The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a multilateral treaty which provides for the return of children to their former country of residence that have been abducted or retained in another country.
The Convention's primary purpose is to look to preserve the existing parenting Orders/arrangements in place for children prior to their wrongful removal and to protect children from the harmful effects of abduction and wrongful retention.
Australia is a signatory to the Convention, as are approximately 90 other countries worldwide.
On 22 May 2013 Japan first approved a bill to join the Hague Convention. It was not until 24 February 2014 that final ratification of that law took place and Japan became the 91st signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. As of 1 April 2014 the Convention took effect in Japan and Japan's foreign ministry is now obliged to locate children that have been abducted by one parent and put in place a procedure for the return of those children to their country of origin.
Over the period May 2013 to February 2014, Japan's Foreign Ministry has set up a Central Authority to implement this specific law. Japan's Central Authority will investigate and take steps to locate an abducted or wrongfully retained child on behalf of the parent. There are now two Courts in Japan dealing with such matters, located in Tokyo and Osaka. In circumstances where a parent who has taken a child to Japan refuses to return the child to the country of their former residence, those Courts will then decide the matter.
Further contact information for the Central Authority in Japan can be found at www.mofa.go.jp/ or by contacting the solicitor a Watts McCray Lawyers to discuss this issue further.
This post was written by Yolanda Battisson, Solicitor.