2012 April – June

Friday, April 6th 2012

G’day Phi, how’s trix? We’ve just finished up reading Kensuke’s Kingdom at school. I think it’s the fourth consecutive year I’ve read it to my class. It’s an astonishing tale of Kensuke, a Japanese WW2 veteran who is hidden away on a deserted island for decades until the arrival of Michael, an 11 year old British lad. Michael has been shipwrecked with his companion, his loyal dog. Initially Kensuke avoids Michael’s companionship, but eventually through near tragic death, an incredible bond forms between the pair.

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Together with Brenda & Allen

Remember our loyal dog, Riku? He was a red-heeler bitza (bitza means bits of this and bits of that, but mainly he was red-heeler). He was a good dog, very gentle and caring with you, but he could actually be quite aggressive with people he didn’t know. In his latter years he got a bit of arthritis that slowed him down a bit, but he was nonetheless a great Frisbee dog. Do you remember throwing the Frisbee for Riku together at the parks in Numz?

A couple of years ago I bought a copy of Kensuke for C, as a travel companion on one of her trips to Paris. She too enjoyed it… I hope one day soon I can read you this classic chapter adventure book. You’ll love it! Fancy a chapter tonight? Luv & licks, Dad.

CRAZY QUESTIONS

  • Do you think animals other than humans know they’re going to die one day?
  • Who do you think was the first person to discover milk on a cow?

 

Tuesday, April 10th 2012

G’day Phi. How’s your first week of Grade 4 going? Who’s your teacher? I wonder who you are sitting next to… last night I sat next to my Parisian Geisha, C… let me tell you about it.

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With the Hamer gang down at Shimoda.

Yesterday, C & Dad attended a seminar in Tokyo regarding child abduction to and within Japan. The meeting started with networking and meeting other Left Behind Parents. It was an opportunity to meet Paul Wong, American who had flown in from Shanghai. His Japanese in-laws were successfully awarded his only daughter by the Japanese courts after his Japanese wife had died of cancer. According to Paul, they had a beautiful marriage and it was her dying wish to return to Japan before she died. He has not seen his daughter in four years as his in-laws refuse to allow any contact whatsoever. His story really highlights the total disregard for international law, and the blatant racism of the Japanese legal system.

It was a very well organized event that attracted some very important players and observers to the tragic events that are being played out in Japan. Guests included representatives from the US, Canadian and Australian Embassies, child psychiatrists, professor Colin Jones from Doshisa University in Kyoto, and David Hearn one of the producers of the documentary “From the Shadows.” Perhaps the link, will still be up: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEEahImOGzE … but if it’s not Princess, let’s go and watch it together some day.

There’s also the possibility that I’ll be able to meet the Australian Ambassador (Miller) at the end of the month. I’ve been in contact with an Australian chap, Matt Wymann, who has a contact in the consular office, Craig Craker.

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Piggy-back down the Shimoda dunes

Before last night’s screening of From the Shadows, a panel discussion and Q&A session was set up. Those on the panel included Kirsten Snipp (a US mother whose son was abducted by her Japanese husband. She was told by his lawyer that she would never see her son again) and her courageous 14 year old son. He was obviously nervous, but determined to tell his story. He showed a lot of emotion when asked to explain his feelings and thoughts as a victim of child abduction. The strain on his face was very evident. Also on the panel was Dr. Onagi a child psychologist who has had a lot of experience dealing with children who have gone through a lot of emotional pain as a consequence of parental divorce (as well as abduction). She is fluent in English and was a wealth of knowledge. Professor Jones also shared the panel. Colin Jones is also passionate about the subject, a lawyer and fluent in Japanese who has been living in Japan since 1983. Fellow left behind parent, John Gomez was one of the presenters and did a fantastic job coordinating the afternoon/evening.

Parliamentary Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kazayuki Hamada delivered the welcoming address. He came across as very supportive initially, and assured the audience that this issue was at the top of the government’s agenda and emphasized the importance of a stable environment for all children. It sounded too good to be true, and so it was, for then he mentioned that in 1994 Japan signed the UN treaty on the Civil Rights of the Child which we all know stipulates that all children have the right of access to both parents, an agreement that Japan to this day has not adhered to.

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Day at the farm

I’m sure that the audience was rather put off by the Minister’s comments. There was a noticeable shift in the mood, as the audience became aware of his shallow understanding of the real issues. Both Colin Jones and John Gomez made comments that referred to the Minister’s remark, and it was at about this time that the Minister cowardly left the meeting.

From 6.30pm we watched “From the Shadows”, a powerful documentary that highlights parents struggling with the reality of having their own children abducted to and within Japan. It also highlighted the bystander role of the Japanese police and the complete bias that exists in the Japanese legal system. My new mate, Matt compares it to something that existed in the deep South of the US in the 1930’s where you are an African American and the judge and jurors are Klan members. Matt’s view is that these parents, like many of us are dealing with such a system, where if you don’t participate, you automatically hand over all your rights to the abducting parent, and if you choose to participate, you are put through a system where the perpetrator (the so-called parent who has taken “possession” of the child) is always seen as innocent; so long as that parent is Japanese. He goes onto say that all evidence that suggests that the child was abducted or kidnapped is tossed aside, the law-abiding victim is dragged through court and very much treated like a criminal.

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Milly has puppies!

During the evening, John Gomez also read a letter that he just received from Congressman Smith stating that the US will look at punishing those states who do not return children who are victims of International Parental Child Abduction. It appears that this issue is finally receiving the recognition it so desperately deserves.

It was a deeply moving experience, and I hope as a result of this push for awareness, in the future children like you will have the benefit of the best parent, being both parents.

I love you Phi… sleep well.

FAST FACTS

  • This weekend is Easter. Your cousins, Luca, Allie, Billie & Christopher will be going camping with your Aunts, Uncles & Nandee & Pa. All the kids will enjoy an Easter egg hunt… something you’ve done every year you could walk… with your Dad.
  • It’s still cold although the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. I saw the first fly of the year in my classroom today; did you know that the average housefly only lives for 2 or 3 weeks?

 

Friday, April 20th 2012

G’day Possum! How’s my favourite tree-climber?

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Play date with Masako

By now you’re well and truly into a new school year. A big, responsible and beautiful fourth grader. Often I wonder if you’re afforded the opportunities that my students at Saint Maur International School take for granted each day. I wonder if you’re benefitting from being a part of the technology age. Our school has just bought 100 new i-pads to be integrated into the classroom for literacy. Prior to this year we had portable smartboards in the corridors for our use, and now each and every classroom has a smartboard equivalent projector above the whiteboard. They’re absolutely fantastic for involving the students in mathematics and language arts.

Today for example, my fourth graders performed their prezi presentations in front of their parents. As part of our Explorer theme each student chose an explorer / adventurer to become an expert on. They collected biographical information, typed up a report on our interactive WIKI, and today presented their findings using prezi. Their parents were well and truly impressed. Dina’s father from Saudi Arabia told me he only learned to do such professional presentations in the workforce after university. His pride in his daughter, and the smile and appreciation he showed me confirmed the fact that I feel I have the best job in the world.

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Bbq & dress-ups with Brenda

After recess we invited the students’ parents into the auditorium for our Live Explorer Museum. On this occasion the students dressed as their chosen explorer / adventurer and gave a speech in the first person. Each student froze as a statue when the parents entered the auditorium. The parents walked throughout pressing the students’ buttons to bring the explorer to life. As soon as the explorer’s speech finished, the explorer (student) froze in their original position, once again taking the form of a statue, awaiting another parent to push the ‘start’ button. The kids were absolutely tres-bonza (Uncle Sean’s descriptor for grand). I was so proud of them. Their parents were equally complementary and overjoyed.

Time for bed Princess… I might have a look through the atlas at African nations in bed. C and I are seriously thinking about heading to Africa next year to work for a few years… Senegal, Rwanda, Morocco or another French speaking nation so that C can use her trilingual gift… perhaps you can visit us when you get to Junior High School…

Luv & licks,

Dad & C… XoXo…

CRAZY QUESTIONS

  • Who was it that arranged the letters in the alphabet, and why did they decide on that order?
  • Why did it take your Dad 40 years to get his first mobile phone?

 

Tuesday, May 1st 2012

Howdy Cowdy! Guess what Dad & C have been thinking??? You already know we’re thinking of working in Africa from August 2013, and recently we’ve been thinking of investing in a home in Japan. With interest rates so low in Japan, it makes good investment sense to take advantage, don’t you think? In addition, Japan’s housing market has been flat since the bubble burst more than 20 years ago, so comparative to Australia and the increasing costs of a family home, Japan seems quite reasonable. If we decide to go to Africa, then we’ll rent our home and our renters will contribute to our loan… make sense? I hope so…

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Camping with Dad

On the 28th of April we had a look at a house in Koenji. It’s very reasonably priced at about 40 million yen, but we’re a bit worried about vehicle access because it’s in need of real reform. Access to the property is via a walkway measuring only about 1.5 metres in width, so any reform measures we instigate will mean the contractors will have to carry all their equipment and materials in by hand. Obviously without adequate access, costs will sky-rocket, so we’re most probably going to pass on this one. Early days yet… we need to get our prerequisites in order: facing south so we get the winter sun; an area where you and I can garden and show the world our tradie-cracks (the tops of our bottoms while we garden); a big open living / kitchen area, and a spare bedroom for when you come to visit…

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With Pa

Then Sunday was the Saint Maur Food Fair, and today we had a bonza time with our grade 4 Treasure Hunt. I’ve been teaching the kids about latitude and longitude, and direction by degrees. So today they got to race around the school using a Google Map of our campus to try and crack the code. The kids loved it. In groups of 3 they had clues that took them around the school campus in a different order, meaning no 2 groups could follow each other. Tonight they’ll be writing about their treasure hunt in their journals. Should be a good sharing session on the carpet / gathering area tomorrow morning!

Enjoy school tomorrow buddy, I know I will… XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • You’ve never been noisy or overbearing. Did you know insects such as bees, mosquitoes and cicadas make noise by rapidly moving their wings. One day I’ll show you how to play a tune on a leaf.
  • Your Dad’s got a big, wonky nose. Not as big as the horn of a rhinoceros, but all the same it requires a little trimming from time to time. Did you know that the rhino’s horn is made from compacted hair rather than bone or another substance, such as cartilage. Perhaps he should have trimmed a little earlier… take it from Dad, nasal hairs can get out of hand if you let them go!

 

Thursday, May 3rd 2012

Konichi wa Phi-Fai-Fo-Fum, how’s trix?

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Farm-stay: Josh, Allie, Hope & you…

C says you’re heading into Golden Week, but we don’t really have a GW at Saint Maur International School, more like a Golden Weekend, because we get Friday the 4th off (tomorrow). I wonder what you’re going to do… we used to go camping up beyond Gotenba with Pat, Allan, Brenda, Nicola, Timmy, John, Kiri, Bailey and your buddy Grace. I guess you’ll tell me one day about your Golden Weeks… we can sit down side by side and talk through photos and our lives…

Yesterday (May 2nd) was the International Schools’ Choir Festival held at Saint Maur. Every year it’s a credit to the music teachers of the international schools. The performances are simply stunning! Once again our kids were just brilliant. I was so proud of them.

Then last night I met up with an old buddy from Chile, Mauricio. He’s quite the wag, a great laugh and always the ladies’ man. He’s been teaching in Mexico, and more recently just moved to China where he caught up with Ray & Maureen (you had a swim with them down at Enoshima two summers ago) from a neighboring province.

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All your Aussie cousins…

Tonight it’s Phil’s birthday, so we’ll head into Jiyugaoka. Sadly Bonnie, Phil, Mae & Cate are heading back to Canada this summer. It’ll be the end of an era with the likes of Cindy & Lee, Ben & Alina, Brenda & Allen, Bruce & Colleen already having moved on. We’ll miss them as we do all our friends from Numazu… you grew up with these people watching over you in Numz… Their love and support were / are very much appreciated.

They’re still watching over you and one day soon darling, you’ll be able to sit down and read their beautiful letters… XoXo… Dad.

CRAZY QUESTIONS

  • Why is milk white when grass in green?
  • Why did your mother do what she did?

 

Sunday, May 6th 2012

What a great Golden Weekend! Friday we had a day off school, so Milton organized an opening bbq for the deck we recently finished. Unfortunately it rained most of the afternoon, but by about 5pm it had rained itself out so we ventured up on his roof deck that your old man pieced together. I’ll have to put a photo of the deck up on our blog so you can take a look.

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Your Dad created this!

Yesterday I visited Scott, Rie, Leila & Aiden. They all asked about you, and Aiden wondered why you no longer came to play. Leila is so big now, she’s started Junior High School at a semi-international school near Odawara. Scotty & I watched the footy, the Brisbane Lions were playing the new Gold Coast Team; cracking match too! Carn the BLUES!

Today C & I had a lovely French lunch near a house C wanted to show me. Yes, we’re still house-hunting. C has been amazing, spending tens of hours on the WWW in search of our perfect home. Unfortunately Dad is a bit on the choosy side, and we haven’t had any luck thus far.

After our lovely French lunch and a glass of chardonnay, we walked to Bonnie’s to say hello and got caught in the rain! It was truly raining cats and dogs! Bon was holding a bit of a flea market trying to sell off goods before they head back to Maple Syrup Canada. We shared a beer with Trav & Meg and then headed home to watch the Sunday night housing reform show.

Luv & licks, Daddy-Long-Legs… XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • Milton’s deck was my fourth. The first being quite a big deck for Yuta Jiji & Noribaba, the second for Bon & Phil in Numz and the third also for Bon in Jiyugaoka (you helped me on this one)
  • Noribaba & your Dad used to enjoy watching the Sunday housing reform show together… Now C & Dad watch it side by side on the couch… care to join us… you can tell me what sort of bedroom your ideal bedroom is!

 

Sunday, May 13th 2012

Today C & Dad took a bus to Gotemba Premium Outlets. You & I used to visit there together sometimes with Pat on a Friday after school. Other times we’d drop in on our way back from meeting your mother near Fujikyu Highland (Yamanakako). It’s a strange place in that it’s so very crowded on the weekend, but during the week there’s hardly anybody there. You used to love the playground just by the bridge (we got a great view of Mount Fuji from the bridge), and pretty much every time we went, we dropped in for a play at the Lego shop… and often Dad would buy you a little Lego treat. It brings back a few memories with you in your car-seat or your booster-seat in the big orange car (it wasn’t actually that big, merely a Honda 3 door HRV, but it was always going to be the big orange car, courtesy of the big red car from The Wiggles), swinging into the car park by the walkover ramp, anticipating some building in Lego heaven.

Anyway, C & Dad took a highway bus direct to Gotenba from Yokohama… very convenient. Your BAKA Dad left his red bag on the bus again! Last year on the way to Haneda airport I left the same bag on the rack of the train… oh, what a Wally! Luckily there was an office where we had got off the bus and C raced in to tell them… before we knew it, somehow, in the space of 10 minutes, my red bag was back in my hands.

I bought C some beautiful jewelry (for her birthday – June 23), a warm hiking jacket for myself (I won’t be able to wear it for 6 months!), a beanie for the bicycle in winter, and a new pair of Puma running shoes with less heal. I’ve been doing some research on the benefits of bare-foot running, in fact I read a book titled, Born to Run. It’s a classic! I hope you’re a runner too, that’ll make 3 generations of runners because Nandee & Pa were great Fun Run runners. In fact I recall when they had a party with their runner-mates for their 100th Fun Run together!

I saw the coolest pair of puma kids shoes that I so wanted to buy for you, but I’m not sure when I’ll see you again… Not sure your size anymore either…

Anyway kid-star, I love you, and miss you, and look forward to a jog together! Dad… XoXo…

FAST FACT

  • I left the same red bag with my passport, digital camera, favourite book, etc., on the train last summer on our way to Haneda Airport… Baka ne!
  • It’s time C and I married… don’t you think?

 

Friday, May 18th 2012

Today we held our annual Spring Concert. It’s a cracker 100 minute show for our Primary School Community. The music teachers put on a terrific display, it’s simply amazing! Every year the quality just blows me away. Especially the grade 1 students… unbelievable!

Tonight I went out to Chofu. We had some sad news Wednesday, Doug Benning, father to Xian, your first friend, and partner to Miyuki, died of a heart attack while jogging late at night. He had recently turned 50, but with his bright ginger hair he looked closer to 40. Miyuki was actually your mother’s friend, but after the divorce, both Doug & Miyuki were tremendously supportive of you and I, and I don’t think Miyuki and your mother stayed friends. We would often have bbqs together, and I have some wonderful photos of you and Xian jumping in puddles at Mishima Shrine. I can still see you with your soggy pink corduroy pants smirking at me, as if to say, “What? So what if I’m wet Dad!” And you know what, you’re right… a dirty child is a happy child! That’s what Nandee would always say.

One summer Xian, Doug & Miyuki stayed in our house for summer while you and me went off for a winter holiday in Australia.

Time for a jog… care to join me? Love Dad.

WICKED WISDOM

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

 

Saturday, May 19th 2012

Today was your Sports’ Festival. I arrived at 9am and found my place in the shade. Your mother approached me, and for a moment I hoped it was good news. Instead she called the police in front of me. I wasn’t exactly sure what she said to them, but as I hadn’t done, nor planned to do anything illegal, I stayed and cheered you on. Fortunately, the police never arrived. Do you really think your mother would call the police on me?

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You looked pretty happy to see me… Thanx Phi!

Love Dad…

FAST FACTS

  • Today when you turned to search me out a second time at your Sports’ Festival, you smiled and gave me a little wave. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment
  • Cats use their whiskers to check whether a space is too small for them to fit through or not

Sunday, May 266th 2012

Hey Buddy, how was your week? I hope you weren’t too upset about the events of last weekend. It must be heart breaking for you to see what’s happening, but not really understand why it is happening.

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That’s you & your cuz, Luca.

This afternoon we looked at a house in Denen-chofu, what a beautiful area! The tree lined streets remind me of where Uncle Richie & Aunty Rach live, but the area itself is way out of our price range. The house we looked at, again had access issues, and a part of it is set to be demolished. A nice big house, years ago neglected and gone to weed, but the garden area has potential.

Yesterday I met Milton in Kikuna and took him through plants with potential for his roof deck. He needs dry weather plants that only need watering weekly to fortnightly. So, when C went off to her Translators Conference in Kichijoji, I headed to another Home Centre near Milton’s to help him choose and then pot his plants.

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You with your cuz, Allie.

Love Dad… XoXo…

CRAZY QUESTIONS

  • Why do boys apparently like blue, and girls pink?
  • What did one sock say to the other sock? Hi sock!

 

Saturday, June 2nd 2012

G’day Bella. Thursday was Dad’s 44th birthday. It was a great day, with loads of messages throughout the day, chocolates from the kids, cards and even 2 bottles of wine. The kids sang me happy birthday, lay all 190cm of me down on the floor and picked me up and sang, sang, sang, without dropping me!

Then in the evening, my beautiful C took me to an Italian restaurant near Sakuragicho. It was superb! Started with a gorgeous platter of prosciutto, sashimi, salad, fresh warm thick pitta bread with pate, olives and cured meats. Then C had fish, and Dad had the Aussie lamb. Thereafter we shared a wood fired oven pizza… delish! The waiter asked us if we’d like a small, medium or large pizza; I asked how much extra is the large? “All part of the set sir, your choice.” Needless to say, I ordered the large and ate every last crumb! Thin crispy pizza, Mmm! Finally good coffee (rare in Japan) and tiramisu. Wish you were there to help me with the tiramisu! I was totally and utterly full by then!

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Dad & Phi… XoXo…

Tonight is Bonnie & Phil’s farewell party at the Taproom in Naka-Meguro. End of an era Bella. We’ve shared many memorable moments with the Greenes including the 2 decks we made for them, one in Numz, the other in Jiyugaoka. You were a good little helper too.

Wish you were beside me now… I miss you… Dad.

FAST FACTS

  • Mosquitoes can be annoying insects but did you know that it’s only the female mosquito that actually bites humans.
  • Dad is reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime & Punishment at the moment. So far it’s the story of a delirious drop-out student in Russia who murders a pawn broker for a few rubles… sounds heinous I know, but it’s pretty damn good

 

Wednesday, June 13th 2012

Salutations Phi… remember when we read Charlotte’s Web together? I hope so…

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Aunty Cate & Luca

Today we had another audience with Diet (JP Parliament) members such as Hase San at The Diet. Also in attendance was the former head judge of the Nagoya Family Court, Mamoru Isobe. Mr. Isobe was the keynote speaker and initially seemed supportive of our idea of joint custody measures for Japan. He also stated that Japan should sign the Hague Convention without hesitation.

As the session wore on however, Judge Isobe became somewhat agitated as there was some criticism of the Family Court. Over the years there has been a blackout on criticism on the Family Court domestically, a point echoed by Colin Jones of Doshisa University, Kyoto at the last session we attended. Judge Isobe bristled at the idea that judges and mediators favored the parent in “possession” of the child, and did not uphold the visitation rights of the noncustodial parent. Our dear C beckoned for the microphone and for at least 3 minutes gave first-hand accounts of the open discrimination that is prevalent in the family court. C further pointed out that it should not be seen as a foreigner versus Japan issue, but rather if you examine the issue closely, many Japanese parents are without access to their children. The judge didn’t seem to believe the truth, so a show of hands went up, predominantly Japanese parents who had not seen their own children in the last 12 months. This pretty much silenced the judge and C’s respect skyrocketed among members of Left Behind Parents Japan (LBPJ).

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Helping Pa collect firewood.

Love Dad… I’m still battling Phi… one day we’ll be able to see each other freely… XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • Since 1994, the US Office of Children’s Issues has opened 230 cases involving 321 children wrongfully retained in Japan. To date, not a single case has been resolved through a favorable Japanese court order, or through the assistance of the Japanese Government
  • Just finished reading Ellis Avery’s The Teahouse Fire, a forgettable story of a closed world, the ancient art of tea ceremony, and forbidden love… though set in Japan, don’t bother, it’s a bit of a bore

 

Thursday, June 21st 2012

G’day Phi,

How are you doing this evening? Warming up here in the sky-lounge, but I can’t complain, Summer School is cruisy and going smoothly. It’s nice not to have to do any assessments; I guess the kids appreciate not having testing too!

Last night C took me into meet C. She is a child psychologist who was a friend of C’s in High School. The evening presented a great opportunity for me to ask the questions I’ve been wanting to ask in the Family Court of Japan. I’ve been wanting to ask hard questions of the probation officer at the Yokohama Family Court, the first of which is, “Are you a child psychologist?” My lawyers however, have cautioned me not to embarrass him, because he is not a child psychologist. When I asked him about PAS (Parent Alienation Syndrome), he looked at me as if I’d made the psychology term up, and when I asked him, “Is it in Ophelia’s best interests that half of her identity is stripped from her?” he smiled awkwardly, leaned his head to one side as if to shrug his shoulders…

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Xian & Phi in Numz

Anyway, C said that after looking through the photos of the two of us together, and video evidence, it is very clear that we share a very close relationship, and enjoy each other’s company. I asked her what might be going through your mind. She said it’s common, particularly for girls to agree/side with their mother just to please them. She went on to say, if the mother has a domineering personality, then of course she will influence the child. She added, most interestingly (and sadly), that quite likely what your mother says, is equal to what you, yourself begin to think.

When we told C about the statements from your mother’s doctor that apparently point to you becoming sick after visits to me, she wondered why the Family Court accepted signed statements from a doctor who is not a pediatrician, nor a child psychologist. C also thought it was most unethical that the doctor won’t open herself up to questioning if she has nothing to hide. She echoed Bob Munro’s analysis of the facts, by suggesting that if you only become sick when you return to your mother’s, then it points to your inability to communicate openly and honestly with your mother. If the contact with me adversely affected you mentally and physically, then in her opinion, it would be natural for you to become sick before meeting me, and while you were/are with me, but this is not the case.

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Aussie cousins… XoXo…

C went on to say that children who have had a good, solid, loving relationship with the parent they don’t have access to, often end up with mental problems, sometimes leading to deep depression. The depression she added, often stems from the fact that such children have no outlet for their true feelings and opinions. In fact, denying access could be argued as a form of child abuse. “Studies show that maintaining contact with non-custodial parents is beneficial for children’s well-being,” says Kazuyo Tanase, clinical psychologist and professor at Kobe Shinwa Women’s University.

In summary, C said that you need time to adjust and think for yourself… “it’s okay not to always agree with her mother.”

What are we going to do Phi?

Additionally, C & Dad have been researching various means for you (and me… and hopefully your mother too) to see a qualified, independent and caring psychologist who has experience dealing with children with identity / custody issues such as you. Through TELL I found a Ms. Fumie Kamitoh (MC). She’s actually a psychotherapist (Mental Health Counselor) and the Director of the Child Protection Project in Tokyo. She even comes to Yokohama on a Monday and Wednesday from 10.30am til 4pm.

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At the Melbourne zoo with Allie.

I copied the following from her website: Ms. Kamitoh is a nationally certified counselor in the U.S. who received her Master of Counseling degree from Idaho State University in 1998. Fluently bilingual, she lived in the U.S. for seven years. Her main interests are cross-cultural issues and leading psycho-educational groups for parents and children such as STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting). Her clinical interests include working with children, teens, families and couples. Ms. Kamitoh is a member of the American Counseling Association and the International Association for Marriage & Family Counseling.

What do you think Bella? Worth looking into don’t you think? Your mother deems it unnecessary, but I for one, will have some counseling so as to better understand what might be going on in your innocent, pure mind.

I love you more than yesterday… and more than ever!!! XoXo…

FAST FACTS

  • Been doing loads of reading recently… just finished Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi, it’s a classic tale of the 17 year old Josephine meeting her father for the first time… sometimes you need to face up to who you are in order to set yourself free…
  • Also reading Peter Carey’s Bliss at the moment; a quirky story of a fatso who has a heart attack, is resuscitated, and then his life is never quite the same again

 

Friday, June 22nd 2012

Hey Gorgeous, Hello, hello, hello! How’s my lovely princess today? Doesn’t feel quite as sticky as yesterday, though I did work up a sweat riding home from Saint Maur.

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Ophi & Luca…

Guess what happened yesterday? Bonnie went out to see your mother! She went all the way out to your house by taxi from Iruma Station, and at first couldn’t find your house. But she never gave up and apparently the taxi driver was quite helpful. Last Friday we had a bit of a farewell dinner in Jiyugaoka with Travis & Megumi, Bonnie & Phil and their gals, Mae & Cate. Phil and Bon watched you growing up, enjoyed your “onesan” presence with their gals, and have been dumbfounded by your mother’s actions in denying you your Dad, Australian family and the many friends you had in Numazu. So anyway, Bonnie’s family is leaving Japan after 10 years, and as Bon and your mother were once friends, she wanted an opportunity to communicate her thoughts… pretty brave, huh?

Unfortunately your mother wasn’t home, so instead Bonnie left a letter with her phone number. To your mother’s credit, she called Bonnie last night, and initially they chatted without too much tension, but as Bon pressed your mother about shutting me and my family out of your life, your mother became cold and quickly hung up the phone. We’re so lucky to have people like Bon looking out for us and endeavoring to keep your mother honest.

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Chasing chooks with Luca!

Sometimes I feel morose, distraught and wounded thinking about our forced separation, but after the actions of people like C & Bonnie, I’m given hope. No doubt your mother will change the facts and use it against me in court, but I will never forget what Bonnie, and so many friends and family like her, have done for us. Their efforts & encouragement give me strength and the belief that one day, we will once again laugh, sing and dance together. We will re-connect Phi… it won’t be quite the same… but, we can only try… Love Dad.

FAST FACTS

  • Despite the white, fluffy appearance of Polar Bears fur, it actually has black skin
  • C watches a lot of TV! She loves Fox, and another channel called D-Life… but that’s okay, as long as she says “YES” tomorrow…

 

Saturday 23rd June 2012

G’day Gorgeous,

How’s your summer progressing? I’ve just finished my first week of summer school, and it’s also C’s b’day… and what a birthday it was for C & Dad!!! Dad is a happy-chappy!!! A very happy camper!!! Guess what your Dad did???!!! In the morning he went for a run, but not too far. He’d ordered 10,000 yen worth of flowers, mainly roses in 3 separate bouquets from Kojima San up by Myorenji Station. When Dad came home, he pretended to have forgotten his key, so C was forced to rise from her beanbag (previously your beanbag, but you don’t mind sharing with Dad’s fiancé, do you?) to answer the door. Dad of course was at the door, lovely & sweaty and with a bouquet of roses. She went back to her beanbag and then Dad gave her a necklace from the Gotemba Premium Outlets, then another bouquet of flowers, followed by a pair of earrings, another bouquet, some chocolates, and some rather cute lingerie. Somewhere in between, Dad asked for C’s hand in marriage. She didn’t hesitate for a moment!

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XoXo…

Sunday David Barrett (Dad’s colleague) joined C & I out at Ajinomoto Stadium in Chofu. It was a Kiminodori Ribbon Event organized by our friend Nomura San. He’s a fellow Left Behind Parent that Dad met when he was collecting signatures at Sakuragicho Station earlier in the year. Later in the afternoon we returned to Myorenji with David, where his wife Yoko, and son Luka joined us for a celebration drink & dinner. I tried my hand at some potato waffles with marinated raw scallop & salmon; quite the success if I may say so myself… luv Dad.

FAST FACTS

  • During Summer School we’ve just introduced gamestarmechanic.com to the kids. It’s an unbelievable program that sends the kids on a quest, all the time learning about creating their own games. It has workshops and the best part is the kids can play each other’s games once they’re created
  • At summer school I’ve been reading the kids The Chronicles of Narnia, it’s the second book to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I think we watched it once, but I can’t be sure. It’s the sort of story you & your vivid imagination would just love… let’s read it one day soon!

Monday, June 25th 2012

This evening I’ve just penned a letter to my prestigious lawyers. I’ll copy and paste below so that one day you too can read about the repercussions of your mother’s actions and attitude:

Masami & Mikiko Sama,

Monday night C & I went to an unofficial premiere screening of “From the Shadows” and we were not surprised to see a short clip of Mikiko in the film. It was a powerful film that highlighted the inadequacies of the Family Court of Japan.

Masami thank you for representing me in court last Friday and for contacting Murakami San. Mikiko, I felt less confident with your absence, and sincerely hope you’ll be able to represent me at the next hearing on June 29th.

In regard to the letter to Ophelia, I’m definitely not against putting myself in my daughter’s place, to look & feel through her eyes, to imagine her feelings of possible confusion/hurt/jealousy at being introduced first to R, and then C. I don’t deny it’s perfect, in fact I’m the first to agree, I’m a hopeless romantic and quick to trust and fall in love.

At the same time, I hope the hundreds of letters I’ve written to my daughter attest in some way to my intentions. I’ve written quite extensively about her feelings in regard to the topic, but I admit, the letters are more about my feelings. These letters I am yet to give to Ophelia, but I will one day give them to my daughter, when I feel, she feels, she is ready. Please understand however, that the letter you propose will not amount to an apology that my ex-wife can then twist to her advantage.

The fact is, Ophelia said to R, “I wish you were my mother.” I think that states enough about their relationship. Secondly I had been dating C for 2.5 years, long enough to know that we were headed for marriage before I introduced her to Ophelia. The evening Ophelia spent with C was enjoyed by all, my friend Ralph attesting to that fact. It was only when my ex became aware of R, then C, that perhaps there’s been a shift in Ophelia’s feelings.

I do not deny that Ophelia is suffering, and like we discussed, she is in need of counseling with a caring, qualified child psychologist. It’s obvious to me, the 75+ letters of support I have received from friends, neighbors & family (of so many nationalities), researchers, PAS, etc. that my daughter is under a degree of duress to sympathize & agree with her mother. She needs someone independent of me & her mother who she can talk openly with.

I found it very disturbing that during the investigator’s discourse PAS (Parent Alienation Syndrome) wasn’t mentioned at all. I also find it ironic that it is me who must write a written apology of sorts to my daughter…

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Friends…

When we initially began discussing my case, I informed you that my previous lawyer under pressure from the panel via my ex encouraged me to write a letter of apology. When I told you about this, I recall Mikiko saying, “Why?” So, why now, should I write a letter of apology that my ex will surely use in the future to show Ophelia that even her Daddy realized he was wrong [sic]. Why does my ex-wife not write a letter of apology for having an [deleted], marrying another man (who Ophelia initially told me she felt uncomfortable with… but being the parent I am, I encouraged her to give him a chance), for leaving a baby alone in the house, for leaving Ophelia’s diaper dirty for hours while I worked, for getting drunk in the bath and panicking her daughter who was the only other person home… I could go on for pages.

Apologies for the rant, but after Monday night’s screening of “From the Shadows” my disgust & mistrust of the Family Court of Japan has further depressed me.

Regards,

Gerard.

Despite my emotion above, I’m sorry how I come across. I wish I was braver, more compromising, less accusatory… I wish I was a better person. Even so, I hope you can feel how much I care about you. I hope you sense how worried I am for your soul and your future happiness. Sometimes though, it feels like it’s all about me… that’s wrong isn’t it? I want to help you feel comfortable with your identity, and to build your stoicism into resilience.

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Katoh summer uniform…

Love always, Dad.

WICKED QUOTE

  • “I DON’T CARE!” Harry yelled at them, snatching up a lunascope and throwing it into the fireplace. “I’VE HAD ENOUGH, I’VE SEEN ENOUGH, I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END, I DON’T CARE ANYMORE!”
  • “You do care,” said Dumbledore. He had not flinched or made a single move to stop Harry demolishing his office. His expression was calm, almost detached. “You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.” J.K. Rowling

 

Friday June 29th 2012

Konichi wa Phi Chan… genki? Dad, so nani genki jya nai…

You can probably guess where I was today… another restless week building to today’s session in the Family Court of Yokohama. During the week I had written another letter to you, and this morning, my dear fiancée awoke before 5am to venture out to Akitsu Station to deliver my letter to you. What an angel C is! That feat gave me so much strength and hope, I just had to be strong in court today for you and for C. I owe her so much. All the same it was a grinding session with your mother trying to twist the facts again. She tried to convince the panel that C was at Akitsu to kidnap and harass you… yeah, unbelievable I know… what do you say to such accusations… At first one is shocked, but then because none of it is true, one must simply smile and calmly deny the accusations. The sad part about it is, that with each of your mother’s grandiose assaults, the panel seem to think that there just might be a grain of truth in her story-telling.

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You & Grace at Shimoda…

So, what should your Dad do? Should he just let go, and hope that in my absence your mother’s mental stability improves? Or should I continue to see this Family Court case through… sometimes, I just don’t know Phi… what would you do, if you were in Dad’s shoes? Let me see through your eyes… XoXo. How can I best help your situation?

WICKED QUOTES

“It hurts to let go. Sometimes it seems the harder you try to hold on to something or someone the more it wants to get away. You feel like some kind of criminal for having felt, for having wanted. For having wanted to be wanted. It confuses you, because you think that your feelings were wrong and it makes you feel so small because it’s so hard to keep it inside when you let it out and it doesn’t coma back. You’re left so alone that you can’t explain. Damn, there’s nothing like that, is there? I’ve been there and you have too. You’re nodding your head.” Henry Rollins

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Brilliant!

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