COVID-19 and the Olympics present unprecedented challenges for child access in Japan. 2020 will be a test! Japanese schools are closed indefinitely. People fear that foreigners may give them COVID-19. My country’s government advises that I ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ when considering travel to Japan. Let’s not forget that before all of this, my daughter’s abductors were already playing silly games and claiming she didn’t want to see me. Further, my mum lost her house to the Australian bushfires, which blanketed us with hazardous smoke for 3 months. What can parents do to ensure access despite all of this?

Update your goals around COVID-19

You are very special to your offspring. They need you to be in good health so that you can help them.

I previously noted that I was struggling in December last year. This was before the bushfires and COVID-19. I set five goals in December and have missed a few because the circumstances changed. Thus, I’ve had to do a re-assess my way forward.

Arguably an upshot is that I now have more time to negotiate access around the Olympics. I am optimistic that I will have a successful 2020 visitation and look forward to writing about it.

Be nice to people

Last week I had a video chat with my daughter. Before anything, I asked her abductors whether they are okay and expressed my support for Japan during these times. I don’t care what they’ve done, they are human. As fellow humans, they deserve common decency.

Maybe I’m an optimist. However, I think that this is a golden opportunity for me to demonstrate my character. My daughter and her stepdad have been taught that I’m evil. In everything I do, I try to send a subtle message that I care about others and I’m trying my best to be a good person.

Stay calm

Above all, we need to stay calm. COVID-19 will eventually be contained. The Olympics will either be moved or cancelled. Abductors will use every opportunity to prove we are violent, untrustworthy foreigners. Don’t get angry. If you lose your temper, it will be used against you. You cannot afford to get angry!

I have shared visitation tips before. In addition to these I suggest you make sure that you:

  • Take a breath before reacting to their comments and opinions.
  • Communicate via e-mail. First type up your queries, walk away from them, have a jog or something and then come back to them with a fresh mind.
  • Seek legal advice for any heavily disputed matters.

Negotiate around COVID-19 in good faith

Abductors regularly negotiate in bad faith. However, honestly is important. As noted, COVID-19 is a serious risk and governments worldwide are advising against travel to Japan. It would be reckless to breach such recommendations on the basis that an access agreement specifies an inconvenient date.

I don’t expect abductors to respond with compassion and honesty. However, your story needs to be consistent and reasonable. It’s easier to tell the truth than to play games because you don’t forget the truth.

Tell your child’s abductors that you want to visit during the summer holidays. Be open to date changes and importantly, give people as much time as possible.

Best wishes to everybody!

Best wishes and stay safe! Whether you are a left behind parent, an abducted child or any other citizen of the world (especially the Japanese), I care about you. I want your families to prosper. I know that if you can help make 2020 an amazing year for everybody.

Above all I hope the Olympics are a success and that they bring happiness to Japan. We may have our differences, but Japan is where my daughter lives. Please keep her safe and give her the best opportunities that the world has to offer.