I hope that you are keeping well in Japan. You left the UK exactly 5 years ago today, about exactly an hour ago; I type this message to you at an internet cafe in the airport about 10 metres from the spot that I last set eyes on you. This is the first time that 20 November has fallen on a Sunday since that date.
In every waking hour since then I have kept you in my thoughts. Yet the reality is that the price I (we) pay is that we are strangers to one another. As one of my closest colleagues in the legal world says whenever faced with something he disagrees with, that cannot be right.
These past five years I have done what I can from afar to support and love you. I hope that the money, clothes, food, cards, gifts etc that I have sent you on your birthday, at Christmas, at Easter, on Children’s Day in Japan and (to bridge the gap between then and your birthday) each summer made it to you and made a difference to you and, too, that you knew it was all from me. I have no way of knowing even that.
It’ll be Christmas soon. I shall be visiting Hamley’s on Regent Street, London – last visited by me aged about the same age as you in 1986 – to get you something. I spent the Christmas in the year immediately after you left in Japan in what turned out to be a futile (but agreed) attempt to visit you. I took a few photographs (of Japan) on that visit and will share them here next month. What I want to share with you today, immediately below, are some photographs that I took of your exactly 5 years ago; I was allowed to see you a few times immediately before you left. I have not placed them on this blog before now. They are not the greatest photos but when taking them immediately before, as I said, your departure to Japan I did not anticipate not seeing you again.
When I started this blog 4 years ago, I said that I would say more about the circumstances of your removal. Had I known what I know now I would have obtained an injunction to stop your removal – it would have been granted as at the time Japan was not signed up to the Hague Convention; I did consider doing so up until the early hours before you left but trusted that I would be permitted to see you. I did what I thought was best for you but it turned out that I made a bad call. I have to live with that decision everyday, the upshot of which is that we are as I said, for the time being at any rate, strangers.
None of anything that has happened dents my love for you. Keep well in Japan and make the most of the great opportunities there; below are the photographs of you, 5 years on:
Above: photographs of you, taken in November 2011
Above: drafting this blog post; I last saw you just beyond the pillars to the right of the photograph (added 23 November 2016)