In a significant step taken by Japanese lawmakers, Japan has decided to join the child-custody agreement, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
The move that would come as a major relief for parents in international broken marriages, has been one of the most controversial issues at stake between the US and Japan.
Japan is the only member of the Group of Seven leading nations which is not a party to the treaty.
This decision has come after international pressure on Japan to comply with the International pact known as Hague Convention, the report sated.
Japan's exclusion from the treaty has given a tough time to the parents in International broken marriages. Once a former spouse takes the child or children to Japan, it leaves the foreign parent with no legal means to claim the child's custody back. Not even visitation rights.
There are around 100 cases battling custody of around 140 children, according to the U.S. State Department.
The U.S. is encouraged by the serious consideration that the government of Japan is currently giving this issue and we look forward to Japan reaching a positive decision to ratify the Hague Convention as soon as possible, said a U.S. embassy official in Tokyo on Thursday.
Japan's ruling party, which had created a task force especially to evaluate this issue earlier this year had been repeatedly requested by the US and European Union to join the treaty.
It will be important to implement a new system that is different from the existing one but to do so in a way that doesn't leave [Japanese] mothers feeling vulnerable. However, it is most important to consider the children, said Katsuya Okada, the secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, on Thursday. Children should be able to see both their parents.
The actual implementation would still take some time. A cabinet spokesman said that it is unlikely for the bill on child-custody treaty to be submitted in the current legislative session which would end on June 30.