Perhaps no country better exemplifies the “conflict” in conflict of laws – both private and international – than Japan. The island nation is notable for strict laws and policies protecting its residents from foreign influence. In cases of extradition law, for example, Japan is almost uniformly against surrendering its nationals to the custody of a separate nation.
In cases of family law, meanwhile, gross disparities between Japanese courts and those of outside lands are also apparent. Of particular concern to many are instances of parental kidnapping where a person of Japanese heritage without custody or acknowledgment of the other parent takes off for Japan with his or her child to live permanently. Parental abduction is, in fact, a serious problem in Japan and the world today, and may seem strange to American students of family law.
It should also be noted that parental abduction of a minor, as it does in other countries, may occur completely within the boundaries of Japan. Parental kidnapping creates de facto custody of the child due to the reluctance of Japanese law enforcement and courts to intervene in cases of divorce and personal custody matters.
Moreover, there is not much binding international precedent to compel Japan to more strictly officiate against parental abduction, at least until the nation becomes a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.