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.

 

Happy New Year

Happy new year, Hugo – and readers of this blog.

Twenty-fourteen was a better year for abducted children in Japan.  It was the year in which the Hague Convention finally came into force in Japan.  It also saw the first actual (albeit voluntary) return of an abducted child from Japan in mid-October and the first court order for the return of a child on 19 November, the day before the third anniversary of your abduction to Japan.  I was pleased to get a letter about the issue published in the Japan Times in June.  Most importantly, I received one piece of news about you in late August.  The year 2014 also saw the 100th post on this blog, coinciding by date with your 6th birthday in November; roughly-speaking that equates to a post just over every week since the blog was set up in November 2012.

As I did around this time last year, here are some photographs of the places visited by me in the year 2014 so that you can see for yourself.  The photographs were all taken by me so please excuse the lack of skill in taking them.

All my best wishes for 2015.

Further (New Year 2015) Reading:

“In Pictures: New Year’s Eve Celebrations”, BBC News, 1 January 2015

“New Year Celebrations:  Revellers Gather in London and Across UK”, BBC News, 1 January 2015

Photographs (2014): 

Oxenholme/Kendal – December 2014

Kendal 1

Kendal 2

Kendal 3

Kendal 4

Kendal 5

Birmingham – November 2014

Birmingham Nov 2014 (3)

Birmingham Nov 2014 (2)

Birmingham Nov 2014 (1)

Venice, Italy – October 2014

Venice 1

Venice 2

Venice 3

Venice 4

Venice 5

Venice 6

Venice 7

Venice 8

Venice 9

Venice 10

Venice 11

Venice 12

Sheffield – August 2014

Sheffield 15

Sheffield 14

Sheffield 13

Sheffield 12

Sheffield 10

Sheffield 11

Sheffield 7

Sheffield 6

Sheffield 8

Sheffield 9

Sheffield 3

Sheffield 5

Sheffield 4

Sheffield 2

Sheffield 1

Durham – July 2014

Durham 2014 1

Durham 2014 2

Durham 2014 4

Durham 2014 7

Durham 2014 5

Durham 2014 8

Durham 2014 9

Durham 2014 3

Durham 2014 6

Durham 2014 10

Buxton – May 2014

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Happy 6th Birthday

Hello Hugo

You are 6 years’ old today. Happy 6th birthday my (not so) little man.  Though not by design, this is also the 100th post on this blog.

You will, in your 6th year, start school in Japan – in about 5 months’ from now I believe.  I hope that it won’t be too much of a change for you as you’ve spent some time going to nursery whilst living in Japan as I understand it.  Its difficult to say much about this sort of thing to you because my primary school days were 30-odd years ago, although I do remember the first day, and also because schooling in Asia, with its emphasis on rote learning, is very different to that in the UK.  Enjoy your last  birthday ‘free’ of the educational system – you will probably be in your early twenties when you next have a birthday at which you are not in full-time education.

I hope that you get everything that you will have been dreaming of today; please see below for photographs of the card presents that I mailed to you in Japan.  Among the usual stuff that (I think) a 6 year old boy would be thrilled with, these presents include a special gift as you are a bit older now:  a commemorative set of coins issued by the Royal Mint (Ltd) in the UK to mark the year 2014, in particular the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.  The actual anniversary was on 28 July 2014 but, as I posted on the 11th of this month, November 2014 seems to be the focal point at which the 100th anniversary is being recognised, in the UK anyway, due to the fact of Armistice Day being this month.  The gift is also, I hope it will turn out, a fitting one for you because the Royal Mint of Japan has one of its two branches in the very ward that (I believe) you are still living in in Hiroshima, Saeki-ku.  No doubt, as it is just round the corner from you, you will go there on a school trip or something like that one day in the not too distant future and will see for yourself – its grounds are only open for one week a year in the spring as people visit to see the spring blossom trees there.

Happy birthday, little man – have a nice day there.

Birthday 2014 (2)

Your 2014 birthday card

Birthday 2014 (1)

Your 2014 birthday presents

2014 United Kingdom Commemorative Proof Coin Set

Commemorative coin set for 2014 (commercial photograph)

Birthday 2014 mailing receipts

Post Office shipment receipts