A senior U.S. official says Japan’s policy on international child custody cases has “raised very real concerns” in Washington and suggested that U.S.-Japan relations could be affected if the issue remains unresolved.

Many foreign fathers who are separated or divorced from their Japanese wives aren’t able to see their children because Japanese law grants custody to only one spouse, nearly always the mother.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told a press conference on Tuesday that the “matter has raised very real concerns among senior and prominent Americans in Congress, on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, and I believe it is time for our two governments to create the best possible condition for these tragic cases to be resolved.”

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