednesday that the problem isn't so much with adherence to the Hague Convention, but rather with a Japanese court system that lacks tools for forcing people to return children. Police will typically not get involved in custody battles, he said, and no one will use force to separate a child from a parent unwilling to hand them over.

"Even if you win, you have trouble getting the child back," Jones said. "A really recalcitrant parent can frustrate the process."

In its 2016 annual report in international parental child abductions, the U. …

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