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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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

Judge writes personal letter to teen after High Court battle

BBC

Judge writes personal letter to teen after High Court battleAn envelopeImage copyright

A judge has written a personal letter to a 14-year-old boy explaining why he has rejected his request to move with his father to Scandinavia.

Mr Justice Jackson said he felt the teenager had brought the case to the High Court “as a way of showing your dad how much you love him”.

He told the boy he was “doing well in life” and did not believe that the move abroad would work.

He said: “I am confident that it is the right order for you in the long run.”

Mr Justice Jackson, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court in London, wrote the letter to the teenager which laid down his ruling after a hearing in July.

Sam, not his real name, had applied for permission to live with his father in a Scandinavian country, which his mother and step-father opposed.

The application was later taken over by his dad.

‘Duty by your dad’

In the letter, the judge told the boy he believed “that your feelings are that you love everyone in your family very much, just as they love you”.

However, he noted that Sam’s parents had “very different personalities” and the fact they found it hard to agree was “stressful for you”.

In the letter, the judge said he found Sam’s dad to be someone who was “troubled” and had a “lot of influence over you”.

“All fathers influence their sons, but your father goes a lot further than that. I’m quite clear that if he was happy with the present arrangements, you probably would be too. Because he isn’t, you aren’t.”

He questioned whether the idea for the proceedings came from Sam or his dad and said he believed the teenager had “brought the proceedings mainly as a way of showing your dad how much you love him”.

‘Lost sight’

He told the teenager: “Also, I may be wrong, but when you gave your evidence I didn’t get the feeling that you actually see your future in Scandinavia at all.

“Instead, what I saw was you doing your duty by your dad while trying not to be too unfair to your mum. But you still felt you had to boost your dad wherever you could.

“That’s how subtle and not-so-subtle pressure works. So I respect your views, but I don’t take them at face value because I think they are significantly formed by your loyalty to your father.”

The judge said Sam’s dad had a “manipulative side” and has “in some ways lost sight of what was best” for his son.

He told the boy he had no confidence that a move to Scandinavia would work and hoped his dad would decide to stay in England “for your sake”.

‘Justice was done’

The judge said the evidence showed Sam was doing well in life in England and that he “should make the most of the many opportunities that life here has to offer you”.

He went on: “If, when you finish your A-levels, you want to move to Scandinavia, you will be 18 and an adult – it will be up to you.”

Mr Justice Jackson dismissed his dad’s application to take Sam to live in Scandinavia and for Sam to apply for citizenship there.

He ruled that Sam would have contact with his dad on alternate weekends and any arrangement after he moved to Scandinavia alone would have to be agreed between both parents.

In the letter, he added: “Whatever each of your parents might think about it, I hope they have the dignity not to impose their views on you, so that you can work things out for yourself.”

The judge finished by saying he and Sam’s dad had enjoyed finding out they loved the film My Cousin Vinny – but for different reasons.

“He mentioned it as an example of a miscarriage of justice, while I remember it for the best courtroom scenes in any film, and the fact that justice was done in the end.”

Source:  “Judge writes personal letter to teen after High Court battle”, BBC News, 27 July 2017

Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee

BBC

Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee: Gun salutes mark 65 years on the throne

  • 6 February 2017

A 41-gun salute has been fired in London’s Green Park to mark the Queen’s 65 years on the throne.

Gun salutes also took place in Cardiff, Edinburgh and York.

The Queen has become the first British monarch to reach a sapphire jubilee, after becoming the UK’s longest-reigning monarch in 2015, aged 89.

A portrait of the Queen by British photographer David Bailey has been reissued for the anniversary.

In the photo, the Queen wears sapphire jewellery given to her by King George VI as a wedding gift in 1947.

The portrait was among a series taken by Bailey in 2014, with one released for the Queen’s 88th birthday that year.

Portrait of the Queen by David BaileyImage copyrightDAVID BAILEY© 2017
Image captionThe Queen has become the first British monarch to reach their Sapphire Jubilee

In the portrait, the Queen, who is now 90, wears a necklace made of 16 large, oblong sapphires surrounded by diamonds, with a matching pair of drop earrings.

Over the years, she has added to the gifts from her father with a tiara and a bracelet to complement the original jewellery.

The world’s longest-reigning monarchs

It is tradition for the Queen to spend the Accession Day – as the anniversary of the day she became monarch is officially known – in private at her Sandringham Estate, in Norfolk, and return to Buckingham Palace a few days later.


Other monarchs to pass the sapphire milestone:

  • King Sobhuza II of Swaziland reigned for 82 years – the longest verifiable reign of any monarch in recorded history. He led Swaziland through independence until his death in 1982.
  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand had ruled for 70 years when he died last October. He began his reign aged just 18 years old.
  • Franz Joseph I was Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia for 67 years until his death in 1916. His nephew was Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was assassinated in 1914.
  • King Louis XIV of France reigned for 72 years before his death in 1715. He became king, aged four, after his father’s death.

Prime Minister Theresa May offered her congratulations, hailing the Queen as “truly an inspiration to all of us”.

The prime minister said: “I know the nation will join with me today in celebrating and giving thanks for the lifetime of service Her Majesty the Queen has given to our country and to the Commonwealth.”

Mrs May said it was “a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation” that the Queen had made clear she did not want official celebrations to mark the historic milestone.


Another first for Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen after her coronationImage copyrightPA
Image captionThe monarch, pictured in 1953, leaving Westminster Abbey after the Coronation

By Peter Hunt, BBC diplomatic and royal correspondent

Longevity for a hereditary head of state has brought many milestones.

She is Britain’s longest reigning monarch, having overtaken her great great grandmother, Victoria, in 2015.

Today, after 23,742 days on the throne, it’s the start of the first sapphire jubilee in British history.

For the Queen, it’s a moment for contemplation rather than celebration – as it is also the anniversary of her father’s death.

In the coming months and years, she will, inevitably, do less and other royals will take on more – most notably Prince William, once he finishes his job as an air ambulance pilot in the summer.

The 90-year-old working monarch has another significant moment on the horizon.

In November, she and Prince Philip will mark 70 years of marriage.

Read more from Peter Hunt here


In London, royal gun salutes commemorated the occasion across the capital.

A 41-gun salute was fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park at midday and a 62-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company was fired at the Tower of London at 13:00 GMT.

Larger-scale jubilee celebrations are expected to be reserved for the Platinum Jubilee in 2022, when the monarch will mark 70 years.

Members of the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery fire a 21-gun salute at Edinburgh CastleImage copyrightPA
Image captionMembers of the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery fire a 21-gun salute at Edinburgh Castle
Members of C Troop 211 Battery fire a 21-gun salute in the grounds of Cardiff CastleImage copyrightPA
Image captionA 21-gun salute was fired in the grounds of Cardiff Castle
Members of the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, fire a 21-gun salute in York's Museum GardensImage copyrightPA
Image captionIn York, a 21-gun salute was fired in Museum Gardens
Source:  “Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee:  Gun salutes mark 65 years on the throne”, BBC News, 6 February 2017 

Further Reading:  “Queen Elizabeth II marks record 65 years on throne”, The Japan Times, 27 February 2017 (added 28 February 2017)

End of Summer 2016 message

Hello Hugo

So ends another summer, your 5th in Japan, although yours will last well into September.

I shall send you a package shortly to bridge the gap between Children’s Day in Japan and your birthday in November.  I will post photographs below after doing so, either tomorrow or next week – I still have some items to buy.

It has been an eventful summer.  The UK voted for “Brexit” and this month saw the 2016 summer Olympics take place in Rio; the UK took second place in the medal tally, eclipsing even the London Olympics 4 years back.  That success  has been attributed to the (at the time slightly controversial) launch of the National Lottery in 1994 to provide funding for arts, heritage, sport, community projects etc.

I wrote about the London Olympics here, the day after Tokyo was successful in its bid to host the 2020 event.  I have posted this, this and this in relation to the Tokyo Olympics – no doubt there will be more such posts over the next 4 years.   No doubt, also, that the 2020 Games will be one of the key events in your childhood – I well remember the 1988 and 1992 Olympics and, more vaguely, the 1984 ones, all of which took place when I was a boy.  You were born in 2008, itself an Olympic year.

I have had something of an Olympic year myself work-wise but the less said about that the better.  The weather has been nice in London for the most part these past months, including this incredibly hot day in July.

Although I don’t want to say too much here just now so as not to prejudice anything that may happen, there are some signs that the Foreign Office here is beginning to take your situation more seriously, albeit 5 years on from your removal to Japan.  I pray that something concrete will emerge.

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