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Cablegate: Tokyo Media Reaction - Ambassador Roos and Seven Embassies

VZCZCXRO4351
PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #2515 3030611
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 300611Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7165
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 7175
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 9531
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 4420
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 7687
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 0993

UNCLAS TOKYO 002515

SIPDIS

STATE FOR, EAP/PD, EAP/J, EAP/P, CA
SECDEF FOR OASD/PA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC OIIP KMDR KPAO JA KOCI
SUBJECT: TOKYO MEDIA REACTION - AMBASSADOR ROOS AND SEVEN EMBASSIES
in MEETING WITH JUSTICE MINISTER CHIBA

REF: A) TOKYO 02414 B) TOKYO 2395; C) TOKYO 0040; D) TOKYO 0039; E)
TOKYO 0036; F) TOKYO 0035

1. SUMMARY: On October 16 Ambassador Roos and seven other envoys
called on Justice Minister Chiba to urge her to accelerate Japan's
accession to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of
International Child Abduction. The demarche brought the issue press
coverage and increased the pressure on Japan to accede to the
Convention. Nevertheless, GOJ officials express concern that
accession to the Convention might result in children being returned
to abusive foreign parents. Emboffs will continue to educate
Japanese officials on the Convention's stipulation that a child need
not be returned if he or she would be exposed to harm. END SUMMARY.

2. On October 16 Ambassador Roos, ambassadors from Canada, France,
Italy, New Zealand, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and the
Australian Deputy Head of Mission called on Justice Minister Chiba
to urge her to promote Japan's accession to the 1980 Hague
Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction(REF
A). The demarche was not in immediate response to the arrest of an
American father in Fukuoka for trying to bring his children back to
the United States, but did take place two days after his release
(REFS: B-F) In Japan the Fukuoka case did not attract direct press
coverage, but media outlets did report reaction to it in the United
States.

3. Although the Ministry of Justice had not planned to invite the
press to the meeting with the envoys, it opened up the event to a
photo spray in response to a request from post's Press Section. On
October 17 four morning papers across the political spectrum gave
inside-page play to the demarche. The liberal Mainichi reported the
ambassadors from the eight participating embassies afterward
released a joint press statement that said in part: "It is important
to develop tangible solutions to cases of parental child abduction
in Japan. We are willing to work closely with the new Japanese
government."

4. The envoys' meeting with Justice Minister Chiba resulted in
detailed press coverage and ratcheted up pressure on Japan to sign
the Hague Convention. The conservative Yomiuri in a page-one piece
on Oct. 18 and the liberal Asahi in an editorial two days later
described the ambassadors' meeting with the minister as part of a
crescendo of calls from the international community for Japan's
accession to the convention. The Yomiuri article said the growing
pressure added momentum in favor of Japan's signing the treaty.
Coincidentally, on the day of the demarche, the Yomiuri ran an
editorial entitled "Time to study joining treaty on child custody"
in which it said: "....the issue has become the cause of diplomatic
friction. The government must tackle the issue without delay." The
Asahi editorial noted: "The argument that all countries should abide
by the rules of the Hague Convention carries conviction...It is
probably not realistic for Japan to continue to avoid signing the
Hague Convention."

5. Still, Japanese ministers have been reluctant to express a strong
commitment to moving Japan in the direction of signing the Hague
Convention. "I am aware there are international opinions on this
issue," commented Justice Minister Chiba at a news conference on the
day of the envoys' visit. "We will deal with this issue according to
the prevailing trend." Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said at a
separate news conference: "We would like to consider this issue
positively. However, there is the question of how the public will
react." The Yomiuri article said Japan would have to amend existing
law and pass new legislation in order for the country to accede to
the Hague Convention. The newspaper estimated the requisite
legislation could not be in place until 2011 at the earliest.

6. COMMENT: While pointing out that there is momentum, some
articles noted that the GOJ has argued that signing the convention
may not protect Japanese women and their children from abusive
foreign husbands. GOJ officials have claimed in discussions with
emboffs that Japanese parents who take children are victims of
domestic violence and therefore the GOJ must ensure that the
children are not returned to an abusive foreign parent. Although
they have not provided evidence in support of this contention, press
coverage indicates that this belief appears to be widely held in
Japan. The October 16 editorial in the Yomiuri Shimbun pointed out
that the Hague Convention "stipulates that a child need not be
returned if he or she would be exposed to physical or psychological
harm. Serious consideration should be given to this point."


ROOS

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