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Japan Ratifies 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention

(January 24th, 2014)

rat28jp1 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention; a few hours later, the Japanese Ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr. Masaru Tsuji, deposited the instrument of ratification, making Japan the 91st Contracting State to this important treaty. This significant development reaffirms that diplomatic efforts among the international community, together with the invaluable assistance provided by the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, are working; it also reaffirms that the Hague Child Abduction Convention is the proper mechanism for all governments and families around the world to utilize in order to settle international child abduction disputes.

Unknown-1Japan’s ratification of the Convention comes after long-standing multi-lateral diplomatic efforts combined with global public outcry over Japan’s previous failure to participate in the international child abduction treaty and to offer victimized children and targeted parents of abduction a vehicle to turn to in order to resolve international parental child abduction disputes.

The 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention will enter into force for Japan on April 1st, 2014. Under Japan’s participation, foreign parents who have previously had a child internationally abducted to Japan are not eligible to file a Hague Application or utilize the treaty. Retroactivity remains a concern for hundreds of left-behind parents still seeking to reunite with their kidnapped children.

The 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention seeks to combat parental child abduction by providing a system of co-operation between Contracting States and a rapid procedure for the return of the child to the country of the child’s habitual residence. Judges overseeing litigation revolving around the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention are not to determine issues of custody as that issue typically falls under the jurisdiction of the courts located in the child’s country of habitual residency.

Japan’s ratification of the convention demonstrates that international diplomacy and education continues to work, while also creating a stronger atmosphere for other countries that are not participants to the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention, such as India, to strongly consider ratification.

rat28jpIn the past, Japan has been considered a ‘black hole’ for international parental child abductors as the overwhelming number of children abducted to Japan by a Japanese national living abroad have not been returned to the child’s country of original jurisdiction.

The vast majority of left-behind parents are fathers residing in Europe and North America. Tragically, the targeted parent often has little or no rights of access or custody to their child once the child lands in Japan due to the country’s antiquated and prejudicial family law policies that tend to grant a child’s mother sole custody of the child while simultaneously removing the child’s father’s access to the child. Japan’s legal system does not recognize the concept of joint-custody.

In May 2013, the Diet had approved Japan’s compliance to the treaty, sending out a clear indicator that the country was steadily moving toward participation. Until today, Japan was the only country in the Group of Eight (G8) that has not affirmed the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention.

The following month (June) Japan’s Parliament enacted a law stipulating domestic implementation procedures for the Hague child abduction treaty.

Japan’s Parliament established procedures requiring the country to create a Central Authority under the auspices of the Foreign Ministry. The Central Authority’s responsibilities include the tasks of locating children who have been abducted and encourage families involved in international parental child abduction claims to settle disputes through consultations.

If the consultations fail, family courts in Tokyo and Osaka specifically trained in 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention matters will decide on matters. The Central Authority will be staffed with legal experts in international private law as well child psychologist and domestic violence counselors. A third Hague Court location could later be added.

Under the terms of Japan’s Parliamentary action in June, 2013 the new law provides grounds forrefusal to return a child if abuse or domestic violence is feared, issues that are expected to draw keen interest in light of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention’s Article 13, a provision that is almost always utilized by parental child abductors regardless of the gender of the abductor.

Child abduction prevention advocates from around the world hope that Japan’s ratification of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention will further push non-Hague countries including India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Philippines, and China (mainland) who are all believed to be actively assessing the Convention with a view to becoming a party to.

Today Japan has taken its place at the table of nations and finally a stand against the atrocity of international parental child abduction and severe abuse against targeted children and their families.  As Japan works to uphold the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention we must first and foremost not forget the children who have been abducted to Japan and their left-behind families, many whom successfully advocated for Japan’s ratification of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention.

We invite you to read the official comments shared by The Hague Permanent Bureau concerning diplomacy and Japan’s ratification. Please click here.


To visit the I CARE Foundation official website, please click here. 


I CARE Foundation: U.S. Senate Resolution 543 Champions Cause Of Internationally Abducted Children

The United States Senate has made a very clear and impressive position against the growing surge of International Parental Child Abduction of American children. On Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 Senator Barbara Boxter’s (D-CA) Senate Resolution 543: International Parental Child Abduction Resolution (Senate Resolution 543), that was co-sponsored by 27 additional Senators, passed a Senate voice vote. Resolution does so much more than condemn the horrible criminal and abusive act of parental child kidnapping, but calls for an immediate overhaul of U.S. Government policy and agency implementation on how the government will handle the criminal act of cross-border kidnapping against the nation’s greatest treasure: our defenseless children.

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I CARE Foundation: U.S. Senate Resolution Champions Cause Of Internationally Abducted Children

2012-12-07 20:50:02 – The U.S. Senate Resolution 543, referred to as the International Parental Child Abduction Resolution, initially Sponsored before the Senate by California Senator and renowned child advocate Barbara Boxter and Co-sponsored by 27 other U.S. Senators unanimously passed in the Senate. The Resolution takes a hard stance against the criminal and abusive act of international parental child abduction while calling for the U.S. Government to do everything possible to help bring home American child-citizens kidnapped abroad. According to I CARE Foundation Director Peter Thomas Senese, SR 543 is a landmark act that may reap sizeable benefits for children everywhere.The United States Senate has made a very clear and impressive position against the growing surge of International Parental Child Abduction of American children. On Tuesday, December 4th, 2012 Senator Barbara Boxter’s (D-CA) Senate Resolution 543 International Parental Child Abduction Resolution (Senate Resolution 543), that was co-sponsored by 27 additional Senators, passed a Senate voice vote. Resolution does so much more than condemn the horrible criminal and abusive act of parental child kidnapping, but calls for an immediate overhaul of U.S. Government policy and agency implementation on how the government will handle the criminal act of cross-border kidnapping against the nation’s greatest treasure: our defenseless children.Senator Boxter first introduced to the Senate Resolution on August 2nd, 2012.

I CARE Foundation (International Child Abduction Research & Enlightenment)
I CARE Foundation (International Child Abduction Research & Enlightenment)

The renowned child advocate, Senator Boxter, stated during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Business Meeting presided over by Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) that, “The International Parental Child Abduction Resolution condemns the abduction of a child by one parent to another country. It also calls on our nation and the international community to do more to resolve current and future abduction cases.” Senator Boxter also stated she “Introduced this resolution to help shine a light on child abduction and to urge immediate and sustained action to address it.”

According to recent studies and published reports by the I CARE Foundation, the number of actual international child kidnappings originating from the United States over the next ten years is expected to exceed over 100,000 children and cost the economy billions of dollars.

Senate Resolution achieves many things child abduction prevention advocates and targeted parents of abduction have been hoping would be accomplished for years: not only does the resolution clearly condemn international child abduction, but it directs various government agencies to review existing policies that have failed our nation’s children, revamping and reforming existing protocol so the growing epidemic of child kidnappings will end.

I CARE Foundation Founding Director Peter Thomas Senese stated, “I am thrilled that Senate Resolution 543 was streamlined by the Senate. Senator Boxter has a long history of protecting children. Sadly, as the number of international child kidnappings has come to light, combined with our understanding and acceptance that these cases against defenseless American children are criminal acts of conspired, heavily abusive acts of kidnapping that create incredible short-term and long-term hardship for the innocent child, today it is more evident than ever before that swift and immediate change in how these kidnapping cases must be handled. Clearly, one of the most important messages that could make change today is in ongoing abduction prevention litigation. It is my belief, and it is a message the I CARE Foundation has shared with all of our attorneys, that Senate Resolution is in fact a siren call to all judges overseeing an abduction prevention case that these cases are real, are not to be treated as child custody cases –because they are not – they are potential conspiracy to kidnap cases – and must be treated this way.

“Equally impressive is that Resolution 543 has teeth in that it calls for the review of how our federal agencies assist targeted children and parents. By calling to “review the advisory services made available to United States citizens by the United States Department of State, the United States Department of Justice, and other United States Government agencies”, the Senate Resolution 543 is not only clearly identifying but acknowledging that the existing agencies charged with protecting our nation’s children need to be overhauled in that there is a need to provide OCI with more power to act on behalf of kidnapped children. Surely, when this definitive review is conducted, there will be a clear disposition that OCI is underfunded, understaffed, and given limited power, which means as part of the Department of State, it is underutilized. Outward, the resolution calls for countries who are not members of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Abduction to become complying members of the international treaty. Presently, nations including Japan, India, and Egypt are not members of the international treaty, and few, if any children ever abducted to these nations ever are returned to the United States. Passage of SR 543 is an outstanding achievement.”

Carolyn Vlk, who is a Board of Director member of the I CARE Foundation and a Special Advisor to the Amber Watch Foundation added, “One of the most important messages of Senate Resolution 543 that I hope will transcend into the courtroom where the battlefield of abduction prevention is presently taking place is that judges who are presiding over these type of cases will realize just how serious these matters are, how difficult it is for a parent to recover their child, and how carefully plotted and schemed an actual abduction plan is. The key to protecting children from kidnapping is to not let them be stolen to begin with. I am very pleased to know that the resolution specifically calls for criminal extradition of kidnappers. I am also pleased to know that a review of government agency responsibility and interaction, such as those conducted by the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues, will take place. The passage of Senate Resolution 543 is a very powerful step in the right direction.”

New York based attorney and I CARE Board member Joel Walter added, “I speak on behalf of the Board of Directors of the I CARE Foundation as well as our large number of lawyers in the foundations attorney network, when I say we are loudly applaud the Senate and all Senators who have made the passage of Resolution 543 possible. In streamlining the passage of 543, many much-needed and positive messages have been sent, including a clear green-light signal for child advocate organizations such as the I CARE Foundation to move forward on an assortment of federal legislative initiatives that will help protect children from this terrible fate of abduction. And that is exactly what the I CARE Foundation’s next step is: to move forward on additional new legislative initiatives that we have been working on over the past year. One thing that we must all remember is that a stealing parent generally has severe sociopathic tendencies and chose to abusively use a child of abduction to cause severe hurt against the other parent. In certain cases, the unthinkable act of filicide exists, as parental child murder is one of the leading causes of child death in our country. Clearly, children of abduction are in highly volatile situations. SR 543 is more important than perhaps we care to talk about.”

Senator Barbara Boxer said, “I am so proud that today (Tuesday evening, December 4th, 2012) the Senate took a stand to condemn the tragic and devastating crime of child abduction,” Senator Boxer said. “This resolution is a resounding call to the international community to join together to prevent and resolve abduction cases.”

Sentiment from several key United States Senators demonstrates a reshaping of Congress’ view on international parental child abduction with intent to act.

“International child abduction is a tragic situation that impacts not only the parents who are left behind but also the children who have been illegally separated from them and denied any contact,” Senator Lugar said. “Bringing greater attention to this issue is important if we are to change other governments’ attitudes to these abductions.”

“International child abductions aren’t faceless crimes, they’re real and they’re tragic,” Senator Kerry said. “The United States must condemn international abductions and work to resolve them. The international community must stand up and do all it can to make this right.”

New Jersey Senator Lautenberg said, “We need to gain the support of countries around the world in condemning this practice and agreeing to cooperate in the return of abducted children. This resolution will help us prevent these tragedies in the future.”

To read an analysis of Senate Resolution 543, including the resolution, please visit the I CARE Foundation’s website at:

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Peter Thomas Senese
Founding Director
The I CARE Foundation