7 years on

Hugo

Children’s Day 2018

Hugo

It is national Children’s Day in Japan today. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the year when the government of Japan designated the day as a national holiday.

Today also marks a sad but true milestone in this blog: this is the 300th post. I have delayed posting a couple of recent developments in the US and Canada as regards the issue of international parental child abduction so that the 300th post would be on Children’s Day in Japan. I will post about those other developments in the coming days.

Earlier this week I mailed to you a package containing a card and some other items (photographed below); the package has yet to be delivered but should be early next week…

Have a nice Children’s Day in Japan, son. I will send you a further personal message a bit later in the summer. You are welcome to contact me at any time and you don’t need to worry about me telling anyone in Japan about it. Apart from anything else, it has been over 5 years now since I had any proper news about you and, knowing so little, it is very difficult to choose things to buy for you.

This month I am (again) increasing the monthly standing order that I send to your mother’s UK bank account. I hope that this money is be being used to help you although, despite the years that I have been doing this for, there has been no acknowledgement of it or confirmation that it is being used or saved for you. As you get older, and particularly if I do not get to hear from you until you are better placed to make decisions for yourself, I am likely to start sending you, directly in Japan, money as well as presents so that (I hope) you will be able to choose something suitable for yourself.

That’s all for now.

Update (13 May 2018): the items were delivered on 9 May 2018:

 

Five years of blogging

Today marks 5 years to the day since this blog was established (itself 1 year to the day after my son was taken).  Prior to events of 6 years ago it had never occurred to me to write a blog.  Probably the best piece of advice that I was given however, by an Irish left behind parent soon after my son was taken, was to set up a blog so that is what I did on 20 November 2012 having by then spent a year apart from my son.  As I wrote at the time, the blog had two objectives:  to re-establish contact with my son and to raise awareness of the issue of international parental child abduction.

In terms of the first of these objectives, I have been unsuccessful.  I have not seen or heard from my son in, now, 6 years.  That is a constant source of sadness and anger, neither of which yields with the effluxion of time.  With each day that goes by and with each Easter, Father’s Day, my own birthday, my son’s birthday and Christmas I have to tell myself that my son is still too young to contact me directly.  I don’t know what his proficiency in English is or even whether if, any internet restrictions at home permitting, it would as yet even occur for him to research the circumstances of his presence in Japan online.  I know not what if anything he has been told about me and how this translates into whether he would if he could contact his father. Although I have some doubts about possibly ever seeing my son again and even were I to not until he is  well into his 20s, I hope that this fear may be misplaced.  I hope that one day he will find and read these frozen in time posts.
In terms of the second objective, I have perhaps been if not successful then certainly helpful. I have been contacted by not only fathers and mothers who have had their children abducted but also by people fearing that their partner might abduct their children.  Providing what guidance I can has I hope made some difference.  In responding to such contacts, it has certainly made me feel that a small amount of good has come out of all this.
When I started blogging, the expectation that Japan would, finally, sign the Hague Convention was reaching fever pitch and, indeed, Japan did accede to the Convention on 1 April 2014. Had my son been abducted 14 months later I could have got him back.  As it is I cannot.  Despite the accession of Japan to the Convention issues of abduction and lack of parental contact remain real and widespread ones in the Japanese legal system so I shall continue to update this blog whenever I can and continue to welcome contact from left behind parents and those fearing that they may become left behind parents.

Message for Hugo – 6 years on…

Hello Hugo
In London it has just turned midnight on 20 November 2017.
We last saw each other at an airport 6 years ago today.  I, of course, don’t expect you to remember – how could I as you were still a toddler.  The date, however, shall remain with me, as your loving father, forever.
The date coincides with two very different anniversaries.  In the UK the Queen and Prince Philip celebrate their wedding anniversary today (their 70th).  November 20 also marks the anniversary of the signing in New York in 1989 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (itself signed on the 30th anniversary of adopting of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1959).  The 1989 Convention came into force the following year and included the following provisions:
A child whose parents reside in different States shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis, save in exceptional circumstances personal relations and direct contacts with both parents. 
Article 10, sub section 2. 
States Parties shall take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad.
Article 11, sub section 1.
These are but two provisions that can be said to relate to us but, as our experience has shown these 6 years, the reality that meets these words is very different.
Earlier this year also saw the passing, on 12 May 2017, of exactly 2,000 days from when I last saw you.
As I did last year, I will leave work early later today to visit the spot at the airport where I last saw you at the time when I last saw you. Also today, as it’s your 9th birthday in 8 days’ time, I will go to the Post Office to send you your birthday package.  I will post here again on your birthday, as I always do, and also later today with a more general update about the blog.
I hope and pray that in a year’s time this will all have changed.  For now, though, please remember that there is not a moment when I am not thinking about you, my beloved and now not so little boy.  May God bless, protect and watch over you this day and all days.
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