US lawmakers threaten to punish Japan over child-custody cases

US lawmakers threatened to punish Japan unless it worked to reunite hundreds of children with foreign parents, accusing Tokyo of violating human rights through its custody laws.

As Japan celebrated its annual Children’s Day, lawmakers gathered near the US Capitol with a handful of tearful fathers who held up pictures of their half-Japanese children to whom they have no access.

Japanese courts almost never award child custody to foreign parents. Activists say thousands of Japanese have spirited children home, denying access to the foreign parents.

“For 50 years we have seen all talk and no real action on the part of the Japanese government,” said Representative Christopher Smith, a Republican from New Jersey who is helping spearhead the legislation.

“American patience has run out,” he said.

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