Every Child

Has Two Parents


An Irish father, who has spent three years battling to see his children after their mother took them to Japan, has welcomed the country’s confirmation it will sign an international convention on child abduction.


The announcement has given fresh hope to Carlow native Dave Morgan and thousands of foreign fathers who have, for years, been denied access to their children.

Currently, Japan does not recognise joint custody rights after a marital breakdown.

This means foreign fathers of Japanese children are effectively left without rights once their former partners move, or in some reported cases abduct, children to Japan.

No foreigner is said to have succeeded in persuading a Japanese court to return a child to his or her habitual country of residence.

Last week, the Japanese government announced that it would move to sign the Hague convention on child abduction, first introduced in 1980.

“It is desirable for our country to be consistent with international standards,” Yukio Edano, the government’s chief cabinet secretary, told reporters.

Signing the convention would mean Japan would be compelled to return abducted children to their country of habitual residence — until custody agreements are signed.

In April, Dave Morgan of Carlow, told the Irish Echo that he had seen his children Sean, 14, and Renee, 12, just a handful of times in the last three years.

In June 2008, his Japanese wife bought three one-way tickets and moved to Japan, where dual parenting is not recognised after a relationship breaks down.

His children have not been allowed to talk to their relatives in Ireland.

Mr Morgan cautiously welcomed the Japan’s announcement.

“I am sceptical about the intentions of the Japanese government to implement it completely,” said Mr Morgan. ‘I think they are under a lot of pressure from the US, France and the UK to sign it.”

Once it is signed it will take a massive change in Japan’s family law system and the ‘ingrained beliefs’ of what is best for children after marriage, he claimed.

“If Japan sign the agreement I will take action to make sure that it is enforced in my case.”

Last week, the Irish Embassy in Japan sent Mr Morgan a list of local lawyers and said they could liaise with relevant authorities on his behalf, if he secured a court ruling in the country.

He is sceptical of the convention being enforced by the courts.

“I know, though, that the legal avenue is a waste of time as family law in Japan always judges that the children should stay where they are at the time of the court hearing, they nearly always grand custody to the mother and even if they grant minimum visitation rights, they are never enforced,” he said.

:: Australian Government welcomes move

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd also welcomed the announcement by Japan.

“The Hague Convention is an important, proven law-based instrument to manage international parental abduction and access cases,” he said.

“Australia welcomes Japan’s decision to proceed with preparations to ratify the Convention. Once ratified, the Convention will provide a new mechanism to assist to resolve international parental abduction cases with Japan affecting Australian citizens.”

Australia will continue to work with Japan on the sensitive issue of parental abduction of children, said Attorney-General Robert McClelland.


The information on this website concerns a matter of public interest, and is provided for educational and informational purposes only in order to raise public awareness of issues concerning left-behind parents. Unless otherwise indicated, the writers and translators of this website are not lawyers nor professional translators, so be sure to confirm anything important with your own lawyer.

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