As posted on 14 December last year, I wrote to the British Ambassador to Japan on that date to make various points. I asked him what he and his colleagues were going to do, given that the indications were that Japan would sign the Hague Convention, with regards to the pre-existing cases which would not be covered by the Convention. I also asked, knowing that other foreign ambassadors to Japan had written to Japanese responsible for abducting children, whether he would write to Masako about her actions. I received a reply, not from the Ambassador as I had hoped, but the Child Abduction Unit at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. The letter can be viewed here: Letter from FCO, 17 January 2013.
The gist of the reply was that it is for the Ministry of Justice to lobby on the the pre-existing cases although the Embassy will continue “to encourage the Japanese authorities to develop a suitable mechanism to resolve pre-existing cases.” It was not considered appropriate for the Ambassador to write a letter to Masako.
Overall, the letter was not particularly encouraging and there has been no indication on the part of the Japanese authorities that they even consider the pre-existing cases to be an issue and still less is there any indication that they are going to do anything about it given that, even if the Hague Convention is signed, there will be a great many children who will not benefit from it.
I have been in contact with the Child Abduction Unit before. I contacted them in January last year soon after returning from Japan with a view to having a consular visit to my son arranged as, in practical terms, this seemed all that the Embassy could do to help. I decided not to proceed at once as it was made clear that, in general, only one such visit is possible. Given that, at that stage, Hugo had just turned three and I had seen him in November 2011, I thought it better to delay any such request. As I have heard nothing about Hugo for well over a year now, I shall now ask the Unit to go ahead. The difficulty is that they require Masak0’s consent otherwise not even a consular visit can take place, despite the fact that Hugo is British as well as Japanese. The Unit has asked for Masako’s telephone number to obtain the necessary consent. I shall inform the Unit of her parents’ landline number as that is all I have and hope that it has not been changed.