deprived of his children by his wife, a dad finally helped by the French justice

French justice has issued an arrest warrant against the Japanese wife of a French expatriate who has not seen her children for more than three years.

An international arrest warrant has just been issued against a Japanese woman on grounds of subtraction of minors and of endangerment of minors. A court decision following a complaint filed in 2019 in Paris by her husband, Vincent Fichot, a Frenchman formerly employed in finance. Her two children, a 6-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, were taken from her family home on August 10, 2018 in Tokyo.. Residing in Japan for 15 years, the 39-year-old Frenchman was then in the process of divorce. Following the launch of the procedure 3 years ago, a judicial information had been opened in 2020. If his wife had first mentioned domestic violence with the judges, she then retracted.

Helpless in the face of slowness of legal proceedings, Vincent Fichot had decided to publicize his story in the summer of 2021: he had started a hunger-strike on Saturday July 10, two weeks before the opening of the Olympic Games, and had settled near the Tokyo stadium to attract attention.

He thus hoped to challenge Emmanuel Macron, traveling for the occasion, whom he had already met in 2019 and who had pleaded his case to Shinzo abe, former Japanese Prime Minister. His hunger strike lasted 21 days, and had to be discontinued due to surgery after he lost nearly 14 kilograms. The Frenchman thus hoped to encourage the French authorities to act against Japan to non-respect of its international commitments on the rights of the child.

An exhausted father in the face of judicial inertia

If the issuance of the arrest warrant against his ex-wife marks a turning point in this case, it has been 3 years since Vincent Fichot has been fighting administrative, legal and political procedures to change his situation, being without contact or sign of life from his children since 2018. At the end of his strength and arguments, the father declared as follows:

I spent 220,000 euros in private investigator and lawyer fees to defend my children so I lost my house, my savings, my job. I have only me, my 80 kilos, and I will give them to the last gram, for my children. […] We come to a point where we have tried everything.

Other country, other laws

This is not the first time that a French parent has found himself in a situation ofkidnappings of children on Japanese territory : The judicial system concerning shared custody of children is very opaque in Japan. In reality, no law makes this shared custody legal, in the event of parental separation. Parental abductions are therefore commonplace in the archipelago, acts tolerated by local authorities. According to associations, 150,000 children would be affected every year in Japan.

Vincent Fichot, as well as a dozen parents from four different countries, have complained against Japan at the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2019. The media coverage of its story had allowed free speech on the subject of parental abductions in Japan, arousing the reaction of many foreign parents, but also Japanese, who are going through the same ordeal.

The Frenchman hopes that this arrest warrant will influence the decision of the Japanese judge to rule on his case, and recover custody of his children.

Lea Francois

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