Japanese Government to revise child custody rules to enforce handovers

The Cabinet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday approved a bill to revise the law. In order to ease the requirements for handovers of child custody between divorced parents.

Currently, the law has no clear provision on such handovers, leaving court officials to rely on a clause related to asset seizure to enforce child custody orders. The current system has drawn criticism due to the fact it treats children as property.

The government also approved a bill to amend the law to implement the so-called Hague treaty for settling cross-border custody disputes arising from breakups of international marriages.

Currently, if a parent who has lost custody of a child takes the child away, that parent’s presence is required during the child’s compulsory handover to the other parent with custody rights.

The bill stipulates that a child can be handed over mandatorily following a court decision. At present, rules for handovers of children are not clearly stated and, instead, the rules for handing over movable assets such as paintings are applied.

The bill to modify the civil execution law also included revisions to allow Japanese courts to obtain debtors’ financial information and bar registered crime syndicate members from acquiring foreclosed real estate properties in public auctions.

The amendment comes amid concerns from the U.S. government that handovers of such children brought to Japan are not being carried out smoothly even though Japan joined the Hague treaty in 2014.

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