Hillary Clinton’s visit to Tokyo this weekend may have gone unnoticed by many, but the result of her meetings will still be significant. She was a busy lady.
Firstly the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, a major donors’ conference at which, reports the BBC, countries including the US, Japan, Germany and the UK pledged to give the nation, struggling to plan ahead of a planned NATO withdrawal in 2014, $16bn (£10.3bn) in civilian aid over four years, in an attempt to safeguard its future.
Perhaps more related to those of us living in Tokyo, or at least some people who had lived here, was the opportunity for parents to, through a demonstration raising their issue under the nose of Clinton, who is the US Secretary of State, attempt to put pressure on Japan to ratify the international treaty on child abduction.
Kyodo news reports that around 40 parents who have child custody disputes attended a rally at the US embassy in Tokyo. John Gomez, an American father who is separated from his child, presented an open letter to the embassy, hoping Clinton could hear their pleas.
In it, reports the Japan Times, they said, “We and our families are devastated — emotionally and financially — by the loss of our children and seek your assistance in ensuring that the US government is exercising all available means at its disposal to assist us in highlighting the human rights abuses they are suffering every day that they remain abducted.”
It is not clear whether Clinton can put any pressure on the Japanese to ratify the treaty, or indeed if, this time, she will have had the opportunity. To read more about the treaty and what it could mean for parents separated from their children after divorce or, in some cases, other family disputes, take a look at this wide-ranging investigation we published in May.
Clinton also took the time to meet with Ambassador Roos and the team behind Operation Tomodachi, a US initiative which was initially set up in the aftermath of last year’s earthquake and tsunami. The relief effort has continued and Tomodachi raises money through various events both at the Embassy and in Tohoku – notably including Major League Baseball stars.