I never imagined that bullying could be anything other than what I experienced growing up in Los Angeles. It breaks my heart in more ways than one to hear that my 5-year-old daughter is a victim of bullying at her school in Saitama.

A simple fix, some would say, would be: “Just walk her to school like a proud papa, and give a smile and wave to all those who doubted your existence.”

Easier said than done. Due to the pandemic and travel bans being enforced, my flight to return to Japan on April 8 was canceled. On May 2 my daughter turned 5 year old. It would be the first birthday I’ve missed and hopefully the last. As my fiance Mariko does her best to wing it without me, she grows tired, daily stresses are multiplying, as my worries grow uncontrollably. Having experience as former surgical assistant/technician, my knowledge of microbiology/sterile techniques/distancing/bacteria and viruses only adds to the fear I conjure, and leaves me in a helplessly frantic state of mind all day every day.

Numerous trips to the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles only seem to add to the list of required documents in requesting for my permission to land in Japan. “Torturous” is the only word to describe the situation I’ve found myself in. Living in such uncertainty isn’t healthy for anyone. Imagine my daughter arguing with absolute certainty that she does have a father, at the same time she is also absolutely certain she will meet the same dilemma every day in the event of my absence. Being uncertain of when I will be granted permission to land in Japan is an excruciating pain in my heart. “If you have a father, prove it!” the bullies say to her, yet she is burdened with the one thing she is certain of, certain that I am not there to walk her to school to end this bullying nonsense, certain that she must endure the daily scrutiny, all too certain that she does have a father, yet uncertain of the day he will return, and she’s now certain no one believes her father even exists. I have been jobless, on lockdown, worried sick and separated from my daughter and fiance for four months and counting. As my family unit grows weaker with my absence, so does my faith in humanity.

Ty Jiro Scanlon
Moorpark, California

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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