The third week of a Frenchman’s hunger strike in Tokyo over ‘abducted’ children has ended.
As his protest reached its third week, a Frenchman on hunger strike in Tokyo seeking access to his children said a plea from President Emmanuel Macron to Japan’s leader had “changed nothing.”
Vincent Fichot, 39, claims his two children were kidnapped by their Japanese mother, and he has been on a hunger strike since July 10 in an attempt to reconcile with them.
For the past two weeks, the former financial worker, who has lived in Japan for 15 years, has sat outside a train station near the Olympic Stadium, where the virus-affected Tokyo Games’ opening ceremony was conducted on Friday.
Macron, who attended the ceremony as Paris prepares to host the 2024 Olympics, met with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Saturday.
Macron brought up Fichot’s “very unfortunate position” during their meeting, according to the French president’s office, which termed the issue a “priority.”
In Japan, where parental abductions are prevalent and generally supported by local authorities, joint custody of children in circumstances of divorce or separation is not lawful.
Fichot’s wife accused him of domestic abuse in court, but afterwards recanted, he said. His wife’s attorney declined to comment to AFP, but condemned “biased” media reporting.
“While it is encouraging that Suga and Macron discussed my case, it has made no difference to the situation my children find themselves in, therefore I will continue,” the Frenchman told AFP on Sunday.
Following the meeting, Macron tweeted about the two countries’ “extraordinary” ties, angering Fichot, whose health is deteriorating.
“France has no idea if my children are alive,” he said on Saturday, referring to his six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since August 2018.
“It’s incredible. It’s first and foremost about ‘business,’ then about our children.”
During Macron’s brief visit to Japan, his advisers met Fichot, but not the president himself.
Although no official figures exist, human rights organizations believe that roughly 150,000 adolescents in the East Asian archipelago are forcefully removed from their parents each year.