193rd Diet, House of Representatives, Budget Committee #11

House of Representatives, Budget Committee #11 (February 14th, 2017)

Page 43

399 Fumio Kishida

 Sean David Goldman, the Child Abduction Prevention and Restitution Act, which you mentioned, provides for measures that the Secretary of State can take under certain conditions against countries that do not fulfill their obligations under the Hague Convention or the bilateral framework with the United States. This is as shown in the document.

 These measures include suspension of development assistance and security-related assistance, and postponement or cancellation of bilateral visits of VIPs.

 As for your question about the possibility of the Act being applied to Japan, the Government of Japan believes that Japan is sincerely fulfilling its obligations under the Hague Convention, and is not among the countries that have shown a pattern of non-fulfillment by the United States.

400 Kenta Matsunami

 I think that the answer given by the Minister is a bit too optimistic.

 I have heard that there are eight steps, and that the U.S. has taken two steps so far. However, in the fourth stage, there is the postponement of practical, official, and state visits, etc. I think it is important to take such matters seriously and to apply them firmly in accordance with international rules.

 As for the Italian case I mentioned earlier, he had two children in Germany and a Japanese wife. He took his children back to Japan and settled down, and by settling down, he could not see his children at all because they were taken away when he was here. This was after the Hague Convention came into effect in Japan in 2003. If the wife had taken the child in Germany, the child would have been returned to Germany immediately. This is called the principle of continuity, but in our country, this is a double standard, and it has become a serious problem in the case of Italy.

 So, I would like to ask the government, what is your view on this principle of continuity, which I think should be applied mutatis mutandis in the Hague Convention and also in Japan?

401 Hideki Ogawa

 Let me answer this question.

 When the court designates a person with parental authority or a custodian, it places importance on the psychological bond between the parent and the child and believes that it is in the best interest of the child to continue the custody that has been maintained up to that point.

 However, in actual court practice, in addition to the question of who has been primarily taking care of the child up to that point, the circumstances of the parents, such as their respective child-rearing abilities, their love and enthusiasm for the child, their living environment, their attitude toward visitation and exchange, and whether or not they have a supervising assistant, as well as the circumstances of the child, can be considered. I understand that decisions are made by comprehensively taking into account various circumstances such as the child’s age, feelings, and intentions. Therefore, we are aware that the designation of the custodian or the custodians is not made solely based on the concept as you pointed out.

 In addition, the implementation law of the Hague Convention states that the child shall be returned to the country of habitual residence, but this is based on the concept of the Hague Convention that matters concerning the custody and care of the child should be decided in the country of the child’s original residence. Therefore, I understand that the handling of domestic cases as I explained earlier does not contradict the purpose of the Hague Convention and its implementing laws.

402 Kenta Matsunami

 I’m sorry, I thought I had notified the Prime Minister of this issue, so I would like to refrain from giving a long answer.

 I would like to ask the Prime Minister again, as I mentioned earlier in the case of the Italians, if a child is taken away from Japan after having started living in Japan, and if the child is taken from abroad, the Hague Convention requires that the child be returned to the original place within six weeks.

#403 Shinzo Abe  As the Director of the Civil Affairs Bureau just answered, when the court designates a person with parental authority, etc., I am aware that the court makes a judgment by comprehensively considering various circumstances in each individual case, not just the circumstances of who has been taking care of the child so far.

 In any case, I believe that it is important that judgments are made on this issue by giving the highest priority to the consideration of which parent should be given custody of the child when the parents divorce.

404 Kenta Matsunami

 In my opinion, the suicide victims will not be rewarded at all by this answer. I would like all of you to be aware that the Japanese courts place too much emphasis on the principle of continuity, especially compared to other countries, and that is why such judgments occur.

 In this connection, I would like to move on to the next question.

 Actually, there is a court case regarding the removal of a child. In the midst of these court cases, I have recently heard that there is an NPO that harbors women who have suffered from domestic violence, although I believe that domestic violence should not occur.

 In the March issue of the business magazine “Liberal Time”, which I have distributed to you, there is a story in the second paragraph from the back that NPO members signed a petition at a training session for counselors held last year, saying that such a ruling on DV is unacceptable. A lecturer at a lecture meeting organized by the Cabinet Office held immediately after the commissioned project, and this was done in a certain government office.

 When I asked the Cabinet Office about this kind of thing, since it was a commissioned project, the Cabinet Office at first gave a wooden answer, saying that it was okay if it was after hours, but from February 8th, the day I asked, they have been investigating this matter. Regardless of this case, I would like to ask Minister Kato, in general, whether or not it is acceptable for political activities to take place after a project commissioned by the Cabinet Office. I would like to ask the Minister.

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