This was a statement made by Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell yesterday, September 21, 2011, after Barack Obama met the new Japanese PM Noda at the U.N. General Assembly. Our pain and agony, Japanese International Child Abduction, has finally reached the level of the President of the United States.
It is not the public statement from Barack Obama that we are hoping for, but it is a significant step in the right direction. It shows that at the executive level there is much greater awareness of Japanese International Child Abduction today than ever before. The President received letters from BAC Home and from Representative Chris Smith immediately prior to the meeting, and these played, in my opinion, key roles in encouraging the President to speak. Great kudos to them, and congratulations and gratitude are to be expressed to many people, including of course, Mr. Campbell himself.
Not to diminish what we feel at seeing this take place, we must remain vigilant and relentlessly critical where criticism is needed to move the ball forward: in this case, the number which is cited below, 123 existing cases, is the official number as fed to them by the Office of Children’s Issues, and is vastly, enormously, violently inaccurate. The Office of Children’s Issues continues its long record of failure, “inactivating” case after case after case, rendering the children who are victims of this crime invisible. There are various estimates of the number of abductions, but in the category of American children who have lost their parent due to the actions of the Japanese state, children still minors, the best cautious and conservative estimate is that there are approximately 4000 children, not 123. The total number of children who have aged out of this category is most likely to be upwards of 10,000. We will return to this issue again and again, as we always must.
For now, here is a link and the significant excerpt from Campbell’s statement.
Watch here. Statement concerning our abducted children starts around 15 minutes in.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL:
“I was struck at how quickly the two leaders got down to work. And so the open, very warm statement the President highlighted, that this was an extraordinary partnership. The prime minister thanked the United States for its strong, continuing support in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake and nuclear crisis. The President committed that the United States would continue, as we go into a second and third phase of recovery, that we would stand by the people of Japan, very substantial discussion on regional security, agreement that we need to continue close coordination on all issues of common interest, including the Korean Peninsula, maritime security. We also talked a lot about the global cooperation that the United States and Japan has enjoyed. The President thanked the prime minister for Japan’s continuing commitment, the $5 billion, roughly, to important and critical programs of health and civil security in Afghanistan. We talked about the need to work closely on a range of other issues. We all acknowledged the challenges associated with Futenma replacement. But I think both sides understand that we’re approaching a period where we need to see results, and that was made very clear by the President. We also discussed the challenges. The President made clear we’d like to see progress after many years on beef, and the prime minister indicated he’d make best efforts. The President also very strongly affirmed the Japanese decision to enter into The Hague Convention – asked that this – on Child Abduction – asked that these steps be taken clearly and that the necessary implementing legislation would be addressed. He also indicated that while that was an important milestone for Japan, that – he also asked the Japanese prime minister and the government to focus on the preexisting cases, the cases that have come before. The prime minister indicated that very clearly, he knew about the number of cases. He mentioned 123. He said that he would take special care to focus on these particular issues as we – as Japan also works to implement the joining of The Hague Convention, which the United States appreciates greatly.”
123 cases!! This number is a fictitious product of the maneuvering of the Department of State to minimize the issue, and keep it as low on the radar as possible. This simply is unacceptable; but we all grasp at the possibility shown here that that profile will not remain as low as it has been previously kept. Now is the time to bring our voices up.