Since the summer of 2021, a slight uptick has been seen in media attention to child abduction and termination of parental rights in Japan. This was due to the hunger strike held outside of the principal entrance to the Olympic village, built in Tokyo for the delayed 2020 Olympics. Vincent’s strike brought visibility to a movement with thousands upon thousands of unhappy members in Japan. Vincent camped outside of the Olympic arena’s main train exit with signs and banners, drawing attention from fellow parents of abductees, from some media outlets, and from the French Foreign Minister, who paid him a visit there and verbally recognized his plight with cameras rolling.
Since succumbing to international pressure to give ascent to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction in 2013, offices have been created or redesigned in Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to give the appearance of change. However nothing of real significance has changed in the legal structure, regulation, powers, or practices of the Japanese State with regard to child abduction. There are more processes to pass through; additional requirements for meetings and judgments to be issued in Hague Convention cases. All the same, abduction remains a principal means to obtain sole custody of children, and to exclude the child’s family – or, half of his/her family in any case – entirely from their mutual lives. Once the thread of relationship has been thoroughly broken, there is no authentic legal means of obtaining or restoring the child’s parental rights or returning children to the homes from which they were abducted, or from which their families remain excluded. In effect, the fundamental idea of “children’s rights” does not now exist in Japanese practice. Therefore the situation of children like Rui and like that of Vincent’s children, remains unchanged.
Protest however was effective at bringing attention and support. We remind ourselves as Vincent did repeatedly throughout the three weeks of his hunger strike last summer, that the primary group, the largest number of victims of state-sponsored child abduction in Japan are Japanese children and parents. Half of all divorced families see the parental rights of children completely terminated by Japan’s practices, which remain unchanged and every bit as cynical and destructive as they were prior to the Convention’s ceremonious signing, and prior to the passing of laws and proclamations in the US, France, the European Union, and elsewhere, condemning Japan for its cruel and consistent commitment to the violation of children’s rights and the ruin of their family relationships. The damage is greedily sought out, and its ripples continue to spread.
Here is the text of a press piece from Japan which has just appeared. A brief video clip accompanies the press story. We look for hope, and find what we will.
仏・日本人妻に逮捕状「子供連れ去った疑い」 1日 9時02分 フランス・パリの裁判所は、フランス人男性との結婚生活が破綻した日本人の妻が子供２人を男性に会わせないのは未成年者略取の疑いがあるとして、妻の逮捕状を出しました。
Arrest warrant for Japanese wife in France: “Suspected of taking children”
December 1st, 2021 9:02 a.m.
A court in Paris, France has issued an arrest warrant for a Japanese wife whose marriage to a French man has broken down and who refuses to let her see her two children with the man because she is suspected of abducting minors.
Vincent Fichot, a Frenchman living in Tokyo, claims that he has not been able to see his children for more than three years because his marriage to his Japanese wife broke down and she took his son and daughter away. Mr. Fichot filed a complaint two weeks ago, and by November 30, a Paris court issued an arrest warrant for his wife on charges of kidnapping a minor. The two are currently in divorce proceedings in Japan.
Mr. Vincent Fichot
I think it would be strange if a judge were to grant custody to a mother who has a warrant for her arrest on charges of abduction of a minor.
On the other hand, the wife’s lawyer told AFP, “We are not going to fight outside the courtroom.
Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator