The Chicago Family Law Blog

US Lawmakers Urge Japan To Return "Kidnapped" Children

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Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives condemned Japan for "the abduction and retention" of children caught in the middle of international custody disputes, who they say are often held "in violation of their human rights and United States and international law," the Associated Press reported.

The members of the House passed a nonbinding resolution by a vote of 416-1 urging the immediate reform of Japan's controversial international custody laws. The resolution also demands that Japan allow American parents to visit their children and for the government to join a 1980 international convention on child abduction.

While Chicago family law attorneys are invaluable resources for handling child custody disputes, often there is very little they can do when faced with court orders from other countries. 

In another AP article published by the Los Angeles Times, Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., said the resolution is meant to be a strong signal to Japan. Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., had the following firm words to say:

"Americans are fed up with our friend and ally Japan and their pattern of noncooperation."

In a statement, the Japanese embassy was non-committal, stating that it "is continuing to make sincere efforts to deal with this issue from the standpoint that the welfare of the child should be of the utmost importance."

Given that Japan only allows one parent to have custody of a child after divorce, almost always the mother and never a foreign parent, the country's stance on what is best for the child greatly differs from that of most U.S. courts. U.S. lawmakers estimate that about 121 American children are being held in Japan.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told lawmakers that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has made the issue a top priority.

Child custody disputes are difficult regardless of which countries the parents reside. Consider meeting with an Illinois family lawyer before embarking on such an endeavor.

Related Resources:

  • A Primer on International Custody Issues Litigated in State Courts (FindLaw's KnowledgeBase)
  • Find a Divorce Attorney in Chicago (FindLaw)
  • International Child Custody, Japan, and the Hague Convention (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life Blog)

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