Foreign Secretary’s Visit to Hiroshima, Japan

As posted this time last week, our Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, is at present in Hiroshima, Japan, the city remembered by all but me for other reasons.  In my case it is the city in the world that has the greatest resonance in my heart because my son is there, abducted from his father.  That much at least I know.

I have not heard from the Foreign Office in response to my email as reproduced in the post of a week back.  Nor was there a response to an earlier email to the Foreign Office – covering similar ground – as far back as 16 August 2014.

The news reports of Mr Hammond’s visit to Japan stress the importance given to security issues.  No one would seek to detract from that.  But I struggle to understand why – as I fear must be the case – Mr Hammond and his officials, even without sight of my email, failed to free up a few moments with the Japanese Foreign Minister to raise the issue of pre-Convention cases of international child abduction.  That is something that should be one of the very few issues of real contention between the UK and Japan, two countries that for a long time have enjoyed a good relationship.  The current UK guidance on parental child abduction to Japan recognises the problem but has nothing to say about the resolution of it. The guidance simply states that:

The Hague Convention cannot be used retrospectively.  If children were taken to Japan before 1 April 2014, left behind parents will be unable to use the UK Convention to return their children to the UK.

So what is the Foreign Office’s answer to this statement of the obvious?  And why was nothing apparently said at this meeting?

The G7/G8 meeting of Foreign Ministers in Hiroshima today – Mr Hammond is sat to the immediate left of US Secretary of State Kerry; source:  Mr Hammond’s Twitter account

Mr Hammond meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Mr Fumio Kishida; again taken from Mr Hammond’s Twitter account

Welcome reception today at the Grand Prince Hotel, Hiroshima; see article on MOFA website here

 

 

 

 

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Oliver

Hello Hugo

Your British cousin, joyfully a little boy as per the previous post, was born at about 3pm GMT today.  His name is Oliver; that is the same name as one of your two middle names (i.e. Oliver (English) and Daisuke (Japanese)).  Your cousin’s birth was on the day that Japan announced its shortlist for the 2020 Olympics logo.

You now have a UK cousin and I am now an uncle!

Your UK cousin (2)

Hello Hugo

I thought that I would provide you with an update to my post last October announcing that my sister was pregnant.  Her official due date was 31 March 2016; she told me earlier this week that she has still not given birth – and that remains the case today.  If the baby does not arrive in the next 5 days, he will be induced.  I found out this week, too, that her baby is like you a boy – a source of great happiness to me.

I will post again as soon as there is any further news.

 

Japan to have record 1 million foreign workers this year

Japan to have record 1 million foreign workers this year

Kyodo

The Japan Times

  • Apr 2, 2016

 

The number of foreign nationals employed in Japan is expected to top 1 million for the first time this year as the nation grows more reliant on overseas workers to meet labor demands, government sources said Saturday.

The Japanese government basically does not allow immigration for permanent settlement, but the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been promoting an increase in workers from overseas on the back of calls from the business community to make it easier to hire foreign nationals amid a declining population and the globalization of business.

The projection compares with some 910,000 that were reported at the end of last October.

The Abe administration is planning to set up an advisory panel at the prime minister’s office to compile the nation’s basic policy to address the decline in population, including labor shortages.

A new growth strategy to be drawn up in May or June is expected to confirm the need to promote the employment of high-skilled foreign workers and look into creating an on-the-job-training program for those from emerging economies, the sources said.

As of last October, Chinese nationals accounted for the largest number of overseas workers in Japan at 35.5 percent, followed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Brazil. The number of Nepalese workers has also increased sharply.

The most common employers are small to midsize manufacturers. But major Japanese companies in the service sector have also increased their foreign employees.

Around 30 percent of the total are employed in Tokyo followed by Aichi Prefecture — home to Toyota Motor Corp. — and Kanagawa Prefecture.

Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party launched a committee in March to explore ways to cope with labor shortages. Ideas being discussed include the introduction of a new resident status to allow foreigners with no special skills work in Japan or easing requirements to enable such people to become part of the labor force, the sources said.

The Diet is also currently deliberating a bill looking at adding “nursing care” to the category of reasons to grant resident status to overseas workers.

Immigration law does not give resident status to non-Japanese seeking to work as housekeepers. But such workers became eligible if they are employed by employers that clear certain requirements under a revised law on special deregulation zones that took effect last September.

People in the related industry are now making preparations for removal of the ban on housekeeping services by non-Japanese in Kanagawa and Osaka prefectures, designated as special strategic districts.

The government is also expected to expand support for foreign nationals seeking to work in the areas of information and technology, as well as tourism.

However, some experts are critical of Tokyo’s policy of allowing more foreign workers in without ensuring they enjoy the same labor rights as their fellow Japanese workers.

Lilian Terumi Hatano, a Japanese-Brazilian and an associate professor of sociology at Kindai University in Osaka, said the government is failing to provide a proper social safety net for such people.

“The root of the problem is that although the government needs foreign workers, it isn’t offering necessary welfare or ensuring their human rights,” said Hatano. “The government should make it clear if it is going to accept foreign workers as part of the Japanese society or not.”

Hatano, who is well-versed in the problems faced by foreign nationals in Japan, pointed out that such workers are often forced to work under unstable working conditions.

“Even though they work for many years, they won’t be allowed to become regular workers (with benefits). They end up moving from job to job or are forced to work night shifts and longer hours” which could force their children to transfer schools and make it difficult for them to adapt, she said.

Source:  Japan to have record 1 million foreign workers this year“, The Japan Times, 2 April 2016

G7/G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Hiroshima, Japan, 10-11 April 2016

Text of my email to the Rt. Hon. Philip Hammond, MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs:

From:  Richard
Sent: 03 April 2016 21:53:51
To: fcocorrespondence@fco.gov.uk (fcocorrespondence@fco.gov.uk)

Dear Mr Hammond

I understand that you will be attending the G7/G8 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Hiroshima in a week’s time.  The last time that Japan hosted this meeting, and the summit that it is the precursor of, was in 2008.  That was the year in which my son, a British and Japanese citizen, was born in Bromley.  As documented on this blog – https://hugojapan.wordpress.com/ – I have not seen my son since 20 November 2011 because his mother took him to Japan and now fails to provide access to him.  That, in itself, is wholly unacceptable, but the situation is exacerbated by the approach, or more accurately the lack thereof, of the UK government to cases of international child abduction that concern Japan prior to the coming into force of the Hague Convention.

Whilst in Japan I ask that you raise the issue of my son, and others like him about which your department must be aware, with your Japanese counterpart.  I can think of no better venue as my son lives in Saeki-ku, a ward of Hiroshima city.  Despite having been there, despite having sent him money, food, cards, presents and so on, I have not seen the little boy since the date he was taken there in 2011.  I can make no decisions about his future, am not allowed to be his father and he is growing up without any contact with his family in the UK and without any appreciation of his cultural background and native language.  All of that is as profoundly shocking as it is true.

The Hague Convention, which came into force in Japan two years ago last Friday, does not have retrospective effect in terms of its summary return procedures.  Therefore I have had no effective legal remedy in terms of bringing my son home.  Whilst there are procedures contained within the Convention that provide for the grant of access rights – even in pre-1 April 2014 cases – the Japanese courts simply maintain the status quo; they are, at best, incapable of recognising the concept, let alone the importance for any child, of dual parenting and are, sadly but frankly and for whatever reason that may be, hostile to foreign parents.

From what I can see, the UK government has not done anything meaningful since the coming into force of the Hague Convention to resolve the pre-Convention cases of international parental child abduction in Japan.  It seems, without more, that the attitude of the Foreign Office is that the issue has simply gone away by virtue of Japan enacting the Convention.  That is a wholly misguided approach.  The meeting next week offers an opportunity to do something to put this right.  That is why I am asking you to raise my son’s case.  The Foreign Office is very quick to condemn Japan for its use of the death penalty even though that, a sovereign matter for Japan to decide about, is none of the UK’s business (unless of course it concerned a UK resident).  Yet the UK falls wholly silent when it comes to the welfare and rights of my son, a British national, and no doubt others like him.  That cannot be right.  International parental child abduction manifestly does raise issues of British national interest as it concerns British children and that is why I send this email in the hope that you can offer some help.

I have been in contact with the Child Abduction Unit in the past but I would be happy to provide any further information that is required to facilitate my request.