The Daily Yomiuri,
Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8243
There are so many important things for Japan to devote itself to in 2012 that to exclude them by recommending just one thing seems not only unfair but foolishly incredible. But I will try. One glimpse of Japan shows us a country with a lot on its plate already: recovery and reconstruction from the March 11th disasters; nuclear power and environmental agendas; economic problems like spiraling national debt, employment, manufacturing and export, low birth rate, decreasing population and the burden of geriatric medical care; domestic problems like guest military base relocations and a proposed consumption tax hike. These are more than enough to inspire one with zeal or fear, depending. Contemporary Japanis not a place for the faint hearted.
But if there is just one thing that I hope Japan accomplishes in the New Year it is that it signs the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. And I hope Japan signs it without implementing domestic amendments designed to avoid or derail the agreement’s intentions: recognition of the integrity of foreign courts’ child custody decisions; recognition of the human right of children to experience both their biological parents; recognition of the human right of both divorced parents to experience their children; recognition of the right and proper rule of law. By protecting fugitive criminals Japan has earned its reputation as a haven of cavalier disregard for human rights and the due process of law. As a civilized country, Japan ought to have signed the convention decades ago.
In view of the obvious major problems facing Japan the matter of the Hague Convention is just a little thing. But it is a step forward
and every little step constitutes advancement.