Every Child

Has Two Parents


Parental Abduction in Japan

All of Japan wants North Korea to account for the abductions of children like Megumi Yokota and return her if she is still alive.  But despite this nationally shared experience of grief, the Japanese government will not return children from other countries abducted to Japan by Japanese citizens.   Further, Japan refuses international calls to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This widely signed treaty requires a country to expeditiously return abducted children to their country of habitual residence.  The same thing Japan is asking of North Korea!!  Japan is the only member of the G7 who has not signed this treaty.

In international parental abduction cases brought to court, Japan claims that parental abduction is not a crime.  Courts up to the Supreme Court of Japan routinely refuse to return children to foreign parents with legal custody already ordered by foreign courts. Foreign courts in the country the children were living at the time the Japanese parent abducted them.  Thus the Japanese government believes that its own citizens should be allowed to abduct children from other countries with impunity.  Certainly, the result of the issues on this page mean that Japanese feel free to abduct their child and run back to Japan where they will be protected from legal challenges by the non-Japanese parent who has legal custody in a foreign country.

The Issues

  1. Japan has not ratified the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. 

  2. Parental Kidnapping is not considered a crime in Japan, in particular when it is done by Japanese citizens.  (Discrimination Against Foreign Parents)

  3. Japanese courts do not recognize foreign custody orders

  4. Japan does not honor extradition requests for crimes involving a non-custodial Japanese parent abducting their child back to Japan

  5. Legal Abduction To Japan (Forced Retention of Children and Transport To Japan)

  6. Legal Domestic Abduction (Forced Retention of Children In Japan)

Solutions We Want To See

  1. Japan must sign and ratify the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

  2. Pass enforceable laws guaranteeing the return of abducted children to parents under Hague cases.  These laws and regulations must be scrutinized very carefully because it would be very easy to ratify this treaty and then simply allow courts to continue ruling against foreign parents in ways to ensure the treaty is rarely if ever applied.

  3. Allow foreign parents whose children were abducted prior to the treaty becoming enforceable to file Hague-style complaints even though a year may have passed since the abduction.  Setup a special commission to find equitable and enforceable solutions to these cases.

  4. This section is not complete -- more solutions coming.


  1. Possible Japanese Criminal Penalties for Child Abduction To Japan

  2. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations talks about Cross Border Abductions

  3. How to Retrieve Your Child Abducted To Japan

  4. Tips on How to Find Your Child In Japan

  5. Non-Legal Options to Recover Your Abducted Child


  1. Murray Woods tried to be a responsible father by agreeing to let his ex-wife, Ayako Maniwa Wood, take their children to visit their sick grandfather in Japan.  She never brought them back. The Saitama family court recognized the valid Canadian custody orders, but decided to "kidnapped jurisdiction" and give custody to the Japanese mother.

  2. "Etsuko has ignored all orders of the Court since October 2001...and now the United States government and the state of Utah are pursing criminal charges against both Mr. and Mrs. Allred."  The Japanese police know where they are, but won't arrest them.  Read more about Michael Gulbraa's fight to get his children returned from Japan.

  3. "...the Osaka Family Court rendered a mandatory visitation schedule: since I was the custodial father, I am entitled to see my son once a year for 3 hours." Samuel Lui's custody of his son was affirmed by the Supreme Court of Japan, yet the Japanese legal system was not able to physically remove his son from his ex-wife.   Read more...

  4. A Japanese wife kidnapped their child Isabelle, and abandoned her in a children's home.  After, Frans Pau,  her French-Danish father found her and got her into a school in Japan, the mother took her away again.  The mother has now been sentenced to jail by a French court and is wanted by Interpol. A Japanese court allowed the mother to change Isabelle's name to Maki despite the fact that Frans had legal custody, even in Japan.  After that, a Japanese court inexplicably gave custody back to the mother.  Read more ...

  5. "Leave me alone. Alexander will see you when he is 18. " -Misako Ueshima who is now wanted by the Royal Canadian Police for international child abduction.  Read more...

  6. A Japanese mother living in Germany with her daughter decides that joint custody means she can take her child back to Japan without telling the father, Stefan.  A German court disagrees.  Read more...

  7. "On November 15th 2003, two days before the death of their mother from breast cancer,  my twin 5-year old children, Karsten Stouffer and Maple Stouffer were abducted by their Japanese Grandfather, Fumihiko Miyazaki and are now in Sapporo Japan." Read more...


See also the page on Private Investigators in Japan for strategies to get information from Japan and people who can help you.

  1. To Be Written


  1. Jury awards father $3 million: Millersville man's children were taken to Egypt illegally by their mother in 2001; The Baltimore Sun; December 15, 2006.  This outlines an civil case one could bring in court to pressure a parent to return a child.  This particular example is US specific, but this strategy may work in other western countries also.  (cached copy)


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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