Contested Rights of the Cross-National Family: Recent Cases of International Parental Child Abduction Between Japan and the United States

Monday, July 14, 2014: 3:55 PM
Room: 302
Oral Presentation
Takeshi HAMANO , Faculty of Humanities, The University of Kitakyushu, Kitakyushu, Japan
This paper aims to explore conflicting rights claims of cross-national family members. Based on multinational case studies of recent international parental child abductions involving Japan and the US, it discusses the ways in which the realization of the basic human rights of each party of a cross-national family (father, migrant mother and child) involves fundamental challenges to the achievement of social justice in the absence of a universal legal system.
In May 2013, the Japanese Diet passed a bill approving Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Signatories to the Convention such as the US had for many years criticized Japan for showing little interest in the increasing number of cases of international parental child abduction by Japanese nationals. Frequently the cases involve Japanese women who are international marriage migrants abducting their children to Japan after the breakdown of a marriage.
In the US context, not only do these migrant mothers offend the right of joint custody of the American partner, but they also breach the child’s right of access to both parents and violate the Convention rule against unilateral removal of the child from their habitual residence. Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention is likely a progressive step indicating that Japan has begun to see the issue as a matter of basic human rights, rather than a purely private and individual matter.
However, in this paper I argue that in order to improve global social justice in relation to family disputes, accounting for the particular situation of migrant woman in both public and intimate spheres is crucial. Taking this new rights talk into account, I attempt to sketch a more nuanced concept of social justice in relation to the cross-national family, pointing out possibilities for further international legal refinements.