Hague Child Abduction Case Study in Japan

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A Japanese wife took her child away from her home from an American husband. The husband requested us to locate the child. The client lives in the United States, and there was a son born in March 2018. However, in December 2019, his wife took her son and returned from the U.S. to a local city in Japan, where she had come from. The client appealed for the return of the child in a U.S. court. In January 2020, U.S. courts issued an order for the child to be returned.

Parental Child Abduction Is A Crime In The U.S.

Parental child abduction is a crime in The U.S. act. It’s a case in which the Japanese central authorities must support children’s return if they apply for the Hague Child Abduction Convention. The client hired both U.S. and Japanese lawyers to file for the Hague Convention on children’s recovery.

Mother Robbed Child Custody

Japanese lawyers have requested the residence cards and copies of Koseki family registry Records of the subject persons, namely wives and children.

According to the Japanese family registry, in December 2019, the subject submitted a divorce notification and registered the mother’s parental authority (the client’s ex-wife and the subject of investigation). There is no joint custody system in Japan. So if you divorce, only one of the parents has parental authority. The TP (mother) registered her sole parental custody without the agreement of the other parent.

The client didn’t even question the child-custody at the time of the divorce because joint custody is hard for foreign spouses to notice that sole parental authority is registered based on one parent’s self-declaration.

Fake Resident Registration

The mother who took the child away registered with the resident at the address of his/her family. However, in reality, they do not live at the address of their parents.

When we investigated, we found only the father of the subject at the home address. Further research revealed that the subject persons currently used the vehicles used by the subject persons in the past. I stayed in for more than two weeks, but I had no choice but to swim because I had no idea whether the subject was a mother at that time, except when I saw that the subject’s mother had visited my parents’ home.

Tracking Grandmother

TP registered her legal address at her parents’ house. But, in fact, she was hiding somewhere else. We staked out the parents’ house for a week, but we didn’t see the TP nor the child. Oly the person we could see was the grandfather (TP’s father). The grandmother was also hiding somewhere. According to the client’s information, the target may have received financial support from the parent.

After a long struggle, we finally caught the grandmother at the house. She visited the house to fetch something for a short moment. After that, we started monitoring the grandmother. It turned out that the grandmother stays at her relatives’ house to avoid detection.

We Nailed Her Location

A few days later, the grandmother finally joined TP and the child at a restaurant. After finishing the dinner, we succeeded in nailing the hideout. It was a rented apartment situalt4ed a 10 minutes car ride from the parents’ house.

TPs are aware they are in legal problem. So they tend to fake their registration address or block the vital records from the ex-spouse or lawers. In this case, the TP faked address, hid her car. And even the grandmother stayed away from the parents’ house.

When the TP went out, she wore a hat and sunglasses to disguise. Also, everyone wears a mask due to COVIZD-19. It makes us hard to recognize her on the street.

At any rate, our client immediately shared what we unearthed with lawyers. The discovery of TP’s hideout expedites the procedure of the Hague Convention.

Application of Foreign Judgments

Here are some notes about how you apply a foreign judgment to Japan’s court. Foreign reviews are also applicable if they meet Article 118 of the Code of Civil Procedure’s approval requirements. There are four approval requirements.

There are four approval requirements.

  • Jurisdiction
  • Service Of Process
  • Public Order
  • Mutual Warranty

Among the above approval requirements, the service of process portion is the most challenging. A brief description of each is as follows.


For example, in a Taiwanese court’s judgment, Japan does not satisfy the requirements because it is not officially diplomatic with Taiwan.

Service Of Process

Concerning the delivery, the defendants must be allowed to defend themselves. The service of process must be duly made. Courts won’t give the go-ahead with the method of public notification without a personal delivery.

Public Order

Foreign judgments that are offensive to public order and morals do not apply in Japan. For example, it is not approved for marriage minors under 16 years of age or debt collection by gambling.

Mutual Warranty

In terms of mutual guarantees, the key is whether there are similar laws in each country to some extent.

The Hague Convention Doesn’t Work In Japan.

Compulsory execution is not automatically approved as in the case of a judgment, and it is necessary to obtain a separate enforcement judgment in Japan.

In theory, if you get an enforcement judgment in a foreign country as described above, it is possible to obtain an execution judgment in Japan. In practice, however, there are many cases where execution is not realized even if execution judgment is obtained.

Hague Convention Fails To Work In Japan

The Hague Convention on Parental Child Abduction is a treaty designed to solve international child abductions smoothly, regardless of legal procedures. In 2014, Japan signed the convention. However, there are more and more cases where the convention fails to function in Japan. Often the case, TPs (taking parents) file fake DV compaints to avoid the return of chiodren and Japanese family corts are reluctant to enforce the returning procedure of the taken away children.

This problem is becoming more serious. In July 2020, the E.U. Congress passed a request to Japan for strict measures to prohibit parental abduction of children. In the first place, Japan signed the treaty in 2014 because of pressure from the U.S. government.

Japan is the only developed country without joint parental custody. The issue also exacerbates the cases of parental child abduction. Moreover, Japan’s judicial system without a strict Civil Execution Act worsens this situation.


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