The last time we spoke to Vincent Fichot was almost a year ago. He had not eaten in eleven days. This Frenchman, who lives in Japan, had just started a hunger strike in front of the Sendagaya station in Tokyo in hopes of seeing his children kidnapped by their Japanese mother three years earlier.
So many years without any news about his son Tsubasa (6 years) and his daughter Kaede (4 years), kidnapped by his wife when they were 3 years and 11 months old.
When we had talked to him in video in July 2021, the father of the family was determined.
“This action has a single ticket. Deadline is when I go home with my kids in my arms”he confided in Konbini news.
Exhausted, he finally had to give up after three weeks after fainting and waking up with a five-fold fracture of the finger. During this event, he lost 16 to 17 kg and attracted media attention around the world. Eleven months later, has Vincent Fichot’s action paid off?
“I still have not seen my children again”, leaves us the former trader contacted by phone. The 40-year-old talks to us about the house he lived in with his wife and two children, in the suburbs of Tokyo.
His life changes one evening in August 2018 when he comes home from work and discovers that the house has been emptied. “She took it all”he remembers.
“I did not buy any furniture, I just remodeled the children’s room as it was when they were kidnapped. I wanted to show them that if one day I brought them home, I would always have stood there waiting.”he told us on the sidelines of his hunger strike.
He had quit his job almost a year earlier to begin his hunger strike and fight full time to see his “small”. Today, crippled with debt, he is obliged to part with this house in exchange for a small study.
“Honestly, it’s not what bothers me, it’s the situation the little ones are in.”he cuts us off when we talk about his past way of life.
He refuses to leave Japan, despite the Japanese authorities’ refusal to give him what is rightfully his. “I’m still married, still holding custody”, he hammers. How long will he wait this way, thousands of miles from his relatives in France?
“From a visa point of view, I have no problem, I am a permanent resident. After a while, the concern will be the money”He decides.
“To the last ear”
In total, he claims to have spent almost 300,000 dollars (about 280,000 euros) in “private detective and lawyers” in an attempt to track down Kaede and Tsubasa. In vain.
“I spent all that money because I had them. I could not have seen myself in the mirror if I had tried to save money at the expense of the little ones. I would rather have burned them than have them in an account to buy “me a car or pay me a vacation. When I started the fight, it was for me to the last penny and to the last breath. And I do not regret it.”
At the same time, his wife managed to get a court decision, after which he has to pay her alimony of 7,000 euros a month. A ridiculous situation.
Vincent Fichot, for his part, claims to have tried six times to lodge a complaint in Japan “for kidnapping and abuse”.
He has in his possession a video proving that his wife abused her then 11-month-old baby, that Konbini news be able to consult.
“I had surveillance cameras in the house and in the garage because I was in doubt about my wife”he explains.
Through a hidden lens in the garage, his wife is seen putting 11-month-old Kaede in the trunk of the car for several minutes in high summer and then driving away with the baby still in the trunk.
“They would never take her and I was threatened with arrest several times”he assures.
In France, he achieved slightly more results. Last November, the French judge issued an arrest warrant against his wife for abducting minors and threatening a minor, as we tell you here.
Despite this ruling, Vincent Fichot deplores the attitude of the French authorities towards the children of the Republic.
“My children are French”
“My children are French and they are treated like bastards. They are not treated like full-fledged French and that is what annoys me. The French state is not even able to say where they are or whether they are alivehe says.
Vincent Fichot is determined to be part of a group of ten parents from four different countries who lodged a complaint against Japan with the UN Human Rights Council in 2019 about parental abductions in the Japanese archipelago.
His case is actually far from isolated. On this archipelago, fathers like mothers, foreigners like Japanese can be victims of the kidnapping of their child by their former partner.
“In Japan, when the baby is gone, it’s over”repeated Vincent Fichot, who met many parents in his case during his hunger strike.
“Joint custody of children in the event of parental separation does not exist legally in Japan, making parental abductions common there and tolerated by local authorities”explained AFP in November last year.
Vincent Fichot finally saw a Japanese judge who was due to rule on custody and divorce in March last year.
“I want joint custody. I want what’s good for the little ones. They have the right to be Japanese, they have the right to have a mother”he assures.
In addition, he clarifies that his wife accused him of domestic violence and kidnapping in his parents’ house in the south of France during their last holiday. “She never filed a complaint, I was never convicted”he remembers, peacefully.
“I will never leave my children”
Three months later, he still has no news of the decision, an abnormal situation according to his lawyer.
What does the judicial system do? According to Tsubasa and Kaede’s father, the court fears setting a precedent by ruling on this case. What he fears most is that the Japanese refuse to judge: “It can go on for years.”
Thanks to this hearing, Vincent Fichot was still able to hear from his little ones, through the referee.
“They gave me two pieces of information: their height and what they think of me. That’s all I got on my four-year-old children. I know my son is 129 cm and my little one is 105 cm. And that my son thinks I live in Hawaii and that he would like me to come back to play with him.It’s quite unusual that he has fond memories of me because he was not even 3 years old, the little one. And Kaede, she thinks I’m dead. “
The daily life of the French exiled in Japan is also to look for them everywhere on the street: “When I see mixed children on the street, I wonder if they are them, but to be honest I could not recognize them. Kaede was 11 months, Tsubasa was 3 years old, today he is 7 … He must have changed a lot, the little one. But I have this anxiety, yes. And it’s hard to live with it, to grieve over children who are there, somewhere. “
That happy endings are rare in his situation. “In fifteen years of family law, I have never won a case like this. “, slipped his lawyer, though specialist. He himself was the victim of the kidnapping of his child by his former partner. “I chose him for it. He has not seen his daughter for eight years”explains Vincent Fichot.
“Although the probability is very low if you do not believe it, the match is lost in advance”he adds.
While waiting for news of Japanese justice or a shock from the French government, Vincent Fichot continues to fight. He has just founded the NGO Find My Parent, which allows children separated from their parents to find them.
“If they told me my kids were better off without me, I’m 40, it would be hard, but I would grieve over it. But I know it’s not. I will never leave my kids.”he concludes.