For quite some time, Japan has been the focus of much criticism on the subject of international abduction, due to the apparent ease with which Japanese parents-- mothers in particular-- can abduct their children to Japan when leaving a relationship with someone from another country. Once the mother and children are safely inside Japan, there is next to nothing the other parent can do, particularly because current Japanese law does not allow joint custody-- only one parent may have custody, usually the mother.
Ergot, if you are a gaijin poppa whose wife took your kids to Japan, you may never see them again.
You might remember the story of Christopher Savoie, who was arrested in Japan in 2009 after trying to "re-kidnap" his children from his estranged wife. His story is just one of many but is a good example of all the problems with current Japanese law regarding international abductions and custody between parents of different nationalities.
Today however, Japanese government spokesman Tetsuro Fukuyama said that several ministers have endorsed plans to change domestic laws to bring them in line with the 1980 Hague Convention on International Abduction-- a statute that has been ratified by all G7 nations except Japan. This is seen as an important first step, and an official Cabinet approval is expected on Friday.
The law on single custody isn't expected to change, but the government will establish a "liason office" aimed at giving foreign parents some recourse when their kids are taken from them.
To me, it doesn't sound like they're really serious about changing the situation, but I guess any movement at all on this front-- an issue which has been stalled for almost 30 years-- is a good sign.