Emmanuel Macron will take up the case of a compatriot who claims Japanese law means he has been unable to see his children for several years, as the French president prepares to attend Friday’s opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics.
With Paris due to host the 2024 summer Games, Macron will be the only leader of a major industrial country to attend the ceremony, which will be attended by menos que 1,000 dignitaries due to anti-coronavirus protocols.
Macron, who arrived in Japan on Friday, will also address a tricky bilateral diplomatic issue being highlighted by Vincent Fichot, OMS has been on hunger strike near the Olympic stadium for two weeks. Fichot, 39, says he has not seen his son, Envejecido 6, and daughter, Envejecido 4, since his wife allegedly left home with them in 2018. There is no suggestion that his wife has done anything illegal.
Fichot and other allegedly “left-behind” parents have called for urgent changes to Japanese law, which does not allow for joint custody when parents separate. Macron is expected to raise the issue when he meets the Japanese prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, on Saturday.
Más que 150,000 children in Japan are forcibly separated from one of their parents every year, according to the Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion pressure group.
There have been numerous cases of foreign parents of dual-nationality children in Japan being unable to see or contact them, sometimes for many years. Local courts almost always rule in favour of the Japanese spouse, although the problem is not confined to families with parents from overseas.
Since Fichot began his hunger strike on 10 mes de julio, he has been visited by Japanese and foreign mothers and fathers, as well by children of international marriages. They have shared similar stories of estrangement and shown their support for his actions. Politicians, including members of the ruling party, have also spoken to him.
Fichot has been posting updates on social media during his hunger strike, and supporters have appeared in his videos explaining their own situations.
“I’ve given everything, I’ve lost my job, my house and my savings in the last three years. I weigh 80 kilograms now, and I’ll give it all until the very last gram,” he told Agence France-Presse at the start of his hunger strike.
Despite legal efforts, appeals to Japanese lawmakers and the UN, interventions by the French embassy, as well as a resolution in the European parliament, Fichot has been unable to contact his young son and daughter or receive news about them.
Macron met Fichot, who has lived in Japan for 15 años, when he made his first official visit to Japan two years ago, although it is unclear if he will meet him again during his current trip.
During his last visit, Macron spoke out in support of French parents separated from their children in Japan, condemning “situations of distress that are completely unacceptable”.
Macron and Suga are also expected to discuss bilateral economic ties and security in the Asia-Pacific region in light of an increasingly assertive China.
Macron will meet the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, and have an audience with Emperor Naruhito before the opening ceremony.