The Japanese government has recently announced that it will prepare to ratify the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Legislation will now be prepared for consideration by the legislature.
Whilst this could be perceived as a ground breaking development, I have doubts as to whether this will be enacted into domestic Japanese law.
There are thousands of parents in this jurisdiction who have had their children abducted to Japan. They have had to battle with the Japanese authorities and the legal system for many years, desperately trying to secure their safe return or obtain some form of meaningful contact. Further, where parents have been able to agree direct contact, it is not uncommon for contact to never actually take place. Japanese Court orders can be defied with what appears to be no consequence on the breaching party. Surely this cannot be in the best interests of the child/children?
There have been reports in the Japanese press that there is strong opposition to the proposed ratification in both the ruling and opposition camps. Members of the public have also shown resistance. With such opposition it is hard to see how the laws in Japan will be changed.
Whilst we can remain optimistic for our clients, as lawyers we need to be cautious and realistic. Securing the return of a child from Japan at the present time is near enough impossible. What will happen in the future remains to be seen but one thing that is certain is that the road ahead will be rocky.
Lucy Loizou is a Solicitor and Associate with the The International Family Law Group. She undertakes complex financial and children disputes and has worked on a number of cases involving high net worth issues often involving an international element. She has also acted for a number of high profile individuals and assisted in resolving their disputes swiftly and discretely.
She has written family law articles for various legal journals and writes monthly for a leading Greek newspaper column. She also presents a fortnightly radio phone in on London Greek Radio on family law issues.