The First Petty Bench of the Supreme Court (presided over by Justice Atsushi Yamaguchi) decided, effective Dec. 21, to rescind a final court order to return children to their father in the U.S. that was issued based on the Hague Convention, which stipulates the handling of children who were abducted to foreign countries, and not to order the children’s return on the grounds that their father became ill-prepared to raise them after the final order was made.
The Implementation Act of the Hague Convention stipulates that even though a court finalizes an order to return a child, a person can file a petition with the court to change the order if there is a change in circumstances. An official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) says that the latest petition was the first based on the stipulation of the act since Japan signed the Hague Convention in April 2014.
According to the top court’s decision, the couple was living with their four children, ages six to eleven, in the U.S. But the mother entered Japan with the four children in July 2014. That promoted the father to ask a family court to issue an order to return the children. And in January 2016, the Osaka Family Court finalized a decision to return the four children to the U.S. But later, the father became financially strapped, so the mother asked the court to change the child return order.