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Japan removed from U.S. Hague Convention noncompliance list

Washington, May 11 (Jiji Press) — The U.S. Department of State has removed Japan from its list of countries showing a pattern of noncompliance with the so-called Hague Convention on cross-border parental child abduction.

In an annual report released Wednesday, the department noted Japan’s legislative efforts to better enforce the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which Japan joined in 2014.

But the department “remains highly concerned about both the lack of effective mechanisms for the enforcement of Convention orders and the sizable number of pre-Convention abduction cases,” the report said.

“Japan’s Justice Ministry has acknowledged the urgency of returning abducted children safely and promptly and has initiated an effort to revise Japanese laws to improve execution of ordered returns of abducted children,” the report added.

Last year, Japan was listed as a noncompliant country for the first time since joining the convention.

Japan’s House of Councillors on Friday passed into law a bill to revise the civil execution law in order to clarify enforcement rules for handovers of children between divorced parents.

The change removed the requirement for parents to be present during the child’s handover to the other parent with custody rights, making it easier to deal with cases in which parents who lost custody pretend not to be at home.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) criticized the removal of Japan from the list. In a statement on Friday, Smith said, “It cannot be denied that the Japanese government has done little to help reunite those American children who have been separated from their left-behind parents.”

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