The father is a United States national, the mother a Japanese national. They met in Japan while the father was serving for a United States military base and married in Japan in 2012. The couple lived with the mother’s son from her previous marriage in Japan.
The father returned to the United States, followed by the mother and her son in 2014. After becoming pregnant, the mother returned to Japan with her son in 2015. Despite their deteriorating relationship and agreeing on divorce, the father assisted the mother at birth in Japan, and she returned to the United States with their child in 2016.
In 2016, the father petitioned to the State Courts for divorce and obtained a provisional ne exeat order prohibiting the mother from relocating with the child out of jurisdiction. The mother obtained a domestic violence restraining order and moved to a shelter with the child. The mother effectuated consensual divorce in Japan by submitting a divorce form without the father’s consent, indicating her as the sole custodian. Although the parents had frequent contact and allowed the father regular access to the child, they broke up after an argument when he insisted on accompanying them to the shelter and the police were called as the mother ran away. The mother hid herself in a different shelter and obtained another domestic violence restraining order. Upon being informed by her attorney that the lapse of 6-month period would subject her to an imprisonment for child abduction, the mother removed the child to Japan prior to that date in 2016.
After obtaining assistance of the Central Authority of Japan in 2016, the father petitioned to the Osaka Family Court for return of the child in 2017. The judge rendered a return order, rejecting defence of the mother. The mother appealed to the Osaka High Court, without success.