On November 17, 2020, virtual Japan-U.S. consultations were held on the issue of child abduction between Japan and the United States of America. The Japanese side was represented by Yutaka Arima, Deputy Director-General, North American Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the U.S. side was represented by Michelle Bernier-Toth, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues, Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State.
As a result of the consultations, both sides reaffirmed the following:
Both sides recognized the progress made in resolving many abduction cases between Japan and the United States of America since the Hague Convention (the Convention on the Civil Aspects on International Child Abduction) came into force in Japan in 2014, and both Governments continued to commit to the full implementation of the Convention.
Both sides expressed their continued concern for the resolution of child abduction cases that occurred prior to the entry into force of the Hague Convention in Japan. The respective authorities will continue to hold regular consultations on these cases.
Regarding these pre-Hague cases, in order to identify best practices, lessons learned, and obstacles to resolution that may affect the remaining open cases, both sides have reviewed all cases still open in Japan at the time of the Convention’s entry into force to determine their status and resolution. After this review, both sides observed that in nearly one-half of all such cases, parents were able to reach agreement through mediation, whether voluntary or with the guidance of the court system. These resolutions included the voluntary return of the child and/or access agreements in most of these cases. Both sides therefore noted the importance of mediation and open dialogue in the best interest of the child or children as a best practice for such cases.
Both sides are pleased to issue updated information about available options and resources – both in the United States of America and in Japan – to all parents as they seek a satisfactory resolution to their cases. The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs information can be found online here, and the U.S. Department of State information can be found online here and here.
Japanese language version is available on the MOFA website.