Diplomatic Bluebook 2019

Chapter 4

Japan's Diplomacy Open to the Public

4 The Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the Hague Convention) and its Implementation

The Hague Convention is designed as an international mechanism for addressing disputes arising from the wrongful removal or retention of children across borders in the belief that the interests of children are of paramount importance. It requires cooperation between Contracting States to the Convention for returning children to their state of habitual residence and establishing opportunities for transboundary parent-child access.

This convention came into force in Japan on April 1, 2014. Currently, 99 countries including Japan are parties to the Convention as of December 31, 2018.

The convention is implemented through mutual cooperation among the governmental agencies designated as the Central Authority in Contracting States to the Convention. In Japan, MOFA as the Central Authority avails itself of experts in various fields and communicates/cooperates with foreign Central Authorities, and provides assistance to the parties such as locating whereabouts of the child and arranging mediation services aimed at amicable resolutions.

In the four years and nine months between the entry into force of the Convention and the end of December 2018, MOFA received a total number of 328 applications: 197 applications seeking the return of the child and 131 applications seeking access to the child. Of the cases seeking the return of the child from Japan to another country, children were returned in 30 cases and conclusions were reached not to return the child in 32 cases. Of the cases requesting the return of the child from another country to Japan, children were returned in 32 cases and conclusions were reached not to return the child in 19 cases.

In February 2018, MOFA invited a U.S. lawyer with in-depth knowledge of court proceedings for Hague cases in the U.S. so that persons involved in Japan's implementation of the Hague Convention can learn from his expertise, and lecture meetings and other events were organized for that purpose. Furthermore, in August, as part of PR activities to prevent child abductions, the head of the Central Authority within the Ministry of Justice of Brazil was invited to Japan. MOFA held seminars with her in four cities in Japan intended for Brazilian nationals and their spouses living in Japan. She also had meetings with MOFA and Japanese practitioners.

Number of Applications for Assistance Received by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Based on the Implementation Act of the Hague Convention (as of end-December 2018)

In addition to this, MOFA works with diplomatic missions overseas to actively hold seminars to raise awareness among Japanese nationals living overseas. Also, efforts are put into PR activities including holding seminars in Japan at local governments and relevant institutions and handing out leaflets in multiple languages.

In August, MOFA set up a Twitter account for the Hague Convention Division, which is being used to inform a broader audience about the Hague Convention using social media.