Wow, this is really gaining traction. It's about time - these absurd policies need to come to an end. There have been a series of articles this week on Japanese fathers who went out of their way despite busy careers to assist their wives with child-rearing, only to be totally denied visitation following divorce. Naturally it's even worse for foreigners.
Laws that allow only one parent to have custody of children in cases of divorce - nearly always the mother - set Japan apart from most other developed countries. They also leave most fathers, including foreigners, unable to see their children until they are grown.
"This matter has raised very real concerns among senior and prominent Americans in Congress, on Capitol Hill and elsewhere," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told reporters in Tokyo after meeting with affected American parents in Japan. He called their predicament "heartbreaking."
With bias like this, who can blame other countries for standing up to this?
Campbell urged that Japan join the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, signed by 80 nations, which is meant to address international custody battles, adding to recent pressure from Britain, Australia, France and several other countries.
Japan is the only Group of Seven nation that hasn't signed the convention, arguing that it could endanger Japanese women and their children trying to flee abusive foreign husbands.
But Campbell said that based on U.S. examination of international custody cases, "that allegation is used very loosely and often inappropriately without any supporting criteria whatsoever."
This is certainly a State Department endeavor worth supporting. No father should be denied a relationship with their child because a Japanese court can't get its mindset out of the 1870s.