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Pressure On To Change Child Abduction Laws In Japan


By J.S. von Dacre

Investigative Journalist of the International Criminal Court against Child Kidnapping


Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair of the House Subcommittee on Global Human Rights, highlighted the problems for left behind parents who face daunting child abduction laws in Japan, when trying to retrieve their children. He stated that since 1994, between 300 and 400 children resulting from international marriages, have been abducted from the United States to Japan.


In 2014, Japan signed the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, yet according to Smith, child abduction laws in Japan still remain lax.

In a subcommittee hearing entitled, “No Abducted Child Left Behind: An Update on the Goldman Act,” Smith asked for the Trump administration to put more pressure on Japan to abide by the international law in regards to child parental abduction cases, on behalf of the United States.


Smith is no stranger to petitioning for improved laws for international child abduction. In 2014, he was instrumental in the implementation of the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act of 2014.


 “Child abduction is child abuse—and still the State Department responds with nothing but more meetings and more letters despite having the tools and mandate for action in the Goldman Act,” said Smith.


The Goldman Act was named after a father, David Goldman, who endured a five-year lengthy legal battle to regain his son, Sean, who had been unlawfully taken to Brazil by his mother. The child was initially taken to Brazil on a 2-week holiday until his mother refused to allow him to return to the United States.

The law outlines that the State Department must come to an agreement with the country in which the child has been taken to, and that country must be held responsible. It outlines that the State Department must define a country as “non-compliant” in the annual Goldman Act Report, and then proceed with the necessary steps, including delay or cancellation bilateral working, official or state visits; withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of U.S. development, security, or foreign assistance; extradition, and any other leverage the State Department devise.  

Smith also campaigned to have Bindu Philips and Devon Davenport International Child Abduction Return Act of 2017 (H.R. 3512) to amend the Generalized System of Preferences system whereby any country that is recognised as being non-compliant will be in jeopardy of losing their trade benefits. He is also working on a new legislation that will limit business visas that are available to countries that continuously fail to resolve the parental abduction of American children.


“Japan is without question ‘non-compliant’ per the Goldman Act,” Smith said as he further highlighted the need for better child abduction laws in Japan. “The problem of systematic non-enforcement of court orders is so bad that 26 European countries wrote to Japan last month, asking for it to fix the problem.”

In March, EU Ambassadors to Japan signed a letter in protest to urge Japan to abide with the international laws, which govern international parental custody.


A recent landmark case in Japan saw a Japanese mother being issued with an order to have her son returned to his father in the United States. It was the first time that such a ruling was made.

To learn more about the crime of parental child kidnapping and the help available to “left behind” parents, please contact the International Criminal Court against Child Kidnapping.



Summary: child abduction laws in Japan 

The victims of child & Human rights violation, if not getting timely and suitable justice in the court of law in their countries, can appeal to the INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT AGAINST CHILD KIDNAPPING.

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