End of summer 2017 message

Hello Hugo

Another summer ends.  Your 6th in Japan in a row.  It’ll soon start cooling down again so no more sweltering walks to the station/school until 2018.

Here is a short UK update for you.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana Princess of Wales; it made news around the world at the time and there has been a lot in the media over it this summer.  I clearly remember when I found out; I was back home in Everton for the summer after the end of my first year at university.  My mum told me in the kitchen when I went down to make coffee.

As I posted yesterday, our Prime Minister is currently on a trade mission to Japan.  My repeated requests to the Foreign Office in the UK to lobby the Japanese government much harder and more publicly on the issue of parental child abduction have not to date been heeded and I fear that such issues will not be on Mrs May’s delegation’s visit.  As such I yesterday put in a freedom of information request to find out why this continues to be the case and when this will change.  I will update the blog in the coming weeks as soon as I receive a response.

I spent a couple of days with Dad up in Edinburgh, Scotland, over the late August national holiday. It is a fantastically beautiful city also with much on offer around it in the surrounding, mountainous countryside.  We concentrated mainly on the city centre but did manage to get the bus out to the Royal Yacht Britannia now moored in Leith, a coastal suburb of Edinburgh.

Dad celebrates his 89th birthday next month and everyone is meeting up, as we did last year, at the Boathouse down in Hythe to mark the occasion.  Plans are also being tentatively developed for his 90th birthday in 2018.

Less positively, both my aunt Diana and your Great Grandma have recently been diagnosed with cancers.  Diana is responding very well to treatment as it was caught early – she is expected to make a full recovery – but Grandma is still waiting for a full medical assessment.

Your UK cousin, Olly, is doing well.  He celebrated his first birthday in April and my sister returned to work at about the same time.

I have mailed you the items below in two tranches, one today and one on 24 August.  These include a genuine Edinburgh/Cashmere scarf – I tried it on before sending it to you and it is very soft and fluffy and will, I trust, help keep you warm this winter.

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Prime Minister visits Japan

Foreign &
Commonwealth
Office

Press release

PM heads to Japan to build strong post-Brexit relationship with Tokyo

The Prime Minister begins a new era of strengthening Britain’s ties and influence in Asia with an ambitious three-day trip to Japan.

North Korean missile test

Hello Hugo

I have just seen in the news that North Korea has launched a missile over Hokkaido and not just into the Sea of Japan as had hitherto tended to be its habit.  It is leading the news on the BBC.  Although the incident was thankfully some way north of you, it must be a worry for you as it is very much for me as there is no guessing what this evil and arbitrary regime may do next or when.

The last time that there was an incident of this magnitude was in 2009; the launch then coincided with a flight that I took from Narita to London having spent a holiday with you and your mother in Japan (you stayed on 3 months longer before coming back to the UK – I had to return to work).  I will try and post some photos below of us together on that visit later today or later this week as I do not have access to them at this moment.  Anyway my thoughts and prayers are with you at this time – as they are always.

Daddy

Hiroshima landslide – 3 years on

The article that appeared below yesterday about the third anniversary of the Hiroshima landslide – I posted a series of posts about it in August 2014 (which still holds the record for the largest number of posts in any one month) – was a reminder that it has been almost 3 years since I received any real news about my son.  It is preposterous that this is so and that the UK government shows no tangible interest in the issue of ongoing and historical international parental child abduction in Japan.

Hiroshima remembers victims of deadly landslides on third anniversary of the disaster

KYODO

A memorial service was held Sunday in Hiroshima to commemorate the third anniversary of the landslides that claimed the lives of 77 people.

“I don’t want anyone else to become a victim or a person feeling like us,” said 77-year-old Takako Miyamoto, one of the speakers at the event. She lost her husband after torrential rain triggered landslides in residential areas close to mountains in the city early on Aug. 20, 2014.

“It is really painful and sad. Our lives were ruined after losing everything dear to us, homes destroyed,” said Miyamoto, who was seriously injured in the landslide.

Touching on recent natural disasters including the torrential rain in Kyushu last month, she said she “sincerely hopes that no one else dies in a disaster.”

Three years ago, about 400 houses were either washed away or damaged by the landslides that struck Hiroshima.

“Residents are providing mutual support and the work to protect each other has progressed,” Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said at the ceremony. “We’d like to support these efforts.”

Jointly hosted by the Hiroshima municipal and prefectural governments, the event was held in Asakita Ward, one of the hardest-hit areas.

Families and residents visited the devastated sites early Sunday to offer flowers and pray for those who died. Some touched the names of victims listed on a monument, while others tearfully clasped hands.

Hina Sawamoto, a 16-year-old high school student in the city of Hiroshima, lost her grandmother after a mudslide smashed into her house that day. She sometimes recalls the mudslide when it rains heavily and becomes worried that disaster may strike again.

The teenager said she wants to give a helping hand to those affected by the downpours in Kyushu, just as she was helped by volunteers after the disaster in Hiroshima.

She went to Oita Prefecture last month with her father, Yasuhiro, 46, and helped a family whose house had been swept away by a mudslide. “I was supported by many people. So I wanted to show my gratitude,” she said.

Although she was helping out, Sawamoto said she did not really get to talk with the victims. “Sometimes people want to be left alone. I know how they were feeling.” At the time of the disaster, residents in the devastated area had not been informed of the landslide risk, as many of the sites were not designated within the warning zone in accordance with the law on prevention of landslide disasters.

Afterward, the state revised the law and obliged prefectural governments to swiftly make public the results of basic investigations of terrain and geological conditions. The revised law took effect in January 2015.

According to the Hiroshima Prefectural Government, emergency work since the disaster to make 57 locations more resistant to landslides was completed in May this year.

The prefecture is expected to designate around 50,000 locations as landslide warning zones, but only about 40 percent of the areas had been so designated as of Aug. 10.

Source:  “Hiroshima remembers victims of deadly landslides on third anniversary of disaster”, The Japan Times, 20 August 2017

Smith Introduces the Philips-Davenport International Child Abduction Return Act

News Item

A new source of hope for left behind parents
Smith Introduces the Philips-Davenport International Child Abduction Return Act

Washington, Jul 28, 2017
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), author of the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (P.L 113-150), introduced an innovative new bill that will automatically remove tariff benefits for countries that are found to be out of compliance in returning children home—the “Bindu Philips and Devon Davenport International Child Abduction Return Act of 2017.”
“Bindu Philips fought valiantly in India for over eight years for the return of her abducted twin sons, only to be given the incessant delays in India’s courts and little support from the Obama Administration,” said Smith, Chair of the House panel on global human rights. “Just recently, she was finally granted a short visit with her children in India, but the children’s father marred the time with harassment and monitoring, refusing to let the children and mother leave a hotel for 7 days.
“Devon Davenport has had a return order for his daughter, Nadia, from Brazil since 2009. He has won every single one of the 24 appeals against the order—but Brazil still will not enforce its own return order.
“Shockingly, 11 of the 13 countries found to be non-compliant in the annual Goldman Report by the U.S. State Department in the return of abducted American children are still receiving billions of dollars in tariff exemptions under the Generalized System of Preferences. We must cease rewarding countries that aid abductors. When is enough finally enough?”
In 2016, 629 American children were taken from the United States by one parent without the consent of the other, often in direct violation of valid United States court orders, United States criminal law and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Obama Administration’s refusal to apply sanctions against countries that fail to return abducted children has led to a rate of return of only 16%.
“For years, the U.S. government response to abductions has been an engraved invitation to abductors,” said Smith. “Abductors have an 84% chance of no penalty for ripping their child from home and family in the United States. It is my hope and expectation that this year, the State Department will begin to act more decisively on behalf of American families so that more children come home.”
The new bill amends the Generalized System of Preferences, a trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world through duty free entry for some products, so that any country named as non-compliant in the prompted resolutions of abductions would lose trade benefits granted by the United States. The new legislation ensures that the loss of trade preference would be automatic and not dependent on the Executive Branch applying sanctions.
Abducted children in a foreign country are often blocked from any contact with the American parent, losing half of their family and heritage.  Such children are also at grave risk of serious emotional and psychological problems. Many such children experience anxiety, eating problems, nightmares, mood swings, aggressive behavior, resentment and fear. Every day the abduction continues only compounds these harms.
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Source:  “Smith Introduces the Philips-Davenport International Child Abduction Return Act”, News Item, Congressman Chris Smith’s website, published on 28 July 2017