An answer from the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Before leaving Japan in June, I sent an open letter to Canada’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Honourable John Baird. In the letter, I asked that the Canadian ambassador to Japan be recalled, that the Japanese ambassador to Canada be asked to leave, and this until Japan signs the Hague convention. Of course, I did not expect the ministry to actually carry out my demands. I’m angry and distraught at having lost my daughter, but I’m realistic enough to understand the ins-and-outs of diplomacy.

But I received an answer from the ministry to my letter. It wasn’t signed by the minister but it was signed by the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs), Diane Ablonczy. Not bad. The letter does not describe any action to be taken by the ministry on my behalf. Again, I didn’t really expect anything. They are basically telling me what they’ve been doing for many years now and they put me in contact with a ministry official in charge of international custody litigation. Useless for me in the short term but, I hope, leading at some point soon to Japan changing so that what happened to me and to many other parents doesn’t happen again.

However one phrase bothered me: “The Government of Canada is sensitive towards the situation of parents that have been separated from their child and continues to encourage other countries, such as Japan, to adhere to the Hague Convention…” (My translation from the French, and my italics.) They continue to encourage Japan… In other words, they do not condemn, they do not voice their displeasure, they do not call the Japanese ambassador in for a lecture on human rights. In other words, the government is more sensitive about not saying anything negative to Japan than about helping these abducted Canadian children.

That bothers me. When Canada sent a military mission to Hans Island, a disputed territory between Greenland and Canada, they returned the Danish flag captured on the island to the Danish embassy in Ottawa. Diplomats take more care to secure the rights to an obscure island of about one square kilometer than they do to take care of the children of their citizens.

It bothers me that our government is being so nice to Japan on this issue. The minister should order Canadian diplomats to use stronger and clearly shameful language. “We encourage Japan to…” doesn’t cut it. Japanese  society has many admirable traits, but they are stubborn when it comes to attacks on their interest. The thing to do is attack their honour. For example, we should put the Japanese flag alongside the flags of other countries like Iran and Morroco on milk cartons and  “Lost Child” posters. We should shame Japan.

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