Tillis seeks return of American children abducted to Japan

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) last week made a bipartisan push to resolve all remaining international parental abduction cases of American citizen children who have been abducted to Japan.

“While the Japanese government has improved compliance with its obligations under the Hague Abduction Convention, there remains much work to secure the return of American citizen children who have been abducted to Japan,” Sen. Tillis and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wrote in an Aug. 11 letter sent to Japanese Ambassador Shinsuke Sugiyama. “This is particularly true for children involved in pre-Convention cases which remain open despite years of efforts by their American citizen parents.”

In the 2018 and 2016 U.S. State Department annual reports on international parental child abduction, Japan was cited for failing to make sufficient progress in enforcing Hague court orders for the return of abducted children, according to the senators’ letter.

“The 2020 Annual Report found there were 13 open and active abduction cases in Japan throughout 2019, involving 19 children in total,” Sen. Tillis and his colleague wrote. “At the end of 2019, five cases remained open involving nine children. In addition to these open and active cases, there are still 13 pre-Convention abduction cases which remain unresolved.”

While encouraged that Japan earlier this year implemented a new law revising existing statutes governing enforcement of return orders in Hague Abduction Convention cases, the senators said they remain concerned about ensuring that American parents are able to have their cases quickly resolved and their children returned.

“Recent changes made to Japanese law indicate a willingness by your government to provide greater cooperation on international parental abductions,” wrote the senators. “Further delay by your government will only add to the anguish of left-behind American parents and the American public, and may cause us to consider additional legislative measures to resolve this issue.”