Sympathizing with Noriko Savoie

The US and Japanese media are focusing much attention on the arrest of Christopher Savoie in Fukuoka. The English language press deems this as yet another case of a victim of Japan’s pre-modern family law. Undeniably, there is a history of Japanese mothers suddenly fleeing to Japan where they are beyond the reach of the law, resulting in more than a hundred abduction cases involving Japan and the US alone, and this needs revision. But sympathetic press articles notwithstanding, Christopher is the wrong martyr to rally behind in this fight—an objective view of the facts makes Christopher’s ex-wife Noriko the figure of sympathy in this story.

Christopher and Noriko met and married in Japan. Christopher had a PhD and was a successful entrepreneur who founded a pharmaceutical business that he took public on the Tokyo stock exchange. He is also a naturalized Japanese citizen. They were married for thirteen years and have two children, currently ages 8 and 6.

While living in Japan, the marriage was breaking down and Noriko asked Christopher for a divorce, which he refused. Instead he convinced Noriko to move with him to the US and they did so in June 2008. No sooner had they moved than Christopher took up with another woman and served Noriko with divorce papers. Noriko was dependent on her husband and had no income for herself and had just been relocated to his home town in a country that she did not know, although she may have been relieved that she was getting the divorce she wanted a year earlier and probably also happy to receive custody of the kids and a generous financial settlement and monthly support. But the arrangements required that she stay in Tennessee and not even visit Japan without court permission. Although we cannot be sure, all the facts make it likely that Christopher was motivated to relocate to his home town to get divorced in a US court.

Thus Noriko was stuck in a country where she was culturally and personally isolated, abandoned by her husband but still expected to raise kids in a new country so her husband could get visitation. So in August, Noriko absconded to Japan with the two kids. Christopher then petitioned the court and was granted custodial rights. He then went to Japan and physically snatched his kids from his wife as they walked to school by force in a car—the very definition of “abduction.” He then raced to the US Consulate in Fukuoka, where the guards refused him entry and he was arrested outside by police. He is being held by police for 10 days and has not yet been charged.

What a US-Japanese citizen hoped to gain in a US consulate is questionable. And the action was clearly pre-meditated. But much of this narrative is lost in the US media reports, which are overwhelmingly sympathetic to Christopher and speak in implied terms of a vast, cultural conspiracy in Japan to favor mothers. The Huffington Post says “Divorced fathers in Japan typically don’t get much access to their children because of widespread cultural beliefs that small children should be with their mothers,” and Forbes writes that the case “underscores long-standing disputes over Japan’s traditional favoritism toward mothers in custody battles.” That’s utter nonsense. The statistics imply that mothers win custody in Japan at approximately the same proportion as the US—and as for Japanese “culture,” fathers were more likely to receive custody until the 1960s. On the contrary, the bias towards mothers is far more ingrained in US culture—for more than a century US courts followed the Tender Years doctrine, under which mothers get prima facie rights to child custody disputes. (Although many state courts have abandoned this on the basis of the 14th amendment equal protection clause, it still exists in many US states.)

There are also lots of factual mistakes in the reporting, such as reporting by CNN that “Japanese law… recognizes Noriko Savoie as the primary custodian.” Actually, Japanese law says that two Japanese citizens are still married, as they are both Japanese nationals and bust be divorced in Japan for the divorce to be valid, in which case there is no way that Noriko is the primary custodian. And while Japan does not have joint custody of children, there are visitation rights. (It is also reported that Noriko has dual US and Japanese citizenship, although the how and why of that is unclear.)

Terrie’s Take of Japan Inc. fame was cited by Debito as being “the best, most thorough, most balanced opinion yet on the case.” (Actually, like much of what Terrie writes, it’s a sloppy newsletter with numerous factual errors.) But beyond that, the most amusing part of that article is that it states,

What is surprising is that [Christopher] chose to get his kids back in a way that exposed him to many untested theories. One of these theories has been that it is OK to abduct your kids back. Indeed the police often do turn a blind eye to home disputes and will allow “mini-abductions” to happen.

Kidnapping as an untested theories? Yes, the cops and courts do try to keep out of family disputes whenever possible—but what Christopher did was kidnapping pure and simple, and even his lawyer has basically already admitted that he was wrong to use force. We can’t guess how this is going to be sorted out, but my guess is that Noriko is about to get some justice in court, and Christopher’s nutty stunts will prejudice him in getting visitation rights. That’s a good thing—and you can think that and still want Japan to modernize its family law to meet international standards.

452 thoughts on “Sympathizing with Noriko Savoie

  1. Thanks for writing this up, Curzon. I hope you never have to go through a divorce in Japan in order to put your assertions to the test. But as a person who has, I think there’s a large wake-up call in the works if (again, heaven forbid) it did happen.

  2. Debito, I say that Japan needs to modernize, this guy’s just the wrong martyr for the cause—what assertions are you talking about?

  3. One assertion inter alia:
    “The Huffington Post says “Divorced fathers in Japan typically don’t get much access to their children because of widespread cultural beliefs that small children should be with their mothers,” ...That’s utter nonsense.”
    —What’s utter nonsense? That divorced fathers in Japan typically don’t get much access to their children? For example.

    Anyway, expressing any sympathy for either side of the custody battle distracts the readership from the real issue here—why those two did what they did to each other and to their children. And the answer is because Japan’s flawed system of divorce, custody, and visitation forced their hands.

    I keep point that out, yet people still want to pull the issue back into the swamp of “he did, she did”.

  4. Good article. Didn’t know he was being so devious with taking her to the US then divorcing her.

    Just a point though. If this is the case:

    “Actually, Japanese law says that two Japanese citizens are still married, as they are both Japanese nationals and bust be divorced in Japan for the divorce to be valid, in which case there is no way that Noriko is the primary custodian.”

    then, as they are not divorced in Japan, surely his taking of the kids is just a internal family argument? If I don’t want to take the kids to the zoo but my wife does so takes them against my will, then surely she can’t be arrested if she did!

    How can what he did be kidnapping if they are still a married couple under Japanese law?

  5. It seems you are taking Noriko’s statements about the case at face value. While Mr. Savoie clearly made some serious errors of judgement, it seems Noriko did, too. She was not forced to the US, and had choices to make along the road that brought them to this point. She is equally to blame. Neither seems a model parent. It really does take two to tango.

  6. I was thinking about possiblility of Noriko filing law suit against CNN.I sure would do that if I were in her position.

  7. “either seems a model parent. It really does take two to tango.”

    Possibly.But the one who broke the law and got busted wasn’t the wife.

  8. Debito: “What’s utter nonsense? That divorced fathers in Japan typically don’t get much access to their children? For example.”

    Divorced parents (not just fathers) who do not hold custody rights in Japan can receive visitation rights. Japan only recognizes joint custody in the case of international marriages. You will not see sheriff’s forcing visitation like can happen in the US through court orders, however, so an element of economic coercion may be required.

    Kuri: “as they are not divorced in Japan, surely his taking of the kids is just a internal family argument? ”

    Yeah, that would have been a very strong case to make until he went Commando-style as his kids walked to school. Not sure how this is going to play out now.

    T: I’ve reviewed a lot of articles and frankly think my narrative is pretty objective. Not that I haven’t included the details about the emotional abuse and threats he made against her and her family.

  9. Debito:
    “Anyway, expressing any sympathy for either side of the custody battle distracts the readership from the real issue here—why those two did what they did to each other and to their children. And the answer is because Japan’s flawed system of divorce, custody, and visitation forced their hands.”

    Now,that’s true.But that’s not what CNN,nor your blog is emphasizing,isn’t it.

  10. Er, Aceface, let’s stick to the issues of this case and belay the criticism of me, or I’m not going to participate further in this discussion.

    (I wrote my support for Chris Savoie’s side, as did many people, before a lot of the background of the case came out. And I later came out saying on my blog what a mess this case is, culminating with my article today in the JT with the same conclusions that just made here:

    “It doesn’t matter WHAT these people did.

    “It matters WHY they did it.

    “And that boils down to them having no other choice but to do what they did due to the ludicrousness of the Japanese family law system.

    “The end.”)

    And Curzon, if Japan recognizes joint custody (and enforces it), please give us some successful cases of it from Japan’s Family Courts. While you’re at it, please give us some cases where sole custody went to the NJ. Ditto with visitation rights.

    If you do find some, please compare those with the number of cases that went the other way—against the NJ in terms of custody and/or visitation. Thanks.

    Not trying to be difficult here. I just know far more of the latter and none of the former.

  11. Great report. I wanted to ask your thoughts about this the other day, but the venue wasn’t exactly a good setting to talk about divorces and child abduction.

    CNN’s coverage of the Savoie case has been comically terrible, especially the program where they had on Christopher Savoie’s new wife so she could blast Noriko and shed some tears for her stepchildren. The show didn’t once mention that Amy was Christopher’s ex-mistress, nor did they inform viewers that the children had spent their entire lives in Japan.

  12. Aceface, are you saying that because she wasn’t “busted”, Noriko is in the right? You may recall she also broke the agreement she made in the US, and broke the law.

  13. I’d also like to note that one of my Japanese friends has a close friend who was once married to a foreigner. I don’t know the details of their divorce case, but the foreign guy (a Japanese-Peruvian) seems to have been given the right to sometimes visit the children.

  14. Debito:
    “Er, Aceface, let’s stick to the issues of this case and belay the criticism of me, or I’m not going to participate further in this discussion.”

    The discussion,I understand,was revolving around the “English press coverage” of the Savoie case until you hijacked the course of argument.

    T:
    “You may recall she also broke the agreement she made in the US, and broke the law.”

    Well,I’m confused here.If both the husband and the wife are Japanese citizens and they are still married,how does the U.S law or court came into this?

    Noriko deserves some sympathy for getting totally one sided coverages with her kids photos and aired all over planet by Cable News Network’s Tokyo correspondent Kyung Lah,just because she has a mess with her husband.

  15. I have a post forthcoming on the legal aspects of this case, building on comments I have already thrown around in a Facebook thread which Debito started.

    Since we’re talking about the individuals now, here’s my comment. Personally, I am in the “sympathize with neither” camp. However, I think Aceface’s last comment deserves some attention. Chris Savoie has put his whole family on the media chopping block in the name of drumming up public sympathy for his cause. It may be an effective tactic, but what will he win? The right to enjoy a broken family that has had all their dirty laundry aired out on every television network in America and Japan? It’s great for us bloggers, but this guy has some seriously effed-up priorities.

  16. Aceface: “How does the U.S law or court came into this?” As I understand it, they are both US citizens, were divorced in the US, and made all agreements in US courts of law. The moment she disappeared with the children she was in violation of the law. I have read she is on an Interpol list as a fugitive.

  17. T:
    Japanese government do not allow dual citizenship and here I’m lost at the information I was given.Japan also has extradicton treaty with the U.S.Meaning Christopher Savoie didn’t have to take law into his own hand had the interpol actually list his wife as a fugitive.I can’t say anything concrete about the accuracy of information and need more further coverage on the issue.But at this point,what is certain is a Japanese citizen Christopher Savoie DID attempted parental abduction on Japanese soil and arrested by Japanese authority based on Japanese law.Not Noriko.

  18. I also thought that Savoie had called his wife over to America only to dump her but it looks like she knew the the situation before she went which complicates matters. She told the court how her family and friends couldn’t understand why she she agreed to go to America under such circumstances. Savoie’s lawyer put that forward as grounds for concern, arguing that, once back in Japan, family and friends might influence her to remain and the “cultural pull” would be too strong. His lawyer maintained that Noriko was having problems adjusting to the US which increased that risk.

    For instance, Noriko said that she was sleeping in the same bed as her eight year old son, which is not unusual in Japan. This appears to have astonished the “parental co-ordinators” who recommended she stop doing so because it made it more difficult for the son to spend a night apart from her. Christopher Savoie’s lawyer argued Noriko would get cultural support for such actions in Japan which would encourage her to stay.

    I don’t think there’s much doubt that Noriko found America a hostile and lonely place to be at times but that doesn’t justify her actions any more than Christopher Savoie’s anxiety about losing access to his children justifies his actions.

    Savoie may not come across as a sympathetic character but, since his case is in the public eye, I think it’s a decent pretext to have the broader discussion. It really shouldn’t be necessary to depict a “left behind father” has a martyr to talk sensibly about this issue. In fact, broken relationships are often ugly so you really don’t want to have to take sides at all. Surely we don’t want to end up saying “Japan should be a Hague signatory because I support the father” or “No to Hague, I support the mother”.

    Incidentally, the court called Noriko “an American” when she said that she had been granted permanent residence. Unless there is something else, that might be the source of reports that she has American citizenship. However, the court was referring to the fact her permanent residence status classifies her an American for the purposes of a college application. She had planned to take a TOEFL exam but, as a permanent resident, she was no longer viewed as a foreign student.

    I think you are a little harsh on the point Lloyd was making. I don’t think he was arguing that “using force” was an “untested theory”. If Savoie had managed to locate his children without his wife’s knowledge and they had then willingly gone with him out of the country, the “untested theory” part is whether he would be regarded as a criminal under Japanese law for doing so. Is it the use of force which makes it “kidnapping pure and simple” or the action itself alone? This particular case also begs the question of whether the consulate would have issued passports, which is itself a can of worms. What should the consulate have done if Savoie had made it inside with both children?

  19. Aceface, would the extradition treaty have applied in this case? Under the terms of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, either party may deny assistance if:

    “(d) the conduct that is the subject of the investigation, prosecution or other proceeding in the requesting Party would not constitute a criminal offense under the laws of the requested Party and the execution of a request requires a court warrant or other compulsory measures under the laws of the requested Party.”

  20. If Savoie is a Japanese citizen, has he given up his US passport as required by Japanese law? How did he return to the US, anyway?

    If he never handed in his US passport as required by Japanese law, does that make anything about this case otherwise more complicated?

  21. ”Aceface, would the extradition treaty have applied in this case?”

    Shouldn’t that be if “Interpol had listed the wife as a fugitive”?Not sure whether this is true though.

  22. Few points I’d like to address.

    Isn’t it hypocritical how Japan rants about its citizens being kidnapped by North Korea while there are hundreds of foreign husbands who cannot see their children living with their Japanese mothers in Japan.

    I’m not surprised that the U.S. media is overplaying this case and the Japanese media is totally ignoring it. That’s because they never signed the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Treaty (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_parental_abduction_in_Japan).

    Lastly, when Noriko went back to Japan with the children, she broke the U.S., the court order and left with the children. That’s kidnapping right there. And of course she can escape to Japan with no persecution since Japan never signed that treaty so she is safe along with others like her. Christopher did only what he did because it was drastic and the only means of fighting an inherent bias in this status between Japan-America.

  23. I am also sympathizing with Noriko Savoie… with a measure of sympathy for Christopher (although if the reported rumor that he was accompanied by several accomplices for the kid-grabbing is true, I won’t be). Cases like this one, however, could work against Japan signing on for Hague. As soon as Japanese parents and lawyers get a widespread awareness that divorcing abroad means that a foreign court can restrict one’s freedom of movement, one’s freedom to bring children back to the environment where they have spent the majority of their lives, and restrict a family from having a meaningful relationship with their country of origin…. it isn’t a leap of logic to conclude that we will see some serious resistance to divorcing abroad. Hell, if I were sentenced to spend more than a few weeks in suburban Tennessee….

    And what happens if an American woman married to a Japanese man and raising her children in the United States suddenly finds out that her cheating husband wants to divorce her in some Tottori backwater and she basically cannot leave if she wants to keep her children? That doesn’t sound like justice.

  24. The Asahi story that Ei, uh, Aceface linked to has this:
    “Lawyer Kensuke Ohnuki, who handles about 200 divorces among international matches a year, says most child “abductions” by Japanese women are a result of spousal violence.

    The treaty does not take a parent’s reason for fleeing into consideration, he said.(IHT/Asahi: July 16,2009)”
    which is pretty much ignored by those like Debito who want to lay all the blame on Japan’s refusal to sign the Hague treaty.

  25. Ace,

    That sounds like a misunderstanding of the intentions and scope of Hague. The “habitual residence” test is to help decide whether a parent has “abducted” the children in the absence of any court ruling, not to determine whether a particular ruling was fair. So, if Christopher Savoie had separated from his wife and unilaterally removed his children to America, Hague would support the wife’s right to have them back and custody issues be resolved under Japanese law.

    In this instance, Noriko Savoie went to America with her children in the knowledge that her husband intended to serve her with divorce papers. She may have been surprised and upset at the speed with which everything subsequently took place, but there is nothing so far to suggest that she contested the US court’s jurisdiction. Since she consented to the settlement, Hague only applies after she has broken it and removed the children from their agreed home.

    What is peculiar about this case is the motivation Noriko Savoie had to go to the America with her children. An uncharitable reading is that she believed she would get the best financial settlement there and always intended to return if she didn’t like how things turned out. Alternatively, she might have found it stressful to be in Japan, the subject of gossip and rumours, and figured America might be a chance for a fresh start. A charitable reading is that she decided it was best for the children to be in America but eventually found it too stressful herself. All we can do is guess. The court seemed to think that she might even had hoped her husband would change his mind if she went to America. It’s unclear how this squares with reports that she asked for a divorce herself in Japan.

    As for the nationality issue, Japan has every right to treat Savoie as a Japanese citizen. He may have been required to give up his US citizenship but, since it appears he didn’t, the US is also within its rights to treat him as a US citizen. Until one country actually takes away his citizenship, he remains a de facto dual citizen even though this is not a status recognized by law. He’s not the only individual in this position but certainly the highest profile right now. There’s another example of a “dual citizen” in an abduction case. Etsuko Tanizaki is wanted in the US on a kidnapping charge. She removed her children in 2001, before the extradition treaty was signed, but the US pointed out she had an American passport. Japanese authorities, however, elected to treat her as a Japanese citizen. Her American passport expired in 2007 and the US has said it will not renew it.

    It sometimes seems as if people think Hague is a magic bullet but, the truth is, it isn’t relevant to many of the complaints that foreign spouses have in Japan. If you have been granted visitation rights to your children but your Japanese former spouse keeps you away from them, that isn’t a matter for Hague. The reason such complainants want Japan to become a signatory to Hague is because they hope it will require Japan to introduce enforcement mechanisms to meet treaty obligations. They then hope to make use of those mechanisms themselves.

    M-Bone wrote “And what happens if an American woman married to a Japanese man and raising her children in the United States suddenly finds out that her cheating husband wants to divorce her in some Tottori backwater and she basically cannot leave if she wants to keep her children? That doesn’t sound like justice.”

    She can refuse to divorce in Japan and insist on any proceedings taking place in America.

  26. “She can refuse to divorce in Japan and insist on any proceedings taking place in America.”

    But if she was in Japan at the time, she might be out of luck, no? And if she did up and take the kids, that could be a Hague violation. In fact, most of the cases of child kidnappings by a Japanese parent don’t involve a divorce, just vanishing one day and going back “home”.

    Could one parent really hightail it back to another country without the kids (as they would not be allowed to cross borders without the permission of the other parent) and get a unilateral divorce awarding them enforceable custody? That doesn’t sound right either.

  27. “But if she was in Japan at the time, she might be out of luck, no?”

    It depends why she was in Japan, how long, and whether she agreed to divorce in Japan. Your original example had the wife living with the children in the US when her husband proposed divorce. If she has moved to Japan, rather than is just on holiday, then it starts to matter if Japan becomes the children’s “habitual residence”. However, if she is only there a short time and her husband wants to divorce, I don’t believe Hague prevents her from turning around and heading back with her children. If she agrees to divorce in Japan, then she would be bound by any court decision there.

  28. “However, if she is only there a short time and her husband wants to divorce, I don’t believe Hague prevents her from turning around and heading back with her children.”

    I’m only throwing out some potential scenarios here and I appreciate the context. In this case, however, I wonder what a “short time” would be? Six months? A year?

    As for the second point – my wife and I have had some inconvenience with this before (under happy circumstances) – it can be hard for one parent to cross borders with children without written permission of the other parent. It is also easy for one parent to hide the child’s passport, etc. or one can always contact immigration, and tell them that you suspect the other partner will kidnap the children to a foreign country (no personal experience here). I’m not sure about Japan, but in North America, the authorities would prevent the children from leaving, possibly resulting in a black mark against the “abductor” if a divorce was to go forward (and certainly resulting in legal restrictions on their movement). It is fairly easy, I think, for one parent to put their partner in a position where they cannot legally take their children across borders and control the environment of a divorce if they want to.

  29. Incidentally, I’m not sure that we should use Noriko’s court testimony as the last word on what she was thinking when she went to the US. She was likely coached by a lawyer concerning exactly what to say in her second language to increase her chances of getting primary custody and a large settlement. It really doesn’t tell us what she was thinking when she took the children to the US initially.

  30. mike d:

    “Isn’t it hypocritical how Japan rants about its citizens being kidnapped by North Korea while there are hundreds of foreign husbands who cannot see their children living with their Japanese mothers in Japan.”

    Now why is that a “hypocrisy”?

    I’m amazed with the sensitivity of those who organized anti-Japanese rallly infront of the theater on opening day of “Megumi” doc,condemning Japanese “abduction” at the face of the families of the victim of NK abduction who has nothing in common with the ex-wives except the nationality but more so with the ex-husband whose claiming their children being abducted.
    Even at the bottom ends,at least the children are living with their mothers in a relatively free and wealthy nation than North Korea,where your own life could be threatened anytime.

  31. Wataru:

    “which is pretty much ignored by those like Debito who want to lay all the blame on Japan’s refusal to sign the Hague treaty”

    Well,that does give Japan any excuse of not signing the treaty,nonetheless the side either intentionally or unintentionally being missed by the English language press along with wives whose children being abducted by ex-husbands.Asahi article quotes the case of women that cost 7 million yen to recover her kids from British husband.Which seemingly a hypocrisy hence the practice is seemingly goes both ways.

  32. Ace: Agreed with Mulboyne. I don’t practice in family law except when absolutely forced, so I’m no expert, but I think point 3 is wrong.

  33. “Isn’t it hypocritical how Japan rants about its citizens being kidnapped by North Korea while there are hundreds of foreign husbands who cannot see their children living with their Japanese mothers in Japan.”

    Isn’t it hypocritical how America rants about Savoie’s arrest when they have enemy combatants tortured and held without charge?

    That’s just as nonsensical and essentializing a comparison as the NK abductions / Japanese mothers thing.

  34. I’d like to correct one bit of misinformation, that Noriko Savoie is a US citizen. Looking at the linked savoie2.pdf, on page 6, time stamp 12:03:10, she says:

    A: Because I received permanent residency recently.

    The judge continues with:

    Q: So now you’re an American and you’re not a foreigner, is that correct?

    A: correct.

    The “Norika has dual nationality” was from a CNN report, and we all know how fair and balanced they’ve been on this case.

  35. Amazed at how up on this issue ppl have gotten all of a sudden.

    Has barely registered around the adamu household.

    If they really are still married under j law then what is the deal w him getting arrested?? Is it just bc he staged the kidnapping and the consulate called the cops?

    I do hope the sheer moment of this case does encourage japan to sign thevtreaty bc it sounds like the equitable and just way to go

  36. Great post. I also sympathize with Noriko, even though I’m pro Hague.

    Regarding your comment about still being married in Japan.

    Your marriage status is not relative to the country you’re in. Yes, I know CNN reported that a Japanese official said that the marriage was not annulled in Japan. Either he said that in error, or he said that on purpose because there’s some legal angle (habitual residence) they’re working for Noriko’s benefit. I don’t know.

    He got divorced in Tennessee. You’re supposed to notify the change in status to Japan within three months otherwise you’ll be fined (¥50000).

    But just because you fail to report it to Japan doesn’t mean you’re still married in one country but divorced in another. The legal divorce in Tennessee is binding and recognized in Japan, even if the paperwork is not reconciled on the JP side.

    There’s only one case where the TN divorce would not be recognized in Japan: if the wife had habitual residence (常居所) in Japan. I don’t know how they’re going to argue that if she’s living in the U.S. in a house and has dual-nationality. But anyway, here’s my source:

    法の適用に関する通則法

    第二十四条  婚姻の成立は、各当事者につき、その本国法による。
    2  婚姻の方式は、婚姻挙行地の法による。
    “Article 24, part 2: The applicable law for getting married is the law of the land where the marriage occurs.

    [snip]

    第二十七条  第二十五条の規定は、離婚について準用する。ただし 、夫婦の一方が日本に常居所を有する日本人であるとき は、離婚は、日本法による。
    “Article 27: The provisions of article 24 shall also apply to divorce, mutatis mutandis. However, if the Japanese wife has habitual residence in Japan when she is divorced, the applicable divorce law will be Japanese law.”

    • Obvious disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer nor a pro translator.
  37. The word kidnapping is used too liberally. Fathers and mothers can violate judicial custody judgements by illegal possession or repossession of their children but they can’t technically “kidnap” their own maternal or paternal offspring. It’s like a bank calling a delinquent borrower and armed bank robber.

    I’m the father of two boys 18 and 12. My wife is Japanese. I’m American. If I were to wake up tomorrow and decide to move with my 12 year old son back to the U.S. and my wife were opposed there is nothing in U.S. or Japanese law to address this legal quagmire. The realities though are quite different than the legalities. As long as we had tickets, passports, and my son was cooperative there would be no problem. If he were screaming at the airport “I want mommy” “I want mommy” the reality is that we would probably not be allowed to board the plane and there would be some kind of police intervention. I would be absolutely within my legal rights to unilaterally decide to relocate with my son back to the U.S. My wife would be absolutely within her legal rights to unilaterally decide to keep her son in Japan. Legally unless it is an issue that involves some type of domestic violence or child abuse issue addressed by Japanese law the police have no authority to intervene in anyway. If Mr. and Mrs. Savoie are still legally married in Japan he is completely within his legal rights to demand his children get in his car and return with him to the U.S. Mrs Savoie is completely within her legal rights to scream at the children to get out of the car and come to mommy.

    The police have committed a crime by falsely arresting Mr. Savoie for going about his business of being a normal father who wants to be with his children. To call or refer to Mr Savoie as a kidnapper in any fashion is ludicrous. Mrs. Savoie is completely in the wrong legally in the U.S. because she violated a legal judgement of a U.S. court. Judges do not take kindly this in any country. And yet to refer to her return to Japan as a child abduction or a kidnapping is likewise not truly accurate. If she were to have returned to an undisclosed location in Japan never to be heard from again or found my Mr. Savoie it might be considered a parental abduction but certainly not a maternal kidnapping.

    In any case the realities are often quite different in Japan than the legalities. Japanese bureaucrats are obsessed with following every rule and guideline no matter how obscure without exception. Always claiming that in Japan this is a country of rule without exception. However, when it comes to larger issues such as this Savoie issue suddenly this ability to follow the rule or law without exception is completely thrown out the window without any explanation. What are they charging Mr. Savoie and holding him in detention for? Kidnapping his own children? The U.S. judgement of a U.S. court cannot be used as a matter of convenience for a local Japanese police department. They cannot choose to interpret that part of the official divorce documents that say the mother has custody of the children but then ignore the part that says she may not leave the U.S. They have to legally ignore these foreign documents because they are not official registered documents of the Japanese government or judicial system. Which then leaves us to fact that Mr. And Mrs. Savoie are legally married in Japan and he has every legal right to force his children into his vehicle as his wife has every legal right to force her children out of the vehicle. Only when the issue becomes an issue of domestic violence or child abuse to the Japanese have any right to legally intervene in anyway in this particular Japanese marital spat. If they had arrested Mr. Savoie for speeding or drunken driving would be more plausible.

    The police should immediately release Mr. Savoie and apologize to him for his illegal incarceration. Mrs. Savoie better walk with her children to school everyday and consider herself lucky that this time it was their loving father that picked up his children after school and not a real kidnapper. Both of them better seek immediate counseling and intervention to work out their personal conflicts so that they can stop using their supposedly precious children in their own international “war of the roses”

  38. M-Bone,

    There is no way you can expect, or indeed would want, a treaty like the Hague to be so precise about what is considered “habitual residence”. It could vary greatly from case to case. On your other point, I think it has got harder for one parent to cross international borders. However, in the past, Japanese consulates overseas have been prepared to issue passports to children at the request of the Japanese parent alone. A border official would be a lot less questioning of a Japanese parent, travelling with a child on a Japanese passport, back to Japan.

    I’d also agree with you to be wary of relying exclusively on her testimony. However, the transcripts available online are not from the hearing to decide primary custody. (In fact, we don’t know that Christopher Savoie initially even tried to claim primary custody at all. Noriko may not have been required to make any arguments to support her claim.) Instead, the transcripts are from the hearing to decide whether to continue with the restraining order preventing her from travelling with the children to Japan. In them, she specifically mentioned that her friends and family could not understand why she was going to the US. That seems to me to be a honest claim because it didn’t help her case: Savoie’s lawyer then used the comment against her as I mentioned earlier. It’s not conclusive, but it supports the comments from the court that she had been told what to expect.

    Ace,

    Personally, I don’t think it’s a helpful tactic to conflate North Korean abductions with these child abductions. It is hard enough as it is to get an audience to understand the issues at stake with international family law and Hague without adding another layer of complexity and emotion.

    Having said that, there are child abduction cases where a Japanese spouse absconds with the children and goes into hiding. The foreign spouse not only loses all contact, he or she may not even know where the children are. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and sometimes even other siblings all lose the chance to see the children again and there is no recourse against the Japanese spouse, who has become a wanted criminal.

    I’m not going to tell such a family that they should be less angry or should feel the loss less than a Japanese family who have had a child abducted by North Korea. I’m not sure anyone in good conscience can either.

    Wataru,

    I doubt that most child abductions by Japanese spouses are the result of abuse. I’ll freely admit, though, that I have no way of knowing. If there are genuine claims, then courts overseas are capable of dealing with them. An abusive spouse could lose visitation rights, be subject to a restraining order or even be put in jail. That would leave the Japanese spouse free to take the children anywhere with the full support of an overseas court. I think it is best to treat such claims, made by a spouse to justify committing a crime, with a degree of suspicion. There surely are some genuine cases of abuse. The sad fact is, there are so many cases of child abduction that it would be a statistical surprise of there weren’t. The numbers are such that there must be some unsavoury characters on both sides even before you allow for people acting crazy because of the break-up.

    Ken,

    Yes, that’s the section I was referring to. The court called her “an American” because they were discussing her application to college. With permanent residence, she discovered she no longer qualified as a “foreign student”. I took the court to be using a shorthand label for that specific issue rather commenting more generally on her citizenship.

  39. “I rented the house** to Christopher and Nokiro**,” he said. “**She wanted the marriage to work, but he left.** She was in the house for a year and two months. The best tenant I ever had. When the police called me for a wellness check, they told me to either open the door for them or they would knock it open.”

    http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091001/NEWS03/910010361/

    “Crafton, a native of Japan who befriended Noriko Savoie during her short time in Tennessee, said her friend tried to get a divorce while the couple still lived in Japan, but her husband had refused and later persuaded her to move to the U.S. with the children.”

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i1wNIMvNzJOj4tJ3S-nfVaZ6lCGAD9B2JQA80

    In addition, according to court docs, Noriko was in TN under permanent residency. In order for that to happen, it’s Christopher that has to petition Noriko(I-130)under CR1 (spousal) in order for the residency to be approved.

    So yeah. I tend to believe that Noriko brought her kids to Tennesse in good faith in hopes to patch thing up. And why not considering that Noriko agreed their kids to move a place that was completely foreign to them. If this was just a case of trying to get a better settlement in the U.S. courts in terms of division of assets, then there was no need to obtain the visa or bring the children to Tennessee.

    “The spouse filing for the divorce must be a resident of the state at the time the grounds for divorce took place. If the grounds took place outside the state of Tennessee, one of the spouses must be a resident for 6 months prior to filing. The divorce shall be filed in the county in which both spouses reside if they are both residents; or the county in which the respondent resides if he or she is a resident; or the county in which the petitioner resides. (Tennessee Code – Volume 6A, Title 36, Sections 36-4-104 and 36-4-105)”

    In other words, if the intention was to “get a better settlement in U.S.”, all Noriko had to do was be in Franklin, TN so that Chris could serve her and for her to hire an attorney to take care of the matter and go back to Japan the following day if she wanted to.

  40. “I think it has got harder for one parent to cross international borders.”

    Indeed. I bring this up as my wife was recently detained for two hours despite having a signed letter from me that crossing was okay! They kept her until they were able to get me on the phone (only Japanese passports involved). I feel that if I had the slightest inclination to restrict my wife’s movements, she would be shafted. That’s power I don’t want.

    I reviewed the documents relating to the restraining order and I agree with the general thrust of your point. There are a few things in there that give a bit more insight into her state of mind generally, I think. Given how much control Japanese mothers expect to have over their children, even in a stable/happy relationship, I imagine that she was horrified by visits from mediators telling her what extra-curricular activities she should be putting her children in or how fast she should be purchasing a house in a bum market. Sympathy doesn’t justify anything, but I have plenty for her.

    “I doubt that most child abductions by Japanese spouses are the result of abuse. I’ll freely admit, though, that I have no way of knowing.”

    There are plenty of pieces of testimony from these forgotten fathers online. The issue of abuse comes up often and many men assert that these charges were made up by unscrupulous feminist lawyers or other such points. The thought that there may be some abusers using these tactics to net sympathy online makes me sick. This, of course, is a reason why Japan should sign on to Hague to get these sorts of things out in the open.

    In the end, in my opinion, the really horrible cases that deserve attention are ones in which it is Japanese GRANDPARENTS who are holding the children from a foreign parent. That’s just terrible.

  41. “Is it just bc he staged the kidnapping and the consulate called the cops?”

    That’s probably the reason why he got busted.Adamu.

    Thomas:
    “The police have committed a crime by falsely arresting Mr. Savoie for going about his business of being a normal father who wants to be with his children.”

    well,this is probably the reason why cops are VERY reluctant in intervening mom vs dad issues,not just “Japan’s archaic and rigid laws”as Kyung Lah puts it in her blog.
    Although the way I see things,America’s hyper futuristic and flexible laws don’t stop moms and dads kidnapping their own kids anymore so than Japanese.

    “Japanese bureaucrats are obsessed with following every rule and guideline no matter how obscure without exception”

    I hate to nit-pick but that’s what bureaucrats do whether they are “Japanese” or otherwise and should it be,me thinks.

    “Both of them better seek immediate counseling and intervention to work out their personal conflicts so that they can stop using their supposedly precious children in their own international “war of the roses” ”

    And this would take us back to the original issue.Was Noriko,no matter what her motivation nor intention on this whole case might be,wanted her own international “war of roses” coming to her home?I’m taking the wild guess here,but it seems it was on the side of Christopher who wanted to use media coverage and CNN willfully become his PR agent in return of “powerful story”at the expense of normal journalistic practice.Which is to me a bit of surprise and in that process,the right of Noriko and the kids have been violated.

    Mulboyne:
    Agreed.But still I say these ex-husbands could camp somewhere else in more proper occasion.Especially the families of NK victim was counting on the occasion to spread their story to one and only alliance they thought they can count on in their nation’s capitol.

  42. Another “set of events” that tends to get overlooked is the fact that once Noriko and the kids returned to Tennessee, the kids were taken by Chris, Amy and her kids on a vacation up North. The day after(?) they returned, Noriko and her kids left for Japan.

    I’m wondering if something happened on that trip that compelled Noriko to get out of TN the following day.

  43. NewsChannel 5 responds to criticism of their coverage:

    Reporter’s Notebook: ‘Why Don’t You Tell The Other Side?’

    http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=11266629

    The piece concludes:

    “Others can debate whether or not Noriko was justified in violating court orders and in lying under oath, as they can debate whether Christopher was justifying in trying to grab the children to bring them back to Tennessee. We’ll continue to focus on what should be indisputable—that laws were broken and now two children are caught in the middle”

  44. I have a hard time seeing Noriko as the victim here. Here’s how I see it:

    Noriko knew the divorce was going to happen in the US. She also knew she’d get a better financial settlement so that’s why she went. Once she got the settlement, she then abducted the kids and fled to Japan. She then wins on all fronts; she gets the kids, the father can’t see them, and she gets a HUGE cash settlement. Win-win-win for her!

    There’s been some debate of exactly how much custody is given to both parents in Japan, but one thing is certain; in a majority of cases, children stay with their mothers and almost never see their fathers. There are exceptions, of course, but this is the norm. Noriko knew this which is why she fled back to Japan.

    The husband in this case isn’t guiltless but he deserves some sympathy here. One, he had a custody settlement in the US that Noriko agreed to abide by. Two, he paid her a HUGE cash settlement as a result of the divorce. Three, there’s no charge that he was abusive to either her or the kids. So here we have a man who’s a good father, who paid his wife a huge cash settlement (one she’d never get in Japan for sure) and had custody of his kids, who apparently were happy with him. What did she do? Agreed to move to the US, got a huge cash settlement, agreed to obey the law in the US, then split with the kids, preventing them from seeing their father.

    The kids had access to both parents in the US which they wouldn’t have in Japan. Noriko just got greedy. I can think of 800,000 reasons why she split back to Japan, whereas there were two more important reasons that should have kept her in the States. She’s no victim. The kids are.

  45. If Noriko is served by a divorce paper 1 day after she arrived in the United States, then how can the US law applied on her. Also, her children’s habitual residence is supposed to be in Japan, isn’t it? Then, Japan should have the jurisdiction.

  46. Eido: “Your marriage status is not relative to the country you’re in.”

    Incorrect—keep reading down that law to articles 25, and reread article 27 of that law. Japanese citizens must be married and divorced under Japanese law regardless of what country they are in. It is very likely that the Tennessee marriage will be rendered invalid in a Japanese court.

  47. Tensigh, you forgot the part where Christopher had an affair and refused to allow his wife a divorce in Japan. That doesn’t make what Noriko did right, but it pretty much rules out any sympathy for the dude in my books.

    Where, in any case, are people getting this “she went to America because she KNEW she would get more cash?”

  48. Another view of this case:
    http://community.livejournal.com/ontd_political/4252794.html

    Anyway, after I read all the court documents and more details have come up, I am more on the Noriko’s side.
    The couple was married in Japan, under Japanese law. They have kids in Japan and the kids had lived their entire life in Japan.
    It is true that their marriage had problem in Japan that Noriko was seeking for divorce.
    But then Christopher moved to Tennessee and later on, “invited” Noriko to US. She brought the children to the US giving Noriko impression that their marriage still has a chance to survive in a new place.
    She must not fully aware of what would happen once she left Japan taking the children to the US.
    Yes, she knew that the couple was seeking for divorce before, but now her husband invited them to reunite for a chance of starting over their marriage.
    That must have been in her thought, then the day after she arrived in the US, she was served with divorce papers.
    Christopher has very well planned this.
    It is true that Noriko is awarded with $800,000 cash but what does that cash mean, if you are restrained to stay in a foreign country where husband just left for another woman.
    From the court documents, I noticed that although Noriko speaks English, it is not to the extent that she fully understands the language of law, which is more complicated than regular basic English.
    Notice how she said “I am overwhelmed WITHOUT a problem.” This sentence really shows her limitation in English.
    Not to mention that Christopher has not been nice with her in this foreign country, by threatening her that Christopher would put Noriko’s father in jail upon some issues about the car.
    And, apparently, Christopher still has the school loan which Christopher used Noriko’s father as the collateral.
    I honestly do not feel any sympathy towards Christopher Savoie.
    On the other hand, I have huge sympathy for David Goldman.

    Sometimes we do not put ourselves in other people’s shoes first.

  49. T-Rex

    Why is it important that she was served divorced papers the day after she arrived? The narrative says that this is the process that Noriko expected when she went to America. If you want to make the case that it represents bad faith on the part of Christopher Savoie then I think the onus is on you to show how. Your argument about habitual residence makes the same mistake as Akki’s Blog in the link above. It isn’t relevant, since Noriko took her children to America of her own accord and agreed to abide by a ruling in a US court.

    Sand-T

    There isn’t coverage of Noriko being “lured” to America because there is no evidence so far to suggest she was and a good deal which suggests she wasn’t. If you have some some other information, then please share it.

    M-Bone

    Why should Christopher Savoie have agreed to a divorce in Japan? He knew it was likely he would not get custody of the children – even an overseas court is unsympathetic if it believes that a partner’s adultery has caused the break-up. He did, however, want to maintain contact with his children. Why should he have run the very real risk that Noriko could shut him out of their lives? Visitation rights are meaningless unless they can be enforced. He could rely on that under US law but not under Japanese law. I don’t see his insistence on divorcing in the US as a reason to condemn him.

    One of the reasons Christopher Savoie appears unsympathetic, even before his arrest in Japan, is that he worked on the assumption that his ex-wife would act in bad faith. He may also be a class one a-hole into the bargain, but if he assumed good faith in his dealings with her and she then let him down, he would have no recourse. That must make for an ugly situation but his concerns turned out to be well-founded. The court decided Noriko did deserve the benefit of the doubt. The judged believed that she would return to the US as she promised. He was mistaken. She ignored the agreement, broke her promises to the court and became a felon.

    Given all that has happened, Noriko may now wish that she hadn’t agreed to go to America. That was the advice her friends and family appear to have given her. Nevertheless she did and she agreed to be bound by a judgement in a US court. Having made that choice, she had obligations under US law which she failed to fulfill.

  50. “Noriko knew the divorce was going to happen in the US. She also knew she’d get a better financial settlement so that’s why she went.”

    How do you know this is a better financial settlement than she would get in Japan? What were his assets, and what is a normal division in Japan?

  51. ”Why should Christopher Savoie have agreed to a divorce in Japan?”

    In my mind, it is because it was their place of marriage and residence and where they had raised the children. It was a place where they both had citizenship and language command (Noriko expresses confusion in court on a number of occasions, I can’t comment on her English overall) as well as social networks. Not only was Christopher the adulterer, but after that, he denied his wife’s request for a divorce in the place where they had lived their life together in order to bend the settlement in his favor. In the end, he was smart and she wasn’t. I’ll give him that, but not my sympathy. The adultery tips it for me. Same story, no adultery, and I’d be in the Christopher camp.

  52. The established rule of law often doesn’t follow along the lines of pubic sympathy in the “court of public opinion”. Mr. Savoie could be a poor uneducated backwoods Nazi skinhead but if he isn’t being charged with a crime such as child- abuse, endangerment, domestic violence on what legal grounds are the Japanese police detaining him? Who cares whether we sympathize with him or his recently cash rich wife. If they are still legally married in Japan then the police have absolutely have no legal right to charge him with a crime for forcing his children to get in his car and driving them to the closest U.S. consulate. If they are not charging him with a crime then what are they doing with him?

    I realize that the police do have a statutory limit in Japan on how long they can hold someone for questioning without bringing charge. But unless Mrs. Savoie has a legal restraining order against him or some form of Japanese judicial judgement Mr. Savoie has every legal right to force his children into his car and try again to return to the U.S. Maybe the police are trying to hold him behind bars just long enough for Mrs. Savoie to try and get some form of improbably emergency judiciary decision in regards to this matter. However, the police are running out of time and the wheels of justice do move slowly.

    Mr. Savoie must have been very aware that his actions were completely with the confines of his basic parental rights and Japanese law. He undoubtedly imagined that the U.S. consulate would perhaps refuse him entry. He probably also realized that his children were not going to happily get on an airplane with him and return to the U.S. Perhaps he envisioned that the wife would call the police and that after the police caught up with him that they would take his children and return them forcibly to their mother. I doubt that he really believed that he would be illegally arrested by official vigilantes and hauled off to jail. Of course he’s clever and contemplating and his loving wife is likewise. The only matter of point is the Japanese rule of law. Mr. Savoie followed the law in the U.S. and Japan and Mrs Sovie and the Japanese police didn’t.

    I suppose he could be charged with Polygamy in Japan. Because he married his mistress in the U.S. without officially dissolving his legal marriage in Japan before being married abroad. But yet again this is another legal quagmire because in order to charge him with polygamy in Japan they would have to recognize the validity of not only his marriage in the U.S. but his divorce and settlement as well. It’s an all or nothing situation in the acceptance of foreign documentation. They can’t pick and chose the points that make the accused look guilty but ignore the matters that prove his innocence.

    In the U.S. people were too complacent for many years about not accepting and adhering to the existing code of established law. The court of public opinion ended up with Guantanamo bay and indefinitely held “illegal not combatants”. The Japanese police have no more legal right to continue to detain Mr. Savoie than the U.S. government has the legal right to continue to detain hundreds of “detainees” or what was the new name that president Obama refers to their status as now?

    My main point being that in a democracy it is okay to elect people that have similar sympathetic ideological beliefs. And through are elected representatives to petition to have existing laws changed one way or another. I personally have no problem with making new laws that state parents have to have custody issues resolved before they even get married. Even making a new law that in marital conflicts it would be illegal for one parent to unilaterally make any decision without some form of judicial intervention. But these are not the laws that are presently established in Japan or the U.S.. The law that presently exists is a law that allows me to force my children in my car unilaterally 24/7 and fly to the end of the earth to a secret location. This is not a criminal action but of a civil nature. Mr. Savoie undoubtedly new this through the advice of his legal counsel in Japan and the U.S. He diligently went through the civil process in the U.S. By Mrs. Sovie defying the U.S. judges official divorce decree she committed a penal crime enforceable in U.S. criminal courts. It is very likely that immigration will red flag her and she will not be allowed entry into the U.S. for many years to come. If Mr. Savoie had been successful in relocating with his children back to the U.S. it would be very likely that their biological mother would be denied port entry. And even if she did get to tennessee there is undoubtedly and arrest warrant waiting for her. She must have given much planning and thought to these matters as well before her hasty criminal parental abduction.

    I don’t even want to discuss this Savoie issue with my Japanese wife because she still feels that Pearl Harbor is of no significance and that the only matter of relevance is Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She’ll inevitably attack the U.S. and go back to Admiral Perry’s coastal bombardments. I’ll never win and argument with her because even if I win the argument I’ll lose the wife. A beautiful loving wife with two great sons is worth so much more to be than my common American male pride. But in my heart I know that everybody is this nutty world is wrong, even me. I think that once we can admit and realize that we are not absolutely in the right that we can start to communicate and find common ground of mutual tolerance, sometimes even love and admiration.

  53. ”Why should Christopher Savoie have agreed to a divorce in Japan?”

    Because that’s the only divorce that would have been valid for him as long as he was a Japanese citizen.

  54. “She’ll inevitably attack the U.S. and go back to Admiral Perry’s coastal bombardments. I’ll never win and argument with her because even if I win the argument I’ll lose the wife.”

    You can win this one pretty easily – Perry didn’t bombard anything. Your wife is probably thinking of the Shimonoseki bombardment a decade later (which the US should only be partially blamed for).

    Just to clarify – while I don’t sympathize with Christopher, I don’t think that he should be in jail.

  55. neither of them deserve to be parents the way they are
    carrying on, treating kids like a piece of furniture.

    the kids deserve better.

    As for Mr.Debito not seeing your kids for 5 years,
    hang in there buddy as one day they will come round
    and see all the great work you do and it will be worth the wait !

  56. Unless I am missing something, it seems pretty likely that Christopher has kept both passports and claimed to be a US citizen in the US court. So as far as the US courts are concerned their marriage was one between a US man and Japanese woman and his US divorce is valid. Therefore, if Noriko were to return to the US and face a judge, she would no doubt have a tough time explaining why she broke the agreement set down in the US.

    But when he stepped down on Japanese soil he became subject to a) the non-recognition of dual citizenship and b) the rule that Japanese citizens have to register a foreign divorce on their koseki (which I am assuming they didnt do). It seems Noriko played her cards right by bringing herself and the kids to Japan, as now Christopher is forced to work through the Japanese system despite the initial plan to broker a visitation scheme in the US.

    After he gets out of jail (or even before I guess), wouldn’t the next step be for the couple to commence divorce procedures in Japan (or at least file the notification paperwork)?

    http://www.us.emb-japan.go.jp/j/html/todoke/rikonbi2.htm

    Maybe then he can petition to respect the divorce settlement reached in the US, since it seems like the tendency is to respect other courts’ decisions.

  57. Mulboyne

    Let’s think about this.
    A flight from Tokyo to Nashville will take around 20 hours, not counting you have to be at the airport 2-3 hours before the departure time.
    Is it possible that Noriko is fully aware that she will start the divorce proceeding right upon her arrival in the US?
    She was served on the day she arrived in the US.
    That means, Christopher has planned this all along.
    She speaks some English but not to the extent that she fully understands the divorce proceeding in the US.
    Therefore, because Noriko has refused to tell her side of the story, so we can only guess, but the only logical scenario left is that yes, Noriko is aware that her marriage has problem that almost got them to divorce in Japan, but her husband invited her to bring the children to US to give the marriage another chance, not a divorce.
    Christopher apparently has been involved with Amy and could not wait to divorce her, but he is “smart” enough to deceive Noriko to come to the US.
    No one in their right mind would want to fly 20+ hours to a foreign country taking the children only to be divorced upon arrival.
    Let’s say if she “knew” the purpose of coming to the US is to get divorce from her husband, she would not start the divorce upon the arrival.
    20+ hours travel with 2 small children is really tiring.
    Perhaps, if coming to the US is really what she wanted to do to get the divorce, then she should rest first after the long hour trip, shop around to get a good lawyer, then start the divorce proceeding.
    But, her husband “checkmate” her with the divorce papers upon arrival.
    It really sounds very tragic to me.
    Well, now, once she is served with divorce papers, what can she do? She cannot jump back to the plane taking the children back to Japan.
    She just had to follow it through.

    Mulboyne said:
    “Nevertheless she did and she agreed to be bound by a judgment in a US court. Having made that choice, she had obligations under US law which she failed to fulfill.”

    Does she have any other choice? Can she say, “I do not agree to be bound by a judgment in US court, I only want this to be done in Japan.” ?
    She was not given any options, therefore, she could not be having made “that” choice.

    That is really the only logical scenario if you connect the dots.

  58. Whoever said Christopher is insane for airing his dirty laundry in public is dead on. This is the last thing anyone should want when going through a divorce. I don’t see how it helps his chances of getting his kids back/visitation unless he thinks Noriko and Japanese cops/judges are totally scared of CNN.

  59. I don’t side with either Christopher or Noriko. It’s hard enough trying to decide how to deal with friends in relationships which founder without having to make a call about two perfect strangers on the basis of imperfect information.

    I do care about the role law plays in dealing with these cases and the implications of the Hague treaty. It concerns me that there are some bold claims being made about what the Hague convention covers which don’t seem to ring true. It also concerns me that several people claim that Noriko was “lured” to the US and “abandoned” despite the fact this doesn’t tally with the evidence available to us so far.

    It concerns me because it implies that the that Noriko was badly served by the US court and her lawyer. It implies that a court trapped her in the US when she had been led there on the basis of false promises. It implies that a court knew she had been misled and still ruled she should stay in Japan. In short, it implies that the US court mistreated Noriko and that they may be unsafe venues for Japanese nationals.

    To me, that’s insulting. Foreigners don’t get much change out of Japanese courts in family law cases but if a foreign parent has a beef with a ruling and abducts the children to another country, a Japanese national can often use that country’s courts to get the children back. Even without Japan being a Hague signatory, overseas courts frequently respect Japanese rulings. Because Japan is not a signatory to Hague, it can be an expensive process but it is often successful.

    A treaty like Hague works because countries agree to assume the best about each other. Two signatories commit to supporting legal decisions made in the other country. It’s a leap of faith but an important one. The same principle of reciprocity underlies extradition agreements. Japan has also been reluctant to enter into those arrangements for similar reasons.

    If you allow the argument that Noriko was misled and the US court acted inappropriately, then you have one reason to oppose Japan being a signatory to Hague. The stakes are high, so anyone who thinks Noriko was “lured” by a deceitful Christopher Savoie really ought to demonstrate how that happened.

  60. T-Rex writes:

    “Is it possible that Noriko is fully aware that she will start the divorce proceeding right upon her arrival in the US?”

    Yes. That’s what the court believed. His lawyer also claims that Noriko was in touch with US lawyers before she left Japan to understand her position.

    “we can only guess”

    No. We have evidence. It just doesn’t support the idea she was misled. If you want to make that claim more than a supposition, you need to back it up.

    “Does she have any other choice? Can she say, ‘I do not agree to be bound by a judgment in US court, I only want this to be done in Japan.’ ?”

    Yes, she can. Just as her husband refused to divorce in a Japanese court, she could have refused to do so in a US court.

  61. M-Bone: Thanks for the clarification in regards to the Shimonoseki bombardment. I didn’t know that as I’m not much of history buff. But even if the U.S. is only partially to blame my will find a remarkably logical way assign %100 of the responsibility of this incident to me. Sometimes truly “silence is golden” and peaceful.

    I don’t sympathize with Mr. Savoie either. I’m sure locking him up for a week or two will probably give him a chance to regret many things and bring him better temperament. In the same fashion they should drag Mrs. Savoie and put her in the next cell. Throw in the mistress in the next room for good measure, too. Oh ya that’s right they probably only have two jail cells. Okay, put a kiddy pool with mud in the ladies cell and lets let these two wenches wrestle it out. I’m sure the local police department could get a pretty penny for the television rights. I’m sure %20 of the world would watch and pay a pretty penny or yen if were only shown initially on pay per view. Send the kids off to Tokyo Disneyland for a few weeks with a police escort and tell them everything is going to be just fine.

    People might think that the police department couldn’t possibly stage these proposed outrageous televised profitable incarcerations. Why not? It seems as though this particular local police department can do anything they want regardless of the actual law. Where’s the line. They’re above the law so it seems in this case. They could even get one of their own elected as the newest finance minister. Dirty laundry? Maybe that’s the best way for them to get more money for cameras to watch us, more interpreters to translate our conversations, and build more jail cells to illegally incarcerate us. Us meaning not just Japanese citizens, but legal/illegal residents and tourists.

  62. Channel 5 Nashville has been doing a lot of good reportage. This one is germane to this discussion. Quoting in full. Debito

    Reporter’s Notebook: ‘Why Don’t You Tell The Other Side?’
    Posted: Oct 07, 2009 1:56 AM
    http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=11266629

    From Phil Williams:

    “Why don’t you tell the other side?”

    That’s been a repeated refrain that’s appeared in comments posted in response to NewsChannel 5’s continuing coverage of the international child-custody controversy involving Christopher Savoie.

    The Franklin, Tenn., businessman became big news when he was arrested in Japan for allegedly abducting the two children who were abducted from him here in Tennessee by his ex-wife, Noriko Savoie.

    Noriko’s supporters ask, “Why don’t you tell how he lured her to Tennessee and immediately filed divorce papers against her?”

    Christopher’s supporters reply, “Why don’t you tell how she wanted to divorce him in Japan—a country whose laws routinely force fathers (especially non-Japanese fathers) completely out of their children’s lives?”

    Noriko’s supporters demand, “Why don’t you reveal how Christopher emotionally abused his wife and made her life a living hell?”

    Christopher’s supporters answer, “Why don’t you reveal how Noriko herself was abusive, always conniving against Christopher and threatening to cut him out of his children’s lives?”

    Noriko’s supporters suggest, “why don’t you reveal tell how he cheated on her and married his current wife just days after his divorce became final?”

    Christopher’s supporters respond, “Why don’t you tell that the relationship with his current wife didn’t start until after he and Noriko had already separated?”

    All of that reflects why I ended the first part of my investigation into the child-custody controversy by saying, “As with a lot of divorces, this one’s also complicated.”

    Still, just like there’s a bride’s side and a groom’s side at weddings, it’s only natural that some viewers want to take sides in the divorce.

    Adding fuel to that debate was a recent Associated Press story, published in The Tennessean. It began this way: “A friend says Noriko Savoie felt trapped—she was a Japanese citizen new to the U.S. whose American husband had just served her divorce papers.”

    So why didn’t we report how she had been tricked into an American divorce?

    Because all the available evidence suggests that it’s just not true.

    Associated Press:
    “A friend says Noriko Savoie felt trapped—she was a Japanese citizen new to the U.S. whose American husband had just served her divorce papers.”

    Judge Jim Martin:
    “She came here knowing that he wanted a divorce.”

    While we aren’t in a position to retry the whole messy divorce, Williamson County Judge Jim Martin heard both sides.

    “She clearly understood that, when she was coming to the United States, she wasn’t coming here to reconcile,” Martin said during a March hearing.

    “And it was clear as it could be in mediation that she came here knowing that her husband was involved with another woman, and she came here knowing that he wanted a divorce.”

    Neither party objected to the judge’s characterization during that hearing.

    Since we as journalists don’t sit on either the bride’s or the groom’s side in the divorce, we’ve focused on what Williamson County courts have ruled.

    First, the courts have ruled that Noriko voluntarily entered into a divorce agreement in which she pledged to live in Tennessee with the children.

    And she received her own victory. She was awarded close to $800,000 in cash—a settlement that she would have been unlikely to receive in Japan’s legal culture.

    “So while it may be hard for her to watch her children lose Japanese identity,” Judge Martin said, “that’s part of what she bargained for.”

    Secondly, testifying under oath before Judge Martin, Noriko swore that she was not planning on abducting the children to Japan.

    “I have never thought about taking [the] children away from their father, never,” she insisted.

    Finally, contrary to her sworn testimony, she disappeared to Japan with the children “in violations of the Orders of this Court,” wrote Williamson County Judge Tim Easter. The judge awarded full custody to Christopher.

    As a result, Franklin police obtained a warrant for Noriko’s arrest.

    Of course, the story veered into dramatic, new territory when Christopher landed himself in jail—and an international incident—for allegedly trying to abduct the children who were abducted from him.

    Since we have the only interview with him about the child custody dispute, we’re in a unique position to let the public see him and hear the desperation to which he felt pushed by his wife’s illegal actions.

    As for Noriko’s side, I’ve worked closely with CNN’s Tokyo correspondent to help her get an on-camera interview with Noriko. A CBS News producer also tried. So far, Noriko has declined.

    Noriko’s former attorney, Marlene Eskind Moses, did not return our initial telephone calls to talk about her former client’s perspective—although she did call later to defend Judge Martin’s role in the case.

    By phone, Ms. Moses told me she has talked with Noriko in Japan, but cited attorney-client privilege in refusing to say what her former client told her or whether she has told her former client that she needs to return to the States.

    Added to all of those points is the concern expressed by the U.S. government about Japan’s policy of shielding parents who abduct their children from other countries.

    So others can debate whether or not Noriko was justified in violating court orders and in lying under oath, as they can debate whether Christopher was justifying in trying to grab the children to bring them back to Tennessee.

    We’ll continue to focus on what should be indisputable—that laws were broken and now two children are caught in the middle.
    ENDS

  63. It is possible to contest jurisdiction based on being misled into a position where you can be served. However, I suspect that Noriko signed some documents consenting to jurisdiction once she was served, which would make it much harder for her to argue no jurisdiction. Probably a lawyering mistake if anything. She might be able to collect from her lawyer’s malpractice insurer if she is ever allowed back into the US…

  64. “without having to make a call about two perfect strangers on the basis of imperfect information.”

    I agree with you here. The direction of my sympathy is emotional, not plainly rational or legalistic. I’m not alone in this and it does not seem to be limited to “Japan people” either. It is a bit surprising but a majority of commenters on those Tennessee news sites seem to be ripping Christopher. The adultery issue looms large. He did that and didn’t give his wife a break.

    I’m also not comfortable with the “lured” narrative and have been trying to avoid reproducing it despite my hesitance to equate Noriko’s testimony with her planning before leaving Japan. My reaction to the American judgment is mostly a personal gut feeling – the thought of having a court in a country that I have little connection to putting serious restrictions on my liberty is quite off putting. In the end, however, if Noriko wanted to live in Japan with the children, she damn well should have told that to the American judge before catalyzing a crisis. If she had, I imagine that she might have been awarded a more favorable judgment.

  65. “Because all the available evidence suggests that it’s just not true”

    Since they are not getting the full disclosure of the case,at least Channel 5 should tone down “not true” to “uncertain”.Something that is difficult after they’ve already jumped on “American dad is in trouble in Japan” bandwagon.

    “As for Noriko’s side, I’ve worked closely with CNN’s Tokyo correspondent to help her get an on-camera interview with Noriko. A CBS News producer also tried. So far, Noriko has declined.”

    No wonder they can’t get any “available eviedence”.They are not even trying.What on earth do they think Noriko would want to talk to Kyung Lah,especially knowing Kyung is using all of her media power to spread negative information on the basis of Christopher.

  66. Let me sum up the situation.

    So here’s a J woman whose being cheated by her husband,asked for divorce right after her feet stepped on American soil,came back to her home where her kids spend their entire lives and then the husband came in like stalker and almost abducted by her kids,and then she got accused by multiple international media outlets just because she tried to prevent that from happening.And now she could lose her children and wined up in American jail?

    Sounds like a powerful story even from our side…..

  67. The Channel 5 coverage has been poor, as is evidenced by some of their word choices.

    “Japanese authorities say Savoie picked up his children—8-year-old Isaac and 6-year-old Rebecca—as his ex-wife walked them to school.”

    Picked up?

    “Savoie went to Japan to rescue the two children—Isaac and Rebecca—after his ex-wife abducted them”

    Rescue?

    It shouldn’t matter what side out sympathies lean toward – these terms are poor descriptors of events described in much clearer detail elsewhere.

    It is also notable that it is the Associated Press that contacted friends of Noriko in Tennessee, not the local Tennessee station which one would think would have better access.

    The article above does a great job of looking impartial, but the reality of their reportage over the last week suggests otherwise.

  68. T-Rex wrote:

    “I agree with Joe Jones.”

    Joe is suggesting she was misled or badly advised by her lawyer. I’d be interested to know the basis for that belief. When you look these circumstance and say “I wouldn’t have done that”, it isn’t safe to conclude that, therefore, “She wouldn’t have done that”.

  69. “Let me sum up the situation.”

    Aceface, you forgot the part where she was changed into a giant rising sun war flag by CNN.

  70. I agree with these words from Debito’s in very limited sense.

    “It doesn’t matter WHAT these people did.”
    It does matter what this couple did or intended,but since we don’t have full disclosure and relying on second hand reports that revealed done very poorly,I see little point we continue arguing.

    “It matters WHY they did it.”

    They,as the media I choose to translate here,simply wanted “stories”.And chose to cut the necessary legworks.Suppose you are doing “two-people-in-court-turns-ugly-and-event-pop-up”type of story,why wouldn’t they go and talk to the other side?

  71. “Aceface, you forgot the part where she was changed into a giant rising sun war flag by CNN.”

    Not on my twitter,M-Bone.And that’s not “war flag”.That’s naval flag still being used officially by the Maritime Self Defense Forces.I have to conclude that CNN has some sort of info that Noriko Savoie is actually a MSDF saylor on converted mission in Tennessee.

  72. Ace, I meant in your narrative above. Have been reading the twitter. I also know the history of the flag, but am pretty sure that in the US, it is only widely known in the WWII context. In any case, somebody should get fired for that graphic.

  73. “Why wouldn’t they go and talk to the other side?”

    Noriko hasn’t wanted to talk with the reporters who claim they have tried to contact her. That’s her right and is probably a good decision on her part. Regardless of what happened to bring about this situation, it has been traumatic for all parties and there’s no reason why she should compound that by exposing herself in public.

  74. I am fully aware of the situation.I remember when Kurt Campbell was assistant defense secretary of defense during Clinton years and was in charge of renewing the defense guideline,Campbell mentioned something like using “pre-war”flag could be inadequate.
    Forgot where I’ve read it and the context of this phrase popped up(I think that was the occasion when William Perry made the speech infront of 7th fleet and MSDF sailor on maritime alliance,naturally the flag was there)but gave me clear memory that the guy whose in charge of defending Japan has little knowledge on the navy his country helped to rebuild after WW2.

    “somebody should get fired for that graphic.”

    I don’t think that will be happening.

  75. Mulboyne: I really don’t know. Just speculating based on all that we’ve heard. It’s also possible that there was no “luring” going on at all and that this narrative only popped up after the divorce in the US commenced.

  76. “I don’t think that will be happening.”

    Japanese may not have enough pull in the US to have that kind of impact but it could be possible if it became an “Asian American” issue. These guys are actually pretty effective – http://www.manaa.org/

    They have links with the Japanese American Citizen League (JACL).

    In the US, these sorts of groups can and will kick ass.

    I’m pretty sure that this fell under their radar, however.

    In any case, the general heinousness of that rising sun graphic is something that we can probably all agree on.

  77. There’s a blog there by a guy called Hoofin (who comments on Debito’s site at times) who just refuses to admit that that graphic could possibly be the rayed rising sun. No, it’s just the way the stripes of the Stars and Stripes go behind her head,he claims. Or her face is red to show off the ‘Y’ in ‘CUSTODY’ that is partially overlapping her face. Or there are other thing sin that graphic so it can’t be awar flag. Or most Americans don’t know what that flag means. Talk about willful blindness….

    I’ve been stunned at the huge reaction to this topic on the blogs, but since I don’t have kids this is a non-issue to me, but I must say, in regard to M-Bone’s comment, having to provide a letter to your wife to take the kids overseas is a new one for me—and having her be detained for two hours despite that letter. I’d not be over polite on that phonecall….

    PS: Don’t forget the British bombardment of Kagoshima either. That might be what Thomas’s wife is referring to, at least in terms on unilateral “do as we say or we’ll bomb the shit out of you” stuff.

  78. Joe Jones, it’s not clear that parents can consent to child custody jurisdiction, and there are good reasons they should not be able to.

    Check out the blog of the father’s lawyer:

    http://www.japanabduction.blogspot.com/

    It says that mother talked to Tennessee social worker (not lawyer) before coming. Weird. I can’t believe a lawyer would say this with is straight face.

    It says: “Noriko promptly hired a divorce lawyer in Tennessee and divorce proceedings were promptly commenced there.”

    OK, promptly. So did she hire a lawyer before she was served the day after she got to Tennessee, or after. I’m not sure it matters at that point.

    It also says an agreement was reached in December 2008.

    It doesn’t mention that the mother was ordered to turn over the children’s passports to the court in October 2008.

    So she talked to a social worker before coming in June. She was under court order not to take the children from Tennessee, probably from June. She had the children’s passports taken in October. And she knowingly and voluntarily entered into an agreement in December.

    Wow.

  79. Joe Jones, it’s not clear that parents can consent to child custody jurisdiction, and there are good reasons they should not be able to.

    I’m not talking about choosing jurisdiction. What I’m talking about is the ability for Noriko to contest jurisdiction—to tell Chris that he shouldn’t be suing for divorce in the US given that she had just arrived there from Japan.

    That blog is ridiculous. I was kind of impressed by Jeremy Morley’s practice before, but this piece of work is completely unprofessional.

  80. The home state for child custody jurisdiction is determined by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which Tennessee has adopted. What I’m saying is that it’s not clear that jurisdiction to determine child custody in Tennessee was proper, even though Japan was the home state of the children under Tennessee law, just because the mother did not contest that jurisdiction.

    Notice how important facts, like the father’s assets, and when the mother came and when she got a lawyer, are imprecisely and thus misleadingly stated in the blog.

    It’s odd that a lawyer would offer unauthorized practice of law by a Tennessee social worker, especially in a complex international case like this, as a defense of the fairness of the mother coming to Tennessee and doing an agreed divorce.

    I’m not sure it mattered much that she had a lawyer once she was under court order to remain in Tennessee, which I understand may have happened right when she got there in June 2008. Also, it’s been reported that she was ordered to turn over the children’s passports to the Tennessee court in October 2008, before the agreement was reached in December 2008, through mediation with the lawyer who then became the judge in March 2009.

    This case is weird.

  81. Let me say one thing.This thread is amazing.With all new commenters,I’m wondering you guys were hiding.

  82. Mulboyne, it was actually the father’s Tennessee lawyer that called her “American,” after the mother said she was going to have to take the SAT or ACT and not just the TOEFL. That’s pretty lame on CNN’s part if that was their source. I though Mr. Arudou should have done more than cite to CNN, given his experience. It’s an important point, if you are impartial.

    Mulboyne, you made an interesting statement above:

    “He may also be a class one a-hole into the bargain, but if he assumed good faith in his dealings with her and she then let him down, he would have no recourse. That must make for an ugly situation but his concerns turned out to be well-founded. ”

    I think this really boils this case down to its essence. I might try to explain more later, but quickly, I don’t think he should be condemned for maneuvering, but I also don’t think this was fair grounds for the Tennessee court to take jurisdiction, and I also think the failure of the Tennessee plan should result in the condemnation and criminalization of the wife. It was unfair and risky to the children to force this divorce based just on a fear.

    I also don’t think that what ended up happening means his fears were vindicated.

    The mother made a statement in March which NewsChannel5’s Phil Williams cites to show that ” swore that she was not planning on abducting the children to Japan.”

    “’I have never thought about taking [the] children away from their father, never’ she insisted.”

    There is another way to look at this that may be more accurate. The husband was trying to keep her from taking the kids back to Japan, as had been agreed upon.

    Maybe she was saying that she had never intended to keep the kids away from the father.

    Maybe she was saying she never had that intent at all, even if there had been a divorce in Japan. Maybe she isn’t even intending that now. Her going back to Japan does not necessarily mean that she intended that when she left. After all the shameful spectacle, she might intend that now, but that would not necessarily mean that she intended it then.

    We all assume that she intended that, because we assume all Japanese woman intend that. That’s why it was OK for a Tennessee divorce to be forced, because she has no good faith, by definition as a Japanese woman, and by definition because Japanese law makes it hard to enforce visitation.

    We all know that, except we really don’t, and we think it’s OK to throw her and the kids into a new life in Tennessee, under conditions of financial and even physical (passports) coercion, and then blame her, and only her, when it doesn’t work out.

    And not knowing when she decide to go back and why, we assume she was lying when she made the general statement she never intended to go keep the kids from their father.

    And this is justified by a system that is not her fault that supposedly violates fundamental human rights. Her good faith means nothing. She’s a nullity. A Japanese woman, who dared to marry an American man and expect it to be for life.

    Whose human rights were violated? Which country abducted the kids? Was she abducted? These are open questions.

    Someone above said he was Noriko sympathizer, and pro-Hague. I’m starting to wonder if pro-Hague demands sympathy for Noriko and her kids.

    Believe it or not, I want the kids to spend lots of time in the U.S. with their father. I think the best way for that to happen is for Tennessee and the U.S. not to treat the mother as a contemnor and criminal, but to acknowledge, in retrospect, that she was treated unjustly.

  83. I guess once comments exceed 90 we can start getting meta. Of course there are the readers coming over from debito.org, but let me present another theory: most MF readers don’t have any strong opinions about Japanese politics or airplanes and are content to remain observers, but they have definitely thought about what would happen if things didn’t work out with their Japanese wives.

  84. Whoops, “I also think the failure of the Tennessee plan should NOT result in the condemnation and criminalization of the wife.”

    I also want leniency for the father so he can travel freely between Japan and the U.S. and see the kids. Both parents need freedom of movement and freedom form fear of coercion for this to work.

    Call me naiive, but I have yet to see that any showing that a Japanese kyougi rikon would not have made this work. I don’t buy that the experiences of others makes this a foregone conclusion. Chris and Noriko are unique individuals.

    Even Chris’ lawyer, Mr. Morley, says about the Japanese system:

    “It works reasonably well when the parties are reasonable and it works badly when one or both of the parties are unreasonable.”

    I don’t think Mr. Savoie was reasonable. That is not to condemn him – he had a rational concern and I don’t even condemn him for wanting the convenience of having his kids in Tennessee with his new wife. I’m just saying it’s not reasonable to condemn the mother because it didn’t work out.

    It IS unreasonable, disgusting really, to say that she did it for the money or was unjustly enriched by the property settlement. There’s has been no showing that she did not try to live under court order in Tennessee.

  85. “but they have definitely thought about what would happen if things didn’t work out with their Japanese wives.”

    And “The Japanese wives” should think twice on the fate they will be facing if things don’t work out with their NJ husbands..You could end up getting “America’s most wanted” type status without knowing.

  86. “....what would happen if things didn’t work out with their Japanese wives”

    Or rather, those with children. I wonder how many commentators here have children…

  87. Just want to say that Ningen’s comments strike me as the wisest and fairest of all, even though I would personally not give the husband as much benefit of the doubt as Ningen seems to.
    Jade Oc asks, “I wonder how many commentators here have children….”
    We have three. If I fell for another woman and decided to throw away my Japanese citizenship and return to the U.S., I really don’t think I could expect much sympathy in terms of child rights. Then if I tried to get my wife to accept the judgment of some court in a backwater state like Tennessee, that would make me a pretty vile human being, not a deserving father.

  88. Ningen,

    I think you’ve brought together a lot of good points very neatly. As foreign spouses (particularly husbands) have become aware that family courts in Japan have not secured the rights they expected, it has arguably encouraged some to be more aggressive in trying to assert their rights. This can be something of a vicious circle because that attitude can poison an already difficult situation. I’m sure many who have looked at the Savoie case have wondered whether the husbands concerns tuned into a self-fulfilling prophecy because of the lengths he went to protect himself.

    So, yes, you could argue that if Japan signed Hague, this anxiety would dissipate and more couples might realize they need to compromise. It might even have encouraged Christopher Savoie to realize that he signed up in full for Japan when he married a local girl and took Japanese citizenship. Instead of seeing himself as a potential victim, he might have accepted the full implications of his decisions, and agreed to go through a divorce in Japan as some her think he should. If Noriko had never left Japan, Hague would have protected her should Savoie have attempted to flee with the children.

    I’d also agree that there is enough in Noriko’s behaviour to conclude that she was trying to make something work. I suggested above she might have thought it was the best thing to do for the children. Joe has raised the possibility of her receiving poor advice. You have asked whether the court really had jurisdiction. It’s possible that none of that mattered. Noriko may have decided to give America a try but always knew that she had the option of going home with the children if she didn’t care for how things turned out. Christopher’s continued antagonism and the restraining order could have tipped her over the edge. She might have believed her intentions were good without ever fully committing to the process.

  89. >>Even Chris’ lawyer, Mr. Morley, says about the Japanese system:

    >>“It works reasonably well when the parties are reasonable and it works badly when one or both of the parties are unreasonable.”

    This is true of all divorces in all countries. It’s nothing to do with the law, it’s to do with people.

  90. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned – He wants his kids in Tenesse with new wife too,
    well is it really suprising Ms.Savoie did what she did ?

  91. Wow, Mulboyne, thanks for further distilling, and stating so eloquently, what I’ve been trying to figure out. Yes, a vicious circle and self-fulfilling prophecy, resulting in tragedy.

    Given that the kids lived in Japan, and given that practically speaking she had the option of going home like you say, I think the only real option for Christopher was to make a fair divorce with visitation, get it approved by a Japanese court so a U.S. court would enforce it, and hope for the best.

    I think Judge Martin understood that it wasn’t fair to withhold the passports any longer. He told Christopher there was a risk she might be persuaded not to come back, but that he had agreed to it. He had to uphold the authority of the court by telling Noriko she should uphold her end of the bargain, but his words showed some understanding of her situation (not to say he encouraged her; he just recognized reality). I doubt Judge Martin condemns her in his heart.

    I hope the Tennessee court can forgive Noriko, and hope the Japanese prosecutor can forgive Christopher. I also hope Christopher and Noriko can forgive each other, and that Noriko doesn’t hold Chris responsible for what CNN did.

    I think if the Tennessee court stays its orders and asks the Japanese court to consider Christopher’s visitation rights, there is a better chance that a Japanese court will make an order that will allow Christopher to see the kids in Japan. If the Tennessee court can forgive the contempt and turn back the criminal process against Noriko, there will be a better chance of the kids coming to the U.S. I think Noriko will be more comfortable, and Chris thus better off, with a Japanese court order that U.S. courts will enforce.

  92. A last point – I think Noriko has much, much more to forgive than Chris does. Chris best knows if that is true.

  93. One more thing: Judge Martin said the kids should have the benefit of both heritages. I think that is true and hope Noriko does, too. I think Chris and Noriko see this as their duty to impart both heritages to their children, and not just as their rights to see their children.

    Easy to say, like I’ve been such a great parent. These are just ideals.

  94. From Yomiuri(western Japan)Oct 4.
    日本、条約批准せず
     元妻が日本に連れて行った我が子を奪い返そうとしたとして、米国人男性が未成年者略取容疑で福岡県警柳川署に逮捕された事件が、米国では元妻による子供の拉致事件として大きく報じられ、米国務次官補が男性支持を表明するなど国際問題化の様相を呈している。
     米テネシー州在住のIT関連会社社長、クリストファー・サボイ容疑者(38)は9月28日、同県柳川市で、30歳代の元妻と一緒に登校していた小学生の長男(8)と長女(6)を抱きかかえ、車に乗せて連れ去った疑いで逮捕された。
     サボイ容疑者と元妻は今年1月に同州で離婚した。同州ウィリアムソン郡裁判所の離婚判決書などには〈1〉子供は元妻と一緒に同州に住み、年の3分の1はサボイ容疑者と過ごす〈2〉サボイ容疑者は財産の半分を元妻に与え、養育費などを支払う〈3〉サボイ容疑者と元妻のどちらかが子供とともに州外に引っ越す場合は事前に相手に連絡し、同意を得る――などと定められている。
     しかし、元妻は今年8月、サボイ容疑者に連絡せずに子供らを伴って帰国。このため、裁判所はサボイ容疑者と元妻が共有していた子供の監護権をサボイ容疑者一人だけのものとした。地元警察は、子供の略取に当たるとして元妻の逮捕状を取っている。
     国際家族法が専門のサボイ容疑者の在米弁護士は「同様のケースを100件以上担当したが、日本政府の協力を得て子供を取り返すことができた例は一件もない。サボイ容疑者は絶望感から、自分で子供を取り返すしかないと思い詰めたのだろう」と制度の不備を強調する。
     先進7か国のうち、日本だけがハーグ条約を批准していない。米英仏加の4か国は今春、各国政府が把握している分だけで計約170件の「日本人妻による拉致」があるとして、批准を求める共同声明を発表した。
     クローリー米国務次官補は9月30日の記者会見で、「元妻が子供2人を米国から不当に拉致した事案だ。できる限り、彼を支援する用意がある」と述べた。米国主要メディアは「米国のお父さん、奪われた我が子を奪還しようとして逮捕される」などの見出しで連日報道。反響が広がり、4日には首都ワシントンで抗議デモも予定されているという。
     柳川署は「元妻を羽交い締めにした上で、子供を無理やり連れ去っており、悪質。日本で起きた犯罪を国内法に基づいて立件した。外交問題にコメントする立場にない」としている。
     元妻の父親は「娘は、外国で一人で子育てをするのがつらくて帰ってきたのではないか。新しい妻がいるサボイ容疑者のところに子供を連れて行く時、『自分がベビーシッターのように感じた』と話していた。言葉による暴力もあったと聞いている」と話している。
     ◆子に会う権利保障を 容疑者が心境 
     サボイ容疑者は2日、拘置されている柳川署で読売新聞の取材に応じ、滑らかな日本語で語った。
     ――今の心境は 
     事件のことは話せないが、一日も早く、子供に会える日を願っている。
     ――言いたいことは 
     離婚した後も子供と一緒に過ごす時間があり、すごく大事にしていた。子供には両親が必要。夫婦が離婚しても、両方の親と継続的にかかわり、頻繁に会って話ができた方がいい。
     ――子供と一緒に米国で暮らしたいのか
     日本でも場所としては問題はない。ただ、日本には共同親権の考え方がない。母親が親権を持つと、父親は残念ながら、なかなか子供に会えない。米国のように、離婚後も両方の親が子供に会う権利が法的、制度的に保障されるようになってほしい。
     ――子供はどんな存在か
     元妻、元夫はあっても、元子供、元親ということはない。親権とは関係なく、親には子供を人間として育てる、すごい責任がある。
      
     〈国際的な子の奪取の民事面に関するハーグ条約〉 
     子供がいた国も、連れて行かれた国も批准していれば、自国政府を通じて相手国に子の返還や面会を請求できる条約。1980年に採択され、83年に発効。批准国は欧米を中心に約80か国。

  95. Nishi Nihon Shinbun Oct 4

    離婚した日本人の元妻が日本に連れ帰った子どもを奪い返そうとしたとして、福岡県警柳川署が未成年者略取容疑で米国人男性を逮捕した事件が、米国内で報道され、高い関心を集めている。米国では、勝手に子どもを国外に連れ出した元妻に非があるとされ、米政府も元夫の全面支援を表明。刑法に基づき元夫を逮捕した日本側との姿勢の違いが際立っている。背景には、国際結婚の破局後のルールが日米間で違うことがあり、国内関係者は、米国内の世論過熱を警戒している。
     同署によると、逮捕されたのは、米国テネシー州から来日した会社経営の男性(38)。9月28日朝、元妻の実家がある福岡県柳川市で、元妻と一緒に登校していた長男(8)と長女(6)を無理やり抱きかかえて車に乗せて連れ去った疑い。
     元妻が110番し、約2時間後に在福岡米国領事館(福岡市)に子どもと現れた元夫を逮捕した。米国内で暮らしていた夫婦は今年1月に離婚。元妻は8月に帰国していたという。
     この逮捕について、米国内で批判の声が上がる背景には「ハーグ条約」がある。同条約は、国際結婚が破局した場合、一方の親が勝手に子どもを国外に連れ出さないよう求めており、連れ出した場合、もう一方の親は子どもの返還請求ができる。米国など約80カ国が加盟するが、日本は未加盟。このため、日本人の親が子どもと日本に帰国した場合、外国人の親が勝手に連れ戻そうとすれば、今回のように法的な問題が生じるという。
     CNNテレビによると、米国の裁判所は元夫に養育権を認め、元妻への逮捕状を発付。クローリー米国務次官補が「元妻によって2人の子どもが米国から日本に不当に連れ去られた誘拐事件だ」と述べ、日本にハーグ条約に加盟するよう求める事態になっている。
     これに対し、福岡県警は、元夫が日本国籍も取得していることを指摘したうえで、「日本で起きた犯罪に刑法を適用するのは当然。粛々と捜査を進める」としている。県警によると、男性は自身の行為の違法性を認め、「拘置されるのは仕方がない」と供述しているという。

  96. From CNN’s Kyung Lah blog

    “Based in Tokyo, among our first calls was to the local press in Fukuoka. The newspaper told us “This isn’t news.” When we asked if they would cover it because of the growing international interest, the paper flatly said, “No.””

    “The Americans I’ve interviewed in this story say they’re flabbergasted by Japan’s archaic and rigid laws. But in this culture, there’s no discussion about it. They don’t even consider it news.”

    Checked Nikkei Telecon 21 database for “Hague Treaty” “divorce” and got 25 hit just with in a year time span.

  97. This is completely unrelated (I think) but still titillating.

    In March 2005, Lah, who was married at the time, was fired from KNBC after her bosses learned that she had been having an affair with married KNBC field producer Jeff Soto. The station also fired Soto and Jim Bunner, a producer and friend of Lah’s husband. Bunner was fired because he knew about the affair but didn’t tell management about it, and his knowledge of the affair became known by management after he intercepted an incriminating note written by Lah to Soto that eventually got into the hands of management. The station’s general manager at the time, Paula Madison, had told employees when she joined the station in 2000 that she had considered romantic relationships involving at least one married staffer to be firing offenses. Lah’s husband at the time, Curtis Vogel, was subsequently reported to have been the one to have complained about the affair, prompting management’s investigation of it.

    (Wikipedia)

  98. In regards two dual citizenship: In 1991 I had a private meeting with then consular general of Japan Daniel spencer. My oldest son had just been born and I was registering his birth abroad. After his interview I asked him what I should do if a day came that my son would be forced to citizenship by either a U.S. or Japanese governmental agency. He told me “absolutely have your son chose Japanese citizenship and renounce his U.S. citizenship” I was shocked to hear this. He then went on to explain that recently it has become impossible to renounce your U.S. citizenship. He said you can throw your passport in the fire and even Salute the Japanese emperor. But the only circumstance in which a U.S. citizenship would ever lose his/her citizenship would be if the Joined the North Korean Army or some other hostile nation to the U.S. He said this had been a major shift in state department policy over the years. On the other hand if he were to choose to be a U.S. citizen and renounce his Japanese citizenship he would possibly lose his Japanese citizenship.

    According to the former U.S. consulate general of Japan of 1992 Mr. Savoie is a U.S. citizen even though the Japanese government made him renounce and perhaps even surrender his passport.

    U.S. state department policies may have changed again during president Bushe’s 8 year rein of terror. But I think president Obama and his staff have been too busy housecleaning to address this obscure but wonderful state department policy of 1992 or before.

    If Mr. Savoie in all his new found fast wealth had become a Japanese citizen thinking that he had found a clever way to avoid his responsibility to the U.S. IRS until death do us part he was greatly mistaken. Which makes the reason for this shift in policy make a lot of sense from the standpoint of the treasury department. Even foreigners that return to their home country and give up their U.S. residency status (green card) are required by the IRS to continue filling a tax return for 10 years upon forfeiture of their U.S. residency status. This means that Mr. Savoies ex wife must continue to file her federal U.S. income tax return not only now but for a continuing 10 years after her U.S. residency status forfeiture. In reality the IRS will ignore the small fries that don’t have any money to squeeze but they will be paying a lot of attention to someone of such recent notoriety with $800,000. dollars cash in the bank.

    Which is another question that I have no idea about as to whether U.S. divorce court settlements are taxable in anyway. I mean if it was his money before their marriage and he had her sign a pre nuptial agreement then it was never her money. Now it has become her money which would seem to be a form of income. If the asset were strictly considered community property then it is irrelevant because the money was not earned but simply split.

    It would be interesting to know where this large amount of money is right now. If she transfered it back to Japan right after receipt that would seem to indicate that she was planning on returning to Japan (especially with Japans almost %0 interest). If she suddenly left the U.S. in a panic because of some event then perhaps the money is still sitting in a U.S. bank. In which case Mr. Savoie’s attorney would have a pretty easy time in suing for it’s return as she completely violated the terms of its acceptance. Now president Obama has further complicated the matter by instituting various new rules in regards to transfer of funds abroad for the purpose of tax or judicial judgement evasion. There may be a myriad of various federal (and very extraditable) and state charges that this poor lady could be brought up on. Serious charges that have nothing to do with the issues of child abduction addressed in the Hague convention. If I were her attorney I would advise her to immediately contact the Japanese police and have her ex- husband released by apologizing and saying it was just a misunderstanding. I’d further recommend for her to take the children on an extended vacation to an undisclosed location before his release. I would then recommend that she and her ex husband both sit down with a professional mediator and resolve these issues once again, in Japan this time. I’m sure that she doesn’t really want her ex husband (father of her children) locked up in jail anymore. And I’m sure he doesn’t really want to see the mother of his children extradited to the U.S. and locked up in a state or federal penitentiary.

    If anyone hasn’t seen the movie “War of the Roses” it’s a must see in regards to entertaining and escullating marital conflict.

  99. Interesting that the Yomiuri article Aceface quoted above refers to Christopher Savoie as “the suspect, Savoie” but to Noriko as only “the ex-wife”, while the Nishi Nihon Shinbun refers to neither of them by name. The Yomiuri article also mentions that there is an arrest warrant out on her in the US, so why not refer to them both as named suspects? The article even quotes her father as referring to Christopher as “the suspect, Savoie,” which strikes me as very improbably.

  100. I am really very surprised by the support for Noriko. I can guarantee that she was very savvy about her rights and the legal system in Japan when she abducted her kids.

    Abduction is a traditional means of securing custody and inflicting punishment on the father. I know because I am in the middle of a divorce and soon after I registered for choutei my wife moved to an undisclosed location and abducted my child and has tried to use him as a bargaining chip even though legally I have joint custody. She knows very well that the police, government, and other governmental agencies will not cooperate with me. It has been more than 14 months since I have seen my child-despite the fact that a court order for one visitation per month was issued by the Family Court in May (there’s no enforcement).

    I knew that this was what was probably going to happen given her vindictive nature and avarice, but I had no choice, unlike Savoie I am not rich enough to buy her off.

    I suggest some of your check out the story of Steve Christie:(no longer available online story from Metropolis):

    Tell that to Steve Christie, an adjunct professor who left Berkeley, California, for Tokyo 12 years ago. Christie says his estranged wife abducted his then 10-year-old son almost a year and a half ago—despite an agreement not to take the child from the parent he was with, as well as other Japanese legal documents that include his son’s written wishes. Japan, which snubs the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, is drawing increasing international attention for practices deemed detrimental to children and non-Japanese parents alike.

    Christie says his wife took his son, who was living with him at the time, out for dinner and never returned. When he sought help from police, his report was dismissed. Three days later, he tracked his wife down at her new residence in Shibuya. Accompanied by a friend who served as photographer and witness, Christie arrived in time to see his wife, her parents and a burly Japanese man preparing to leave with his son.

    He says he was repeatedly assaulted by the man—to the point of having his head driven into a concrete wall—for asking what was going on. At one point, his friend, who did not otherwise intervene, picked up the cellphone that fell from the man’s pocket and put it on a ledge for safekeeping. When police arrived (above), they ignored the paperwork Christie says he brought as evidence of custody rights, and instead took him, his wife and both of their friends to the police station. His request to have his bleeding head treated at a hospital was ignored. At the station, Christie says police served a peculiar brand of justice. “They said, ‘If you persist in your complaint of assault and battery, we’re going to arrest you for stealing [his accused assailant’s] cellphone—and here I am with my head bleeding.

    “I think the primary reason for taking me to the police station was to remove me from the scene so my wife’s parents could abduct my son,” says Christie, who along with his lawyer will appear in a documentary about child abductions. Similar to many others in custody disputes with Japanese, Christie says he has spent just one hour with his son —in court—as legal proceedings plod on and allow his wife to keep their son in a secret location. “In Japan, it’s institutionalized racism against foreigners,” he says. “It’s not just law enforcement but also the judicial branch. The courts say they’re operating in the best interest of the child, but they’re not.”

    *He has seen his son once in four years.

    Or Paul Wong: http:

    //japanchildabduction.com/?p=47

    And there’s the case of Sean Hillman that involves Aceface’s good buddy Kensuke Ohnuki:

    My five year old son Sean Hillman was abducted to Japan in violation of United States court orders (07-3-01188-2 SEA, King County Superior Court) by his mother, my ex wife, on July 5th 2008. Since that date I have not been able to see my son or communicate with him in any way. I have been threatened with Japanese criminal charges by my ex- wife’s attorney Kensuke Ohnuki of the Satsuki Law Group, Tokyo if I try to make any contact with my son.

    http:

    //seanhillman.weebly.com/

    Five years for Debito.

    And I know Japanese people who never saw the estranged parent again after the divorce.

    I don’t think what Savoie did was right or very smart, but I understand why he did it.

  101. “No. We have evidence. It just doesn’t support the idea she was misled. If you want to make that claim more than a supposition, you need to back it up.”

    @Mulboyne

    What other logical answer is there? TN Code I cited above indicates that Noriko didn’t have the fullfil the residency in order for Chris to file for a divorce. Not only that, if Noriko’s purpose was to receive a favorable division of assets/alimony/child support from the TN courts, she herself could initiate a divorce in TN.

    My argument is that there had to be some motivating factor for her to accept her husband’s petition for residence and for to move their kids out of the country half way across the world.

  102. Of course there are the readers coming over from debito.org, but let me present another theory: most MF readers don’t have any strong opinions about Japanese politics or airplanes and are content to remain observers, but they have definitely thought about what would happen if things didn’t work out with their Japanese wives.

    I would say that is a theory with much in the way of observations behind it, but yet unproven. As well, the theory from Terrie’s Take is not so much untested (that would be a hypothesis), but unproven. There are many people making many interesting comments in this thread; however, the more we dig into this case, the more I feel that nothing can really be proven. Neither side wants to deviate from the narrative that in the end will give them what they want, which for both the mother and father seems to be the sole custody of the children in her/his respective country. Pretty nasty incentives , especially now that the press is involved.

    As far as thinking about what would happen if things didn’t work out with the Japanese wife, I don’t know: Isn’t that the pound of cure? It’s far less energy in my book to worry about the ounces of prevention.

  103. Father of abducted child.

    I can only imagine your frustration at not even being able to see your child for 14 months. Is there no way to petition the family court to render the original judgement invalid due to your ex-wife’s complete disregard of the judgement? Once a month sounds little better than a jail visit and you haven’t even been given that.

    The law and enforcement in these custody and even basic acknowledgment matters in Japan must be changed and changed soon to a more equitable solution. We have Asian teenagers arriving everyday looking for their Japanese fathers that have either abandoned them or never knew of their existence. Few of these fathers step up to the plate and take responsibility for their sexual escapades abroad. Most deny their bastard children and Japanese law does little to help them. And then we have loving gaijin fathers who would do anything to be with their children who are bullied by threats into complacency and acceptance of their plight.

    Gaijins and their various abuses can expect little sympathy in the court of the Japanese mass media generated public opinion, which strongly influences the judiciary. Things are getting slowly better on a grass roots level and will continue to do so. There are many of us so called gaijins working behind the scenes in various ways on these matters as well, some Japanese, too. The internet likewise is a new found powerful tool that helps grass root campaigns for justice catch fire all the more quickly.

  104. I am very sad that this case is getting so much attention.. and only one sided
    What both parents did was wrong..

    Also the whole article gave me the awareness that Japan needs to change the law.
    However I have no respect to Christopher because he cheated his wife his kids and is using the USA law for his own selffishness.

    Thomas regarding Noriko calling the police to apolozie and release chirstopher .. it does not work that way..
    If she does that she will be charged too for false complained.

    However I agree both need to sit down and discuss a plan..
    The kids needs the father and the mother..

    One thing so.. can the kids get restraining order agains Amy the new wife for destroying their life?
    Can they sue the new wife for money for the emotional distress?
    Had to ask since I hear USA everyone sue someone for something..

  105. I just realized after many months that Mulyboyne and M-Bone are not one of the same, I’m stupid.

    M-Bone
    “You can win this one pretty easily – Perry didn’t bombard anything. Your wife is probably thinking of the Shimonoseki bombardment a decade later (which the US should only be partially blamed for).”

    As mentioned I’m not much of a history buff. But my wife is usually right and I almost always lose, even if I’m right and she’s wrong. So I double checked about Admiral Perry on Wikipedia. “The Japanese government was forced to let Perry come ashore to avoid further naval bombardment.” It might not have been the open coast but it was the Japanese coast.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_C._Perry

  106. It’s now being reported that the mother stated in Tennessee court papers that she had been separated since 2005 in Japan. It seems to me that the father had no problem with Japan’s legal system then, with its fair rules for property division and visitation on paper, but weak discovery and enforcement. Now his net worth is less. because his company shares decreased in value, but he wants to use the mother’s settlement to force her to live in Tennessee, where his lawyer questioned the mother on why she hadn’t yet bought a house in Tennessee with the money he “gave” her. The father didn’t want the children’s passports released to the mother without such a guarantee of her financial ties to Tennessee. With real estate deflating, as the mother understood, this would have been even more unfair.

    Yet in the Yomiuri article above, when asked whether he wanted to live with the children in Tennessee, he reportedly said that Japan was fine as a place, if it just had a better legal system. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t want to leave property division to the reasonable of the father, while seeking coercion of visitation rights in a foreign country, where the children’s passports have been seized and the mother has to negotiate a financial settlement in order to get permission to take the children back to Japan.

    Under these circumstances, it is the height of hypocrisy to argue “fundamental human rights” to get a Tennessee court to take child custody jurisdiction over children whose home state under Tennessee law is Japan.

  107. I give no credence to Kensuke Ohnuki’s claim that most Japanese mothers abducting their children are the victims of domestic abuse. Even if there are allegations of abuse, that is an issue for the court that properly has jurisdiction, which in the Hillman case would be the King County Superior Court.

  108. I did not mean to suggest there are allegations of abuse in the Hillman case. I’m just talking about Ohnuki’s general justification for the actions of many of his clients, and Japan’s justification for dragging its feet on the Hague Convention.

  109. “It’s now being reported that the mother stated in Tennessee court papers that she had been separated since 2005 in Japan.”

    Do you have a source for this? I didn’t see anything in a quick Google news search.

    If this is the case, the children may barely know him… it makes the case much, much more complicated.

  110. From the Japan Times – “He forced the children into a rented vehicle together with four other acquaintances, and the ex-wife and the children sustained bruises in the incident, according to the police.” This could be his undoing. Also wondering what happened to these acquaintances.

  111. Some reasonable advice from a lawyer discussing the case with the site momlogic – “Beware of dual citizenships. These are a red flag that you may be dealing with a possible future abduction. ”

  112. It’s weak source, MBone. I had been hearing rumors to this effect, and then someone named Avid Reader made this claim, supposedly based on seeing the mother’s answer in the Tennessee case, in a comment here:

    http://www.topix.net/forum/source/wtvf/TCK5K84CJLIOL9169/p2

    It makes sense. I don’t know whether the mother has actually said they were “happy” and that the divorce was a “surprise,” as the commenter claims. I know there are questions about whether she knew a divorce was in the works when she came to Tennessee. I don’t think Judge Martin was wrong that she was not surprised, but that does not mean that she still hope for reconciliation. Judge Martin said that she was still emotionally attached to the marriage, while the father was not.

    None of this answers the question of whether she knew the divorce would happen so quickly, whether she knew she would be held in Tennessee by court order and subsequent seizure of the children’s passports, and whether she was in a fair negotiating position once that happened.

    The father’s lawyer says:

    “Before she left Japan, Noriko spoke at length to a social worker in Tennessee about the divorce law in Tennessee and the financial arrangements that she could expect. They discussed the fact that Noriko planned to come with the children to live in the United States. Noriko stated that she preferred to get the divorce in America and she had many questions about the divorce process. She stated that she would remain in the United States so that both she and Chris could participate in raising Isaac and Rebecca.

    “Noriko promptly hired a divorce lawyer in Tennessee and divorce proceedings were promptly commenced there.”

    http://www.japanabduction.blogspot.com/

    This raises more questions than it answers, and more very serious concerns than it addresses.

    If this is true, a Tennessee social worker had no business advising the mother about her rights under Tennessee law.

    If it’s true that the mother said she wanted to remain the U.S. and raise the kids with the father’s participation, then I see no reason to assume her bad faith without further information. When she said in March that she never meant to keep the children from her father, she may have just meant that. Her coming to Tennessee would show she meant that, and her leaving Tennessee in August would not necessarily show that she didn’t mean it. Nor does her leaving necessarily show that she does not still intend that. I would be surprised if she still wants that now after what the father and CNN have done since she left Tennessee, but I hope that she can forgive him after all this.

    My heart goes out to Carl Hillman. That’s a totally different case because the children were properly under the Seattle court’s jurisdiction, as I am very happy to learn the Japanese court has recognized. (I know this leaves the problem of enforcement and am in full agreement that Japan needs reforms to make family court orders enforceable.)

    It also sounds like there are personal differences as well. I don’t know if it is Carl Hillman, but there is a Seattle father I’ve seen on other threads that does not sound bitter at all, and has had the chance to walk his son to school and visit the school, by smartly working within the framework of Japanese law.

    I can’t agree with the suggestion of Father of Abducted Child above that the mother in this case has been shown to be vindictive and avaricious. I think it’s terribly unfair to judge her, and individual Japanese woman, based on the actions of other Japanese women and based on a system that she is not responsible for.

    It’s not fair to judge him either, because although seems to have benefited from the Japanese system in one way and has been selfish, he has also been a victim of the Japanese system. Regardless of how he has behaved, and regardless of whether or not he is more to blame, he is the children’s father and has a lot to offer them.

    The system needs change, but I think the mother is the biggest victim here, excepting of course the children. In my opinion, understanding the actions of the mother in this case, and questioning the jurisdiction of the Tennessee court, is more likely to lead to the children seeing their father again. In political terms, carefully distinguishing this case from that of the cases like the Hillman case is the best way to make Japan see the need for reform.

  113. Two more points I wanted to make based on the lawyer’s blog above.

    1. The blog says that “Noriko promptly hired a divorce lawyer in Tennessee and divorce proceedings were promptly commenced there.” We know what “promptly” means as relates to commencement of the divorce – it was the day after she arrived in Tennessee. We don’t know what “promptly” means as relates to her getting a Tennessee lawyer, but we know it was not before she came to Tennessee. Once she was there, she was physically trapped by having moved the children there, was apparently under court order not to leave when the divorce was filed, and according to an AP report, did not have the children’s passports after October 2008 when the father asked the court to order her to turn over the passports. So even if she got a lawyer right away, it’s not unreasonable to say she was trapped and in a weak position.

    2. The blog says that under the December 2008 agreement, “Noriko would receive assets of nearly $800,000, representing most of Chris’s liquid assets.” We don’t know what his total assets were, though it sounds like the rest of his money was tied up in a house and car in Tennessee. This might be a fair property division at the time, comparable to the half share she would probably get under Japanese law, but he was probably worth much less in 2008 than in 2005-2007, when they were separated in Japan. She had to come to Tennessee to get that, apparently on the legal advice of a social worker, and was being asked to use her share to buy Tennessee real estate to tie her to Tennessee, as much for the convenience of the father and his new wife as for his rights to see the children.

  114. A final point that really bothers me. The hearing transcript shows that the mother was bothered by the father bringing his new wife with him on visitations, and the Yomiuri article above quotes the mother’s father talking about the mother feeling like a babysitter when she took the children to the father’s house.

    This situation cannot have been easy for the mother. It would be hard enough for an American woman, in a culture in divorce and dealing with multiple custody situations is common. For a Japanese woman, from a culture where families are thought of a units, this must have been very strange and troubling for the mother. The father and his new wife could have been more culturally and humanly sensitive. Whether we like it or not, Japanese culture sees divorce as a rupture of the family unit, and is not as concerned about interactions with those who choose to leave the unit.

    It sounds like it was in the father’s power to have had a divorce and remarry much sooner, so I wonder whether the remarriage had to happen so quickly, and whether patience would have gotten a better result for him.

    In judging the wife, we should consider these matters.

  115. Thomas, those sources about Perry are wrong. The white flag story has been proven false.

    ペリーは浦賀来航の際に幕府に旗を二本贈っているが、旗の種類及び贈った目的は不明。高麗環文書では、「開国か降伏か」を迫る文書を同時に渡したとされる。二本の旗のうちひとつは白旗であり、降伏の際に用いる旗であると説明されていたという。ただし同文書に記載された内容は当時の状況と矛盾する点が多く、日本史の専門家からは一部の人を除き偽書と判断されている。

    Also note that the English Wikipedia article cites random later books. The Japanese one cites period documents –
    ペリーの『日本遠征記』によると、2度の来航で100発以上の空砲を祝砲、礼砲、号砲の名目で撃っており、日本側史料には、これが大混乱を巻き起こしたことが記録されているが、いずれも被害は無く、実戦は行っていないはずである。

    Some horseplay did take place – 事件は嘉永7年1月23日(1854年2月21日)丑の下刻、洲崎を警護する備前岡山藩陣地への砲撃であった。艦船の砲弾は陣地の手前10メートルほどの海中に落下した。備前藩は非常召集を行って大砲5門を以って砲撃、蒸気船二隻は逃走したが、帆船三隻に命中した。備前の守備隊は舟艇で帆船への乗船を試み、反撃を受けて300名ほどが死傷したが、三隻を「御取り上げ」(拿捕)した。しかし、この事件は2月1日(2月27日)の記録を最後に途絶えている。また、他に一切の情報が無い為に、文章の信憑性が疑われている。

    But it isn’t fair to define this as a unilateral American bombardment of anything.

    Dude, do you really want your wife to be right so badly?

  116. Corection to something I said abive:

    I don’t think Judge Martin was wrong that she was not surprised [by the divorce], but that does not mean that she [did not] still hope for reconciliation. Judge Martin said that she was still emotionally attached to the marriage, while the father was not.

  117. Correction to something I said above:

    I don’t think Judge Martin was wrong that she was not surprised [by the divorce], but that does not mean that she [did not] still hope for reconciliation. Judge Martin said that she was still emotionally attached to the marriage, while the father was not.

  118. Sorry for the double post.

    While I’m at it, I want to say that it is encouraging that a Japanese court in the Hillman case has recognized the jurisdiction of the Washington court over parenting issues. Washington is obviously the home state of the children under uniform state law and the habitual residence of the children under the Hague Convention. This is the kind of case that will convince Japanese courts to honor foreign custody judgments, and convince the Japanese government to sign the Hague Convention, and convince the Japanese Diet to ratify the Hague Convention and increase the enforcement authorities of Japanese family courts. Mr. Savoie will benefit in the long run. I hope the Savoie case gets CNN and other sources to also report on cases like the Hillman case.

  119. “Beware of dual citizenships?” That’s a rather surreal statement. I mean, we’re talking about a case where a citizen of one country took kids from a citizen of two countries.

  120. @Thomas

    My lawyer says I can sued her for performing visitations, however, only for financial reimbursement. The scumbag lawyer would also charge me another ¥315,000 to initiate the suit. (I’ve already paid him ¥1,000,000).

    So she has all the possessions I bought during the marriage including a car that is in my name that isn’t paid for yet, I haven seen my child in 14 months, and I have been paying support the whole time. I don’t see her letting up. Her best offer was in choutei was 60% of my salary and one visitation every two months for two hours in a lawyer’s office. You call this justice?

    Even if I get my “prison” visits-my child is at risk for PAS (Parental Alienation Syndrome). The mother is vindictive and will probably slander me. At any rate, I won’t have any sort of normal relationship with my son-my parents will never meet him, nor his 7 nieces and nephews or family in America. She has also stated no overnight visits until he is out of junior high school.

    But thanks for your kind words.

  121. Ningen:
    “I give no credence to Kensuke Ohnuki’s claim that most Japanese mothers abducting their children are the victims of domestic abuse.”

    Ohnuki’s claim (and Asahi’s uncritical use of it) has been bothering me for a long time. Is there any actual proof of this, other than his assertion? One would think that allegations of domestic violence would have come up and been documented in the American trials of these custody fights, but I’ve never read any reports of this.

  122. I have no idea if Ohnuki’s claim is true. However, more Japanese women are marring Korean men than any other nationality by far (and no idea what, if anything, these stats would suggest about Zainichi) and it seems that by far the biggest marriage problem cited by foreign wives of Koreans is domestic violence.

    http://www.visaemon.jp/article/13437078.html

    Japanese NGOs have been quite active in advocating for foreign victims of domestic violence in Japan (I know of at least 5 call centers offering help in Tagalog) and have also produced a few books and reports on this problem and the problem of Japanese women abused abroad (none of which are online). No idea how it relates to abductions, but it seems like this thing is frighteningly common in all contexts and Ohnuki’s comments, while perhaps burning innocent forgotten fathers, are coming from a context of very sincere and prolific protection of women.

  123. M-Bone. Of course I want my wife to be right. Do you think I want to quarrel with her and have her run off with my youngest son. Or perhaps end up in jail like Mr. Savoie. We are going to celebrate our 20th Wed. anniversary soon. I think for a Japanese wife they have to be in the right. It’s an all or nothing. Someone has to give in. It might as well be me. The consequences of escalating into proving her wrong about anything are to severe.

    In regards to Admiral Perry’s bombardment: my wife and I were not there so of course we don’t really know what happened. Wikipedia has always seemed to be a commonly recognized and reliable source of information. My Japanese is not proficient enough to understand the Japanese period documents quotes you kindly provided. I would like to say that certainly in the rural area of Gifu where I live there is a common perception amongst most of the Japanese people that I know that the famous U.S. Admiral Perry showed up to Japan and started bombarding Japanese coastal villages. So while factual or not I’m still not going to be able to prove otherwise to my wife. Sometimes to win what we want we have to lose something we have. I concede.

  124. “I think for a Japanese wife they have to be in the right.”

    My wife has to be right about how many times I washed the dishes last week but on historical issues, I’m glad that there is plenty of give.

    “So while factual or not I’m still not going to be able to prove otherwise to my wife.”

    My last resort when arguing points of Japanese history with family is providing a list of Tokyo University profs who agree with me.

    The difference between the Japanese and US Wikipedia articles on the Blackships and whatnot is fascinating. The English version presents poor information from secondary sources that makes the Americans look overly violent while the Japanese version deconstructs the primary historical evidence and collapses the myth that Perry was overly violent.

  125. “I’m just talking about Ohnuki’s general justification for the actions of many of his clients, and Japan’s justification for dragging its feet on the Hague Convention.”

    Nope.Ohnuki never justified parental abduction in general and he is a supporter of the Hague Convention.

    “Ohnuki’s claim (and Asahi’s uncritical use of it) has been bothering me for a long time. Is there any actual proof of this, other than his assertion? ”

    Firstly,his assertion is based on numerous allegations of his clients and information from his colleague(of whom I’ve also talked and confirmed) which seemingly believable to me and press of nay nationality.
    Ohnuki’s clients are 90% foreigners in Japan.He is the leading lawer of defending the rights of Afghan and Burmese refugees and he also made urgent messages to the press of release of North Korean exiles tried to enter J-consulate in Shengyang.
    He also deals with numbers of divorce cases of DV to foreign wives from J-husbands.
    I don’t doubt there could be some 100% innocent father totally victimized by evil Japanese wife.But Ohnuki was black listed lawyer by Children’s Right Network of Japan for serving their opponent.And it does harm his business.We are talking about a man who defends refugee without charge and even spend his money to build restaurant for Afghans so they can have the way to get income.
    I have to wonder the credibility of these groups.Until they move Ohnuki from “black list” and move to “recommended” list,I have to conclude that CRN’s main interest isn’t exactly the children’ right but that of the disgruntled husbands.

    “Gaijins and their various abuses can expect little sympathy in the court of the Japanese mass media generated public opinion, which strongly influences the judiciary.”

    “Japanese mass media” tends to stay neutral in these court cases so I don’t think that’s happening.Anyway of all 25 articles I picked up on Nikkei Telecon 25,all of them are pro-Hague and definitly more objective than CNN.

  126. ” I would like to say that certainly in the rural area of Gifu where I live there is a common perception amongst most of the Japanese people that I know that the famous U.S. Admiral Perry showed up to Japan and started bombarding Japanese coastal villages.”

    Noooo waay.I live in Nagoya and goes to Gifu pretty frequently.That’s not true.

  127. “Children’s Rights Network” is actually not a group. It’s one person who writes under a pseudonym when he bothers to use a name at all. A law firm I used to work at was on his blacklist because one of their retired partners had previously aided an alleged abductor. The firm tried to contact the CRN guy to get their name removed, but he refused to budge.

  128. “And there’s the case of Sean Hillman that involves Aceface’s good buddy Kensuke Ohnuki:

    My five year old son Sean Hillman was abducted to Japan in violation of United States court orders (07-3-01188-2 SEA, King County Superior Court) by his mother, my ex wife, on July 5th 2008. Since that date I have not been able to see my son or communicate with him in any way. I have been threatened with Japanese criminal charges by my ex- wife’s attorney Kensuke Ohnuki of the Satsuki Law Group, Tokyo if I try to make any contact with my son.”

    Father of an abducted child:

    I don’t see any problem on the part of my “good buddy”Kensuke Ohnuki had played here.After all,he’s a lawyer serving for his client isn’t he?
    And I haven’t got any information on what kind of attitudes being shown from the side of husband on this part.So I can’t give you any judgement whether husband act can be worth Japanese criminal charges.

    Thomas:

    “We have Asian teenagers arriving everyday looking for their Japanese fathers that have either abandoned them or never knew of their existence. Few of these fathers step up to the plate and take responsibility for their sexual escapades abroad. Most deny their bastard children and Japanese law does little to help them. ”

    Well,I think you never heard about many Amerasian kids in Okinawa before.

    “And then we have loving gaijin fathers who would do anything to be with their children who are bullied by threats into complacency and acceptance of their plight.”

    I also want to point out that the case could go both ways and we only hear emotional stories from husband side.Although I would agree that Japan should sign the Hague treaty which may improve the situation quite a bit.

  129. I have no sympathy for this guy whatsoever. He’s broken his family up for the sake of another woman; the situation is his own fault. When you break up a marriage in that way, you should walk away empty handed. But this guy wanted to have his cake and eat it. Clearly he didn’t care enough about his kids to make an effort to stay with their mother, but he still wants them by so he and his mistress can play with them when they feel like it. What kind of a life is that for children, being passed around from pillar to post?

    I can’t imagine how awful the situation would be if I were forced to stay in Japan with my kids while my husband lived it up with some other woman and had the barefaced effrontery to seek an order to prevent me going home with them. How cruel can you get?

    True, Japanese law is a mess concerning divorce and child custody/visitation. It needs reform so that people in truly abusive relationships have justice and redress. But at least in Japan parents are encouraged to stay together and stick it out. If you walk out on your marriage for somebody else you’ll lose your kids and be faced with a considerable amount of damages money to boot. Breaking up a family just because you fancy somebody else or because you don’t fancy your spouse so much as you used to or because you just don’t really like each other very much any more is behaviour that is indulged in the west but there’s no reason why those values should be imposed on everyone else.

  130. Ohnuki had a quote in Mainichi a year ago that also caught my eye:
    —“In over 90 percent of cases in which the Japanese women return to Japan, the man is at fault, such as with domestic violence and child abuse,” Onuki says. He says that when the Japanese women come back to Japan, they don’t bring with them evidence of domestic violence or other problems, making their claims hard to prove, and the voice of the man saying, “Give me back my child,” tends to be heard louder.

    I believe Aceface when he says that this guy is an upstanding human right lawyer but these seem like irresponsible things to say, or at least irresponsible framing by Mainichi. This is a quote saying that abductions are the fault of fathers, by a lawyer who represents mothers and, in the next sentence, actually says that there is no evidence of what he is claiming. I accept that proving domestic violence can be very difficult, but surely he can refer to at least one piece of documentation rather than make up a 90% figure thats does not seem to be based on anything. Also, if the voice of the man tends to be “heard louder,” then why does the child almost always wind up with the mother?

    Is the reason I’m confused because, as M-Bone suggested, Ohnuki is referring to cases involving Asian spouses that are not related to the recent Western spouse stories?

    (The original Japanese article that had this quote is down, but Debito kept a copy of the English version: http://www.debito.org/?p=1983)

  131. “but surely he can refer to at least one piece of documentation rather than make up a 90% figure thats does not seem to be based on anything. ”

    The client information belongs to “personal information” which is touchy subject in Japan these days,although I agree “90%” figure is troublesome that probably is the number based on his professional experience,but he shouldn’t have bring that up.And he should also clarify that he supports Hague treaty.

    “Also, if the voice of the man tends to be “heard louder,” then why does the child almost always wind up with the mother?”

    Because you only read the “mother-takes-my-child”case and never the other way around in English press,which is neither the fault of Ohnuki nor J-media.

    “Ohnuki is referring to cases involving Asian spouses that are not related to the recent Western spouse stories?”

    Can’t tell and I have to ask the man on this.But one thing everyone is missing is most of international marriage between Japanese and foreigner occur between Asian countries like China,South Korea and the Philippines.And most of them are not sigining the Hague treaty just like Japan.Marrying to Hague party countries consist small portion to Japanese.

  132. Mikan says, “True, Japanese law is a mess concerning divorce and child custody/visitation. It needs reform so that people in truly abusive relationships have justice and redress.”

    I agree strongly with everything else in your post, but would like to hear more about the above. What needs to be changed, and how can the changes be made without also harming the good aspects of the Japanese approach?

  133. Aceface, if you could get Ohnuki to comment on this thread that’d be really great. I’ve always wanted to ask him to explain that Mainichi paragraph.

    “Also, if the voice of the man tends to be “heard louder,” then why does the child almost always wind up with the mother?”

    “Because you only read the “mother-takes-my-child”case and never the other way around in English press,which is neither the fault of Ohnuki nor J-media.”

    Wait a second. I thought that it was fact that in abduction cases like these, and in divorces in general in Japan, the kids usually wind up with the mother.

    I still don’t understand how the voice of the man is “heard louder,” at least at the time when Ohnuki said it. It’s certainly overrepresented in the recent stories about Western fathers, but was this the case pre-2008 and is this the case with non-Western fathers? Is the J-media more balanced in this regard?

  134. I should explain what I mean when I say I give no credence to Ohnuki-sensei’s claim about domestic violence. I certainly not saying he is a liar, and for all I know, his clients have been victims of domestic violence. I said that without even rereading what he said. My point is that we can’t give credence to such claims because it is too unfair, especially to fathers in countries like the U.S. that have strong systems to deal with domestic violence. My bigger point is that Japan shouldn’t use that as a reason for not signing the Hague Convention.

    Undetected domestic violence does occur, and it may be hard for Japanese mothers to access protection systems, even in the U.S. So there may be some legitimate grounds for concern. However, I think Japan needs to make a better showing and suggest a solution if there is a problem. If they feel that strongly, they could propose a bilateral agreement, maybe one that could be proposed in common to Canada, the U.S., Australia, and the UK. That would be a start.

    Simpler would be for Japan to make a reservation to the Hague Convention that allows for some process in Japan to address legitimate cases where the Japanese mother chose to escape domestic violence without seeking court/law enforcement help, which would replace regular procedures for immediate return to the habitual residence country, but only upon some real showing of need for that.

    If that made Japan comfortable signing the Hague Convention, then it would be real progress. If a foreign court came to have a grounds to believe that this extra Japanese procedure was being abused by Japanese mothers using it to excuse their action, then maybe a foreign court could develop a process to address that.

  135. Joe: ““Children’s Rights Network” is actually not a group. It’s one person who writes under a pseudonym when he bothers to use a name at all. A law firm I used to work at was on his blacklist because one of their retired partners had previously aided an alleged abductor. The firm tried to contact the CRN guy to get their name removed, but he refused to budge.”

    Correction: one of their associates, who was asked to leave.

  136. Wow, after reading AceFace’s comment about Ohnuki-sensei’s work, I feel even worse. I was just trying to make a point.

  137. I’m confused, though, AceFace, because the Mainichi article at Debito’s website says that Ohnuki-sensei opposes Hague:

    “Kensuke Onuki, a lawyer familiar with the issue, is opposed to Japan signing the convention, based on the viewpoint of Japan protecting its own citizens.”

    Also, is it Ōnuki or Onuki?

  138. It seems that most people believe that two reasonable parents stand the best chance of getting balanced custody arrangements if a relationship breaks down. You might imagine that to be almost a truism but I think you do have to be careful how far you take it. There’s one point I’d like to throw in which has been touched on but not so much directly addressed.

    For many Japanese spouses, a “balanced custody arrangement” does not include the idea of both parents continuing to be involved with a child. For instance, some Japanese wives find it bizarre and unsettling that a foreign father imagines he should have any rights to maintain contact with a child in the event she gains custody. Should the man then take up with a new Japanese partner, he may find she also doesn’t care for his interest in his former children.

    It’s not just mothers. In former Prime Minister Koizumi’s divorce, he took custody of the couple’s two eldest children while his wife took custody of the youngest son, who was actually born after the divorce. She asked to see the other two boys on occasion and Koizumi refused. She was quoted saying “Koizumi is a man who keeps his promises, but on this point he did not.” The youngest boy attempted to meet his father but, at least until few years ago, Koizumi rebuffed him. He was apparently turned away from his grandmother’s funeral.

    It’s all very well talking about being reasonable when you assume that both sides share similar views about what is good for a child but a very different issue when there is an unbridgeable gulf.

  139. Wataru Says:
    <>

    Well, the possibility of joint custody and the enforcement of visiting rights would be nice in cases where the children had a strong desire to remain in touch with both parents. It would also be nice if the authorities had powers to deal with parents who simply disappear with kids without trace. Then, sensible and realistic ways of dealing with people who commit domestic violence would go a long way towards separating those who divorce for sensible reasons from those who divorce for frivolous ones.

    The authorities are pretty allergic to getting involved with family disputes, and this means that really things are left to the law of the jungle.

    What they don’t need to do is to start bringing in ideas of ‘no fault’ divorce as they have done in the west. When somebody has an affair or runs off with somebody else that really is tantamount to saying to the kids ‘I care more about my own transient feelings than about you’. There’s no two ways about it. There’s no use pretending that all is fair in love and war and thinking that it protects the psychological health of kids not to blame a person who does that, because kids are wiser than that.

    I don’t know what they could do about international marriages, though. There’s so much that can go wrong, and not always because people don’t try hard. Proper impartial mediation services, a cooling off period and co-operation between legal services in both countries might help.

  140. Simpler would be for Japan to make a reservation to the Hague Convention that allows for some process in Japan to address legitimate cases where the Japanese mother chose to escape domestic violence without seeking court/law enforcement help, which would replace regular procedures for immediate return to the habitual residence country, but only upon some real showing of need for that.

    That’s a loophole big enough to fly a plane through, in my opinion. Everything gets alleged when child custody is on the line.

    What they don’t need to do is to start bringing in ideas of ‘no fault’ divorce as they have done in the west.

    They already effectively have that in the form of consensual divorces and vague “cannot continue the relationship” grounds for in-court divorces.

  141. “Aceface, if you could get Ohnuki to comment on this thread that’d be really great. I’ve always wanted to ask him to explain that Mainichi paragraph”

    Negative.Since I’m not supposed to be writing all these craps.But I shall ask him in person and proibably can tell you via e-mail.

    “Wait a second. I thought that it was fact that in abduction cases like these, and in divorces in general in Japan, the kids usually wind up with the mother.”

    Also from Mainichi Sept.5th of this year
     ◇「ハーグ条約締結していたら…」
     国際結婚した夫婦の離婚を巡り、一方の親が子を母国に連れ帰るトラブルが相次いでいる問題で、海外から子を連れ戻した日本人女性2人=いずれも神奈川県在住=が毎日新聞の取材に応じ、経験を語った。高額な弁護士費用の負担を強いられ、精神的にも追い込まれ体調を崩した。国際結婚の紛争解決ルールを定めたハーグ条約を日本が締結していないのが原因だとの批判が高まる中、母親の悲痛な訴えは政府に早急な対応を迫っている。【工藤哲】
     ■「日本に帰らぬ」
     40代の女性は07年春、英国人の夫から国際電話で突然告げられた。「僕と2人の子どもたちは、もう日本に帰らない。居場所は言わない。子どもにはいつか会えるようにする」。夫の実家から一足先に日本に戻ってきたばかりだった。
     大手外資系企業の日本支店に勤務していた夫と知り合い、20代だった97年に結婚。言葉の壁もあり、夫との間に広がるズレを感じてはいたが、「連れ去り」の予兆には気づかなかった。国際電話の後、しばらくは子の居場所が分からなかった。思い当たる英国の学校に手当たり次第、問い合わせた。睡眠薬を飲んでも寝られない日々が続いた。
     インターネットなどで解決法を探した末、英国の弁護士に依頼して現地の裁判所に提訴し、元の環境に戻すよう求めた。勝訴し、子どもを日本に連れ帰った。弁護士報酬などに約700万円がかかったが、子を取り戻すため仕方なかった。
     その後正式に離婚した女性は「多くの日本の弁護士にも相談したが、ほとんどが『子が日本にいないのに裁判はできない』などと言って断られた。ハーグ条約を締結していないことで、個人にかかる負担は重い」と語る。
     ■すべてを裁判に
     40代の翻訳家の女性は93年、日系米国人の男性と結婚し、2人を産んだ。夫の実家があるハワイと日本を行き来する生活だったが、度重なる環境の変化で体調や夫婦関係が悪化し、04年に離婚した。
     離婚後もしばらくは協力して育児をしていたが、05年夏になって夫から「夏休みに2人の子どもをハワイに連れて行きたい」と切り出された。そのまま夫と子は帰らず、連絡先を聞いても、「メールで送る」と言ったきり、返事はなかった。
     たまらず、ハワイに行くと、夫は「日本に帰国するつもりはない」と言い切った。子どもが「日本に帰りたい」と話したため、女性は現地の弁護士に依頼し、裁判を起こした。訴えは認められ、子どもを日本に連れ帰ったが、600万円以上の費用を要した。
     女性は一連の手続き中、うつ状態になり、薬が手放せなかった。「離婚で分与された財産もすべて裁判で使ってしまった。日本が条約締結国なら、もっと容易に対応できたのではないか」とため息をついた。
        ◇
     ハーグ条約は83年発効で、欧米を中心に81カ国(5月現在)が締結。子どもを連れ出された親が手元に戻すよう自国政府に申し立てた場合、相手方の国の政府は迅速に子どもの居場所を確認し、元の国に帰す協力義務を負う。外務省は「民事不介入」の立場を崩していないが、国際結婚や離婚の増加を背景に「締結できるか検討中」と説明。自国民保護の観点から慎重論もある。

    “I’m confused, though, AceFace, because the Mainichi article at Debito’s website says that Ohnuki-sensei opposes Hague”

    The talk I had was during casual conversation about my personal issue and not a formal interview.Forgot the exact wording but he was concerned about the legal measures to protect Japanse citiziens(read his clients) once the Hague convention came into action,But he agreed the need in principle.So,Yeah,I’m confused myself.However,it is me who pays Ohnuki for my defense and not the other way around.So I want simply make two points on Ohnuki.

    1.Ohnuki,the man I know is a VERY foreigner freindly guy.And deeply devoted to tha cause of making Japan,a multi-ethnic society,the one I happen to shate.
    If he is a xenophobic bigot lying lawyer,then I must be reincarnated Sadam Hussein.

    2.Ohnuki’s “In over 90 percent of cases in which the Japanese women return to Japan, the man is at fault, such as with domestic violence and child abuse,” statement needs to be reexamined and I probably won’t use the number.That being said,I credit him for shedding light on one aspect that has been ignored 100% by CNN.

  142. “That’s a loophole big enough to fly a plane through, in my opinion. Everything gets alleged when child custody is on the line.”

    Yeah, you’re right, Joe. I was thinking anything to get Japan to sign, but this doesn’t make sense. A hearing would have to be held where the alleged abuse took place anyway. Japan should be able to get some assurance that a hearing be held upon return, and put a consular official on the case to make sure it happens and is adequate. Would something like that make sense?

  143. Joe, Mr. Savoie’s lawyer claimed on CNN that the mother would have got less money in Japan, and some people have pointed out he was worth several million dollars in December 2007 and that the general rule in Japan is 50/50 property division. She got about $800,000 in the court-approved divorce agreement in Tennessee. Assuming that is 50% of what he had, even though it might be less, do you know if there is reason to believe she would have gotten less in Japan, maybe because of weak discovery or enforcement?

  144. “Ohnuki,the man I know is a VERY foreigner freindly guy.And deeply devoted to tha cause of making Japan,a multi-ethnic society”

    I don’t doubt this at all. When I first found his quote, I googled him and was really impressed with his work. I’m really happy that you know him personally and can confirm that he’s a good guy. The reason I’d like to see a clarification of what he said is not because I think he’s wrong but because I think I’m misunderstanding him. I’m asking because I think he’s a good guy; if I thought he was a xenophobe, I wouldn’t bother.

    “Ohnuki’s “In over 90 percent of cases in which the Japanese women return to Japan, the man is at fault, such as with domestic violence and child abuse,” statement needs to be reexamined”

    The whole paragraph seems odd to me. He claims the men are at fault and that women can’t get a fair shake because they don’t take evidence “back to Japan.” I’m not saying that that evidence doesn’t exist, but what and where is it? I understand about the need to protect personal information, but evidence is generally a public thing, especially if it’s in a court record.

    (Again, I’m not calling him a liar. I think the confusion stems from bad framing by the paper or my own misreading.)

    Regarding the Sept 5th Mainichi articles, thanks for posting them. I’m sure that these cases haven’t been covered in the English language media and maybe never will be. I’m still interested in knowing whether or not fathers’ POV were overrepresented before 2008 or are overrepresented in the J-media. Also, I still don’t understand whether or not it’s true that most Japanese children in divorces (international or otherwise) wind up with the mother.

  145. Mulboyne said:

    “For many Japanese spouses, a “balanced custody arrangement” does not include the idea of both parents continuing to be involved with a child. For instance, some Japanese wives find it bizarre and unsettling that a foreign father imagines he should have any rights to maintain contact with a child in the event she gains custody. Should the man then take up with a new Japanese partner, he may find she also doesn’t care for his interest in his former children.”

    My problem with the Savoie case is that what “many” or “some” Japanese women would do is not necessarily what Noriko Savoie would do. Too much was asked of her, including submitting to a foreign court’s jurisdiction over her and the kids, based on what many Japanese women tend to do, and based on a Japanese legal system she did not create. That is wrong.

  146. I don’t disagree, as we touched on above when wondering whether Christopher Savoie’s fears became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I didn’t mean my observation to be a direct comment on this particular case. Instead, I wanted to point out one hugely significant barrier to the idea that reasonable agents can come up with good solutions when, in many cases, both sides start off regarding the basic request of the other as unthinkable.

    However, I think you have to be careful about saying “too much was asked” of Noriko if it is confirmed that she freely submitted herself to the court. You shouldn’t submit yourself to any form of binding arbitration on the basis that you’ll just ignore it if it doesn’t turn out the way you want.

  147. Mulboyne, It seems there was a mix of hope the marriage could be saved, desire for the children to live in the U.S., desire for the children to see the father or at least acceptance that they should, and economic coercion because he would fight a divorce in Japan. She does not seem to have gotten good advice – the father’s lawyer only says that the only advice she got before leaving Japan was from a Tennessee social worker.

    http://www.japanabduction.blogspot.com/

    But my ultimate concern is not about her, though I think she is the weaker party and has been treated with gross unfairness because of a system she did not create, marry into, and choose to divorce out of. My concern is about the kids and whether the Tennessee court should have taken jurisdiction over child custody. I don’t think she was in a position to agree without knowing what she would face. It was too risky. I hope the Tennessee court realizes this and that there is a way that she can not remain a criminal under U.S. law. I think it neither likely nor fair that the children will be sent back to the U.S. without her being able to be with them there.

  148. I guess the lawyer’s statement doesn’t preclude her having had Japanese legal counsel before she left. He doesn’t say that, though, and he is pretty clear that she did not have Tennessee counsel to after she arrived. Once the divorce was filed the day after her and the children arrived, she was under order not to leave. Whatever she expected when she arrived, she was trapped before ever having had the opportunity to reconsider.

  149. Apart from all the legal mambo-jambo,we are forgetting about few things.
    We still don’t know the detail of their personal lives.But if Chris Savoie,a successful businessman as it’s being reported,there is a possibility that Noriko didn’t have any fulltime job and remained as housewife for long time to raise their two kids.Which is a trend in Japan among the wives of wealthy husbands.And that could she may not have much money in her bank account,if there is any account of herself.
    Landing on Tennessee means not only she’s alone and unemployed,but she also has to sustain her daily life and money for the lawyer,something Chris didn’t bother to care.

  150. I was wrong about Japan being the home state for child custody jurisdiction. Once she brought the kids to Tennessee, even 2 days later, the question became whether the children and a parent had significant connections.

    My broader concerns about the Tennessee divorce stand, whether or not there was a ground for jurisdiction.

  151. Aceface.

    I hardly think that Mr. Savoie could have convinced his wife to fly to the U.S. with their children if he hadn’t provided adequate finances for her needs. What possible logic would there be for her to fly to Tennessee to get a divorce without having any money for her immediate needs. Furthermore, when she landed in Tennessee she was hardly alone. She was with her two children.

    Most people that I personally know in my rural area of Gifu believe the Wikipedia version of the events of Admiral Perry’s bombardment and not that he won the favor of an audience with the emperor by just giving gifts and being a nice guy with his fleet of black war ships.

    American soldiers who abandon their bastard children around the world should also take responsibility for their sexual escapades. Under U.S. law they would have to provide at least financial child support until 18 if proven by DNA results to be the father. That at least seems to better than the plight of the numerous bastard Asian children of Japanese fathers.

  152. “U.S. law they would have to provide at least financial child support until 18 if proven by DNA results to be the father. That at least seems to better than the plight of the numerous bastard Asian children of Japanese fathers.”

    Since most of the Amerasians were born before the DNA years,that was a bit too late.
    Just in case you are interested about how Japanese response to the “numerous bastard Asian children of Japanese fathers,you can read in here.
    From Asahi/ June 22.2008
    日本人の父とフィリピン人の母との間に生まれ、父に見捨てられるなど苦しい生活を送ってきた「ジャピーノ」と呼ばれる子と母親ら計27人が13日、日本に向かう。6月に最高裁が出した国籍法違憲判決などが追い風となり、日本で学校に行ったり働いたりするためのビザが出た。
     「日本語を一生懸命勉強して、お金をためたら大学に行く。獣医師になる夢をかなえる第一歩だと思う」
     アブカイ・サチコさん(19)は来日後、母のアナルシアさん(41)と愛知県内の工場で働き、夜は日本語学校で学ぶ予定だ。父親からはすでに認知されており、両親が結婚していなくても日本国籍が得られるよう国籍法が改正されたら「日本人」になるつもりだ。
     両親は日本で知り合い、父は帰国した母をフィリピンに訪ねてきた。だが、サチコさんが生まれると連絡が途絶えがちになった。父とは6歳の時に会ったのが最後だ。
     「つらかったが、憎んではいない。もし会えたら、私が日本人になったことを誇りに思うか、と聞きたい」
     杉田メリーアイエンさん(19)は、静岡県内の工場で働き、日本語を勉強する。「できれば1年で話せるようになって、大学で産業デザインを学びたい」
     父は、母との間に2人の子をもうけたが、5年ほど前に連絡を絶った。父と会うつもりはないが、日本国籍を申請する。「日本で、私の新しい人生が始まるんです」
     日本に行くのは7~19歳の13人とその母親ら。支援してきた「新日系人ネットワーク」の岡昭理事長は「子どもには日本で教育を受ける権利があり、彼らを養育するためには母親が日本で働く必要がある。今回は、日本政府が人道的見地に立って判断してくれた」と話す。
     日本国籍のない子どもや母親らにビザを発給した今回の措置について、政府関係者は「法改正はまだだが、最高裁判決を受けて前倒しで対応したのではないか。単純労働につく母親に、子どもの養育のためにビザを出したのも画期的だ」と話している。

    “Most people that I personally know in my rural area of Gifu believe the Wikipedia version of the events of Admiral Perry’s bombardment and not that he won the favor of an audience with the emperor by just giving gifts and being a nice guy with his fleet of black war ships.”

    We just have to agree to disagree here. Besides that’s neither the narrative of J-wikipedia nor J textbook.Gifu ranks 7th in national educational tests amongs 48 prefectures,so I don’t believe the population can be that ignorant.

  153. I continue to be uncomfortable with accusations of deception or economic coercion in the absence of any evidence to support such claims. If you recall, Noriko mentioned that, when friends and family went to see her off at the airport, some asked “Why are you going?” while she also reported that others said “Well, I know you’re a smart person; you can handle it. God doesn’t give us tasks that someone cannot handle”.

    Incidentally I’m surprised no-one responded to one of Curzon’s comments before. Debito said to him that fathers in Japan have no way of guaranteeing visitation rights because, practically speaking there is no enforcement. Joe elaborated on the point in his separate piece on divorce. In response, Curzon agreed but was happy to suggest that “an element of economic coercion may be required”.

  154. Right—there is no way to guarantee visitation rights, and also little way to guarantee the payment of child support (unless you can get your hands on attachable assets). So there is leverage on both sides if Dad wants to see his kids. This is in stark contrast to the US, where failure to pay child support will land you in jail, void your passport and generally destroy your life.

  155. Just curious about what the position of CRN and other supporters will be when (and there was already an announcement in the spring of 2008 that this would happen) Japan signs the Hague convention – will a child’s right to see both parents after a divorce include the obligation to spend time with and fit into the new family of, say, the father, even if the new stepmother was the partner involved in the realtionship that lead to the break-up of the marriage? Switch the genders around if you want. Or should courts make judgements that say that visitations be held on neutral ground – say a hotel near where the mother lives without the presence of the “new” family?

  156. Aceface

    As mentioned above by Joe Jones the U.S. takes child support very seriously. Whether they be legitimate or illegitimate children. DNA tests have been admissible in lawsuits in the U.S. for many years now but if you are referring to children of American GI’s from prior to DNA testing all I can say is that in my original post that you commented on I was referring to real problems in the now and not problems of the past. If we start going back to grievances of the past there is little point because most of them cannot be remedied. Unless your like my wife and you go back to the time that Admiral Perry showed up to Edo in his black ships and bombarded some costal villages. Which may or may not be true but this is the version that the local Gifu elementary school has taught not only my wife over 30 years ago, my oldest son 10 years ago, but my youngest son just last year. Furthermore Wikipedia is widely respected around the world for providing fairly accurate information. I personally wasn’t there in 1852 when Admiral Perry arrived. Anymore than I was present when Mr. Savoie picked up his children after school (or violently manhandled them into his car causing them to sustain bruises as well as his ex-wife). So I have no way of knowing what really happened. But I will chose to believe the local people in my area as well as world renowned Wikipedia as to the truth of the events of 1852.

    Sorry to have gotten off this feeds track. And I will agree with you to disagree.

    I’m sorry that my Japanese isn’t proficient enough to understand the Japanese Asahi article you graciously provided.

  157. “Furthermore Wikipedia is widely respected around the world for providing fairly accurate information.”

    When I first read this sentence, I thought it was a contradiction but on second thought it’s true. Wikipedia, although its accuracy is at best fair, is widely respected around the world.

  158. Thomas:

    ”Unless your like my wife and you go back to the time that Admiral Perry showed up to Edo in his black ships and bombarded some costal villages. ”

    Well,not only I went to school,but I actually remember some of the lessons I was taught.And my fading memory tells me the bombardment on coastal villages by Perry fleet never occured,

    ”Which may or may not be true but this is the version that the local Gifu elementary school has taught not only my wife over 30 years ago, my oldest son 10 years ago, but my youngest son just last year. Furthermore Wikipedia is widely respected around the world for providing fairly accurate information.”

    Well,All I can say is your wife/Oldest son/youngest son version of Perry atrocity narrative do not exist on Japanese wikipedia.Perhaps if you could somehow persuade one of your family to read Japanese wikipedia then your problem shall solved.I think.

  159. Sorry for off-topic post, but I neither have heard of bombardment by Matthew C. Perry. Wikipedia says the followings.

    Threat of force
    Perry refused to leave and demanded permission to present a letter from President Millard Fillmore, threatening force if he was denied. He remitted two white flags to them, telling them to hoist the flags when they wished a bombardment from his fleet to cease and to surrender.[8] To demonstrate his weapons Perry ordered his ships to attack several buildings around the harbor. The ships of Perry were equipped with new Paixhans shell guns, capable of bringing destruction everywhere a shell landed.[9][10]

    Three references (8 ,9, and 10) are cited in this passage, and you can read all of them by clicking the links provided in the Wiki article. If you read them, you’ll find that none of them mention actual bombardment by Perry. I suspect that the sentence, “(t)o demonstrate his weapons Perry ordered his ships to attack several buildings around the harbor,” is a product of a Wiki author’s imagination.

  160. “But I will chose to believe the local people in my area as well as world renowned Wikipedia as to the truth of the events of 1852.”

    1853, not 1852.
    Perry did not shell Japan. Perry never fired on Japan. The official account of his visit makes no mention of that—in fact, his ship was apparently fired on when it first neared Uraga, though the shot went nowhere near. Perry insisted on a rigd anf formal protocol, a show of force and refusal to be intimidated, but at no point did he actually USE that force.

    The entire original “Narrative of the expedition of an American squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M. C. Perry, United States Navy, by order of the government of the United States” is online at Archive Org, and is rather more accurate than Wikipedia. Read the chapters on their first visit—even if you don7t care about the issue, it’s a fascinating account.

    I think something might be getting lost in translation here. Can you provide a quote from the social studies book your son uses that says Perry shelled Japan?

  161. I am sorry but to bring the poor girl to the United States just to divorce her and then to try and force her to remain in the United States so he could have visitation was a joke this guy deserves what he gets. I am sure that both the children are more attached to their mother than their father who probably spent very little time with them considering he was carrying on an affair while married. I am an American but yet to read about the tricks this character pulled makes me wonder what is wrong with the mentality of these people. I do not blame her for for being upset and doing what she did. And before to many criticize her visit other parts of the world and understand their culture and way of life. I beleive that what he did was to keep from having to pay support for those children and for no other reason.

  162. “Well,All I can say is your wife/Oldest son/youngest son version of Perry atrocity narrative do not exist on Japanese wikipedia.P”

    Since I started this, I hope that I can finish it.

    I have read every Japanese middle school history textbook depiction of Perry’s arrival used in the 1990s and 2000s, seen every major film mentioning his arrival, read every major manga depicting it, read every mention of it in Shiba Ryotaro’s historical fiction and interviews, and read through those sections of the 20 or 30 leading survey histories of Japan from the 1950s to present. I’ve also read the records of his voyage that Jade Oc mentions and the relevant sections of no less than two dozen survey histories in English. I’ve never seen stories of him bombarding anything. Anywhere, Japanese or English. I don’t know what’s going on in Gifu but those ideas don’t seem to apply in other parts of Japan.

  163. I think she should have just been smart enough to orginally not move to Tennessee with the kids. It is unfortunate that due to various factors they had difficulties working together after the divorce. So bad that communications were supposed to go through a middle man. I am very curious to her side of the story since she took the kids back to Japan for a visit and then apparently returned to the U.S. and then later on ran off with the kids.

    I do notice that there was a lack of understanding that she was from a different culture which resulted in her having a different parenting style and some difficulties communicating her meanings (there are parts of a court document where she seems to have problems expressing herself). They were involved in Parenting Coordination and a parenting plan had been devised, I am curious as to what that detailed.

    But the main reason I am commenting though is that there are references here to her running off with the money. She was informed by a judge that:

    “I think Ms . Savoie understands that if she elects to go to Japan and not return, she’s going to lose her alimony, because the Court’s going to pay it into court ; she’s going to have problems with her child support ; she’s going to have problems with her education fund ; she’s going to be fighting her husband in the courts of Japan ;”

    http://wtvf.images.worldnow.com/images/incoming/Investigates/savoie2.pdf

    So, unless she managed to transfer her assets before she left I have a feeling her American accounts were suspended.

  164. Regarding his dual citizenship, Christopher was supposed to denounce his American citizenship when he naturalized in Japan. I have seen on one of the goverment sites (will have to look up again) that he can fill out paperwork in order to do this as long as he wasn’t doing it under duress (it was his choice to become a Japanese citizen).

  165. “Christopher was supposed to denounce his American citizenship when he naturalized in Japan”

    This isn’t actually enforced (except for Debito?)

  166. “Okay, if he only did it because government officials told him that they would let him in and give him passports, I definitely can find some sympathy for the guy. This case is truly messed up.”

    “State Department officials advised Savoie that because a U.S. court had awarded him sole custody on Aug. 17, he could apply for new passports for the children if he could get them to the Fukuoka consulate.”

    Wait a second,did this “State Department official”actually knew in advance that Chris Savoie is no longer the U.S citizen?It’s almost like joint conspiracy of breaking Japanese law on Japanese soil and abducting Japanese citizens.
    MoFA should NEVER back this down.Once you let Savoie goes,that’ll legitimize and even encourage others to do the same.This is a huge blow to pro-Hague camp in Japan,just like Greenpeace had gave siginificant damage upon Japanese environmentalists in the late 70’s.

  167. As Aceface suggests, this Foreign Policy article makes me think that this has gotten WAY bigger than just Chris Savoie.

    http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/10/08/the_us_japan_child_custody_spat

    Did representatives of the US government actually tell Savoie that, despite the fact that he was no longer supposed to be a US citizen, that if he chooses to disregard Japanese law and take his children (presumably with some measure of force), that they would make sure that he and the kids get safely out of the country!? And then chicken out and NOT let him in despite having dropped a great big nugget of 19th century arrogance?

    And now, in order to lay down the rules on what sounds like gross irresponsibility by some American representatives, the Japanese government pretty much has little choice but to send Savoie up shits creek or say “we don’t mind if you trample on our sovereignty” in a period when the new government is trying to reverse 5 decades of LDP doormat strategy? Chris Savoie stepped into some serious shit here.

  168. About renouncing your citizenship: There are theoretically two ways to do this. One is to tell your local municipal office that you’ve chosen Japanese citizenship (by filling out a simple form) and then notifying this fact to the U.S. embassy or consulate. The other way is first to renounce your citizenship at the embassy, etc., and then inform your local office. But since the U.S. embassy presumably won’t even let you renounce your citizenship these days, this second approach might be difficult. I guess the important thing is to do the paperwork in Japan so at least you are covered here. It’s an ambiguous situation, though, for Americans who naturalize. Chinese have a clearer situation, since they get a hole punched in their Chinese passport as soon as they start the proceedings.

  169. Oh Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. So now one state may be involved in kidnapping of the nationals of another. Maybe there is something to the Megumi allegory after all. The original article is here, by the way:

    http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/10/08/the_us_japan_child_custody_spat

    I do hope that this doesn’t affect the progess of the Japanese government’s work on the Hague Treaty. Hopefully MOFA will just react by taking a hard line on this particular case.

    What are the odds of this becoming quite a serious diplomatic incident though? Not much, I’d say. With Kyung Lah being the only journo outside of Tennessee interested in this case, and with these revelations not really fitting the narrative that CNN has chosen to present, I’m not sure this will resound in the US. Something for Hatoyama to leave to MOFA while politely and pointedly not bringing up the matter next month, I would think.

  170. The Savoie story has been on every network morning news show in the US. It is not just Kyung Lah’s baby, although her reporting is being taken as gospel by some of the [even more] clueless newspeople in the US.

  171. Morning news show circulation may be high, but they only got about 20 people to turn out for the demonstration in Washington last week.

  172. “Something for Hatoyama to leave to MOFA while politely and pointedly not bringing up the matter next month, I would think.”

    Fukushima Mizuho and Chiba Keiko,both ministers of Hatoyama cabinet have been very eager to change domestic law of allowing both side of divoced parents can meet their children.However,SDP has been highly critical of American national fleeing Japan without proper judical process in relation of SOFA.We really don’t know how things goes.
    I have a feeling it’s just not going to be “leave it to MoFA”.This could go ugly,and I mean really ugly.

  173. Do morning news shows constitute jounalism? I see them as playing a role equivalent to average blogs. They are a place where news reported by other people is collected for comment, spiced up with interviews of people close to the story. Given that interesting, if sometimes not perhaps legally salient, facts have been left out of the reporting by all the major news networks in Japan, I’m not sure they will see this as “relevant.” Even Foreign Policy, which found out about the State Dept “involvement” could have made more out of it if it wanted to.

    I’m also wondering what the nature of the State Department “advice” was. If it was a simple response to the question “What happens if I, as an American citizen, get my kids to the consulate?” then I’m not sure that State has done anything wrong. Another area where we just don’t know the circumstances behind the case.

    My feeling is that this won’t blow up unless the Japanese media decides to make something of it, and given that the nature of the “advice” from State is not yet clear, they will probably tread carefully.

  174. “Given that interesting, if sometimes not perhaps legally salient, facts have been left out of the reporting by all the major news networks in Japan”

    in the U.S.

  175. “My feeling is that this won’t blow up unless the Japanese media decides to make something of it”

    Let’s hope Kyung Lah is right about Japamese media.

    But this is an administration proposing being “equal” with the states.So are SDP and Kamei’s People’s New Party.And since the case occured on J-soil,minister of justice Chiba has to weigh in at some point.Same with Fukushima who happens to be the minister of gender equality.Everyone knows SDP has been giving cold shoulder to “abduction” issues by North Korea.And conservatives are desperately seeking the mistakes on Hatoyama.

  176. I don’t see a blowup coming. This case seems too hard to package for the Japanese tabloid news while serious broadcasts like NHK would likely handle it really dryly, stirring nothing up. What I can see is the Japanese system kicking Savoie to the curb and the US side just choosing to drop him. Maybe he deserves it, but I’d like to see him go free. If he does end up in the clink, we’ll see a few more weeks of whining from Amy Savoie (now dead last on my sympathy list) and a few months of occasional outraged threads on Debito’s site with Japan’s Hague decision probably set back for years.

  177. This I find a little hard to stomach:

    “In addition to working with Savoie’s Japanese and American lawyers, consular officials also approached Savoie’s ex-wife after yesterday’s meeting and asked for permission to visit the children to check on their welfare. She declined. The embassy plans to ask the Tokyo government to compel her to make the children available, officials said.”

    Even if we work from the presumption that the kids are American dual citizens – which they are, right? – why does the embassy have any reason to suspect that their welfare is at risk? And why would Tokyo care? Am I right (Joe?) in assuming that Tokyo regards the kids as only or at least primarily Japanese citizens while they are in Japan and wouldn’t take too kindly to entreaties by a U.S. government agency to be allowed to check up on Japan’s “own” nationals?

  178. IDGIT said:

    “I am sorry but to bring the poor girl to the United States just to divorce her and then to try and force her to remain in the United States so he could have visitation was a joke this guy deserves what he gets. ”

    Other than the words after “joke,” this says it all IMO. It really is that simple, and can be seen in the father’s own words.

    Remain in Tennessee, whatever the effect on her:

    “If she’s still saying in that letter that that she wants to move, that she doesn’t like it here in Middle Tennessee, maybe we ought to take that seriously.”

    By force:

    “He had the power, he had the power to keep those kids in my life, and he didn’t care.” (He being the judge who lifted the restraining order so she could take the kids to Japan as he had agreed.)

    The father says in the Yomiuri that Japan is fine as a place, but won’t enforce his rights. Thats not enough for what he asked of her. The property settlement is irrelevant. He owed it to her anyway, and she was then expected to assume the risk of real estate deflation and dollar depreciation by using the money to live in Tennessee.

  179. “This case seems too hard to package for the Japanese tabloid news while serious broadcasts like NHK would likely handle it really dryly, stirring nothing up. ”

    But all of that could change by one factor.Noriko speaks to the media that is sympathetic to her.

  180. Sninkle wrote:

    “So, unless she managed to transfer her assets before she left I have a feeling her American accounts were suspended.”

    I saw it reported that she cleared her account between returning to the US and fleeing to Japan. I’m afraid I can’t recall the source.

    Aceface wrote:

    “But all of that could change by one factor. Noriko speaks to the media that is sympathetic to her.”

    That sounds right. I’d certainly be interested to hear her side but I do wonder whether she has anything to gain from doing so at this stage.

  181. I’d like to hear Noriko’s side and I’m sure that her appearance in the press would get people talking for the simple reason that she’s attractive.

  182. “I’m afraid I can’t recall the source.”

    I’m afraid that may have been a user comment. I’ve been on the lookout for something about that in an article and haven’t seen anything.

  183. “That sounds right. I’d certainly be interested to hear her side but I do wonder whether she has anything to gain from doing so at this stage.”

    That’s why I wrote this post—it wasn’t like she was giving her side of the story.

  184. And Bryce:

    “Even if we work from the presumption that the kids are American dual citizens – which they are, right? – why does the embassy have any reason to suspect that their welfare is at risk? And why would Tokyo care? Am I right (Joe?) in assuming that Tokyo regards the kids as only or at least primarily Japanese citizens while they are in Japan and wouldn’t take too kindly to entreaties by a U.S. government agency to be allowed to check up on Japan’s “own” nationals?”

    Indeed—a consulate and embassy cannot grant aid to a citizen of the country they are in, even if they are citizens of the nation of the consulate and embassy. So they whole basis of them even offering aid to Dr. Savoie in the first place is inappropriate.

  185. Some insightful comments from spanky111 over on that news channel site –
    “he should have learned,women are deceitful,hateful,and true pieces of crap when they want revenge,just like men but worse,maybe jenny craig will sponsor him this way he can look like kirstie allie w black hair in 6 months. plus if he likes eatin fish heads n rice he will be o tay!”

  186. Christopher’s jail letter home – “In a strange way I am really quite grateful to God in for this challenge.” Oh Jesus.

  187. Noriko said that one of her relatives mentioned God to her. She may have just been translating from Japanese but it did make me wonder whether she comes from a Christian family.

    I doubt it applies in this case but religious differences do feature in custody/parenting disputes. When the subject comes up in Britain, it is more likely to relate to a case involving the abduction of a child to a Sharia law country than one involving a Japanese national.

  188. I know that I don’t have any evidence for this, but when I look at pictures of Christopher and Amy and see the references to camping and Cubs, I get the feeling that, completely outside of the context of his marriage, he was chafing in Japan.

  189. I look at the picture of Christopher and think either a hunger strike or boycotting cheese burger is what he needs.

  190. Does anyone know what the police are planning on charging Mr. Savoie of?

    Did he really injure his children’s mother while he supposedly forced his children into his car? Are they charging him with domestic violence because of this?

    The children have been reported to have sustained supposed bruises. Is this really true? Are the police charging him with child abuse?

    Does anyone believe the police should be able to arrest someone without charging them of a crime and hold them for questioning for more than a reasonable amount of time? What is reasonable? How long has Mr. Savoie been denied his freedom since his arrest?

    If he PHYSICALLY injured his wife or children in anyway by the result of his “kidnapping” then he should be charged with domestic violence, child abuse, or both. If not and there are no criminal charges against him then he should be released.

    There are many scumbags that I think should be arrested and held in jail for an indefinite period. But unless they’ve committed a verifiable prosecutable crime there are no grounds to justify their detention let alone their incarceration.

    Mr. Savoie should be charged with a crime or released. Anyone who thinks otherwise should be arrested.

  191. “Does anyone believe the police should be able to arrest someone without charging them of a crime and hold them for questioning for more than a reasonable amount of time?”

    I don’t like the long holding period personally, but everyone who sets foot in Japan should be aware of it and willing to to abide by these rules.

    “Anyone who thinks otherwise should be arrested.”

    I wouldn’t be setting foot in a country with that rule.

  192. Oh jeez:

    “Obviously it’s a huge disappointment,” Savoie’s current wife, Amy Savoie, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “It’s a court system over there unlike what we have here, there’s no due process at all.”

    But wait, there is more.

    “They enable the children to reside with the Japanese native as long as possible, so they can say ‘Well, the children are here now and they have adjusted, so it would be disruptive to return them,’” she said. “So this is a delay tactic in order to keep the children in that country.”

    To me, sweeping statements like this indicate she has no clue that the detention of “foreign” fathers for forcibly packing their children into cars isn’t a common occurance, even in child custody cases in Japan. Nevertheless, I’d say she’s right about the extended detention being a delay tactic, but it is probably more about the Fukuoka police and courts stalling so that they can figure out what to do in what probably is the most Bizarro case they have ever seen.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i1wNIMvNzJOj4tJ3S-nfVaZ6lCGAD9B7NH1O7

  193. He will be charged with a crime or released. Just after 23 days of interrogation without lawyer present.

  194. There are just too many unanswerable question Thomas,But perhaps “Law of Japan”section of Wikipedia may help you to find answer to your question.

  195. Don’t forget that police can and do re-arrest “suspects” in detention for an (ostensibly) different crime and tack on another 23 days.
    Maybe I’m being cynical (or ignorant), but I don’t understand the point of arguing how the letter of the law applies to his arrest when it’s circumvented so much.

  196. I don’t know Ben.But at least in this case,police seems to have righteous reason to arrest the suspect.

  197. M-bone.

    I don’t like the long holding period personally, but everyone who sets foot in Japan should be aware of it and willing to to abide by these rules.

    I wouldn’t be setting foot in a country with that rule.

    These are both ideas that if a foreigner is not happy with the way things are in Japan that should have come here in the first place. Or perhaps if they are here and are unhappy with the way things are they should leave.

    I’m sure there must be many other foreigner residents such as myself that are unhappy with the way some laws are either not applied or not enforced. The Gaijin go home argument just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

    Ningen

    Thanks for the link. It was very informative. I can see how there is a precedent to charge him under this case. I suppose Mr. Savoie will be able to easily argue that the children were not residing with their mother in Japan but residing with their mother in Tennessee and that he wasn’t only forcibly trying to remove them from their legal residence but that he was only trying to return them to their U.S. court ordered legal residence. However, in my case if I were to remove my youngest son from his legal residence in Japan to an undisclosed location the police would be able to legally arrest me for “kidnapping”. And likewise if my wife took off somewhere and forcibly removed my son from our residence she would be guilty of “kidnapping” It would be interesting to see if the Japanese judiciary would actually issue an arrest warrant in the case of a maternal abduction from a child’s legal residence.

    Aceface

    Thanks for not answering my questions and referring me to to the more reliable Wikipedia. I guess in regards to just holding all of these laws addressed in the constitution are not considered as arrest and the police can sneakily circumvent these rules. And they can also argue that gaijins are not indviduals protected by any of this and are only invading barbarians that have no business being in Japan in the first place. Maybe the police should hold you for a while indefinitely so that you might better understand what it feels like to be held against your will for an indefinite period of time.

    1. Rights of the accused.
    Rights of the accused. The Constitution is the source of individual rights in the setting of criminal investigations and trial. Article 31 declares, “No person shall be derived of life or liberty, nor shall any other penalty be imposed, except according to procedure established by law, “which is regarded as the principle of due process. Article 33 covers protection from illegal arrest: “no person shall be arrested except upon a warrant issued by a competent judicial official, which specifies the offense with which a person is charged…,”. Article 34 protects persons from illegal confinement and Article 35 protects persons from illegal deprivation of residence and property.[72]

  198. Thomas, you keep forgetting that Chris is no ordinary gaijin, but a Japanese citizen. Moreover, he was not born into that situation but chose it willingly.

  199. “The Gaijin go home argument just isn’t going to cut it anymore.”

    That’s not the argument I’m making at all. Just that when you enter a country, you should be prepared to live by its laws. Is that really such a shocking statement? If you think that those laws are no good, you probably shouldn’t go in the first place. I’m not going to be living under Sharia law, for example. I also practice what I preach with Japan – I find working conditions in my profession outside of Japan to be better, so that is where I work.

    You are, of course, free to not like it and to do what you can to change it if you are living in Japan. There are many ways to work for constructive change. I would encourage that, actually. I, myself, have just recently signed something to change the way that university research funds are distributed in Japan. Back in the day, I went to rallies against the “New History Textbook”. I’m not sure how complaining about things in English blog comments is going to help change anything, however. You mention many pissed off foreigners – how many are actually involved in the many debates about legal and other issues going on in Japan’s public space?

    “And they can also argue that gaijins are not indviduals protected by any of this and are only invading barbarians that have no business being in Japan in the first place.”

    I think you should check your tone.

    “except according to procedure established by law”

    I think that Aceface’s suggestion that you read up on exactly what the law says is reasonable.

  200. “Thanks for not answering my questions and referring me to to the more reliable Wikipedia.”

    All I know is wikipedia could offer you more objective and reliable knowledge than myself.Thus you were referred.

    “I guess in regards to just holding all of these laws addressed in the constitution are not considered as arrest and the police can sneakily circumvent these rules.”

    Your “guess” is more like an oversimplification to my ears.And frankly speaking,police can bust Savoie without circumvent any rules and so should they be.
    Japanese police has been notoriously reluctant in intervening domestic violence and parental abduction cases such as this since authority has been considering these cases to be handled within the house.Savoie case should never be the reason to reverse the recent trend that the cops will be intervening these matters.

    “And they can also argue that gaijins are not indviduals protected by any of this and are only invading barbarians that have no business being in Japan in the first place. Maybe the police should hold you for a while indefinitely so that you might better understand what it feels like to be held against your will for an indefinite period of time.”

    Actually I know more about this than you do.Thomas.
    I happen to know this former foreign worker who illegally overstayed in Japan.She,at the time married to her countryman was abused from time to time since she could speak Japanese and the husband didn’t.Leading the income gap between wife and husband.Which eventually lead to very tragic end.They’ve run out of a cash while overstaying in foreign land.
    This woman was seriously abused and taken to the hospital.While she was getting medical treatment,she went to a supermarket and stole a cup noodle which is about 150 yen.She got caught and report to the police.She was in detention center for about three month.
    I’ve spend huge amount of my time and energy and money to have her and her son to re-enter this country,of which Kensuke Ohnuki had played greatly.This woman is now my wife.

    Let me give you one little adivice that you probably haven’t got from anyone in your decades of Japanese life.
    I strongly advice you to pick up some more linguistic ability such as reading and writing in Japanese and try to intersect more closely to your rural Gifu community.You’ll probably learn more about the society you and your family are living and may help to clear your obsessive delusion that you are surrounded by potential xenophobes who are waitng for the pay-back time for what Commodore Perry’s did to good Edo folks.

  201. M-Bone wrote:

    “When you enter a country, you should be prepared to live by its laws. Is that really such a shocking statement?”

    No it isn’t. It is worth bearing in mind, however, that Noriko Savoie was not prepared to do that.

    Incidentally, does anyone recall a press report suggesting that Christopher snatched his kids with as many as three others? I thought it was in a Japanese report but I may have hallucinated it. This comment thread is now too long to go through to check whether someone mentioned it earlier.

    I think the report aimed to suggest that he may have used a degree of force which could form the basis of a prosecution. I recall thinking that we only know of one friend of Savoie, Shannon Higgins, who claims to have witnessed his arrest but I haven’t heard of anyone else. If others were involved, rather than it being a figment of my imagination or that of some reporter, you wonder why no-one else was held as an accesory if excessive force was actually used.

    On another matter, I think some here are trying to treat the nationality issue as too clear cut. As far as I can tell, Japan is free to treat Savoie as a Japanese citizen but could also decide to treat him as a foreigner (on the basis that he failed to give up his US passport and so loses his Japanese passport). The US is also free to treat him as a US citizen and neither country’s interpretation is dependent on the other’s. It is certainly a relevant issue when it comes to what action can be taken against Savoie but I think it is too much to say that Japan and the US MUST treat him as Japanese simply because it was his most recent application. That seems to me to ignore the enormous discretion which the State Department and the MoJ usually exercise. It also ignores cases like the one I mentioned earlier of Etsuko Tanizaki who became an American citizen but was treated as a Japanese citizen when she fled with her children to Japan.

  202. “It is worth bearing in mind, however, that Noriko Savoie was not prepared to do that.”

    Sure, and just because I have sympathy for her doesn’t mean that I think she was right (and, as I noted above, just because I think that Chris wasn’t/isn’t sympathetic, doesn’t mean that I think jailing him is the best way to exercise “justice”). Now, I think that we are talking about two different issues, however. The lives of the Savoies and general feelings that we commenters have about Japan’s laws.

    “This comment thread is now too long to go through to check whether someone mentioned it earlier.”

    I mentioned it – it was one of my earliest points of concern and I do wonder why they haven’t been charged.

  203. To salvage a bit that I posted earlier in the thread – “From the Japan Times – “He forced the children into a rented vehicle together with four other acquaintances, and the ex-wife and the children sustained bruises in the incident, according to the police.””

    Desperate father sets out on lonely mission to take children back is one story. 4-5 guys, all of whom are likely twice as large as Noriko Savoie, manhandling mother and kids, does seem like something that SOMEBODY should be going to jail for if that version of events is indeed accurate.

  204. Aceface

    Actually I know more about this than you do.Thomas.

    I don’t think so. Aceface.

    I strongly advice you to pick up some more linguistic ability such as reading and writing in Japanese and try to intersect more closely to your rural Gifu community. I

    I’m as closely intersected into my local community as I chose to be. I’m not surrounded by potential xenophobes I’m surrounded by practicing xenophobes. I’m accustomed to it and accept it as part of common everyday life in Japan. But when the police arrest someone and hold them without just legal cause as part of this xenophobia is when I chose to speak out and complain. Not just on this feed but to the hundreds of Japanese citizens I’m associated with. Be they partially xenophobic or otherwise. If Mr. Savoie in anyway unilaterally physically harmed his wife (ex wife in the U.S.) then he should be charged and prosecuted for this. If he abused his children in anyway he should be charged and prosecuted for this. But he shouldn’t be held in an indefinite quasi legal status for an indefinite period without charge. Anymore than you or I should be. Aceface.

    M-bone.
    “And they can also argue that gaijins are not individuals protected by any of this and are only invading barbarians that have no business being in Japan in the first place.”

    I think you should check your tone.

    “except according to procedure established by law”

    I think that Aceface’s suggestion that you read up on exactly what the law says is reasonable.

    “invaders, barbarians” is one of the translations of gaijin in my Japanese/English language dictionary. No harsh tone intended.

    I did check the Wikipedia reference in the law that aceface referred me to and responded accordingly. I only recommended that since he seems to feel Mr. Sovies extended detention is just that maybe he should try his own extended incarceration to more fully understand and appreciate the situation from Mr. Savoie’s perspective.

    “I’m not sure how complaining about things in English blog comments is going to help change anything,”

    You may or may not be right about this. But I’m still going to complain anyway. I’m still going to stay in Japan and keep complaining when I view things that are unjust. Not just on blogs but to everyone that I am associated with. It’s the most that I’m willing to do and I know that I could do more but I chose not to. I’m also going to continue to obey all of the laws of this country as you have done, too. Likewise Mr. Savoie probably did not think he was disobeying any of the laws of this country and now he’s in jail. If he did break any Japanese laws then let him be charged of a crime and prosecuted. Is that to much to ask?

    Mr. Savoie’s ex- wife did break the law in the U.S. by defying a court order. The title of this feed is Sympathizing with Noriko Savoie”. I and many other Americans would have more sympathy towards her if she would return to the U.S., apologize to the court for her defiance and accept whatever comes as a result of her actions. In my opinion she deserves little sympathy because she is a wanted criminal. Mr. Savoie may likewise deserve little sympathy but he and everyone else in this world deserves to be charged and prosecuted of a crime or released.

  205. Thanks for that, I was beginning to wonder if I’d just imagined seeing it.

    The account of 4-5 guys can only have come from (a) Noriko, in her initial emergency call or later statement to the police (b) an eyewitness to the “snatch” (c) Savoie’s account to the police or (d) someone making it up. I did wonder whether Savoie had hired someone like Gustavo Zamora Jr., a sinister character who claims “54 successful international non-custodial child abduction recoveries”:

    http://www.zamora.nl/introduction.html

    I suppose if others were involved that they could have quickly disappeared from the scene but it seems we ought to treat their existence as unsubstantiated for the time being. We don’t even know what role Shannon Higgins played in this. Given that he has been interviewed by the press, you’d think someone might have asked him that question by now, even if only to get him to say “no comment”.

  206. “I’m still going to stay in Japan and keep complaining when I view things that are unjust.”

    Do you actually complain to those with the power to make a difference, or do you somehow feel that whinging about things to everyone around you will be enough? Unless of course you associate with some pretty powerful people.

    “I’m surrounded by practicing xenophobes.”

    What, on all sides? Wherever you go people recoil in fear and horror, cross the street to avoid you, refuse to talk to you, spit at you as you walk by, shove dog dung in your letterbox, send you hate mail demanding you leave, beat you up for violating one of ‘their’ women?

    BTW, which dictionary do you use?

  207. “I don’t think so. Aceface”

    Now,why is that? Thomas.Because you read debito.org?

    “But he shouldn’t be held in an indefinite quasi legal status for an indefinite period without charge. Anymore than you or I should be. Aceface.”

    Neither of you nor I had attempted kidnapping by force,No?

    “But when the police arrest someone and hold them without just legal cause as part of this xenophobia is when I chose to speak out and complain.”

    Christopher Savoie is a Japanese citizen and arrested for being abusive husband attempting parental abduction.Not because he looks foreign.I think accusing cops for xenophobia is pretty unfair.

    “Likewise Mr. Savoie probably did not think he was disobeying any of the laws of this country and now he’s in jail. ”

    We really don’t know exactly what Chiristopher Sovoie subjectly think about the law of this country.However we are already informed he has pretty flexible idea on nationality and marriage.It is not difficult to assume that he knew what he was doing and there is a report that actually does notes that Christopher understand why he is in “the current circumstance”based on interview.

    “If he did break any Japanese laws then let him be charged of a crime and prosecuted. Is that to much to ask?”

    Nope.Since that is exactly what Fukuoka cops are doing.Which ofcourse will be fought in court in coming days.

    “In my opinion she deserves little sympathy because she is a wanted criminal. Mr. Savoie may likewise deserve little sympathy but he and everyone else in this world deserves to be charged and prosecuted of a crime or released.”

    Well,just in case you want to know that Mr.Savoie is now a criminal too.Plus him being married to two women in two countries at the same time and possibly possessing two passports against this country’s law.And him choosing to manipulate information for his own personal benefit at the expense of his children(and his wife)is pretty low.With that,I sympathize with Noriko more so than Christopher.
    Not that I deny her “crime” in the U.S,mind you.But that is pretty understandable especially after all that betrayal she had suffered and Christopher completely ruining her life in the most worst way imaginable.

  208. God damn.I just saw a CBS report on Savoie case with Amy in studio.That’s way more worse than CNN.

  209. Mulboyne:

    ”If others were involved, rather than it being a figment of my imagination or that of some reporter, you wonder why no-one else was held as an accesory if excessive force was actually used.”

    Too true.But what kind of prosecution can be made.Joint conspiracy?

    “As far as I can tell, Japan is free to treat Savoie as a Japanese citizen but could also decide to treat him as a foreigner (on the basis that he failed to give up his US passport and so loses his Japanese passport). The US is also free to treat him as a US citizen and neither country’s interpretation is dependent on the other’s. ”

    Yeah,but there’s no merit on the side of Japanese authority admitting that, Is there?

    “That seems to me to ignore the enormous discretion which the State Department and the MoJ usually exercise. It also ignores cases like the one I mentioned earlier of Etsuko Tanizaki who became an American citizen but was treated as a Japanese citizen when she fled with her children to Japan.”

    Well,that’s even more problematic.Why isn’t American accusing Japan on Tanizaki which seems more just than Chris Savoie?

    Anyway,I have to admit that this thread is getting too long and my previous accusation was focused on CNN report on Savoie case,not the case itself which is too murky to say the least or parental abduction case in general.

  210. Aceface:
    I don’t know Ben.But at least in this case,police seems to have righteous reason to arrest the suspect.

    I completely agree with you. I just thought it was silly to talk about how the law applies to it. Theyre going to hold him until they figure out what they’re going to do with him—end of story.

  211. Mulboyne:

    Not exactly sure on this Tanizaki’s attorney’s letter including the phrase”parental abduction isn’t crime in Japan” is true.Besides,the way I read what I could find on internet,both Tanizaki and her current husband and her two sons are all American.
    So isn’t this pretty much the opposite of Savoie case and the U.S government’s claim is legitimate to my eyes,especially their stepfather is accused of child abuse and one of the sons run into the Osaka consulate and flew back home.
    I also wonder why J-TV stations never aired “Japanese mom fled home safely with her two sons and a new husband”story just like CNN and CBS.Had they done so,I would have notice,or had they?

    Benjamin:

    Not being a lawyer here,but Japanese police has tendency to arrest citizens when they think they can win in court.Which probably is the reason why Shannon Higgins and others weren’t busted along with Christopher,since they probably didn’t touch a finger to Noriko thus difficult to prove them guilty of assault.
    But in case of Savoir,the cops are probably doing everything they can to put Christopher in jail,and probably collecting papers from the U.S and translate them and show it to the expert to back their prosecution.But then,this is pure speculation.

  212. ““invaders, barbarians” is one of the translations of gaijin in my Japanese/English language dictionary.”

    You should get a better dictionary.

    “If he did break any Japanese laws then let him be charged of a crime and prosecuted. Is that to much to ask?”

    It is actually kinda like asking that extraterritoriality be applied to this specific case, which is a lot to ask.

    The disconnect here is this – it is not that I and other commenters don’t think that habeas corpus is a good idea, it is just that we are uncomfortable with outside demands for instant change or a different standard for foreigners made completelu outside of the context of Japanese debates (there are movements in Japan to limit police powers). There are different standards for some foreigners in Japan (SOFA) and I have to wonder how many of these angry gaijin that you describe have thought seriously about that or expressed concern to their own government.

    “But when the police arrest someone and hold them without just legal cause as part of this xenophobia is when I chose to speak out and complain.”

    The central point to this aspect of our debate here should be about EVERYONE in Japan being subject to imprisonment without charge for a period of weeks. It is not just foreigners, I think that you are grasping at xenophobia straws here.

    “God damn.I just saw a CBS report on Savoie case with Amy in studio.That’s way more worse than CNN.”

    Christopher has that to go home to…. now I’m sympathetic.

  213. ”Christopher has that to go home to…. now I’m sympathetic.”

    My mind the opposite.He will have heros welcome at least from CBS and CNN。Probably can sell rights for the mini-series or something.

    何がイライラさせられるって、「共生」を謳いあげているくせに、自分の利害や気にそぐわないことがあると、すぐガイアツという「強制」手段に訴える集団を抱え込むことになること。これでは、日本は多文化主義社会になることはとてもムリ。結局、ある種の外国人は21世紀版の租界をめざしているだけじゃないの?

  214. He’ll be a hero, but he’ll still be married to Amy. She reminds me of my aunt who asks me if I had a good time in China every time I see her.

    日本は多文化主義社会になることはとてもムリ。

    I think that all of the “half” kids from this generation will grow up not taking outside pressure for granted and their complete integration will set the stage for a positive direction. With the new DPJ direction, I think that the era of gaiatsu may be coming to an end (people might not have heard this internationally, but Obama just backed down on “buy American” with Canada). In terms of reciprocity, Japan should “trade” Hague for SOFA. I wish it didn’t have to be about maneuvering, but I’m also looking forward to seeing this new era come into focus.

  215. Nothing against Amy,but no one on the side of the U.S media cares that she is literary taking everything away from Noriko’s life.J-media would probably never do this type of coverage on trial issue like totally bending to one side.

    I didn’t meant to say “multiculturalism”in Japan is impossible.But I’ve already see too many disengaged communities who are enjoying closer ties with their home country than the host nation,all in the name of “multiculturalism”.Chinese,Korean,Brazilian and English speaking expat communities,you name it.

    “Half”kids may work as the social catalyst.But they are more “Japanese” than the other established groups of nationals because of family bondage and will probably choose to join the mainstream.That probably won’t be the role model of assimilation for others.

    You just can’t assimilate others who do not wish to join the mainstream.Most of the nation that promote multiculturalism has strong sense of nationalism.That may not be “blood and earth” type,but still it demands you a strong sense of loyalty to the founding ideal of the nation that stands.Japan probably can’t have that.My fear is that Japan would have Balkanized society at best and that would probably prompt massive backlash on the side of ordinary people.

  216. M-bone.

    “Christopher has that to go home to…. now I’m sympathetic.”

    Now here’s some common ground that we can completely agree on. He may be better off getting life in a Japanese prison or even the death penalty.

    Aceface

    Not that I deny her “crime” in the U.S,mind you.But that is pretty understandable especially after all that betrayal she had suffered and Christopher completely ruining her life in the most worst way imaginable.

    Mr. Savoie didn’t want to divorce his wife in Japan because that would mean losing his children. He lured his wife to the U.S. with certain assurances and promises. They were divorced in the U.S. She agreed to the divorce settlement and its terms. She committed a felony crime by doing so. Felony crimes are hardly understandable. So what if Mr. Savoie cheated on her. Men cheat on their wives all of the time. It’s not a crime. Women cheat on their husbands all of the time. That’s not a crime either. How is that Mr. Savoie ruined her life in the worst way imaginable? By cheating on her? President Clinton cheated on Hillary in the White house while she was downstairs sleeping. Hilary some how got over it and is still punishing Bill for it. Perhaps Mrs Savoie was the one that mentally abused Mr. Savoie. Mental abuse on the part of women has now been widely acknowledged by many psychologists as a form of domestic violence. Perhaps she literally drove him into the comforting arms of his kissing cousin or whoever this Amy is that he married.

  217. Ace, I agree with you that “half” are not a model for assimilation. They may, however, change minds on both sides and serve as a very significant bridge out of the ghettos in the next generation.

    A key for Japanese multiculturalism developing in the future could also be aiming for immigrants who are known as strongly willing to assimilate – like Indians. This is the rule abroad, and Indians that I know in Japan have been, on average, using Japanese at a higher level and more integrated into Japanese companies and corporate society, more concerned with putting their children into good Japanese schools, etc. than any other group that I am familar with.

  218. Thomas;

    “He may be better off getting life in a Japanese prison or even the death penalty.”

    Nonsense.Chris Savoie and his wife are acting like cry baby and drama queen on national and international televised show and this” Chris and Amy shows” are totally the product of their own choice.Noriko has to live in Japan(and may not go out of the country for rest of her life)with all this media coverage she didn’t want.

    “So what if Mr. Savoie cheated on her. Men cheat on their wives all of the time. It’s not a crime.”

    Well,I don’t know about you.but that’s not happening in my life yet.And when if that happens,many would sympathize the wife side.Me thinks.

    “How is that Mr. Savoie ruined her life in the worst way imaginable? By cheating on her”

    This would take us back to our original subject.By putting all this shit on air via CNN with her and her kid’s phooto.You could also say that Chris Savoie is basically telling Noriko to either abandon her kids or locked up in Tennessee just because he wants to have his kids with in the reach of his hands while having new family with his mistress.

    “Hilary some how got over it and is still punishing Bill for it.”

    I can’t find this description any where on Wikipedia entry for Hilary Clinton.Is this true?

    M-Bone:

    “They may, however, change minds on both sides and serve as a very significant bridge out of the ghettos in the next generation.”

    Well I think this needs to be happening in a place like rural Gifu where the dominant population are practicing xenophobes

  219. Aceface

    “He may be better off getting life in a Japanese prison or even the death penalty.”

    “Nonsense.Chris Savoie and his wife are acting like cry baby and drama queen on national and international televised show and this” Chris and Amy shows” are totally the product of their own choice.Noriko has to live in Japan(and may not go out of the country for rest of her life)with all this media coverage she didn’t want.”

    This was only a joke therefore you are right to refer to it as nonsense. However, I was only agreeing with M-bone’s humor that returning to this woman Amy in Tennessee is what Mr. Savoie is going back to. I don’t think you understood M-bone’s original attempt at dry humor and you certainly paid to much attention to my small addition.

    “So what if Mr. Savoie cheated on her. Men cheat on their wives all of the time. It’s not a crime.”

    “Well,I don’t know about you.but that’s not happening in my life yet.And when if that happens,many would sympathize the wife side.Me thinks.”

    Are any of us really sure what’s happening with our significant others when we are not with them? We all want to believe in the sacredness of our partnership. Betrayal is always so much worse when completely unexpected. Societies around the world understand the fallible nature of the human soul and have decriminalized adultery for the most part. Except some countries like South korea where it is still a very jailable offense albeit rarely enforced. Maybe Mrs. Savoie was sleeping with many different men every night. Maybe Mr. Savoie was only friends with this supposed mistress up until the divorce or at least until the marriage actually went sour. I think that Mr. Savoie was well justified in insisting not to divorce in a country where he would probably not be able to see his children until they are adults. The settlement Mrs. Savoie received in the U.S. was more than fair. She was even allowed to return with her children on vacation as part of its terms. She agreed to this. She could have returned to Japan without agreeing to this with her children and that would not have been illegal. She could have stayed in Japan without flying to the U.S. for a divorce. Even just being separated in Japan without a divorce Mr. Savoie would not have had the legal right to remove the children from their place of legal residence which at that time was Japan. He also would not have been able to remarry and get on with his life until he agreed to a divorce in Japan. Mrs. Savoie had many legal avenues still available to her in Japan which she chose not to exercise. She chose to fly to the U.S. and let the U.S. courts handle this agreement. She agreed. He agreed. He kept his part of the agreement. She didn’t. Of course Americans and the American media are going to sympathize more with Mr. Savoie. Even if they don’t like him because he didn’t break any laws in the U.S. She did. And now she’s not taking responsibility for her criminal actions but playing the he “hurt me card”. That has lead to Mr. Savoie’s illegal arrest and detention. I’d like to see pictures of her and her children’s supposed bruises. In such a case I and perhaps even the American media might tend to believe she has some merit for sympathy and give her side of the story more credence. But at this point she’s not in jail. He is. In the marital power trip control game it’s love forty. Fortunately for Mr. Savoie the match is not over.

    “Hilary some how got over it and is still punishing Bill for it.”

    I can’t find this description any where on Wikipedia entry for Hilary Clinton.Is this true?

    I didn’t look it up on Wikipedia this time so I have to admit that this is only my assumption. But I certainly believe it’s true. Although if I had read it conclusively on Wikipedia I would be even more certain because Wikipedia is an extremely reliable and convenient source of free information.

  220. “I can’t find this description any where on Wikipedia entry for Hilary Clinton.Is this true?”

    I couldn’t find it either, but I think you two may have gotten this person confused with Hillary Clinton. “Hilary” Clinton, on the other hand, is from Tatoowine.

  221. “She was even allowed to return with her children on vacation as part of its terms.”

    Yes, originally, until a judge decided to sequester the passports of her children, who were foreign nationals, based on an interpretation of emails that was subsequently revised. All because her husband seemed to want to do anything to make sure she couldn’t take them back to the land of their birth ever. Is it any wonder she bolted at the first opportunity? Yes, she is a criminal, but as you are in the dark as much as everybody else as to her reasons for moving stateside (and it seems to me, quite frankly, that she was acting in good faith), it is more than possible to sympathise with Noriko as victim of two incompatible legal systems. She didn’t ask to be unable to get the joint custody option in Japan, and she didn’t ask to have the possibility of the kids not visiting their grandparents in Japan taken away from her. Yes, she broke the law, but then again, so did Jean Valjean. We’re meant to think he’s a hero.

    “Wikipedia is an extremely reliable and convenient source of free information.”

    Thomas, were you one of my undergrad students? I heard this all the time from them when they couldn’t be bothered doing real research.

  222. Jade of oc

    “I’m still going to stay in Japan and keep complaining when I view things that are unjust.”

    “Do you actually complain to those with the power to make a difference, or do you somehow feel that whinging about things to everyone around you will be enough? Unless of course you associate with some pretty powerful people”

    I pretty much whine to everyone, everywhere. I don’t associate with any powerful people but if I did I would whine to them, too..

    “I’m surrounded by practicing xenophobes.”

    “What, on all sides? Wherever you go people recoil in fear and horror, cross the street to avoid you, refuse to talk to you, spit at you as you walk by, shove dog dung in your letterbox, send you hate mail demanding you leave, beat you up for violating one of ‘their’ women?”

    Yes, I am surrounded by xenophobes on all sides. Wherever I go many people do recoil in degrees of fear. Sometimes slight horror. Yes, sometimes they cross the street to avoid me and they often refuse to talk to me in Japan even when I put on my best Japanese. And on the other hand some jump up and down like little puppy dogs in glee and enthusiasm at my very presence. This light side balances out the dark side and makes the latter tolerable. No one has ever spit on me, shoved dog dung down my letterbox or sent me hate mail demanding I leave. Or beat me up for violating one of “their women. Which I have never done anyway as I am a happily married man and father. But this is not the only definition of xenophobia but only an exaggerated one. Albeit one that still does exist in ever so many parts of the world including all parts of the U.S. especially in the deep South and even parts Northern California.

    According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the word xenophobia consists of two parts: xeno (a combining form meaning “guest, stranger, person that looks different, foreigner”) and phobia, (“fear, horror or aversion, especially if morbid”. The definition didn’t mention hate crimes or the dog dung in the letter box trick.

    “BTW, which dictionary do you use?” Re: gaijin=invader, barbarian.

    It was an older one that my wife used to use in high school some years ago. I tried to find it but I’m not sure where I put it. I know that this is not the modern colloquial translation of gaijin and maybe it was even a misprint of some type or another. Not being a Japanese scholar I wouldn’t be able to defend the point of this translation even if I could find the dictionary. Although I am somewhat of an invader and I’m definitely a little bit of a barbarian when it comes to the way I stuff food in my mouth and basic table manners. Times are changing in our rural and most Japanese no longer point their finger at me and scream gaijin but they still think it. I’ve been here so long I even think gaijin when I see someone who doesn’t look Japanese. And in a way I’ve become slightly xenophobic not of Japanese people but of anyone other than Japanese. I don’t know if this is good or bad. I really like to read the children’s story the ugly duckling. It is what it is and it’s all good I guess as long as we can all just find away to get along.

  223. “think you two may have gotten this person confused with Hillary Clinton. “Hilary” Clinton, on the other hand, is from Tatoowine.”

    Hate to nitpick,but you are referring the CG revised version of episode 4.Benjamin.
    The original,the one I saw on big screen back in’77,it was Betty Ford who had the cameo appearance in cantina,not Hilary.
    Obviously,there is an intention on the side of Lucas Film to update the Tatoowine sequence for the audience of new generation.

  224. “Yes, I am surrounded by xenophobes on all sides. Wherever I go many people do recoil in degrees of fear. Sometimes slight horror. Yes, sometimes they cross the street to avoid me and they often refuse to talk to me in Japan even when I put on my best Japanese. ”

    In my case, in a very conservative medium-sized city, wherever I go nobody recoils in fear, still less slight horror. Maybe surprise if I suddenly pop up beside them. I have never noted anyone actually crossing the street to avoid me. Aise from when the street is so narrow they have to. Most of the time they tend to ignore me. And no, I am, not Asian – I’m a big 6’1” white guy. And no one refuses to talk to me in Japanese. Seriously, this doesn’t happen. Sometimes someone might try out their English, but invariably it is easier for both of us to use Japanese (and the most common reaction is relief that I speak it). However, from other comments you have made here, I get the impression that despite about two decades in Japan, your Japanese is not that great, so perhaps they figure it’s easier to speak in English. I strongly suspect you see all this xenophobia as you are looking for it, expecting it.

    Please don’t waste our time by quoting OED definitions of xenophobia and claiming that therefore it doesn’t include the stuff in my list. My list of xenophobic actions was deliberately exaggerated to point out the sort of xenophobia that would justify your paranoia. I hate to think how much you would complain if you were seriously victimized. It’s like people who cry “racism” whenever they feel less advantaged.

    “Or beat me up for violating one of “their women. Which I have never done anyway as I am a happily married man and father.”
    Your wife is who I was referring to. There are accounts of westerners in Korea being attacked and beaten up by Korean men for having the temerity to go out with Korean women. Doesn’t happen in Japan though.

    “I know that this is not the modern colloquial translation of gaijin and maybe it was even a misprint of some type or another.”
    Since the only reference I have found to “gaijin” meaning “invader” dates back to the Heike Monogatari, I guess it was an older dictionary. The one composed by Joao Rodrigues perhaps….

    “Wikipedia is an extremely reliable and convenient source of free information”
    It does rate pretty well in the natural sciences, to be sure. A study was done last year comparing Wikipedia and a “real” encyclopedia, finding Wikipedia much better than expected. However with the humanities it is less reliable, as conclusively demonstrated with the “Perry bombardment” issue.

    Ace – I thought the references were perhaps to “Hilarity Clinton,” the famous comedienne….

  225. Jade Oc

    “Please don’t waste our time by quoting OED definitions of xenophobia and claiming that therefore it doesn’t include the stuff in my list. My list of xenophobic actions was deliberately exaggerated to point out the sort of xenophobia that would justify your paranoia. I hate to think how much you would complain if you were seriously victimized. It’s like people who cry “racism” whenever they feel less advantaged.”

    Your definition of xenophobia is more in the realm of a hate crime. Some of the actions that you site as xenophobic are actually hate crimes. Which are criminal offenses. There is nothing illegal or criminal about being a blatant xenophobic. As celebrated in that wonderful classic American comedy “All in the family” with good old xenophobe Archie Bunker. In my opinion Japanese people are inherently xenophobic. And also quite racist to some extent as well. Discriminatory? Absolutely! As far as hate crimes go in Japan go, though, I’ll will admit that they are very rare at present. But if certain right wing extremist ever come to power this could possibly change.

    You are correct in your assumption that no one has ever physically attacked my wife, myself, or our children as the result of our marriage. I’m sure that there are those that resent it, though. Of course her mother was less than enthusiastic about our marriage but over time we became friends. It was quite shocking for her though because we were the first international marriage between an Asian and Non Asian in our rural community.
    Your assumption that your experiences walking around your Medium sized Japanese community can somehow be equated to my experiences in two decades can be equated are likewise incorrect. Maybe you are greeted with open arms and feel that you are accepted equally in your community. But in my community where I live you would soon realize that you are a gaijin, even if your spoken and written Japanese were perfect. And overtime you would learn your place and your role whether you like it or not. It’s not that bad being a designated gaijin. There are many perks but it is what it is. Things are changing and slowly becoming less xenophobic but at the present time I live in an area of practicing xenophobes and I suspect that you unknowingly do to.

    “Wikipedia is an extremely reliable and convenient source of free information”
    It does rate pretty well in the natural sciences, to be sure. A study was done last year comparing Wikipedia and a “real” encyclopedia, finding Wikipedia much better than expected. However with the humanities it is less reliable, as conclusively demonstrated with the “Perry bombardment” issue.

    It’s an open edit platform so at some point maybe this issue of the “Perry bombardment” will be rewritten. I’m not going to edit it, though. Because personally I believe Perry did blow up a few buildings to prove his point and that for various political reasons on the Japanese and U.S. side that history has been conveniently distorted to protect or propagate certain ideologies. I just can’t believe that the Japanese powers to be at the time he came would really succumb to his demands without conclusive proof of the superiority of his weapons. If the Japanese were inclined to give in so easily I’d be the boss in my house which I’m not. And the Japanese would have surrendered much sooner in World War 2 and certainly immediately after Hiroshima. In my experience Japanese people never give in and until they are utterly convinced that they just can’t prevail. I don’t think Perry got his way just by being persistent and giving them a few presents and a train. The Wikipedia article makes complete logical sense to me. And it is also what I was taught in elementary school and Junior high school in California over 30 years ago. Thanksgiving likewise has many different versions that the American Indians came with food and ate with the white man and everybody became friends. The truth of history is often lost in the political convenience of its time. Period documents are altered or destroyed to suit this convenience and governmental propaganda machine. When I was a boy we were taught that Christopher Columbus was a hero and we celebrated his finding of American in the year 1592 by having a national holiday and a day off from our studies. Now children are being told another truth that the U.S. was discovered by the Vikings (probably true) and that Columbus was an evil man(I have no idea). I’ll believe my truth based upon my logic and reasoning and you and others will believe yours. However, there is only one truth and that is the truth unless we travel to a parallel universe or dimension.

    Cheers.

  226. Hate crime? Sure, merely not liking different people is not a crime, but hate crimes are certainly xenophobic in nature. It’s all a matter of degree. You indiscriminately label everyone around you a xenophobe, so I assume their dislike must be made clear to you at least. If they dislike me or not they at least do not make it clear, so I have no way of knowing if they are xenophobes, but unlike you I do not automatically assume they are.

    “Because personally I believe Perry did blow up a few buildings to prove his point and that for various political reasons on the Japanese and U.S. side that history has been conveniently distorted to protect or propagate certain ideologies.”

    This is why I have little respect for your comments. You believe these things based on no evidence whatsoever, just because they feel good to you. And anything that counters that belief is propaganda. From a person who is a self-confessed non-expert on Japanese history, that is simply childish. Just because YOU find it hard to believe doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Now, you can believe that both the American government and the Japanese government covered up a bombardment by Perry, but without any evidence whatsoever your claims are no better than pseudohistory.

    Your statements about the changing discourse are fine as far as they go, but those are based on different interpretations of the known facts. Since Perry’s bombardment is NOT a known fact, but a made-up one, it cannot be used in this way.

    “I’ll believe my truth based upon my logic and reasoning and you and others will believe yours.”

    No, I’ll believe my truth based on period documents and serious history, and you will believe your “logic and reasoning.”

    Columbus arrived in 1492, not 1592. A simple typo perhaps? And over 30 years ago it is less likely that L’Anse aux Meadows (which is in Canada, not the US, btw) had not yet made its way into school textbooks, but it was certainly known. School textbooks tend to be conservative that way. Incidentally, Columbus never set foot in what is now the USA, or even mainland America. School history is often greatly simplified, which is why it is much better at university level, especially graduate level where you can work on discovering it for yourself.

    Oh, I’ve been here two decades as well. So yeah, I think my experiences can be equated. I’m not some FOB tourist ambling around. Don’t try games of one-upmanship like that. It’s petty.

    “If the Japanese were inclined to give in so easily I’d be the boss in my house which I’m not.”

    You have mentioned this point a few times. I can’t help but think it is significant in how you see things.

  227. “I have never noted anyone actually crossing the street to avoid me.”

    Jade and I, with all of the scruffy disheveled foreignness that we could muster, have toured some real backwaters in Japan and never really noted this sort of thing. Thomas, people cross the street all the time. Maybe it’s not all about you.

    “Because personally I believe Perry did blow up a few buildings to prove his point and that for various political reasons on the Japanese and U.S. side that history has been conveniently distorted to protect or propagate certain ideologies. I just can’t believe that the Japanese powers to be at the time he came would really succumb to his demands without conclusive proof of the superiority of his weapons.”

    Logic and reasoning don’t mean anything in historical discussions compared to evidence simply because people don’t act according to your logic. Especially when your logic involves taking WWII evidence and using it to try to understand Japanese behavior in the 19th century as if it never changes or has nothing to do with specific circumstances. I also have to wonder if your impressions of Japanese history have colored your views of contemporary society.

  228. Aceface:
    “The original,the one I saw on big screen back in’77,it was Betty Ford who had the cameo appearance in cantina,not Hilary.”

    When you watched this, did you tie an onion to your belt since that was the fashion at the time?

  229. “The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that’s the way I likes it!”
    (This is really, REALLY lousy mileage….)

    “I also have to wonder if your impressions of Japanese history have colored your views of contemporary society.”

    Or vice-versa?

  230. Jade and M-bone

    Jade and I, with all of the scruffy disheveled foreignness that we could muster, have toured some real backwaters in Japan and never really noted this sort of thing. Thomas, people cross the street all the time. Maybe it’s not all about you.

    Maybe it’s not all about me. I’m glad I live in Japan. There is no other country in this world that I would prefer to live in at the present moment. I’m also proud and happy to be American, although at the present time I chose to live in Japan.

    Jade Oc

    I was never trying to say that my experiences in Japan were of some greater value than yours only that they cannot be equated.

    Leaving history aside I still personally agree with M-bone that returning to Tennessee into the loving arms of Amy is worthy of sympathy. Ha, ha, ha.

    I hope that none of us gaijins are ever falsely accused and arrested for a crime in Japan, as I’m sure we will not be treated the same as the average Japanese looking citizen. If you really want to understand xenophobia in Japan try going into your local bank and applying for a small bank loan without a Japanese cosigner. Citizen or permanent resident is of little relevance in this matter because you still look like a gaijin unless you look Japanese.

    Let’s wrap this off feed conversation up if you don’t mind. I’m not so young anymore and I’m getting tired. I’m not going to respond anymore and I’m sure you’ll be thankful. But if you don’t mind since the topic of the feed was “sympathizing with Noriko Savoie” lets get back on track. I’m sure everyone has heard enough of me on this matter and other things that seemed unconnected and possibly irrelevant.

    I still think M-bone and Jade Oc should be held and questioned indefinitely with Mr. Savoie for touring the backwaters of Japan in a scruffy disheveled gaijin manner. Or perhaps Mr. Savoie should be released or at least allowed his day in court.

  231. “I still think M-bone and Jade Oc should be held and questioned indefinitely with Mr. Savoie for touring the backwaters of Japan in a scruffy disheveled gaijin manner.”

    I’ll take my chances in Japan.

    I’d rather end up in a Japanese prison than an American one, however.

    “In 2003, the U.S. Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003, Public Law 108-79, now codified 45 U.S.C. 15601 to 15609. The Findings in this Act state:
    (2) Insufficient research has been conducted and insufficient data reported on the extent of prison rape. However, experts have conservatively estimated that at least 13 percent of the inmates in the United States have been sexually assaulted in prison. Many inmates have suffered repeated assaults. Under this estimate, nearly 200,000 inmates now incarcerated have been or will be the victims of prison rape.”

    I’d like to see Japan institute habeas corpus and I’d like to see a better standard of order imposed in US prisons. I’d much rather be behind bars in Japan, if I had a choice. Safety is also a human rights issue and that is one of a number of reasons why I’ve spent far more time in Japan than in the US.

  232. “why I’ve spent far more time in Japan than in the US.”

    I mean that I find the general climate of safety in Japan to be appealing, not that I am particularly afraid of landing in the clink in either country.

  233. American prisons are a mixed bag. From what I understand, state prisons are generally much worse than federal prisons, probably because rape, murder, assault and other violent crimes are usually state offenses. So that “federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison” line from Office Space wasn’t entirely accurate.

    That said, I agree that a Japanese prison is probably less unpleasant. From what I understand, prison here is a lot like being in military boot camp: highly regimented, very little free time, very little space and absolutely no privacy, in contrast to the free-for-all that seems to reign in many American prisons. That said, most of what I understand about Japanese prisons comes from the book On Parole, which may or may not be accurate.

  234. The best depiction of Japanese prison life I know of is the manga 刑務所の中, which should be in any bookstore of a reasonable size.

  235. “why I’ve spent far more time in Japan than in the US.”

    Oh, so you didn’t mean THAT sort of “time”....

  236. Yeah Joe, I wouldn’t be that worried about “Club Fed”.

    Just to make myself a bit more clear – I don’t “fear” going to America to work or anything because of safety issues, it is just that safety issues wouldn’t be one of the pluses of going to the US while on the other hand, behind bars or not, safety in Japan is a plus. I also originally mentioned this meaning to link it to the Savoie discussion – Amy expressed concern that Christopher was being held with “hardened criminals”. Oooh, I’m shaking.

    “The best depiction of Japanese prison life I know of is the manga 刑務所の中”

    We’ve mentioned this before, but I think that it is worth repeating – there is also a fantastic film version directed by Sai Yoichi (Chi to Hone, Kamui Gaiden, etc.) and starring Yamazaki Tsutomu (Tampopo, Okuribito, etc.). For my money, one of the best Japanese films of the 2000s. Even available in English as “Doing Time”.

    Joe, what you wrote sounds more or less accurate from what I have gleaned from “Keimusho no Naka” and 2-3 shinsho that I have read about prison in Japan. Interestingly, “death row” is nothing like this. Those guys have no mandatory labor, are allowed to have special meals and receive care packages, and have private rooms. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given the other problems with this system.

  237. Well, yeah, but the guys on death row also get to enjoy the fact that they might be killed at a moment’s notice. And they get to live like that for years on end. No thanks…

  238. Yeah, that’s the “other problem”.

    I take it from other fictional narratives that death row people know basically the rough order that they will be executed in, so the first years of what are usually quite long terms of waiting are supposed to be like staying in a serviced motel compared to regular jail. Makes little sense.

    Anyway, let’s do are best to stay off death row.

  239. For a depiction of death row in Japan, check out the recent movie 休暇、which cuts back and forth between a death row inmate, and the prison guard who is trying to decided whether or not he is willing to participate in the prisoner’s execution in exchange for some bonus vacation days to use on his honeymoon. The execution (by hanging) scene is particularly interesting, as it is shown from an angle that I have never seen a hanging shown from in any other film, and you get to see the particularly grim job of the man who stands under the gallows platform to pull on the victim after he falls to make sure his neck has fully snapped.

  240. ”as I’m sure we will not be treated the same as the average Japanese looking citizen.”

    No.you will not.When my forementioned family member was interrogated by police,the lawyer demanded interpreter inspite of the Japanese fluency of his client,so the suspect don’t face the disadvantage because of language and cultural gaps.
    Problem was the authority couldn’t find Mongolian speaking court interpreter in the area,so they brought Russian interpreter who was Russian lit lecturer at the local national university.Funny thing was my wife,though fluent in Russian,speaks better Japanese.But lawyer insisted anyway.

    I agree in very general sense that foreigners may face disadvantage of being foreign national since they may not understand language,social practice and legal system of this country.And ofcourse they may have to deal with personal on the side of their opponent who possess xenophobic tendency.But then,there are systematic measure that intended to counter such disadvantage,or at least the authority counts criticism if such measures were not taken when handling cases as such.

    “If you really want to understand xenophobia in Japan try going into your local bank and applying for a small bank loan without a Japanese cosigner. Citizen or permanent resident is of little relevance in this matter because you still look like a gaijin unless you look Japanese.”

    Christopher Savoie didn’t seem to face such problem when he founded GNI,or did he?
    http://www.gnipharma.com/company/executive.html#01

    I think that’s more to do with the fact of lacking mortgages in this country than “look like a gaijin”,No?

  241. I mentioned this a few months back when we were talking about the issue of ham up justice for (some) foreigners, but according to a very comprehensive survey of 4000 prisoners, foreigners respond that they are treated “fairly” in prison at a significantly higher rate than Japanese.

  242. Well as we chat in this moment,Christopher Savoie could be suffering waterboarding by Fukuoka Prefecural Police,you’ll never know.
    But that’s not strictly a torture in America,Right?

  243. Any Japanese arrested in the United States should have their lawyer claim that the US gov. is showing “depraved indifference” to their right not to get raped by the Aryan Nation.

  244. Aceface

    “Christopher Savoie didn’t seem to face such problem when he founded GNI,or did he?
    http://www.gnipharma.com/company/executive.html#01&#8221;

    Thanks for the link. Was this an older link of gnipharma? I got to this index well enough and saw Mr. Savoie on the board of executives but as I went through it and jumped around it looked as though gnipharma had updated their web-site and removed all info of Mr. Savoie. Which would make sense because his arrest is hardly something the co. would want to be associated with.

    I’m not going to argue the Japanese xenophobe issue anymore. Obviously xenophobes exist in every country in the world. Cash flow and then credit worthiness are the predominant concerns of all bankers in every country in the world when considering a loan. In the case of a gaijin in Japan it just makes some bankers a little nervous because they tend to have a feeling that the gaijin might fly the coop and leave them holding the bag of responsibility. If the cash flow or cash deposits are persuasive enough they’ll make unsecured business loans to foreigners albeit carefully and somewhat nervously. In the U.S. most bankers don’t have this same fear of foreign permanent U.S. residents skipping out on their debts and returning to their home country. Why?

  245. “In the U.S. most bankers don’t have this same fear of foreign permanent U.S. residents skipping out on their debts and returning to their home country. Why?”

    1: Americans usually assume that America is so great that nobody would ever want to leave.

    2: As seen in the recent mortgage crisis, American banks will give a loan to anyone, at any time, for any amount, for any reason.

    3: Probably anti-discrimination laws/regulations are involved somehow.

  246. “As seen in the recent mortgage crisis, American banks will give a loan to anyone, at any time, for any amount, for any reason.”

    This is what I was thinking. Before talking foreigness, better to ask – how many 20 year old Japanese do we know with their own credit card?

    Savoie’s name is almost miraculously easy to render in Kanji. Probably the best approximation of the katakana that I’ve ever seen for a white guy.

  247. There is a wide variety of student credit cards on the market in Japan, though I can’t say how many people have those. One point to keep in mind is that Japanese are not legally adults until age 20, whereas Americans reach legal maturity at 18, so they have a two-year head start on the credit game.

    There is also blatant age discrimination in the Japanese consumer credit industry—many high-end credit cards have a minimum age requirement of 30 or 35.

  248. College students in Japan can get a credit card no questions asked through the Co-op (that’s what mine is). However, this expires as soon as you graduate, and I’m not sure how easy it is to get another one immediately after.

  249. Luckily there aren’t many outside of Japan who sympathisize with Noriko Savoie and maybe finally outside pressure will bring about some much needed change:

    Here are a few Japan Times articles:

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091006ad.html
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091010f1.html
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091010f2.html

    Another ABC news story:

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/fighting-custody-abducted-children-japan/story?id=8817579

    My colleague in Washington reported:

    http://www.47news.jp/movie/general/post_374/
    (Japanese)

  250. Roy – I got my student credit card through the Coop, and I was sent the “shakaijin” card (increased limit, but also minor annual fees) automatically and without anything done on my part the year I was scheduled to graduate.

    Incidentally, students will need a guarantor for that card, IIRC. Your prof is the usual choice.

    BTW, any recommendations on a good second credit card from anyone? I’ve had one for ages, but would like a second, but since I don’t live in Tokyo or fly JAL much (or at all) those Suica or JAL or whatever ones don’t seem ideal.

  251. Perhaps a Rakuten card? I think it is fee-free, and they are giving out some pretty big points deals which you can use as a discount on merchandise.

  252. You mean you need a guarantor for the post-graduation shakaijin card?

    I tried to sign up for a Rakuten card the other day but their server was being retarded and kept telling me I had left a required field blank when they were all full, without even telling me which one to check!

  253. Content aside, that ABC story is terribly written and edited. I mean “vigilant hope”? Jesus christ.

  254. One of Curzon’s original points was that Savoie is “the wrong martyr for the cause”. It’s beginning to look like he might be the right one. The main reason I have for saying that is, for better or worse, his case has received significant coverage in the US and coverage in the Japanese media is now building up momentum. I saw US ambassador John Roos featured briefly one of the evening news programmes yesterday commenting specifically on the abduction issue. Aceface was wondering earlier why he hadn’t heard about cases such as Etsuko Tanizaki Allred and the simple fact is that they usually get coverage in a local newspaper overseas – or Stars and Stripes if it involves military personnel like Paul Toland’s case – but not so much at a national level. Meanwhile, in Japan, there has been no significant coverage of any individual abduction case to date.

    Even following an announcement in May 2008 by the Ministry of Justice that Japan was beginning to look at the possibility of becoming a signatory to Hague, there was no mention of any specific instance. The same when Canada, Britain, France and the US made a joint diplomatic representation on the issue in May of this year. I would put that down to a combination of privacy issues and a lack of domestic interest.

    Christopher Savoie’s actions in Japan have been reckless and stupid but, whereas most cases have no narrative development, this one has a good deal and promises more. Even coverage of a left behind parent tails off in the US in the absence of any concrete development. Most parents are just sitting and waiting or else tied up in legal proceedings in Japan which generally go slowly and, usually, nowehere. With Savoie, we have a man in jail and something has to happen to him. He might be charged, he might be released, he might be deported. Whichever course of action the authorities take, there will be repercussions and more coverage.

    Supporters of Japan becoming a signatory to Hague might prefer a more obviously sympathetic character than Christopher Savoie – hence Curzon’s comment – but there are plenty of more sympathetic stories out there which have failed to get any attention so perhaps it needed a reckless idiot to spark a public discussion.

  255. I certainly can’t improve upon Mulboyne’s contributions to this thread, but instead offer only the following:

    Partial List of Signatory Countries to the Hague Convention as of June 2009:

    Argentina
    Australia
    Brazil
    Canada
    France
    Germany
    Sweden
    United States

    Partial List of Non-Signatory Countries:

    Afghanistan
    Algeria
    Haiti
    Japan
    Kyrgyzstan
    Myanmar
    People’s Republic of Korea
    Zimbabwe

    -catone
    -the company you keep

  256. Thomas:

    “Which would make sense because his arrest is hardly something the co. would want to be associated with.”

    Maybe.But Savoie’s name has been gone for two years after his resignation from CEO in December 21 of 2007.

    Mulboyne:

    ” It’s beginning to look like he might be the right one. The main reason I have for saying that is, for better or worse, his case has received significant coverage in the US and coverage in the Japanese media is now building up momentum. ”

    Meaning to encourage outsiders to go extreme in handling Japan?Big mistake in long term.And they are counting too much on Japanese media being too cosmoplitan unlike American counterpart.

    How about other’s like Paul Toland who thinks Chris Savoie is a hero.Toland’s ex-Japanese wife commit suicide after the divorce and her mom seems to be very serious about keeping her grandchild at her hand.But so far all we hear is American coverage only from Toland’s side accusing the old Japanese woman and saying Toland’s 80 years old parents never saw their grand daughter.Good grief!
    What the hell would happen if a uniformed American naval officer kidnap his child from this old woman and run into the U.S base?
    All this media fiasco making Japan sign Hague reminds me of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars Project had made Soviet Union collapse,which in reality,Soviet Union was at brink with or without Reagan’s space venture.
    Please,Mulboyne.Sometimes the messenger matters than the message itself.

  257. On Partial List of Signatory Countries to the Hague Convention as of June 2009.

    I think the Catone’s list of the countries is a bit misleading.
    Only two countries are the member of the Hague convention in Asia(Thailand and Sri Lanka)Meaning around 90% of international marriages in Japan are with nationals from non-member countries.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hague_Signatories.png

  258. Roy – no, sorry about the confusion. I meant you need (or did when I got mine) a guarantor for the Coop one. Mine was my prof.

  259. catoneinutica, your list is (1) a prime example of cherry picking, and (2) unconvincing even at that, since you wrongly assume we will all share your valuation of the countries in each list.

  260. I was wondering.Assuming Japan not signing Hague so far is the product of situation,unlike other countries where international marriages occur among the Hague members,would signing Hague gives more burden to Japan instead of gaining?

  261. I haven’t suggested that anyone should follow Christopher Savoie’s example. I am pointing out that Japanese television and newspapers are now covering an instance of an international custody dispute when they have shown no interest in doing so previously. If Japan was to become an effective signatory of Hague then it will have an impact on Japanese citizens. This isn’t an issue which should only be debated behind closed doors by diplomats, it needs to be aired publicly. I don’t really understand the reasoning behind complaints that we only hear one side of the story when the Japanese parents have had little incentive to tell their side and the Japanese media has shown no interest to date in finding it out.

    If Japanese parents are encouraged to speak out then this would surely be a good thing because we would get a dialogue going. I mentioned earlier that I don’t care for the way that accusations of abuse are freely bandied around. However, if the starting point for a public discussion of Hague in Japan is that all these Japanese abductors are actually sheltering in Japan from abusive husbands, then so be it. We will at least have something we can talk about. I personally think a lot of such claims would fail closer analysis but the broader issue can only advance towards resolution if they get a proper airing.

    I would prefer it more cases became widely known in Japan because we might be able to move away from trying to decide which individuals are “right” or “wrong” and towards a discussion of what means are appropriate to deal with these disputes. Hague is part of a framework to help resolve conflicts, not a means to favour parents of one country over another. There’s good reason to believe it would have helped in this case. As I said before, Christopher Savoie might not have felt the need to play hardball or, at the very least, Noriko would have thought twice before taking on a commitment in a US court which she wouldn’t have been able to walk out on. Both sides might have compromised earlier rather than getting into the desperate position we see now.

    The status quo has generally served Japanese parents over foreign parents. If the status quo becomes harder to maintain, then all sides have a reason to seek a solution. If Hague doesn’t seem like the right answer to some, the onus is on them to propose an alternative.

  262. Good points on the credit cards. I know lots of Japanese who get turned down for cards with a 10 man limit, however. When I was 22 or 23, unemployed (between scholarships), they were begging me to up my credit limit to $10,000 back home.

  263. “signing Hague gives more burden to Japan instead of gaining?”

    Still, child abductions suck.

    Interesting to think about how this case would be playing out if the woman was Chinese. Thousands of protesters burning Kyung Lah in effigy in front of the US embassy?

  264. Mulboyne:

    “I don’t really understand the reasoning behind complaints that we only hear one side of the story when the Japanese parents have had little incentive to tell their side and the Japanese media has shown no interest to date in finding it out.”

    Hint.”Jerry Springer Show”did so bad in rating in Japan,it got off the air inspite of passionate promotion by Kaiya Kawasaki.

    But yes.Overall I agree with your statement,Mulboyne.But I still think Kyung Lah report sucks.

    M-Bone:

    China,I’m not worried.South Korea,that I’m worried about.Check this BBC report on Reverend Moon becoming 90.(HT to MOZU)

    The Moonies thinks Japanese families are kidnapping their believers.

    “Hyung Jin Moon is particularly concerned about the situation in Japan, where he alleges that several hundred members of the movement have been kidnapped against their will by parents trying to force their children out of Unificationism.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/mobile/asia-pacific/8293607.stm

  265. catoneinutica:

    I think you’re forgetting your strongest argument.
    You know who else didn’t sign the Hague convention?
    Hitler

  266. I’m wondering. Since Japan hasn’t signed the hague convention that relates to child abduction what would happen if a host stay family in a foreign country decided to maintain possession of their Japanese host child. I admit that it’s very unlikely. But what if a strong minded U.S. ultra Christian family decided that they didn’t want to allow their host child to return to Japan and be raised in non Christian family or environment. I realize I’m reaching here but what would be the legal ramifications. Obviously there would be visa issues but if the family had the right immigration attorney with the right connections there might be various avenues to get around this. How would the Japanese government be able to bring pressure upon the U.S. or other hague signatory countries to have the Japanese home stay child returned to his home in Japan.

    Anybody want to bat this idea around for awhile with some other possible scenarios?

  267. Thomas:

    I suggest you to google”wikipedia”, “family”.Thomas.

    CNN Kyung Lah report.
    “In Japan, a country that lacks sufficient medical services for disabled children, the only person to care for Spencer is his father. ”

    I don’t know whether Roy or Curzon remember this,but I live right next to school of disabled children run by city of Nagoya and I know one or two about welfare in Aichi for diisabled people.This notion is complete horse shit.

  268. Well, if I were on Noriko’s shoes, I probably did the same thing. I think she was simply despatate and that was only way to get over with her life’s hardship. Imagine you were thrown out to a completely foreign environment, left by your husband you are 100% dependent(very common in Japanese wives), not a native speaker but still had to fight in a court, no close friends and family. I think she has not established her own life in the US and probably already has been hurt by her ex-husband and another woman’s affairs. She was simply not yet ready to meet his new wife and kids and accomidate them into her new life in the US. I agree that her action was not appropriate and rational, but I think she was that despatate. I hope the US cort had more understanding for the hard life Noriko was placed. Only if she were allowed to go back and forth between the US and Japan by her own free will, I think the things would have turned better, since a lot of divorced mothers are letting their ex-husband meet their children. Children’s will is much more respected in these days. It us not so rigid and weired the US media. Anyway, I hope this family will find the best way to solve their problem and their kids grow to be happy people, half American half Japanese, which they were born to be.

  269. “Anybody want to bat this idea around for awhile with some other possible scenarios?”

    Wouldn’t the host child be at least 15 or something in this scenario? If he wants to sit on the porch and smoke blunts for Christ, let him.

    Ace, I have disabled members of my extended family in Japan and my home country and I don’t see a big difference between how they are treated and the resources available. Horse shit is right? (BTW, when did horse shit become worse than bullshit?)

    “You know who else didn’t sign the Hague convention?
    Hitler”

    LMAO

  270. American criticizing Japanese health care system sounds to me a bad joke.
    Although I haven’t checked what kind of papers are required for the welfare of disabled child with both parents are resident foreigners.
    Brazilian consulate in Nagoya has a medical consultant who was an immigrant and been MD in Brazil for over 40 years and returned to Japan to retire and he does all the translation work between the city hall and local Brazilian population,so he could be of some help.

  271. Thomas:

    “what would happen if a host stay family in a foreign country decided to maintain possession of their Japanese host child. I admit that it’s very unlikely. But what if a strong minded U.S. ultra Christian family decided that they didn’t want to allow their host child to return to Japan and be raised in non Christian family or environment. I realize I’m reaching here but what would be the legal ramifications. Obviously there would be visa issues but if the family had the right immigration attorney with the right connections there might be various avenues to get around this.”

    This scenario reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of domestic relations and family law. Let’s review:
    1. Host parents do not have “possession” of an exchange student who lives in their home (children are not property), but only temporary custody, granted with the consent of the parents. Parents can revoke that consent at anytime without restrictions.
    2. By the time a person is in their teens (when all long term host exchanges happen) they have developed a level of free will and can start to make decisions by themselves. To use your example, a Japanese student may decide to stay in the United States after a home stay and try to go to college in the US or even do a proper transfer.
    3. There is no legal theory in the United States or Japan on which temporary hosts of children can fight the actual parents of a child. You seem to want to compare this to the child abduction cases, but those are instances of two parents going head-to-head fighting over children. Yours is a case of a non-relative temporary custodian trying to take custody from a parent, for which there is no rational or legal basis whatsoever.

  272. Yeah, that’s not child abduction in the sense we’ve been discussing- it’s straightup kidnapping. You certainly wouldn’t need the Hague convention to get the police involved.

  273. Aceface and M-Bone: Actually, I directly know two Japanese families raising kids with mental illness, one with pretty severe autism, who left Japan to live in the US because the care in Japan was poor. The big issue comes down to what you can afford to pay—if you have private corporate health insurance and are in a wealthy and developed area, the US is a much better place to be with far greater care available. Japan’s system guarantees a minimum standard of care, and it’s hard to get above that, even if you have the money, because luxurious care doesn’t really exist, unless you’re an old person who wants to live in an onsen resort.

    That being said… Kyung Lah’s latest article is so totally nuts I don’t know where to begin. Like much of what she writes, the facts are scrambled, there are huge leaps in logic, and you find yourself asking so many questions that I find myself doubting the sincerity and trustworthiness of the subject, despite my instincts to sympathize with him. Let me Fisk this article piece by piece.

    The basic facts: Morrey is American. His wife is Brazilian. He is based in Okazaki. They have a son with cerebral palsy who Morrey cares for, and a younger daughter who his wife has practical custody over. They divorced in a Japanese court. Morrey says he is fighting for joint custody in Japanese court.

    That much I understand.

    But who can even begin to understand the rest of the article?

    “Morrey has stayed in Japan the last year, trying to get the courts to recognize that he has joint custody of the children in Brazil (he has not yet applied for such custody under U.S. law).”

    I’m lucky that, as a lawyer, I know that when foreigners marry and divorce in Japan they apply the law of their home country. But on what basis is he trying to get Brazilian law to apply to give him joint custody? Why not go for American law, which he probably has a lot more access to materials, precedents, and competent US legal counsel to submit briefs to Japanese courts. How does he know what Brazilian law would say—is he fluent in Portugese? What’s the catch? What is this article not telling us?

    (And the grammar is backwards too—they do not mean that he is “trying to get the courts to recognize that he has joint custody of the children in Brazil.” They mean he is “trying to get courts to recognize that Brazilian law would grant him joint custody of the children.” There is nothing that explains why he has any physical nexus with Brazil such that he has joint custody there.)

    UPDATE/RESOLVED: Google has shown that a previous version of this article said earlier, “Brazil has already recognized him as the joint custodian of the children.” That has been removed (without stating the correction in the current article) as it was probably wrong (and fails the sniff test—what Brazilian court did Morrey petition, from Japan, that had jurisdiction to even make such a ruling outside of its territory?) That was what the “in Brazil” comment was meat to refer to, but they forgot to amend that that after they made their correction.

    I also can’t practically envision what he expects will happen. He is hoping for a Japanese court to take the unusual step of recognizing joint custody over his daughter… so that he can leave Japan, go to the US, and be physically apart from his daughter. Practically, what does he expect will happen? Does he want his wife to let his daughter visit him in the US? Or let him visit her in Japan? We’ve already seen that Japanese courts can’t even enforce this type of visitation, so why is he bothering? The best way to do this is to reach some sort of agreement with his ex-wife and just move, possibly coercing visitation through offers of monetary support.

    And why is he looking to get JOINT custody of BOTH children? The article makes it clear that the wife can’t handle taking care of their disabled son. Why not go straight for the gold and get sole custody for his son, period?

    “He is afraid that if he heads home for the U.S. with Spencer without that, he could be subject to international child abduction laws, and he also fears such a move could hurt his chances of getting the Japanese family court to give him joint custody of his daughter.”

    Why? This makes no sense. The article makes it pretty clear that his wife abandoned her husband and son. That gives HIM a cause of action, not her.

    “Not seeing his daughter Amelia again is what is keeping Morrey in Japan. He has been selling off everything he owns, trying to keep himself and Spencer afloat, hoping the Japanese court will bring him some legal connection to his child. He is stuck choosing between caring for his son, who needs the better resources of the U.S., and hoping to be a father to his daughter.”

    My initial comment in this post notwithstanding, on what basis does Japan lack sufficient medical services for disabled children compared to the US? That only makes sense if Morrey has access to expensive private health insurance in the United States, but he has quit his job and is selling off his possessions to stay solvent, how would he have better care in the US? At least in Japan he has access to national health insurance, which is probably free, or almost free, in his case.

    So I’m utterly confused and bewildered. Nothing here makes sense. I really, really want to sympathize with Craig Morrey, I’m just suspicious of what the real story is after poking so many holes in the logic of the story asking so many obvious questions.

  274. I feel like I’m salami slicing my personal life on this thread.but I was working on unemployment of Brazilian workers from last December to February.

    I interviewed this Brazilian husband-wife-a year old son family that went broke after six month of employment and taking labor training course set by Aichi Prefecture.Although they chose to go back to Brazil in april,the couple wanted to remain in Japan for various reasons and one of them was because of respiratory disease their son has.Brazil does have health care system and government offer cheap medical service operated from government owned hospitals,but the quality is low and usually you have to wait for hours to get to see the doctor.

    So the couple I interviewed wanted to stay in Aichi because of better medical service for their son instead of going back to rural area of state of Sao Paulo.
    I’ve also talked on the phone to this aforementioned medical consultant who happens to live in Okazaki,and basically he agreed what the couple had said.

    So,Japanese system for sick or disabled kids can be considered “better” to some from Brazil or other countries.Also felt watching school for disabled built only few years ago,seeing kids coming everyday on shining school buses seemingly to be joyful of coming to school.So I didn’t particularly feel Japan is an outlier in this field.

    Kinda off topic,but I also learned afterwards that this photo was taken at”charity fashion show” for the disabled students.
    http://www.mutantfrog.com/2009/10/04/hatoyamas-first-wacky-photo-op-as-pm-foppiest-pm-ever/
    I actually felt bad about thinking Hatoyama a weirdo,of which he is.but not on this particular occasion.

  275. Curzon.

    Thanks for the reply. I wasn’t trying to equate the biological maternal/paternal child abduction cases. I was just curious as to whether not being a signatory to the Hague convention could be a double edged sword for Japan citizens and their children. Yes, it seems as though there is not much that can be legally done in Japan in regards to redeeming your foreign legal custody rights. But if not being a signatory to the Hague convention means that there is legal cloak that can be hidden behind it would seem that it would work for and against a non signing country. In the case of many home-stay situations that I’m aware of there isn’t much of a legal contractual relationship with the foreign host family’s. In some cases private co.’s that arrange these stays for minors have done nothing more than purchase travel insurance and arranged the plane tickets. I’m sure that it is quite different for the large co.s like JTB etc. that want to cover all of their legal liabilities. So in any case there are Japanese minors that are showing up in foreign countries for home-stays without any formal legal documented consent from their parents. Host parents are in physical possession of these minors and are legally responsible in many ways for not only their well being but liable to some extent for their actions. What would be the legal process that a Japanese parent would have to go through to seek the return of their children? Would it be as simple as just calling the police in the local jurisdiction of the host family and having the child picked up? Would they have to go to court? Would it be a court of civil or criminal procedure or both? What if the police refused to be involved and they did go to court? How could the Japanese parents establish their unequivocal legal custodial rights in a U.S. court if Japanese courts refuse to allow U.S. citizens to establish their unequivocal custodial rights? Maybe the case of a young teen host student isn’t a very good example. But perhaps if it were a young Japanese teen runaway that managed to defect while on vacation with his parents in California. Other than being an illegal alien after a few months, which would be an immigration issue, how would the Japanese parents be able to except a U.S. court to acknowledge their legal custodial rights to their minor without some form of international agreement of mutual acceptance?

    In a more likely scenario I escape fortress Japan by taking a vacation with my 12 year old son. My Japanese wife finds us hiding out in a remote area of Montana after a couple of months or years. She tries to get our son back but she can’t because he’s being home schooled and my ranch is surrounded by loyal armed ranch hands 24/7. I refuse to let her even see her son or talk to him. Were still married in Japan. She sues me in the local jurisdiction in Montana for custody. I’m drinking buddies with the judge by that point and show him/her a lot of cases where things went bad for Americans in Japanese custody cases in Japan. In such a case what if any would my wife’s legal rights to her child in the U.S.?

    I would think that many local U.S. magistrates would hear evidence and precedents that are being set by mainly Japanese women that are abducting their U.S. children back to Japan and hiding behind the lack of an international standard. I would think that in the fairness of the law and their not being an international standard that Japan is signed and agreed to that some judges might take some of their immense discretionary powers to seek an amicable resolution, and perhaps even a little U.S. retribution. Japan not being a participant to such an international agreement as the Hague convention would seem to put her in exactly the same situation as Mr. Savoie and others. Before the notoriety of this latest case and quite a few others that seem to popping out of the woodwork I wouldn’t think that most judiciaries would pay much special heed in such custody cases but I’m sure there must be many judges out their in the U.S. that are listening to the U.S. sided Mass media reports and contemplate what they might do if such an international custody dispute was brought before their bench.

    Aceface

    I looked up “family” on Wikipedia as you kindly recommended. It was very informative and I actually learned a few things that I didn’t know.

  276. “In the case of many home-stay situations that I’m aware of there isn’t much of a legal contractual relationship with the foreign host family’s.”

    It doesn’t have to be a written contract—technically, implied consent to temporary custody by the legal guardian is the legal contract that arises when a homestay happens. This is also what happens when a student goes to school and is under the supervision of a teacher, or when kids sleep over at a friends house where the friend’s parents are in charge, or when a kid travels across the country with a coach to a national sports event. Temporary custody arises with the implicit approval of the parent all the time, and can be revoked at any time, with no cause or justification required whatsoever.

    “What would be the legal process that a Japanese parent would have to go through to seek the return of their children? Would it be as simple as just calling the police in the local jurisdiction of the host family and having the child picked up?”

    Yes. If a host family was trying to keep a child outside the framework of the homestay in such a nature that constituted denying the parent of custody of their own child, the local Japanese embassy or consulate could immediately help the parent work with local authorities to get their kids back. I’m sure local prosecutors would want to look into criminal charges as well. Just like what would happen if a coach tried to keep a little league baseball player as his charge, or a piano teacher decided to keep a student as her own child.

    “In a more likely scenario I escape fortress Japan by taking a vacation with my 12 year old son. My Japanese wife finds us hiding out in a remote area of Montana after a couple of months or years. She tries to get our son back but she can’t because he’s being home schooled and my ranch is surrounded by loyal armed ranch hands 24/7. I refuse to let her even see her son or talk to him. Were still married in Japan. She sues me in the local jurisdiction in Montana for custody. I’m drinking buddies with the judge by that point and show him/her a lot of cases where things went bad for Americans in Japanese custody cases in Japan. In such a case what if any would my wife’s legal rights to her child in the U.S.?”

    I charge $420 an hour, $320 for blog readers and friends. I look forward to your furikomi.

    But seriously, I don’t know Montana law and lawyers are not in the business of predicting how judges will decide their cases. I think her first step would be to see if she can force the judge to recuse himself because of his existing relationship with you the defendant that may prejudice his ruling. Hopefully you can file your evidence as a timely brief with the next judge who is not your drinking buddy. If you and your wife are indeed separated but married the court may not rule on custody just yet, but I would imagine your wife is within her rights to sue for custody (on the grounds that you’re brainwashing your son in an unhealthy environment) or joint custody. If she has joint custody, it is possible a court would approve restrictions on her bringing the child to Japan, if you can convince the court of the risk of losing your child. She would not have visa issues, being married to you, a US citizen, and could live in Montana and see your son regularly.

    Also, if a child is 12, the judge will pretty carefully examine the desires of the child, and possibly have third parties do the same independently.

  277. “In a more likely scenario I escape fortress Japan by taking a vacation with my 12 year old son. My Japanese wife finds us hiding out in a remote area of Montana after a couple of months or years. She tries to get our son back but she can’t because he’s being home schooled and my ranch is surrounded by loyal armed ranch hands 24/7.”

    I want to buy this manga.

  278. Curzon,

    I see that you again suggest that, if a foreign parent cannot guarantee visitation rights, then economic coercion is a legitimate tactic. You’ll note that Christopher Savoie has been accused of, and condemned for, such coercion within this comment thread. If it transpires that he did in fact do so, can we understand that you would defend him?

    I also don’t know the details of the Morrey case. However, he is not a Japanese citizen so I doubt very much he is looking for the care that a Japanese parent would want. Like you, I have friends with special needs children and all were obliged to relocate because they didn’t have the visa status in Japan to sponsor a full-time English-speaking carer. Of course, a Japanese family couldn’t do that either but they wouldn’t generally have the same need. All I take him to be saying is that he can’t care for his child as he would want to do in the US. Of course, that’s an entirely different claim to the more general one CNN appears to make.

    Thomas,

    As others have pointed out, your host family example is irrelevant to Hague. It seems to me you want to ask whether a Japanese parent is prevented from recovering a child from overseas because Japan is not a Hague signatory. The answer is no. A Japanese parent is free to use overseas courts to do so. It may take more time and money because Japan is not a signatory but I know from personal experience that UK and Irish courts, at least, have respected the rights of a Japanese parent, awarded them custody and allowed them to take children back to Japan.

    In your specific Montana example, Curzon has already given a good opinion. To expand on his points, you should know that time is an important consideration. Even under Hague, twelve months can be sufficient to establish residence. The key point is that legislation is designed to protect the children. If a parent has successfully abducted a child for sufficient time, the resolution isn’t simply about which parent is legally right or wrong, it is concerned with which course of action best serves the needs of the child.

  279. “I see that you again suggest that, if a foreign parent cannot guarantee visitation rights, then economic coercion is a legitimate tactic. ”

    Well, it’s the only tactic available to ANY parent with visitation rights (not just a foreigner parent). If an ex spouse with custody refuses these court-granted visitation rights, the only way to make them happen is to withhold child support payments that may be paid, and confiscate other assets in your name.

    “You’ll note that Christopher Savoie has been accused of, and condemned for, such coercion within this comment thread.”

    Really? I think the ranking of condemnation for Chris is something like, (1) assaulting his wife and snatching his kids with a gang of friends, (2) bringing his wife to the US to divorce her, (3) being a dual citizen in violation of the law and trying to play it both ways with consular protection, and (4) being a drama queen and a media whore. If he’s being condemned for economic coercion, it ranks at 4 or below. (Also, I am not one of those who thinks that Noriko got a better financial deal by getting divorced in the US —Japan has very strict rules on dividing assets that probably would have gotten her the same deal.)

    “If it transpires that he did in fact do so, can we understand that you would defend him?”

    Defend him… in court? Defend his actions? As noted, I think Savoie is pretty much nutty, and I don’t condemn him for any economic coercion that may or may not have happened, but for everything else in that ranking above.

  280. “All I take him to be saying is that he can’t care for his child as he would want to do in the US. Of course, that’s an entirely different claim to the more general one CNN appears to make.”

    See,that’s the point.There are so many missing facts and flawed logic on BOTH Savoie and Morrey case coverage of Kyung Lah.OK,I understand these people are in trouble and may need some help and sympathy from somewhere.(Perhaps more so for Morrey,and I give credit for Lah to find the man)but this just isn’t what we call authentic journalism.

  281. “In a more likely scenario I escape fortress Japan by taking a vacation with my 12 year old son. My Japanese wife finds us hiding out in a remote area of Montana after a couple of months or years. She tries to get our son back but she can’t because he’s being home schooled and my ranch is surrounded by loyal armed ranch hands 24/7.”

    I want to buy this manga.

    ゴルゴ13 第5748巻:拉致された日本人子供の救出大作戦!!

  282. “CNN’s slutty handling of facts”

    Not an adjective that I’ve seen applied to journalism before, but I like it.

    “ゴルゴ13 第5748巻:拉致された日本人子供の救出大作戦!!”

    It would be hard to do a Golgo chapter on that as Golgo never has sex with Japanese women (seriously, I’ve seen a breakdown – he’s had sex with over 300 women in the series, not one Japanese) and probably wouldn’t have Amy Savoie in his sights either.

    Okay, I figured it out – Golgo ends up getting with Kyung Lah after CNN hires him to shoot a pot of boiling water off Noriko’s stove (upside down from a hang-glider) so that they can accuse her of deliberately burning the children. Noriko ends up reverse hiring him to put an anti-tank round through her giant rising sun war flag head on the CNN set (Golgo stabs Wolf Blitzer because he doesn’t like his name). It ends with him (dressed like Santa Claus) putting one down the rifle scope of a teabagger trying to shoot Obama while on an epic peace making trip to North Korea.

  283. The rifle round goes through the teabagger’s head and does a perfect ricochet to hit Kim Jong Il between the eyes.

    Next Episode: Golgo 13 vs Hilary Clinton, The Battle of Tatoowine!

    「お前の行為は、俺のルールに反する行為だ。」
    ズキューーーーン

  284. Hindsight 20-20, but I agree with Mt:

    “Only if she were allowed to go back and forth between the US and Japan by her own free will, I think the things would have turned better, since a lot of divorced mothers are letting their ex-husband meet their children.”

    I think this is also the solution going forward, but this would require that the U.S. authorities forgive the mother and that the mother forgive the father.

    I don’t condemn the father for bargaining with his assets to get a situation that both guaranteed and was convenient for his visitation, but nor do I think it is fair to condemn the mother based on her having received assets. The lawyer on CNN condemned the mother pretty strongly based on his claim that the mother would have received “small money” in Japan.

    The only thing the mother can be condemned for is violating the court order. She was entitled to the assets in Japan.

    In hindsight, the attempt to use Tennessee law failed, and turned the mother into a criminal. Is that good for the kids? Did she have proper legal counsel before she left Japan and was immediately placed under court order not to leave Tennessee? Was her bargaining position fair and equal? Lots of questions.

  285. Curzon wrote: “Really? I think the ranking of condemnation for Chris is something like, (1) assaulting his wife and snatching his kids with a gang of friends, (2) bringing his wife to the US to divorce her…”

    I think “economic coercion” might count under no.2. Re-reading how I put my question, it almost sounds like I was somehow suggesting you were being inconsistent and trying to say “gotcha”. Actually, I was just interested in clarifying what you thought – which you’ve done – given that you wrote the original post. Sorry for being clumsy.

  286. I don’t think (2) contains economic coercion. My hunch is that he brought her to the US because he wanted to have regular visitation in his home town, where he now wanted to live, with his new wife. I believe these are all selfish reasons, and he may have had to buy her off accordingly. That being said, I don’t think he paid more or less by being in the US for a divorce.

  287. “This story that we’ve come up with is actually less silly than ムダツモ無き改革.”

    As long as you brought this up, the latest issue came out today. Guess who Koizumi’s new opponent is.

    You only need one guess.

  288. Curazon, I don’t know what really happened, but personally I don’t even think it was economic coercion, I think it may have been skilled guilt-tripping.

    I think it is possible that Noriko tried to give the US a chance, because of her ex’s teary pleas to be with them. Why risk coming to the US at all otherwise? Why stay for half a year? Why go to Japan for vacation and come back?

    It seems like something must have happened in the months after she agreed to stay in the US.

    Nigelboy mentioned she took the kids back after some trip that Chris took with them. Maybe it even had something to do with the step-siblings or the step-mom?

  289. “My hunch is that he brought her to the US because he wanted to have regular visitation in his home town, where he now wanted to live, with his new wife.”

    Interesting additional detail yesterday, the police have told the Asahi that Noriko told them that she felt she was “being treated like a babysitter” in the US. Very easy to see why she felt that way.

    Another reason not to sympathize with Christopher – if she was willing to come to the US, it stands to reason that she would have been good about letting him see the kids in Japan (or at least susceptible to economic coercion). Now, even if some sort of legal joint custody arrangement is worked out, the children will likely be terrified of him.

  290. Curzon

    “She would not have visa issues, being married to you, a US citizen, and could live in Montana and see your son regularly.”

    Well, actually she did get a green card with my cooperation and it took well over two years. Now, that we’ve moved back to Japan she has to forfeit it. It’s been made quite clear to her that to get another one it will take at least the same time as before if not longer. Meanwhile others not married to U.S. citizens can obtain permanent status with in months in the right circumstances. So her ability to plead with immigration that she needs to be in Montana while she’s dealing with her husband in court might fall on deaf ears.

    I understand all of the other explanations to my various reaching scenarios and I would agree with you in most instances. In the last scenario of my child being a Japanese resident and then parentally abducted to the U.S. (or perhaps Ireland) you’ve mentioned that these courts are probably going to honor my wife’s parental rites to visitation rights or even full or partial custody. However, in the reverse scenario of a U.S. residing child being abducted to Japan the Japanese courts are not following the same laws in kind. Isn’t this perhaps the main point of legal injustice that is creating this tremendous bias against Mrs. Savoie and favoring her husband the accused? And of course the U.S. media is not highlighting the important points which are that the children were raised in Japan and had only legally resided in the U.S. for a short time. They mention this but only as an almost afterthought after they’ve already worked the average American couch potato into an irate frenzy of perceived injustice.

    However, if we completely reverse the Savoie case. The two were happily living in the U.S. with their children. Their marriage fell on hard times. The wife was the bread winner and was American. The husband was the Japanese victimized house husband. She convinces him to return to Japan to get a divorce for some reason. etc. etc. They divorce in Japan and both agree to the terms of the Japanese divorce. After this he abducts the children back to the U.S. She returns to the U.S. and is arrested for trying to abduct her own children where they are still legally married. Now she’s in a U.S. jail waiting to be charged or released. In such a bizarre turn of events. Not only who do we sympathize with but would the U.S. try to prosecute her? Would the U.S. courts honor the Japanese divorce decree and custody resolution?

    I think for the average westerner we are taught to look at both sides of the issue from both perspectives and then pass our personal and perhaps biased judgement accordingly. In Japan it may not be that Japanese people don’t look at the situation from both sides but they look at it from too many sides and often become confused as to the real issues of justice involved. At other times the Japanese lack of hastiness and passing of quick judgement may be the correct outcome as well.

    M-bone

    I do have a ranch but it’s not in Montana. I don’t have the money for the ranch hands but I still have two of my own. I’m not really going to return to the U.S. other than on short vacations. I love Japan, most Japanese people, and my wife and children too much. I even like the some of the xenophobes. Sorry to disappoint you. But I like the story in its Manga version, too.

  291. ”I think for the average westerner we are taught to look at both sides of the issue from both perspectives and then pass our personal and perhaps biased judgement accordingly. ”

    And it seems to be things are happening completely the opposite in this case,or so I felt reading CNN article.

  292. Curzon,

    I find it interesting that you ask us to look at the the entire story in an “objective” manner, as though this is what you set out to do, but it is clear that this is not the case. To be objective means to look at all of the facts and perspectives on each side, and report without opinion. Yet, most of your reporting comes obviously in support of the mother. This means that your own personal bias has already influenced your judgement on this case, and therefore, you cannot provide an objective discussion on this matter.

    Your conjectures as related to the “facts” are all based on a suspicion that the father is more in the wrong. Therefore, they are not reported as facts at all, but a series of events reported from a very warped lens of observation. In other words, you are reporting on the story as given your opinion and not on pure factual evidence.

    You suspect that there was some deep seeded conspriracy against the mother as based on your interpretation of the father’s actions – even though you clearly remark that you cannot be clearly sure of it. Thus, this means that you are inclined to believe in your suspicions which are deeply flawed from the beginning in that you already possess a personal bias for the mother as the victim of a man’s mal content towards an unsuspecting and naive woman.

    This can be seen in the way you describe the father as being a very successful entreprenuer in the pharmaceutical industry, and how you describe this wife as being totally dependent on him and his actions. There are clearly points of interest that you either neglected to review in your investigation, or chose not even to consider when writing thie blog. In other words, your investigative technique is in need of work if you intend to ever provide an objective view point, because your case is currently laden biased suspicion and predjudices against the father – which is admittedly evident – and there is an innate sympathy in your remarks for the mother.

    Hence, there is no way that this is an objective report. I am not saying the what the father did was right. It was wrong, but we all do stupid and irrational things in times of desperation. I find that what the dad did was not necessarily pre-meditated, but rather a passionate act brought on by an uncontrollable emotional response to his current condition. I also find that the mother was wrong in the first place. She knew what she was doing when she fled the States, and she did it at the expense of the father – knowing well in full the rift it would cause. She too did this in response to a set of circumstances that elicited an irrational response as brought on by strong emotions.

    After all, the divorce was bitter and as such bitter parties to hurtful and wrongful things to each others as acts of revenge for something they considered unjust against them as perpetrated by the other party. The true victims in this case are the children, who are being forced by their mother to live without their father, and a father who was about ready to do the same thing in an act of desperation.

    Curzon, your blog is a statement of opinion and not an objective review of facts, so stop trying to fool your readership into thinking you are a objective reporter, because as based on the scope of information you provide in this blog you are not at all objective..

  293. That’s nothing most of us don’t already know. I still find Noriko more sympathetic. But both should have done better for their kids. It’s Chris that went into the really traumatic territory.

  294. Core 767

    “This can be seen in the way you describe the father as being a very successful entreprenuer in the pharmaceutical industry, and how you describe this wife as being totally dependent on him and his actions”

    It is true that no one really knows whether his wife was totally dependent on him and his actions but he was able pay his wife an $800,000 cash settlement. Anyone with that kind of cash lying around can factually be described as being a very successful entrepreneur.

    I don’t agree with Curzon about about quite a few legal points. And I’ve always felt and still do that there was something truly devious about Noriko Savoie’s actions but all in all I would say that Curzon reported on this matter objectively. He has not only been willing to listen to all sides but respond to them as well.

    I don’t think Curzon has tried to fool his readership into thinking anything at all. He’s created an open forum of communication that has allowed sympathizers and detractors alike of Noriko Savoie to openly express and discuss their opinions.

    Mr Savoie has been released from Jail and he’s welcome to try and repatriate his children back to the U.S. once again. If he can only find away to be successful this time and actually get them back to the U.S. without getting arrested again. In such a case Noriko Savoie will likely be the one never to see her children for many years to come. The children truly are the victims here. If I were Mr. Savoie and I were not only seriously intent on getting my children back to the U.S but I had his financial resources: I’d post a substantial reward with a U.S. bail bondsmen and get some of their bounty hunters working on it. They have ways that are surprising and take great pride in their work for the right price. It wouldn’t even be illegal in the U.S. because Noriko Savoie is a wanted felon in the U.S. that has abducted Mr. Savoies legal wards. After a successful repatriation Noriko Savoie and Japan would truly be left without any recourse. Other than Noriko Savoie trying to risk arrest and abduct them back. He might even be able to get his money back from the settlement and use it for the bounty. In these terrible world economic times even a few bucks goes along way. Poor girl! She should work out another deal and make new promises with him here in Japan before it comes to something drastic like this. Mr. Savoie is fortunate in having great financial resources to pursue many avenues. Unfortunately for many other fathers in the same circumstances without such revenues there really is nothing they can do but take it and imagine a fairer legal system that acknowledges not just their financial responsibilities but their moral paternal right to see and be with their beloved ones.

  295. I’ll leave this to our panel of legal experts, but I don’t think that Thomas is quite right on what bounty hunters do. At least I hope not.

    So let me get this straight – you seem to be a fan of habeas corpus and I see your point. However, unless I’m misunderstanding you here do you actually think that people should not be imprisoned for a period without being formally charged with a crime but yet also think that people should be legally allowed to pay thugs to forcibly detain and transport people who are wanted on a felony for an indeterminate period without any attention to due process!? WTF!?

    In any case, even if bounty hunters were in the business of doing what you say they do, felony or no, they would be guilty of kidnapping and associated violence and Japan would be justified to demand extradition.

  296. Thomas, obviously the father has convinced the Japanese authorities that he won’t do what you say he should. CNN reports that the prosecutor said that he had agreed to try to resolve the custody issue by proxy, which I guess means through an attorney.

  297. Adamu: We ain’t done yet.

    Core767: This post is a pro-Noriko narrative, which I wrote after my objective review of the facts. Perhaps you could take a similar objective review of the facts and write a blatantly pro-Chris narrative. The primary motivation for this post was the atrocious English-language coverage, which was neverending kneejerk pro-Chris and anti-Japan narrative that got facts blatantly wrong. Which brings me to…

    Father: That article is one of the stories that inspired this post. Blatantly wrong statements:

    – “She was awarded close to $800,000 in cash—a settlement that she would have been unlikely to receive in Japan’s legal culture.”
    Ooohh, Japan’s “legal culture.” Whatever that means. Japan’s family courts would evenly divide all assets held by the couple during the 13-14 year marriage and order Christopher to give Noriko half, plus child support payments. As I understand it, Chris basically gave her all his liquid assets and kept all his hard assets.
    – “Of course, the story veered into dramatic, new territory when Christopher landed himself in jail—and an international incident—for allegedly trying to abduct the children who were abducted from him.”
    I love the curiously innocent words they use—“allegedly trying to abduct”—to try and make it sound like Christopher was acting just fine when he forcibly dragged his kids into a car with a bunch of buddies while they walked to school (and “allegedly” injuring both the kids and his ex-wife). They feign objectivity, but that’s the absolute nicest way you can write about this key event for Christopher.
    – “We’ll continue to focus on what should be indisputable—that laws were broken and now two children are caught in the middle.”
    Actually, why not just be honest? According to this story’s narrative, it was Noriko alone who broke laws and who is at fault. All Chris did was allegedly pick up his kids using force.

  298. “he forcibly dragged his kids into a car with a bunch of buddies”

    I don’t think we know that is what happened.

  299. I get the impression very few people are interested in conciliation in this case, which is what the kids need. They just want to assign blame to one or the other parent.

    I think Curzon has done great work in presenting the other side, based on what facts have been reported but not considered in the U.S. media.

  300. Japan’s family courts would evenly divide all assets held by the couple during the 13-14 year marriage and order Christopher to give Noriko half

    That’s simply not true. Japan doesn’t have a sweeping concept of community property. The only assets that legally get split down the middle in Japan are assets that are not clearly held in one spouse’s name alone (so-called 共有財産). If Chris was making all the money and buying stuff in his own name, all the assets would legally be his. Noriko could still claim against him for alimony and child support, but it wouldn’t be a cut-and-dry half share.

  301. “Savoie allegedly abducted his 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, who were on their way to school with his ex-wife, on Sept. 28. He forced the children into a rented vehicle together with four other acquaintances, and the ex-wife and the children sustained bruises in the incident, according to the police.”

    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091008a6.html

    “I don’t think we know that is what happened.”

    It may not have happened exactly as the police reported it, but it is hard to imagine that some level of force was not used. It is doubtful a mother would just stand there and let the children be taken away, and would the children be so willing to leave behind their mother?

  302. “I get the impression very few people are interested in conciliation in this case, which is what the kids need. They just want to assign blame to one or the other parent.”

    There’s no chance of conciliation anymore. Christopher tried to force Noriko and the children to live in America, it didn’t work out, and so now Noriko is a criminal under American law.

    If she were to ever return to the United States, it seems likely that the court, which has already granted sole custody to the father, would deny her custody rights.

  303. Joe: Yes, joint assets are the only assets subject to division, but that is not about who’s name it is in. Courts recognize only three types of assets during a divorce—特有財産, 共有財産, and 実質的共有財産. The first is not subject to division, but it is narrowly limited, generally to specific inheritance and gifts to one spouse. Bank accounts, together with property bought during the marriage, are subject to asset division regardless of who’s name it is in.

    I think your assertion fails the sniff test. Consider a very typical scenario: a salaryman and a housewife are married for 20 years. He makes the money and buys the house. She cleans up and does the shopping. They get divorced after 20 years. All the income went into his bank account, he bought the house in his name, when they get divorced do you think she’s suddenly out on the street with nothing? All money made, saved, and assets bought during the marriage, excepting 特有財産, are to be divided.

    Or at least that’s what I’ve seen in my experience, having been directly involved in about a dozen divorces. Courts in Japan, if they became involved, would also consider the circumstances—if Christopher cheating was a cause of the separation or divorce, courts would probably demand he give Noriko more.

  304. “All the income went into his bank account, he bought the house in his name, when they get divorced do you think she’s suddenly out on the street with nothing?”

    Remember also that this is an even bigger issue in Japan because there are no joint bank accounts, and only one name can be registered as a owner (所有権), unless there is a division (共有).

  305. Of course, I shouldn’t joke around because you guys are sounding in with considerable expertise.

    I have, however, seen some interesting precedent on “hesokuri” (money that one partner squirrels away). Anything that a husband squirrels away from his paychecks is apparently his. Anything that is assumed to be the common funds of the family (property, mortgage, stocks, pension, money in bank accounts that are understood as savings by both partners, money and other resources that go toward paying for daily life) are split 50/50. If a wife squirrels away from the common money, the husband gets half unless it falls within the kodukai range (less than 10% of husband’s income per month).

    Of course, my technical legal understanding is limited so I may not have interpreted the cases correctly….

  306. New hypothesis: Amy was married in TN. Had children with her ex. Since she and Chris have ‘both parents’ values, they were stuck in TN because of Amy’s ex. So they got Noriko to come to TN but didn’t make it as easy for her as perhaps they should have if they actually wanted her to stay.

  307. From the little I know from reading Japanese law firm websites, Curzon’s explanation of property division by Japanese family courts sounds right. The mother would have had to litigate for that, but their bargaining for an agreed divorce would have been done in the shadow of this law.

    The problem, which the Tennessee divorce was aimed at avoiding, was that bargaining in Japan also would have been done in the shadow of Japanese law making visitation hard to enforce in Japan.

    The ultimate problem was that this shadow still existed – going to Tennessee never guaranteed enforceable visitation. Whether the mother intentionally took advantage of this, which I don’t think we can ever really know, is not the issue. One could equally argue the father took advantage of Japanese law to justify a Tennessee court order of residence in Tennessee that was convenient for him and his new wife. Better to assume good faith on both their parts, regret that it didn’t work out, and move forward.

    Joe’s right that conciliation seems impossible, but it seems that understanding of what went wrong, without blaming either parent, can help. I think there has been too much presumption of what the mother would do because she is Japanese and because of Japanese law, which is unfair to her as an individual.

    The father’s lawyer never claimed that the mother had refused visitation in Japan, and all we have heard from the father and his new wife is that he did not want to be beholden to the mother and did not want visitation to be dependent on his being nice. All quite understandable, but I think too much burden was placed on the mother to agree to live in Tennessee, sight unseen, no turning back.

    The new wife talks about a case in which a Japanese ex-wife demanded $10,000 for an exchange of Christmas cards, and also says that the mother just viewed the father as a paycheck. All this really tells me is that there are financial tensions, and the new wife is not exactly a disinterested party.

    Conciliation may be impossible, but criminal charges against the wife don’t help. I don’t think a Tennessee court order helps either, which is not to justify its violation. I just think a Japanese custody order and criminal charges dropped in the U.S. seems like the best way to get the kids to the U.S. sometime soon, if that is possible at all. The Tennessee court could decline jurisdiction and/or stay its orders to see how the Japanese court deals with this.

    The Christian Science Monitor reports:

    http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/1015/p06s11-woap.html

    “According to the major daily Yomiuri, the Fukuoka District Prosecutor’s Office says Savoie has pledged to resolve the issue of custody and rearing through dialogue between agents.”

    The Tennessee court could decline jurisdiction and/or stay its orders to see how the parties or a Japanese court deal with the new status quo. Arguing who was wrong and who said what seems counterproductive.

  308. Curzon, you can do a great job of making straw men sometimes. I didn’t say that the woman would be “out on the street with nothing” by virtue of having nothing in her own name. I said “Noriko could still claim against him for alimony and child support, but it wouldn’t be a cut-and-dry half share.” There are a lot of factors that go into it. See, e.g., this explanation.

  309. Amy Savoie speaks.

    From CNN:

    She said other parents in similar situations have contacted her. “I think the focus for us will be, you know, we’ll become spokespersons, I suppose, for so many of these families.”

    waoh.

  310. It’s regrettable a warrant for the mother’s arrest was issued so quickly. If he returned to Tennessee voluntarily before a warrant was issued, that would be a defense to custodial interference in Tennessee, according to the below blog.

    Even if there’s little chance she will return voluntarily, there’s even less chance Japan will extradite her. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) I can’t imagine anyone wanting her thrown in jail anyway.

    If you read the explanation of the law at the blog below, you can see that the law is not designed to punish removal, but rather to encourage return. Issuing a warrant right away defeats that purpose.

    Voluntary return to get a misdemeanor doesn’t seem like an option the mother is likely to choose, absent a real risk of being extradited on a felony charge.

    So without real enforceability, the law just makes the mom into a felony fugitive in the U.S. and discourages return. Yelling “crime” and “abduction” divides when the whole purpose of all these laws is to unite.

    So it might have been better for all to wait a few months before issuing a warrant.

    http://www.tennesseecriminallawyerblog.com/2009/03/tennessee_custodial_interferen_1.html

  311. Joe, no offense or disrespect intended of course, I was merely reacting to your flat denial of my analysis—“That’s simply not true… The only assets that legally get split down the middle in Japan are assets that are not clearly held in one spouse’s name alone (so-called 共有財産).” The link you provided refutes that in the first section:

    財産の名義や権利が、夫や妻のどちらか一方のものになっていたとしても、財産を築くには夫婦の協力があったと考えられ、裁判などでは貢献度の割合により財産を分配する方法が採用されます。

    Alimony and child support and separate from asset division.

  312. OK,I’m confused here.

    “He(Wes Yoder)was a pioneer during the Jesus Movement in the formation of the Contemporary Christian Music genre.[citation needed] Through Dharma Artist Agency”

    “Christian music genre”by the name of “Dharma”Artist Agency?

  313. checked Nikkei Telecon 21.
    Tokyo Shimbun Oct 15th.

    こちら特報部 国際離婚 子育てトラブル(上) 米から日 連れ去り年100人 帰国元妻に米で逮捕状 略取容疑で元夫を逮捕2009/10/15, 東京新聞朝刊, 26ページ, , 1384文字

     「なぜ逮捕するのか」「拉致犯は日本人だ」-。日本人の元妻が日本に連れ帰った子ども二人を取り戻そうとして、米国人の元夫が福岡県内で逮捕された事件が、米国内で高い関心を集めている。国際離婚の親権トラブルをめぐっては、ハーグ条約が解決に向けたルールを定めているが、日本は未加盟。米国では、日本政府が連れ去りの“逃げ得”を事実上許していると批判されているが、離婚後の子育てに関する考え方の違いも大きいようだ。(ニューヨーク・加藤美喜)
     未成年者略取の疑いで福岡県警に逮捕、拘置されているのは米テネシー州在住の実業家、クリストファー・サボイ容疑者(38)。先月二十八日、同県柳川市内で通学途中の九歳の息子と六歳の娘を連れ去り、福岡市内の米領事館に駆け込もうとしたところ、元妻の通報で警戒中の警察官に逮捕された。
     米メディアによると、サボイ容疑者と元妻は同州で今年一月に離婚。郡裁判所の判決で、元妻は同州内に住んで子どもを引き取り、定期的にサボイ容疑者と会わせるなどの取り決めがあった。しかし、元妻は八月に子どもを連れて無断帰国。裁判所はサボイ容疑者の親権を認めており、地元警察は「子どもたちが誘拐された」として元妻の逮捕状を取った。
     米国では、離婚した親による子どもの連れ去りは重罪。サボイ容疑者の行為に対しても、同情論や英雄視の報道が目立つ。
     サボイ容疑者の米国人弁護士は十二日、容疑者が日本で「拷問」同然の扱いを受けていると主張。起訴前に長期間留置され、弁護士との単独接見や高血圧の治療も許されないと批判したが、同県警柳川署は真っ向から反論している。
       ◇
     「サボイ事件」が米メディアで大きく報じられる中、同様の境遇にある米国人家族らが今月三日、米首都ワシントンの日本大使館前で釈放を求める抗議デモを行った。
     参加者の一人、ロサンゼルス在住の美術商パトリック・ブレイデンさん(49)も三年前、日本人の元妻(36)によって一人娘(4つ)を日本へ連れ去られたという。サボイ容疑者の行為は「正しいやり方ではない」と思いつつも、「彼のもどかしさ、必死の思いはよく分かる」と話す。
     ブレイデンさんと元妻は、美術の仕事を通じて知り合い結婚。二〇〇五年に娘が生まれたが、その後別居。ブレイデンさんは、元妻が娘を一方的に連れ去らないようにする裁判所命令を得たが、元妻は〇六年に帰国を強行。毎日のように会っていた元妻と娘は、ある日こつぜんと姿を消していた。追い掛けられないようにパスポートも奪われていたという。
     以来、ブレイデンさんは娘と再会できないままだ。元妻は現在、米連邦捜査局(FBI)の指名手配リストにも名を連ねている。米国務省は「日本に行けば逆にすぐ逮捕される」と指摘。国境を越えた子どもの連れ去り事件に光を当てるため、ブレイデンさんは米議会へロビー活動を続け、百人以上の議員に陳情。上院議員時代のオバマ大統領や、北朝鮮による日本人拉致被害者の家族会メンバーにも面会したと話す。
        ◇
     デスクメモ
     米国で暮らすと、離婚した夫妻が友人のように、もしくは互いを避けながらも、子育てには“仲良く”取り組む姿をよく見かける。だったら別れなくても…と不思議に思ったものだが、日本では子育てがどちらかに偏りがちだ。国際化というより欧米化の中で、日本的な親子関係も変わるのだろうか。(立)
    米下院は今年三月、子どもの連れ去り問題に関して、すべてのハーグ条約未加盟国に加盟を求める決議を全会一致で採択。
     決議文によると、〇八年度に米国から同条約未加盟国に連れ去られた子どもは四百五十五人に上り、うち日本が百一人で最多。次いでインドが六十七人、ロシアが三十七人となっている。
     決議はブレイデン氏の事例も記し、日本の法制度の不備を指摘。「日本の家族法は国籍の差別をしていないのに、日本の裁判所は外国人の親権を認めず、子どもの養育・面会権に関する米国の裁判所命令も執行しない」と批判した。
     米国の非政府組織(NGO)「チルドレンズ・ライツ・カウンシル」の日本支部設立者で、自身も十四年前に日本人妻に二人の娘を連れ去られたというウォルター・ベンダさん(52)は、「米国では離婚後も両方の親が子どもの人生にかかわれるが、日本では一方の親、大抵は母親が親としての権利を得て、もう一方の親は子どもから遮断されてしまう」と指摘。日本人と米国人では、離婚後の子育てについての考え方やかかわり方が全く違うという。
     その上でベンダさんは「日本が加盟している『国連子どもの権利条約』には、子どもが両親と会う権利が明記されている。日本政府は温情ある対応をしてほしい」と訴えた。
     日本への子どもの連れ去りは、日米間の外交課題にもなりつつある。米上院外交委は六月、キャンベル国務次官補(東アジア・太平洋担当)の承認公聴会でこの問題に言及。キャンベル氏は「日本側との最初の協議で取り上げる」と約束した。また、ルース駐日米大使も今月二日、連れ去りは「日米間の重大な不一致問題」と発言した。
     米外交専門誌「フォーリン・ポリシー」(電子版)は、鳩山由紀夫首相が総選挙前の七月、オンラインメディアに対し「日本の父親にも影響する問題だ」として、ハーグ条約署名に積極的な発言をしたことを紹介。日本政府の対応を「非常に期待する」という米政府関係者のコメントを掲載している。
        ◇
     『国内法に従い調べている』
     福岡県警
     福岡県警柳川署は、サボイ容疑者について「国内の犯罪なので、国内法に従って調べている」とのスタンス。「この事件では、サボイ容疑者が嫌がる子どもを無理に連れ去っている。第三者の関与もうかがわれる。米国人の親が子どもを連れ戻そうとしただけ、というのとは少し違うのではないか」と話す。
     同署によると、CNNテレビなど米メディア三社が取材に訪れた。
     外務省は、ハーグ条約について「締結できるかどうかを検討している」段階という。締結国は欧米中心で、アジアは少なく、スリランカとタイ、香港、マカオの四カ国・地域にすぎないという。
     同省は、日本がこれまで締結できなかった理由として、結婚や離婚についての制度、考え方の違いを挙げる。そして締結までには「日本にとってのメリット、デメリットを精査しなければならない。仮に締結した場合、子どもを相手国に連れ戻す手続きなど、どのような制度を整備する必要があるのかを考えていく必要がある」と説明する。(加藤裕治)
     (メモ)
     ハーグ条約 国際結婚した夫婦が離婚後、一方が無断で子どもを自国に連れ去り、もう一方の親が子どもに会えなくなる事態を防ぐための条約。1980年に採択され、83年に発効。子どもを奪われた親が返還を求めた場合、相手国は子どもの居場所を調べ、元の在住国に戻す義務を負う。子どもを養育する「監護権」を判断するためにいったん元の環境に戻すことが条約の趣旨。6月までに欧米を中心に81カ国が加盟している。日本は先進7カ国中、唯一未加盟で、国際離婚が増える中、日本に条約加盟を求める声が高まっている。(共同)

  314. M-bone

    “I’ll leave this to our panel of legal experts, but I don’t think that Thomas is quite right on what bounty hunters do. At least I hope not.”

    I never said that I agree with what bounty hunters do. I just said that if I were in Mr. Savoie’s situation. I would consider using them. I’ve know a few bail bondsmen in my previous occupation before Japan. I was a bill collector for a criminal defense firm. Bounty hunters that are employed by bail bondsmen do act above and beyond the law in many situations. They do occasionally extract people from very hostile areas not only in the U.S. but around the world. The reason the cost of posting bail is as little as it is for most suspects is that bounty hunters are very connected and very good at what they do. Plain and simple if I were ever a criminal and posted bail I wouldn’t jump. I only said that I would try and retain a bounty hunters services to repatriate my illegally abducted children in the same desperate situation. Not that I would agree with the fact that they are exempt from many types of legalities that we commonly assume apply to everyone. For example: bounty hunters do not need a search warrant to break in a door and pursue their target jumper. Having a U.S. court order that granted me custody of my children would be all the authority they would really care about. Such a foreign recovery would come at a very pretty price. But if they were successful I doubt that after the fact that there is really anything Noriko Savoie or the Japanese government or courts could do. If Mr. Savaoie had been employing the services of a criminal defense attorney in the U.S. they probably would have casually recommended this as one possibly solution to his dilemma. I know the law firm that I used to work for would have as they work very closely with their local bail bondsmen on a daily basis. Not just on posting bail but other delicate and at times unsavory matters as well.

    Keep in mind this is all casual speculation as I would personally never break or recommend anyone to break any laws in the U.S., Japan, or any other country for that matter.

  315. Thomas,your series of posts make me wonder whether I should continue sit here in my office or join you in the video marathon of “Midnight Run” and “Midnight Express” with pipes of dope.

  316. “The reason the cost of posting bail is as little as it is for most suspects is that bounty hunters are very connected and very good at what they do.”

    See, that’s the point – people have their day in court, post bail, and run. Then bounty hunters get involved. In that case, the criminal has already been through “due process”. They can’t just go and kidnap someone in another country who has an arrest warrant against them. There are people who go after people who are suspected of a crime but have not had their day in court – they’re called police.

    “But if they were successful I doubt that after the fact that there is really anything Noriko Savoie or the Japanese government or courts could do.”

    You doubt very, very wrong. The reason why Chris is free is that the Japanese government has recognized this as a custody matter. If he hired Bubba and Big Mack to take the kids back, they would be kidnappers.

  317. “It’s regrettable a warrant for the mother’s arrest was issued so quickly. If he returned to Tennessee voluntarily before a warrant was issued, that would be a defense to custodial interference in Tennessee, according to the below blog.”

    See, this is what I’ve been thinking. What is the process for issuing such warrants? I take it they involve a complaint from the aggrieved party, in this case Chris, or at least the court must be made aware of non-compliance, through such means as, oh, I don’t know, coverage of the case in the media. Either way, I’m thinking that if Chris did not force this issue, he could have perhaps traveled to Japan, sat down with Noriko—or at least her father, with whom he seemed to be on speaking terms—and reasoned his way through this. Given that Noriko married an American and had at least one of her children in California, I’m guessing she is a fairly cosmopolitan type (this suspicion is only reinforced by the fact she found the prospect of living in Tennessee for the rest of her life difficult). So Chris, had he not jumped the gun with the warrant, would have some decent leverage.

    “Listen, bitch. Bring the kids back to the U.S. and work things out, OTHERWISE you never get to travel to the first world outside of Japan again.”

    Or am I wrong in thinking these warrants aren’t simply issued automatically?

  318. I don’t want this to drag on, so this will probably be my only post, although I might do a reply to clarify.

    After seeing many things, I’ve gotta say that the blame lies on both people, in various degrees.

    (I could be wrong! I’m not saying this is right, just what I see)
    Lets look at both people:
    Chris:
    -Trying to “retake” the kids from Noriko wasn’t the best thing to do. Many japanese divorced families do this back and forth (from what I understand), but add that foreigner aspect to things and we know how the Japanese police act…. And even though Chris has “Japanese” Citizenship, we can’t lie to ourselves and actually think that he will be treated like a Japanese.
    -Moving to America to get the divorce can be taken both ways. Some can sympathize with him that he wasn’t likely to gain custody of his kids in Japan, and that in America he would at least get proper visitation rights. But at the same time, his youngest kid never lived in the US and the other moved to Japan before serious English skills could be gained, So probably a bit of shock for the kids to move back to the US.
    -Chris had many other options for trying to get the kids back, but didn’t. Here he was 100% at fault. If he had attempted multiple other avenues for getting the kids back on the up an up before trying to take the kids back, then this would have been a different story.
    His quickly remarrying is a nonissue. People make it think that it is but it has no merit to this case as they had been wanting to get divorced for quite some time.

    Noriko-
    -This all could have been prevented if Noriko denied Chris permission to leave Japan with the kids. Because if she didn’t give Chris permission, Chris would have been in violation of the law when he took the kids to the US, and even the US courts would have given her custody.
    -Why did she go to Japan, come back, then take the kids back again? Is it because she didn’t receive her divorce money until after she showed she was making the Japan trip on the up and up? Then proceed to take the kids after she got the money?
    -Is she really thinking about the kids when she took them away from Chris back to Japan? Kids need both parents in their lives.
    -It doesn’t matter where the court is, but Noriko obviously lied to the courts and needs to be accountable for her words and agreements.

    These are just my thoughts.

  319. M-bone

    “You doubt very, very wrong. The reason why Chris is free is that the Japanese government has recognized this as a custody matter. If he hired Bubba and Big Mack to take the kids back, they would be kidnappers.”

    Not if they successfully got back to the U.S. with Mr. Savoie’s children.

    I think the reason that he is free is that Noriko Savoie backed off on her supposed charges of her and the children being bruised. I seriously doubt they would have released him if she really had been violently manhandled. They knew it was a custody matter and violated Mr. Savoie’s rights from the very beginning by arresting him. They probably could have taken the children into temporary custody and returned them to their mother. But to arrest the one of the legal guardians of a child for unilaterally deciding and forcing them into a car is a form of illegal arrest. Their release of him without charge is conclusive proof of this. She didn’t have any bruises nor did the children as one news report claimed. They kept Mr. Savoie incarcerated while using their various interrogation techniques until the could force not a confession from him but a concession. The concession being some type of guarantee that he wouldn’t try take his children out of the country again without the correct Japanese legal authority. Perhaps now that he has agreed to this and perhaps even signed some type of official documents it would be a very chargeable Japanese kidnapping offense if he tries to take the children again in such a manner. More than likely they illicited Noriko Savoies help in continuing to threaten him with some form of trumped up assault and battery charges with supposed bruising if he didn’t concede. The police won. Noriko Savoie Won. The children and Mr. Savoie lost. Time for round 2. Big Mack and Bubba or maybe bigu maku and baba? I don’t think Mr. Savoie is going to give up so easily just because the police forced him to concede under such forced duress. He already knew very very well that he had no chance for any unbiased fairness in a Japanese court so it’s doubtful he’s really going to waist his money pursuing this avenue. Maybe as terms of his release he even had to sign something agreeing to the Japanese divorce that Noriko Savoie wanted all along that guarantees her maternal supremacy in this matter in Japan. In any case I don’t believe that Mr. Savoie is ever going to get to see his children again unless he’s willing to take some big dangerous risks yet once again.

    I’m sure this local police dept. wasn’t expecting all of this publicity and international attention either for rousing a gaijin. Japanese police hate to be in the limelight.

    It would be nice to believe that the thousands of bounty hunters out there in the U.S. violently dragging people back to justice would really give a hoot about explicitly following all of the rules and regs. but the ones that I’ve met really don’t. I’m sure some of them would either would come to Japan or already have connections in Japan as well as many other countries around the world. And your right it would be kidnapping in Japan but it wouldn’t be kidnapping if they were successful in getting Mr. Savoie’s kids back to him in the U.S. As far as the court in Tennessee is concerned Mr. Savoie’s children have been illegally abducted and that’s why an arrest warrant has been issued for Noriko Savoie. This court is not going to prosecute him as a kidnapper if he employed the services of anyone to repatriate his kids. Japan could try and extradite him but they would have little ground to stand on. He certainly wouldn’t want to try anything like this if he were in Japan or ever had any intention of returning to Japan even on holiday.

    Aceface

    “Thomas,your series of posts make me wonder whether I should continue sit here in my office or join you in the video marathon of “Midnight Run” and “Midnight Express” with pipes of dope.”

    I’ve never used dope in my life and I suggest you quit. I’m more interested in comedy’s than action suspense movies, anyway. So I think I’ll pass on your offer.

  320. Does anyone know what it means when the police say they are not pressing charges but are not dropping the case? Is this a tactic which the police have used in any other case that anyone knows?

    With this case, in practical terms, I suppose it could be that police are hinting they have grounds to press charges but prefer not to because things would get messy. The claim that they are not dropping the case might be to deter any other reckless action by Savoie and to satisfy any dissatisfaction that Savoie has been treated leniently.

    Alternatively, they may not be pressing charges simply because they have no charges to press. That makes the idea of not dropping the case a little strange. Are the police currently trying to gather more evidence with a view to eventually pressing a charge? Perhaps it is an attempt to save face by hinting there is an active case when there isn’t one.

    In the UK, an open case file is one where there is a recognized crime but no suspects or not enough evidence to take action against those who are suspected. I don’t know how it works in Japan but it would be interesting to know whether the police view is that a crime was committed.

  321. “Pipes of Dope” is a fitting epigram to this oddly Nixonian thread dedicated substantially to bashing the media, particularly CNN (the bete noir of paleoconservatives, who long ago dubbed it the “Commie News Network”) and its reporter with the Korean name (who, being Korean, ipso facto has an axe to grind with Japan).

  322. Ningen

    Part of the problem is that Chris immediately filed for the petition for Sole custody after Noriko left for Japan and therefore, could not defend her position. Therefore, Christopher’s accusation of “Mother may be suffering from mental instability” citing “threateaning suicide” ,”impeded telephone conversations”, “neglected to take Isaac to doctor” stood because it couldn’t be contested.

    http://wtvf.images.worldnow.com/images/incoming/Investigates/SavoieOrder.pdf

    In my opinion, I don’t think violating that court order to remain in TN alone would automatically result in Christopher getting sole custody.

  323. I believe Dr. Savoie was arrested for obstructing official duties (Komushikkobogai) not kidnapping. I think that the police are dropping this charge against him but on-hold for attempting to kidnap his children. Maybe I am wrong.

  324. “Japan could try and extradite him but they would have little ground to stand on.”

    I’m pretty sure that Japan could and would be able to prosecute what you are describing – maybe not Savoie but certainly any bounty hunters. The matter also remains that this is simply not what bounty hunters do. This is what you look at the classifieds of “Soldiers of Fortune” for. All I can say is – combine this bounty hunter thing with the armed ranch hands, etc. and pitch it to Young Jump. I’d buy it. In any case, maybe we should file this part of the discussion along with Perry. I’ll give you credit, however, Thomas. You certainly manage a congenial tone despite differences of opinion.

    “Is this a tactic which the police have used in any other case that anyone knows?”

    I’ve heard about it in the past so he’s not off the hook yet. He could get slapped with a different charge than what they were considering. Also, if memory serves me correctly, didn’t they do this with one of the problem geinojin lately (or was it Noripi’s husband)?

    I now have an urge to watch that smaked out DJ video again….

  325. I think Eido Inoue made a good comment on the economic issue in comment 16 of this Debito blog post.

    http://www.debito.org/?p=4751#comments

    He makes a good point – she could not have known for sure how much she would get in Tennessee. According to the father’s lawyer, she had only talked to a Tennessee social worker about Tennessee divorce law and financial arrangements.

    She was probably relying on promises made by the father. That might explain her supposed statement to Japanese police, reported in one of the Japanese papers, that “assets were hidden from her in property division.” Not to say that justifies her coming back, but I could see her being angry about lack of total honesty on finances after all she risked in going to Tennessee with the children.

    Debito responds to this by saying we should forget motive and look at the system that fosters this. I agree, but she is also a victim of the system and since we are asked to sympathize only with the father, the totality of circumstances should be understood.

  326. No telling what the prosecutor intends to do, but one possible way of looking at the release is that it is a response to criticism of Japan’s long pre-indictment detention and allegations that Savoie was being “tortured.” If the police and prosecutor had already met their interrogation goals, release would make sense.

  327. Mulboyne, I get the sense from the below statement of the prosecutor that he is willing to treat this as a civil matter if Savoie will, although the decision whether to indict is reserved. All the prosecutor is really saying is he had determined that detention is not necessary, but he could have done that only on the basis that Savoie had agreed to have no contact and remain available, without mentioning the civil matter of resolving child-rearing questions by discussion through an attorney.

    The prosecutor says Savoie showed remorse for violating the law and promised not to commit a similar crime again, also as a reason why further detention is unnecessary. That could just be a reason for not requiring detention because of low risk of re-offence, with the possibility of criminal punishment still reserved, but I would read that to further suggest that the prosecutor thinks an indictment is not necessary, if Savoie deals with this as a civil matter and does not re-offend.

    http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/item/128491

    福岡県警柳川署が未成年略取容疑で逮捕、送検していた元夫のクリストファー・サボイ容疑者(38)を処分保留で釈放した。
    . . .

    福岡地検は「サボイ氏は法を犯したことを反省し二度と同様の犯罪をしないと誓っており、子どもの養育に関しては、代理人を介した話し合いで解決を図ることを誓約している。身柄拘束は不要と判断した」としている。

  328. ““Pipes of Dope” is a fitting epigram to this oddly Nixonian thread dedicated substantially to bashing the media, particularly CNN (the bete noir of paleoconservatives, who long ago dubbed it the “Commie News Network”)”

    I thought CNN stands for “Chicken Noodle Network” from people in the other industry.

    ” and its reporter with the Korean name (who, being Korean, ipso facto has an axe to grind with Japan).”

    Nice try Catone.Always add some salt in the argument.But I think what counts here more is that Kyung Lah had experienced extramarital relationship in her own life and from non-Hague signatory nation by the name of South Korea ,ipso facto makes whole report sounds more hypocratic.

  329. Aceface:

    Hypocratic (adj.): When a doctor prescribes his patients medicine that he would never use himself.

    Thomas:

    I’m pretty sure it was clear that Aceface was not referring to Midnight Express, the 1978 Academy Award winning film, but rather The Midnight Express, a professional wrestling team active in the 1980s that was featured in Pro Wrestling International’s top tag teams three times.

    http://tinyurl.com/AcefaceLovesDope
    http://www.themidnightexpress.com/

  330. M-bone

    “I’ll give you credit, however, Thomas. You certainly manage a congenial tone despite differences of opinion.”

    If my tone were arrogant and directly insulting would that bring any more legitimacy to my opinions? I’m confident in what I believe but it is a thirst for knowledge and the truth that allows me to adapt and at times completely alter any particular position. I tend to trust my personal experiences and intuition much more than the spoken or written word of others (including Wikipedia) but that doesn’t mean that I’m not swayed or influenced if the tone is cordial. When the tone is otherwise I believe that the person does not have a strong conviction in their own beliefs and has to resort to petty childish name calling to distract from the logic of their arguments. My logic may be your Manga and your Manga may be a small reflection of my personal past and reality.

  331. I like manga a bunch and don’t mean it as a put down. I’m also impressed that you have or could have armed ranch hands.

    Debito is linking to a fascinating piece on the issue that we have been discussing. it is professional mercenaries that are doing this, it is not being arranged through bail bond in the US and there is major potential legal fallout to the point where the people who do it won’t risk it without their client present –
    “The price of a mistake, after all, could be imprisonment. Agents like Gus risk arrest for kidnapping or related charges if they’re caught. When Gus first started doing child recoveries, in the late ’80s, he worked for a man named Don Feeney, who pioneered the practice through his company, Corporate Training Unlimited, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 1993, Feeney was arrested on kidnapping charges for trying to recover two American girls from their mother in Iceland. He served one year in an Icelandic jail.

    The risks remain high. In 2006, two agents were arrested in Lebanon for taking two girls from their father. The mother, who had hired the agents, spent seven weeks hiding in Lebanon with the girls because she, too, faced kidnapping charges. Gus says he himself has never served jail time—but a warrant for his arrest, for kidnapping, was issued in Mexico in 1997. (The charges were subsequently dropped.) To reduce the likelihood of his being charged with kidnapping, Gus says, he insists that the parent who hires him be present during a recovery.”

  332. Reading a bit more about the Hague Convention – if more than a year has elapsed since an abduction, a judge may consider the children “settled into their new environment”.

  333. I included a link to Gus Zamora’s “child recovery” service, which I found by googling, in a previous comment. It looks like The Atlantic did much the same thing because they have now written a feature about him. Zamora confirms he has operated in Japan but had a least one poor experience:

    “A successful snatchback is only the beginning of the journey. Sometimes, the child doesn’t want to go. Early this year, Gus says, an American father agreed to pay him $70,000 to recover his 10-year-old daughter from Japan, assuring him that the girl would acquiesce. Gus went to the Philippines to prepare an escape route by boat. He then flew to Tokyo and, accompanied by the father, hustled the girl into a van as she left home. ‘That little girl screamed bloody murder,’ Gus told me. ‘She was beating at the windows. Contrary to everything we’d been told, she definitely did not want to go.’ After a day of unsuccessfully trying to calm the girl down, he released her. (He says he received half of his fee up front; he wasn’t paid the remainder.) Gus says he would never snatch an unwilling child—though he also describes recoveries in which a resistant child grew more willing over time.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/print/200911/labi-snatchback

    The piece doesn’t focus much on Japan, aside from a short paragraph on Walter Benda, and in that sense is closer to the regular programmes and features which I see on child abduction in Britain. For the UK, Pakistan is the most common refuge for an abductor, followed by the US, Ireland & Spain.

  334. M-Bone

    “To reduce the likelihood of his being charged with kidnapping, Gus says, he insists that the parent who hires him be present during a recovery.”

    Do you think Gus or a Japanese equivalent Gus or Guses were all of or some of the four supposed acquaintances in the rental car with Mr. Savoie at the time of the failed recovery?

    As mentioned before I do have a ranch but I do not have the financial resources for armed 24/7 ranch hands. “But I still have two of my own” literally meant my two hands with fingers. However, if we were dealing with one of the worlds recently numerous billionaires I’m sure the children would be whisked away and tucked away with great ease. Possibly by mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, or moonlighting bounty hunters. I’ll bet the attempts at recovery are like cockroaches. For every one you see therer are doubtless thousands worldwide that are successful that just never come out. Mr. Savoie is hardly the first father or mother to resort to drastic means to regain custody of his/her children but for some odd unfathomable reason he’s gotten all of the attention. The U.S. consulate official listings of parental abductions to Japan may just be the tip of the iceberg. I’m certain, though, that if in the same situation as Mr. Savoie I wouldn’t hire a wus like Gus that needed me to go with him and hold his hand. The whole point of hiring someone would be to use your financial resources (which I don’t have) to have possible impunity from the law. The concept of hiring someone is that they accept the illegal risk for a certain fee. If the parent actually has to go with little Gussy for the recovery it defeats the meaning of his baby sitting service.

    It’s sad that we live in such an unfair world where the power of capital dictates and vindicates justice. Truly might makes right not only in history but in our everyday supposedly equalitarian world societies as well. Mr. Savoie is a very successful entrepreneur but he’s hardly wealthy in the terms of real wealth. If he were truly wealthy I know he’d be playing with his children right now in Tennessee and little Noriko would be bawling her little eyes out in Japan with my complete sympathy to her unfair and unjust situation.

  335. Arduo Debito said “Channel 5 Nashville has been doing a lot of good reportage.”

    I don’t see how anyone that wants to be taken seriously and appear fair and objective about this issue can cite anything from NewsChannel 5’s Phil Williams. His ‘reportage’ doesn’t even rate intelligent criticism, just mockery. The guy is an unabashed fan of the Savoies. If anything you’ll find better reportage scattered among the lunatics posting on the message boards there.

  336. “Zamora confirms he has operated in Japan but had a least one poor experience”

    I see new Steven Seagal movie coming(He does have some skin in the game)with Japanese title「沈黙の再会」.

    Mulboyne.Can’t remember the exact name of the guy,but there is a western man(Italian?)who decided to publish the Japanese editon of Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verse”back in the 80’s and if my fading memory is correct,the second book this guy had published in Japan was something to do with American mother taking a child out from her husband in Iran,Do you have any info on this guy?Can’t find it anywhere on internet.

  337. “Do you think Gus or a Japanese equivalent Gus or Guses were all of or some of the four supposed acquaintances in the rental car with Mr. Savoie at the time of the failed recovery?”

    I think they were probably friends of Chris – I recall seeing an allusion to that. Everything that we have read about Chris’ situation makes it seem like an amateur job.

    “Possibly by mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, or moonlighting bounty hunters.”

    There are situations where this is easier than a US/Japan abduction – countries that are not such firm allies, where extradition is problematic, etc. Of course, there is one scenario where this could work for US/Japan – the the merc gets out of Japan without being identified at any point. This whole thing is scary, however, as has been mentioned with Chris – if I concerned bystander with no knowledge of the circumstances had decided to intervene (or, in another country, if people were armed) this kind of thing could turn very nasty.

    “The U.S. consulate official listings of parental abductions to Japan may just be the tip of the iceberg.”

    Let’s not forget that there have been hundreds of children kidnapped out of Japan as well (China, Korea).

    “If the parent actually has to go with little Gussy for the recovery it defeats the meaning of his baby sitting service.”

    While I don’t really agree with what Gus does, I acknowledge his efficiency as described in the Atlantic piece. You hire some cowboy willing to go it alone and he ends up blackjacking your 8 year old daughter because she cried too much.

  338. I was reading about religious deprogramming in Japan.
    http://www.religiousfreedom.com/nwslttr/deprogramming.htm
    At first glance it seems those kidnappers are better at their jobs than the Gus types. If you want a pro I think zealots have more skin in the game than your run of the mill capitalistic merc. Yes, I would have shouted that godless heathens had snatched my kids and then called a fundamentalist Rambo who probably would have done it for expenses.

  339. M-Bone

    “While I don’t really agree with what Gus does, I acknowledge his efficiency as described in the Atlantic piece. You hire some cowboy willing to go it alone and he ends up blackjacking your 8 year old daughter because she cried too much.”

    My take on the Atlantic piece in its context as a whole is of course, as usual, probably slightly or greatly different than yours. I interpreted it that not only Gus wouldn’t resort to hiring rough guys to break doors in but that he wouldn’t go it alone with screaming unwilling children. But that he might consider taking these more aggressive and direct tactics for the right price because the economy is bad and he hasn’t had enough work in quite a while. It also seemed that arrest in a foreign country was his main concern but that the annoyance of screaming children irritated him. I suppose for the right price he would be willing to anesthetize with some laughing gas to take the edge off their trauma and cause them to calm down a little.

    Incidentally when I spent some time this last summer traveling along some coastal routes of the Japan sea I thought how difficult it must be for the Japanese coast guard to protect Japan’s sovereignty. Thousands of tiny coastal hamlets with little fishing boats going to and from all night long. Farther out into the see hundreds of various freighters from numerous countries going here and there. For the right price how simple it would be for Gus to take any child screaming or otherwise out of Japan via this route. I’m sure that there are many captains that turn a blind eye when they see the right amount of cash in their home currency. Especially in these terrible world economic times we are living in. I thought the same thing about Japan’s sovereignty when I stayed a few years ago in a small pension on lake Hamanako and saw hundreds upon hundreds of small fishing vessels going out to sea all night long. Are all of these tiny pretty much unchecked vessels truly transporting just fish on any given night or day for that matter?

    I think that if Mr. Savoie gave Gus $250,000. cash he’d find a way and make it happen. Noriko Savoie might want to relocate to an anonymous location if she wants to pursue a course of keeping Mr. Savoie from ever seeing his children again. And likewise any other Japanese woman who has a husband of some financial means in similar circumstances.

    I’m glad that until now I’ve always been able to swallow my pride and resolve marital conflict with my wife so that I’ll hopefully never be put in such a horrific position of not being able to see my son. In all fairness my wife has had to put up with my logic which certainly hasn’t been easy for her all of these years.

    I certainly would never be able to afford Gus or any of his services. Even if Japan signed the Hague convention it sounds like it costs a fortune in legal fees to pursue this route. In this selfish world without large amounts of disposable capital one is quite up “shoot creek without a paddle” when faced with dire circumstances.

  340. “For the right price how simple it would be for Gus to take any child screaming or otherwise out of Japan via this route.”

    People who have the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars required to pull this kind of thing off usually have decent luck keeping their spouses around. One part of this online debate that I really haven’t been feeling (not that this has really been played up here) is the idea that Noriko “cashed in” with $700,000. People commenting elsewhere have been shocked by how much this is but, if you are past 30, this seems pretty average if it is all you have to show for 14 years of adult life / marriage, no?

    Anyone with the bucks to stage some kind of SEAL or SAS seaborne rescue probably has the moxy to prevent an abduction in the first place….

    “I think that if Mr. Savoie gave Gus $250,000. cash he’d find a way and make it happen.”

    Gus clearly has the skills to pay the bills, but ask yourself, how much would you need to get before you risk 5-10 years in jail? I’d need a lot more than $250,000 to risk serious jail time.

    In any case, it has occurred to me that Chris didn’t handle the commando part very well. If he had tried to convince the kids to come with him from school, he very well could have waltzed into the consulate before Noriko or the cops were ever wise to it. If they didn’t want to go with him without a snatch and grab, it probably wasn’t a good idea in the first place.

  341. Three things in the Atlantic article that stuck out for me: A Hungarian grandfather may have been murdered in a failed abduction attempt; a Japanese girl was terrorized for a day by Zamora and the girl’s father; and Zamora thought most of his clients were “damaged.”

  342. M-bone

    “Gus clearly has the skills to pay the bills, but ask yourself, how much would you need to get before you risk 5-10 years in jail? I’d need a lot more than $250,000 to risk serious jail time.”

    My late father was a certified criminal defense specialist. As a young man he took me with him a few times to various penitentiaries in California with special permission of the wardens to visit his clients. He wanted to impress on me the consequences of getting on the wrong side of the law. I wouldn’t want to be in Jail in the U.S. or Japan but I’m sure the U.S. is harsher. For me no price is worth risking jail time. For others a few hundred bucks is enough. As they always say, though, “if you can’t do the time don’t do the crime”. I think Gus would risk a lot for $250,000. He just strikes as having that kind of peculiar risk mentality. Kind of like those crazy nuts that free climb the tallest buildings in the world and risk falling off an breaking their necks. For some people the money and notoriety are secondary to the adrenaline rush of the act. Although, for Gus it looks like it’s more about the money that he needs just to get by.

  343. I’ve never understood the relevance of the size of the settlement at all or how it is being used as ammunition against Noriko. I think Eddy Murphy did a routine where his non-native wife’s first few English words were “I want half”. The settlement seemed fairly average for the US. Those attacking N over the settlement seem to be saying that she owed Chris gratitude. That doesn’t make any sense at all. Am I wrong in how this works? Would the cash settlement be linked to or contingent on certain actions?

  344. And for our 398th comment: Colin Jones, writing in the Japan Times, affirms my basic point (although we disagree on the narrative of the story)...
    http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091020a1.html

    “That this is a government-led media campaign is suggested by the fact that it was NHK, the country’s government-sponsored broadcaster, which led the pack by running a special segment on the problem of international divorce and child custody on its morning TV news on July 15. Other less captive Japanese media organizations have duly followed suit, but the stories have all generally followed the same theme, with Japanese parents as the victims. From that standpoint, the high profile of the Savoie case is probably a bonanza for the Japanese cause.”

  345. “the high profile of the Savoie case is probably a bonanza for the Japanese cause.”

    What is “the Japanese cause”?

  346. “That this is a government-led media campaign is suggested by the fact that it was NHK, the country’s government-sponsored broadcaster”

    1)NHK does recieve government subsidies for airing NHK WORLD.But 99.99% of budget comes from paid fees by the viewers,including “morning TV news”,clearly suggesting “Ohayo Nippon”.So calling NHK”the government-sponsored broadcaster” is overblown.

    2)The report,made by the reporters belong to international department of NHK and filmed in Los Angels,interviewed BOTH American father and Japanese mother whose been suspended to leave the U.S due to the court order.(The passports of two of her daughters been confiscated by the court order)Thus,” Difficult, that is, if you are non-Japanese and traveling without their other parent (or his or her written consent).”does fits more to the Japanese and non Japanese as I see the NHK segement,added to the fact Colin Jones conveniently forgets the fact that Christopher Savoie IS a Japanese citizen.

    Plus NHK had interviewed two critics,a Hitotsubashi Univ Prof,Yokoyama Jun who seemingly a Pro-Hague”子を連れ去った親の方が子の監護権(親権)を取得してしまうと法的にもそれが是認されてしまう 子の連れ去りという既成事実を作った方がいわば勝ち得になってしまうのは私は正義に反すると考えている” and ofcourse,Ohnuki Kensuke,the lawyer who
    thinks to think twice “相手の同意を得ないで連れ去ったかどうかだけが審理の対象でお母さんの元に居るのが子どもにとって幸せなのか お父さんに返すのが子どもの幸せなのか そういう審理が出来ない条約になっておりこれは条約として欠陥があると思います”

    If this is “a government-led media campaign”of any kind,it is clearly a failure since it’s too objective in the manner of “what-do-you-think-about-this problem”.

    Compare to quasi-conspiratsy theory-esque of Colin Jones it is obvious that Government of Japan is wrongly using NHK reporter to work on the propaganda mission.Government should outsource that to someone working for The Japan Times who are clearly more ready to write subjective report without proper fact checking.

    Is there some sort of rules of engagement among foreign “journos”on this case that you can write what ever you want without any decent fact checking? There’s a thing called Wikipedia,you know.

  347. Oops.mistakes.

    Thus,” Difficult, that is, if you are non-Japanese and traveling without their other parent (or his or her written consent).”does fits more to the Japanese as I see the NHK segement,added to the fact Colin Jones conveniently forgets the fact that Christopher Savoie IS a Japanese citizen.

  348. Mulboyne: Japanese spouses (wives) petitioning courts overseas to have their children returned, successfully. The context would be clear if you click the link and peruse the article.

  349. Well,so is NHK.

    Just looked into today’s Chunichi,which used to be Pro-Hague is now calling for 慎重に.

  350. “As a young man he took me with him a few times to various penitentiaries in California with special permission of the wardens to visit his clients. He wanted to impress on me the consequences of getting on the wrong side of the law. I wouldn’t want to be in Jail in the U.S. or Japan but I’m sure the U.S. is harsher. For me no price is worth risking jail time.”

    California has maybe the most unpleasant prison conditions in the country, so Japan might be better than there, but I think a US federal prison is probably more comfortable than a Japanese prison. Obviously the best prison is still pretty damn horrible though.

  351. Well, Savoie has given an interview, make of it what you will.

    http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=11342748

    The main claims he makes are:

    (1) He didn’t use violence to get the kids.
    (2) The consulate knew he was coming because he had phoned ahead. The police were already there in what he describes as riot gear. He tried to push his way through to get to the consulate – he says a consulate staffer even reached out for Rebecca – but was stopped.
    (3) He has “official” joint custody of the children in Japan so believed his actions were legal.
    (4) The police mistreated him
    (5) He is “not allowed” to see his children (it’s unclear who is stopping him: Noriko, or the police, or both)

    There are a few new things in there but there isn’t much we can independently verify so it comes down to whether you think Savoie is at all credible.

    Incidentally, Aceface, I don’t think Jones goes wildly wrong by calling NHK a “government-sponsored broadcaster”. A subscription fee is a tax just as the licence fee is in Britain. His rhetoric about a “government led campaign” is overblown but there are plenty of Japanese commentators and critics who have accused NHK of the same behaviour in other matters so he is hardly breaking new ground there.

    You have weighed up some examples of recent coverage of Hague and the child abduction issue and have found it informed and nuanced. I thought that the Tokyo Shimbun piece you posted above in full was pretty good. However, I probably first heard about the problems foreign parents face getting access to their children in Japan about twenty years ago. My interest was sufficiently piqued that I’ve kept an eye out for any information on the subject since then. In all seriousness, the domestic media was almost entirely silent on the matter until about eighteen months ago.

    I think there were good reasons for that silence. Privacy issues are important and none of the Japanese parents were criminals in Japan. There were no obvious Japanese victims so, as is true in many other countries, it was difficult to find an angle which would appeal to a local audience. However, there is one other reason. The Foreign Ministry strongly hinted that all these cases, and the broader issue of Hague were subject to delicate diplomatic negotiations and discouraged reports. They weren’t ordering a news blackout but, with the other considerations I mentioned in mind, that’s effectively what happened. Foreign embassies also bought into the deal to some degree, believing that progress might be better made without the glare of publicity.

    This changed. I’ve heard some speculation as to why but it all comes down in the end to foreign governments giving the issue higher priority. In May of 2008, there was a report, out of the blue, that Japan was giving consideration to signing Hague as early as 2010. The announcement was prompted by a symposium held in March 2008 by the Canadian embassy and attended by the US. At the symposium, the Canadians indicated that their Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, would be raising the issue during his visit to Japan in July for the G8. The Justice Ministry said it was looking into setting up the required central authority and would work on a law to detail procedures for a child’s return. The Chunichi ran an article at the same time which mentioned that Japanese parents were having problems with foreign parents abducting children to the Philippines and China. Ace, you may think the Chunichi has been “pro-Hague” but my own view is they had no opinion at all on the matter, for the best part of two decades, until the Ministry of Justice handed them a press release. The Ministry had judged that their announcement might play better if Japan looked like it was also suffering abductions rather than mainly being accused as an abucting country and the Chunichi dutifully wrote it up. If the press was really so concerned about abductions from Japan, you have to ask why this story only a few months later didn’t get much attention:

    http://www.gmanews.tv/story/124791/Japanese-father-reunited-with-beggar-son-in-Manila

    Around the same time in October as that story, the Mainichi reported how the abduction issue had bubbled up and how Harper had indeed raised it during his visit. The piece noted that foreign diplomats, not just disgruntled fathers, were drawing comparisons with North Korean abductions suffered by Japan so the implication was that Japan might gain more support on the issue if it could be more flexible. The Mainichi also explained that abducting women were often escaping domestic violence, couldn’t navigate overseas legal proceedings and sometimes were completely unaware they had broken the law. The paper gave an example of a woman who, having split up with her Swedish husband and returned to Japan, happened to later travel to the US where she was arrested, and sent to trial in Sweden because she was on an Interpol wanted list.

    It seemed like some progress was being made. Here’s part of an email which Japanese consulates sent out im March to citizens registered with them in North America. It may well have gone to Noriko Savoie:

    近年、国際結婚が増えると共に、父母のいずれもが親権 (監護権)を有していても、一方の親の同意を得ずに子どもの居所を移動させること(親が日本に渡航する際に 子どもを同伴する場合を含みます。)は、米国の国内法では、子どもを誘拐する行為として重大な犯罪(実子誘 拐罪)とされており、在留邦人におかれても問題となる ケースが発生しています。 そのため、子の親権問題について、御留意いただきた い点をまとめました。 

    Q1 何が問題なのですか?

    A 父母のいずれもが親権(監護権)を有する場合に、 一方の親が他方の親の同意を得ずに子を連れ去る行為は 、米国やカナダの国内法では、重大な犯罪(実子誘拐罪 )とされています(注)。

     例えば、米国に住んでいる日本人親が、他方の親の同 意を得ないで子を日本に一方的に連れて帰ると、たとえ実の親であっても米国の法令に違反することとなり、米 国に再入国した際に犯罪被疑者として逮捕される場合があります(実際に、逮捕されるケースが発生しています。)。  国際結婚した場合、その間に生まれた子を日本に連れて帰る際には、こうした事情にも注意する必要がありま す。 (注) ○米国:16歳未満の子の連れ去りの場合、罰金若しくは3年以下の禁錮刑又はその併科を規定(連邦法Title 18, Chapter 55, Section 1204)。州法により別途規定がある場合もある。 ○カナダ:14歳未満の子の連れ去りの場合、10年以下の禁錮刑等を規定(刑法第282、第283条)。

    Q2 ハーグ条約(国際的な子の奪取の民事面に関する条約)とは 、どのような条約ですか?

    A 国境を越えた不法な子の連れ去りを防ぐことなどを 目的として、1980年に「国際的な子の奪取の民事面に関する条約」が採択されました(平成20年9月現在 で締約国は81か国)。  日本は、締結の可能性について検討を始めたところで す。 この条約の締約国は、不法に子を連れ去られた監護権 者からの申立てを受けて、条約上の例外事由がない限り、子が元々居住していた国に迅速に返還されるように努 めるなどの義務を負います。子の返還後は、親権を巡る父母間の争い等は、子が元々居住していた国の裁判所に おいて決着することになります。  以上のように、この条約は、不法に連れ去られた子の返還について定めるものですから、子の居住していた国 の法律、手続に従って日本に連れてきた子が、その国に送還されることは ありません。

    So why, with all this apparent progress do we find representatives from the embassies of Canada, Britain, France and the US holding a press conference in May 2009 and issuing a joint appeal for Japan to become a signatory to the Hague Convention? The simple reason is that it was one year on from the original Ministry of Justice statement, which hinted at a two year process, and yet nothing had happened. None of the preparatory moves had been made by the MoJ. There had been occasional articles like the one in the Mainichi but no substantive public discussion or even engagement with the relevant international bodies. The embassies seem to have concluded that Japan had just put the idea on hold. Rather than signalling progress, that email seems more an attempt to cut down the number of abduction cases by telling Japanese parents to be careful about breaking the law. It also hints to someone who knows the law, that Japan may not be willing or able to protect them if they do abduct a child. However, anyone versed in the language of bureaucracy will have recognized the open-ended nature of a phrase such as “日本は、締結の可能性について検討を始めたところです。”

    I don’t buy the idea that any significant voice in the Japanese media was “pro-Hague”. There was certainly a line from several government agencies which aimed to put a positive spin on why Japan ought to consider becoming a signatory and that line was picked up in some quarters. The reason I asked the question about Jones’ reference to “the Japanese cause” is because he seems convinced that the Japanese authorities are pro-Hague but just need a pro-Japan spin to seal the deal. I’m not so convinced. There are definitely some who want to sign Hague but its pretty evident that there are also those who are happy just to keep a lid on it by making the right noises without actually moving forward.

    What happened when the Savoie case blew up is that it became harder to keep the lid on. We are now getting coverage of a number of different aspects of this issue. Japan was never going to become a signatory to Hague by slipping a bill through the Diet so it is important it is addressed in public. If that means some constituencies come out openly as “anti-Hague” then it’s at least an advance on prevarication. It can’t count as a reverse because there was no momentum building for Hague anyway. On the positive side, there are articles like the one in Tokyo Shimbun which do more to make the issue tangible for a Japanese audience than any I’ve seen before.

    And it is a difficult issue. It’s not clear to me that Japanese society believes that a child is always best served by maintaining contact with both parents when those parents have split. If it actually isn’t a widely shared belief, then Japan should be careful about signing Hague. If teh country really doesn’t agree with the provisions of Hague, better to find that out now and work out what else to do rather than stalling for time. If Hague is the answer then more urgent progress would seem to be required.

  352. “I don’t think Jones goes wildly wrong by calling NHK a “government-sponsored broadcaster”. A subscription fee is a tax just as the licence fee is in Britain. ”

    Big difference.There are lots of people not paying that fee with out getting any legal punishment imposed by the government and I thought that’s not the case for BBC.
    And NHK collects all the fee without interference of any government body.

    ” all seriousness, the domestic media was almost entirely silent on the matter until about eighteen months ago.”

    That’s because the ambassadors had made joint press conference and decided to make this a diplomatic issue.Parental abduction beyond borders has been existed,but the numbers were somewhere around few hundreds,not thousands.

    “Ace, you may think the Chunichi has been “pro-Hague” but my own view is they had no opinion at all on the matter”

    Well,judging from most of the article ends with the mention “Japan not signing the Hague thus face the criticism”,one gets impression as that’s the source of the issue, which leads to the conclusion that Tokyo/Chunichi want Hague treaty signed.

    “The piece noted that foreign diplomats, not just disgruntled fathers, were drawing comparisons with North Korean abductions suffered by Japan so the implication was that Japan might gain more support on the issue if it could be more flexible.”

    I think North Korean factor has very little in the mind of deision makers here.I talked to the colleague on this and they burst into laugh.
    “What that got to do with this?So we sign the Hague treaty and KJI would send them back?Besides if they are not on our side in the fight against the crime commited by foreign intelleigence’who had been kidnapping not only Japanese) nor see the difference between paternal kidnapping,who need a “friend” like that?”
    If media is like this,so are the public.Rightly or wrongly,the bureaucrats pays more attention to the public opinion than the anti-Japanese sentiments aboroad.

    ” Rather than signalling progress, that email seems more an attempt to cut down the number of abduction cases by telling Japanese parents to be careful about breaking the law.”

    Which isn’t that unusual since the main focus of Japanese government should be the interest and protection of Japanese citizen.

    “I don’t buy the idea that any significant voice in the Japanese media was “pro-Hague”. There was certainly a line from several government agencies which aimed to put a positive spin on why Japan ought to consider becoming a signatory and that line was picked up in some quarters.”

    I disagree.Anyway,if that’s the comment I get from someone in the office,that will be the phrase I chose to write down.If I’m being that sarcastic about the intention of the people who gave me all the comments and information,they’ll never answer my phone I again.Something people like Kyung Lah or Colin Jones don’t have to mind.

    ” The reason I asked the question about Jones’ reference to “the Japanese cause” is because he seems convinced that the Japanese authorities are pro-Hague but just need a pro-Japan spin to seal the deal. ”

    And to sign the Hague treaty,Japan must change lots of internal law,and for what? For some disgrantled parents who couldn’t handle their marriage?There are almost about twice as many law maker in the diet than the numbers of parents thats demanding Japan to change.
    Not sure what “pro-Japan spin” is all about.but ofcourse we need to feel confindent about all the time and effort to change something not all of us considers broken.Being kicked by the international community to do so don’t help us that much.

    If they are brigning NK abduction as some sort of bargaining tips,it would only stir up anger among the nation and concrete the idea that Japan is being mistreated just like all the time.CNN report on Savoie can be a model evidence.

    “If that means some constituencies come out openly as “anti-Hague” then it’s at least an advance on prevarication. It can’t count as a reverse because there was no momentum building for Hague anyway. On the positive side, there are articles like the one in Tokyo Shimbun which do more to make the issue tangible for a Japanese audience than any I’ve seen before.”

    That’s not the impression I get from the atmosphere in the office.I get the feeling this is going to be like whaling.Angry gaijin shouts at angry Japanese over msm.

    “And it is a difficult issue. It’s not clear to me that Japanese society believes that a child is always best served by maintaining contact with both parents when those parents have split. ”

    Perhaps.But I’m not even sure most of the problem that’s been making noises can really be solved by Hague treaty.At least the two cases presented by Kyung Lah weren’t.
    But then again,this is me talking.

  353. Some cruel comments attached to that News5 story…. I’m quite surprised by how viciously anti-Chris the majority of the comments are.

    From a rather misguided Savoie supporter (I don’t mean that supporting him is misguided, but check this out) – “Or better yet…maybe we should just reinstate the death penalty for adultery and homosexuality like they have in more enlightened countries like Iran! Yeah that’s it! That will really give some justice to kids like these. They can just watch their father and his lawfully wedded wife get lowered into the ground and stoned to death on national television! Think of the ratings! And you remember Not without my daughter! Iran is even more progressive than Japan in its strict one parent custody laws! I think we’re REALLY getting somewhere now! Only catch is that under sharia, all he would have had to do is say “I divorce you” three times with witnesses to get away from Noriko…and with no alimony; amen to that! or he could have just added a second wife, but HEY! That’s not a bad system either is it?! Avoids the stoning too… Who are we to negatively judge the culture and religion of over a billion people? More muslims than Japanese in the world anyway… We should probably learn from it! I say: forget the Constitution! Bring on Sharia, brothers!”

    Damn, with friends like that….

    Is this a parody or what?
    “No, Japan is a country of perverted immature people with backwards laws on just about everything. Its all over the internet! Start telling us the truth about your little perverted child abduction haven island kingdom! We can all put 2 and 2 together.
    Oh, I forgot. Japanese people don’t know how to do that (tell the truth and not be sneaky). Remember Pearl Harbor?
    My grandfather who fought in the Pacific theatre always said you can’t trust the Japanese. He was right! They’re always hiding something.”

    We are spoiled on this blog – sometimes I forget what the majority of blog comments look like…

  354. http://www.wbir.com/news/national/story.aspx?storyid=101986&catid=9

    “In court records, Noriko Savoie states that “for the most part” her ex-husband was not around her or the children during the past seven years and that he moved to Tennessee without them in January 2008.”

    Maybe an interesting revelation – if Noriko really did say this in court in the US and if the point was not contested by Chris or his attorney, it is quite possibly that he has never had a significant relationship with the children.

  355. “We are spoiled on this blog – sometimes I forget what the majority of blog comments look like…”

    Even that last quoted comment is spelled correctly and doesn’t use L33T or LOTS OF CAPITALS, so in that respect is above average.

    “First!”
    “Dude u SUK!”
    “Ur mother!”
    “Hot MILFs waiting for u at [URL]!!”
    ...is all too common….

  356. I realize it is a bit late in the string, but I wanted to clarify a few things. Yes, the CNN report on my situation created more questions than answers. Yes, there were some inaccuracies that make it confusing, especially when linked to other cases (which I would rather have not been linked with). Keep in mind that although her name is on it, Kyung does not have final say nor does she control things like headlines or story highlights (some of which were blatantly wrong and couldn’t even be found in the article in the initial posting). Kyung worked with me to get the mistakes fixed as quickly as possible.
    To be completely honest, Kyung probably tried to explain too much without being able to explain it thoroughly. I will leave it up to the rest of you to debate journalistic integrity, etc. It was not meant as an exhaustive investigative piece, just another example of why things need to change in Japan vis-a-vis international standards for child welfare, parental rights, family court procedures, etc.. Trust me, it is not something that could be covered in 2 hours, much less 2 minutes.
    Originally, it was meant to cover my story as an example of how the system doesn’t work (for anyone in Japan) and the study session by lawmakers considering that very issue. I suspect, although I have no proof, that an editor cut and pasted the bit about Savoie in the middle of the article. If you notice, it is word for word from another article and does not fit in the flow at all. Unfortunately, someone working in the system and getting shafted is not nearly as newsworthy as someone committing a crime (self-enforcement of a court order is a crime in America as well).

    Full disclosure- I acknowledge I “benefited” from Savoie’s actions in that it allowed my story to get some attention. I also disagree whole-heartedly with his actions and most of the coverage it has received. Not even a pretense of using the Japanese courts/ mediators coupled with “ignorance” (an excuse that doesn’t work anywhere) undermines pretty much every argument on his behalf in my mind.

    Now for a couple of comments on specific issues: I am not sure living next to 1 of the few disabled schools in AICHI, qualifies a person to make a judgement on the level of “medical” care available-. According to Japanese Law, Spencer requires 24/ 7 medical attention (i.e. a nurse or doctor must be present) which is not available at most “disabled” schools, therefore Spencer is not eligible to attend or I must be present at all times. 1 of the 3 care facilities in AICHI (pop. 7.3mil) is located in Okazaki. It has exactly 1 pediatrician on staff for 2000+ patients. Some might consider that “sufficient”. Most of the Japanese parents with disabled kids don’t- especially the ones that travel 3-4 hours to bring the kids to the doctor or school.
    National health insurance covers 3 home nurse visits for 1.5 hours/ week- if you can find company that will deal with children and has an available nurse. Mixing of companies is not allowed. In the States, disabled (medically fragile to be more exact) people are covered by Medicare and SSI- upto 12 hours/ day of home care or at a facility. I can provide examples ad naseum, but it misses the point. If a Japanese father/ reporter made the same comment, would that make it more credible? Similarly, comparing it to a tribe in New Guinea serves what purpose exactly?
    Regarding the Brazilian medical consultant- he knows Spencer and I quite well. We serve together on a committee for the Okazaki city hall on how to improve life for “foreigners”. If you ask him- or check the transcripts of any of the meetings, you will see that I consistently say we should be concerned with how to improve life for everyone- bringing up nationality only serves to divide regardless of who does it.
    I will only clarify a few points on the legal front. For a variety of reasons including numerous documents stating I would have custody of both children following the birth and an incredibly desperate pregnant woman (another issue entirely), the divorce was a kyogi rikon, not via court order. The Japanese court is upholding it’s legitimacy within Japan. As an extra-judicial divorce, it is not recognized by either the US or Brasilian courts. Consequently, we are still legally married in Brasil and America. Needless to say, there is no official determination of legal custody (Kyung specifically stated the courts have not determined anything- the story highlights which she didn’t write got it wrong). The average person probably can’t explain the difference between joint legal custody and guardianship so imagine the challenge in conveying this effectively.
    I petitioned the court for full custody of both children more than a year ago. The court claimed they could not determine legal custody since neither of us is Japanese. If they did rule, it would have to be “joint legal custody” since that is the prevailing law in both Brasil and the US. The refused to issue a written ruling and requested I withdraw that lawsuit (I have not). They only agreed to determine who has guardianship while living in Japan. The judge has been pondering the case for over 3 months now. Filed in October, 2008- first mediation March 31, 2009, meet once with judge July 7th, 2009.
    In the meantime, they have not enforced any visitation or other rights and indicated they might wait until matters are resolved in Brazil (not only dealing with the courts but both foreign ministries since we are both in Japan means it could take forever). My wife (and family) is under investigation for various crimes that will likely result in either a prison term or psychiatric hospitalization in Brasil- thus automatically disqualifying her as a guardian (physical custody). A Japanese court official actually said that a prison sentence in Brasil would not necessarily prevent her from raising my daughter in Japan- it would only be a problem if she tried to go back to Brasil.
    Ultimately, the Japanese courts don’t want to exercise jurisidiction (or can’t since the ruling cannot go against Japanese law- ie. joint v. sole custody, plus the bureaucracy can’t handle it- how can they record it when we don’t have koseki). Therefore, they do nothing. The US and Brasilian courts can’t exercise it because we are in Japan. Needless to say, I have no court documentation or legal coverage (yet) to return to the States with Spencer (assuming I was willing to leave my daughter in an obviously unstable environment). I have even been advised by some lawyers that I might be refused boarding by the airlines (especially now thanks to Mr. Savoie). At the very least, I would be breaking Brasilian laws which forbid one parent (even while married) from traveling abroad without the express permission of the other or a court order. Consequently, the Brazilian courts could issue an arrest warrant at the request of a Brasilian lawyer dealing with custody of my daughter on my wife’s behalf. As the Sean Goldman case demonstrates, Brasilian lawyers can be just as dirty as the rest.
    Note: Japanese law states than when both parents are foreign, custody issues are determined based on the laws of the country that the child is registered as with the Japanese authorities. To confuse matters more, Spencer is an American while my daughter is Brasilian according to Japanese authorities.
    The court is well aware of the situation and takes no action. Kyung was spot-on when she said legal limbo and languish. The ONLY written ruling issued by the Japanese family court to date was to transfer jurisdiction after my wife and her parents (after quitting their jobs) moved- thus requiring Spencer and I to travel to Yamaguchi-ken for all court proceedings and delaying the case 5 months. Apparently, a severely handicapped child is not a sufficiently extenuating circumstance according to a Japanese judge who places the welfare of the children above all else. (For the less astute- please note sarcasm). Similarly, child abandonment and/or the probable underlying psychological issues do not render a parent unfit for other children or prompt the court to act quickly.
    Yes, it seems quite obvious I should be able to leave with Spencer. Common sense and speed are seldom considered virtues in legal issues. Usually, it is lawyers that use delay tactics. In Japan, the courts have taken it to an all new level. Throw in 2 more countries and you get the picture.
    I would like nothing more than to be able to sit down and talk with my wife with a professional counselor or mediator. The court in Japan shows little regard for potential mental health issues and does not require psychological evaluations. For the wikipedia nuts- check out Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Complex-PTSD. I did not know my daughter’s name or birthday for 3 months after her birth. I only learned it after initiating court proceedings from the court clerk. Even then they refused to tell me if I was listed as the father or where the birth certificate was registered because my wife did not give them permission to tell me. My only recourse to get my wife to discuss anything was via the courts- even if it was to just legitimize our legal standing.
    Not a position I would wish upon anyone.

    Updates will be available from time to time at http://www.ForeverYourFather.com for those who are interested.

  357. “I am not sure living next to 1 of the few disabled schools in AICHI, qualifies a person to make a judgement on the level of “medical” care available-.”

    Too true.I stand corrected ever since I read your post on Japan Prove.

    “If a Japanese father/ reporter made the same comment, would that make it more credible? Similarly, comparing it to a tribe in New Guinea serves what purpose exactly?”

    No,But Kyung Lah commentary TOTALLY lacks any of the detail and informations you provided.Usually when you use words like”country lacks sufficient medical services”precisely means country like Papua New Guinea.
    But then,I shouldn’t say anything irresponsible before I check the medical situation of the country.

    All my wishes to you and Spencer.

  358. Thanks for the reply. I was actually quite dumbstruck by the barrage of comments that one line generated. After all, the story wasn’t on medical care or even disability. The point was that despite all of these issues, the court has done nothing.
    I am working with a couple of Japanese reporters to bring a bit more clarity to the multitude of issues. Will see what happens. Thanks for the good wishes too.

  359. Let me join Ace in my heartfelt sympathies. Thank you for that detailed comment explaining the details of your situation. Sincere best of luck in sorting out, and hopefully finalizing, your situation.

  360. “The point was that despite all of these issues, the court has done nothing”

    Your case is just tip of the iceberg,I think.
    I’ve run into three Brazilian mothers with her children running away from their husbands just in Homi apartment complex in Toyota city alnoe.(Two married with Brazilian and one with Japanese).They are hiding in the apartment rooms of other residents and constantly moving from here to there.I wanted to do the story on them,but it was complicated for numbers of reasons and the top was they just didn’t want to show their face on the media.

    Did you have contact with someone from International Press?(Sadly,they’ve closed down the Nagoya bureau,this year,but)They might be interested in your story and write them in Portuguese.

  361. Thanks Curzon-

    AceFace- I agree whole heartedly. My case is just the tip of the iceberg- thus the need for international standards and a court system that works for everyone. As I have said before, if the court can handle my case this way- what chance do people with “normal” kids and a mother that hasn’t abandoned any of them have? I would be willing to bet for every “international” case, there are at least 100 similar cases involving Japanese couples. As I am sure you know, shou ga nai is a phrase used far too often in Japan. Muzukashii is a close second.
    I have some contact information for various reporters, but I haven’t been pushing too hard yet. Personally, I want distance from the Savoie case. If possible, I also want the domestic press to take the lead (thus my working with the Chunichi guys). Surprisingly, no one in the press except my Chunichi friends have contacted me. If you have the contacts or write yourself, please contact me via the website (www.ForeverYourFather.com). Do you think your Brasilian mother would be willing to share their stories with my contacts if they were guaranteed anonymity (ie. I am the cover; they are supporting cases)?
    Ironically, signing the Hague would actually make it easier for the Japanese courts- they would have “cover” to get rid of messy cases and wouldn’t have to worry about the foreign laws when dealing with international couples living in Japan- not necessarily a good thing, but…
    BTW, I was just at the doctor appointment with the Dr. I referred to in the stats I used. I was also wrong- it is much worse. He deals with 10,000+ patients/ year. 2000+ was the monthly average (he sees Spencer once every 3 months). The 50 bed facility/ hospital (5 doctors- 1 pediatric neurologist, 3 orthopeds and a psychiatrist) deals with approximately 25,000 patients a year. We were actually laughing at the absurdity of the situation- probably about the only way to deal with it. Not trying to make you feel bad- thought you might be interested.

  362. “I have some contact information for various reporters, but I haven’t been pushing too hard yet. Personally, I want distance from the Savoie case. If possible, I also want the domestic press to take the lead (thus my working with the Chunichi guys). Surprisingly, no one in the press except my Chunichi friends have contacted me.”

    Which isn’t a surprise since you are pretty special case to be picked as “example”.We usually pick someone symbolizing the general problem of issue we cover and it’s simpler the better.Since the information we can put in our pieces is limited.
    In your case both the int’l marriage and health care issue are involved in your situation and takes lots of words to tell the background story.

    Major national daily has bureau in Nagoya in Aichi(and also in Toyohashi to cover the Eastern Aichi)but they’ve been occupied with covering big issues from TOYOTA and unemployment to small issues like everyday crime scene.Most of the TV news guys would only act when they pick up info from kisha club or internet these days and to cover your story,one must need some knowledge on international marriage,Brazilian emigre and possibly some English speaking ability.So I assume many think the case is beyond their ability and limited research time.Which are the reason why I believe you were not on their rader for the moment.

    “Do you think your Brasilian mother would be willing to share their stories with my contacts if they were guaranteed anonymity (ie. I am the cover; they are supporting cases)?”

    Which is what I’m thinking.If I want to do a Hague related international marriage report,then I have to pick up cases between Japanese and foreign couple.A report related with disabled children and their parents,then I go straight to the Japanese parents,for narrative would be minimum and can get to the point more directly.
    But if this is “Brazilian in Japan”story and why our society isn’t capable of handling the matter for the benefit of everyone,in this case the court,then things are a bit different.
    Well,now you have me and I live in Nagoya.Problem is I’ m already occupied until the end of November,nonetheless I will contact you via e-mail.

  363. Hey Aceface and any one else reading.
    My spoken Japanese is fluent so that is not a problem. My Portuguese is not, but I have an interpreter. More often than not, it is the “special” case that can unite people behind change- especially when you can connect on a human level.
    People tend not to notice everyday things and just assume that is the way things are and it is working. If there was a problem, surely someone would be doing something to fix it, right?
    Not to beat a dead horse, but look at how many people took issue with the comment about disability services simply because they once saw a handicapped person in the supermarket.
    Using your iceberg analogy- if you don’t even notice a huge, glaring tip, chances are there will be a DiCaprio movie in the future.
    Looking forward to your email.

  364. “More often than not, it is the “special” case that can unite people behind change- especially when you can connect on a human level.”

    No argument on that,and you are certainly the better case than Chris Savoie.

    The e-mail is on your way.

  365. Spencer’s Dad – I think that you should write up a 150-200 word summary of the problem and what you think needs to be done in English and maybe 300-350 characters in Japanese. Setting out a less complex version of your story may be the key to getting you the attention that will eventually result in resolution.

    When I look at your website, I get a strong sense of your emotional commitment but no immediate sense of the problem of divorce and custody.

  366. M-Bone,
    We are still working on the website. I was kind of taken by surprise and had to get something up quickly. Please check back next week.

    In the mean time- No legal decision or documentation regarding custody of either child, court hasn’t bothered to do anything for over a year. Still married in Brasil and America (extra-judicial divorce not recognized); therefore need court order or written permission from wife to travel with Spencer-or guilty of international child abduction/ kidnapping in Brasil. Regardless, returning to US w/ Spencer would jeopardize any practical chance of getting my daughter out of a potentially dangerous situation or ever seeing her again.

    Thanks for the advice.

  367. Both of these statements make me question the wisdom of moving a Japanese divorce to Tennessee. The first statement because it shows the divorce should have been in Japan in the first place, and the second statement because it shows that there was a good chance it would end up back in Japan. Robust enforceability was not gained by resort to foreign law.

    http://www.wbir.com/news/national/story.aspx?storyid=101986&catid=9

    “In court records, Noriko Savoie states that “for the most part” her ex-husband was not around her or the children during the past seven years and that he moved to Tennessee without them in January 2008. Noriko Savoie was served with divorce papers days after she and the children came to Tennessee.

    Morley said Japanese law does not recognize U.S. custody orders.

    “I have many, many cases where clients’ kids have been abducted and taken to Japan,” Morley said. “Japan does nothing to discourage mothers from doing that and everything to encourage it. Possession is the law there and the children were in (Noriko’s) possession. Since the mother has physical possession, there is nothing the court or any Japanese agency will do.”

  368. A senior writer for the Mainichi says the following:

    私自身は日本はハーグ条約に加盟すべきだと思う。子どもを連れ帰る母親がクローズアップされるが、外国人の夫が「日本に子どもを行かせたら戻ってこない」と母子の面会を拒否する例も逆にある。ハーグ条約加盟で恩恵を受ける人もいる。

    “Japan should sign the Hague Convention. In Japan, attention tends to be focused on Japanese mothers who bring back their children from their countries of residence to Japan after divorcing their non-Japanese husbands. However, there are also cases where non-Japanese husbands have refused to give their divorced Japanese wives access to their children, fearing that if their children go to Japan, they will never come back to them. These mothers will benefit from Japan’s joining the Hague Convention.”

    もう一つは家族観の変化だ。若い世代は家事・育児分担が当たり前で、共同親権という考え方にも違和感は少ないのではないか。もちろんハーグ条約加盟には国内法改正が必要だが、「母親が子を引き取るのは日本固有の家族観」でないのは確かだ。

    “Family values have undergone drastic changes in Japan, too. People in younger generations tend to regard it as a matter of course for husbands and wives to jointly handle housework and bring up their children. Therefore, they are likely to accept the idea of joint custody between divorced husbands and mothers. To sign the convention, domestic laws concerning family relations should fundamentally overhauled. The idea that mothers should get custody of their children is no longer a unique family value among Japanese.”

    It appears in both Japanese & English:

    http://mainichi.jp/select/world/news/20091024ddm004070163000c.html

  369. http://www.topix.com/forum/city/nashville-tn/T8AO06L696QCHC4G3

    Some readers already posted URL to the Topix, but hope nobody minds another link
    to this particular thread.
    In the thread, one or two individuals who appears to be one of the Savoies
    him/herself has been posting about twenty comments so far under different usernames each time (but the IP’s are all from Franklin, TN.) , particularly the comment #184 and after.
    I don’t know what the people think about the Savoies and Noriko after reading those comments.
    But I am pretty much disturbed by the behavior in the thread.

    Lastly, I am pleasantly surprised to read this blog and the comments from the readers.
    Great blog !

  370. The most important post from hrbnb’s comment above. We have reason to think that this is Amy Savoie writing –
    “When you write her story, please include her lying, sneakiness, emotional volatility, threatening to commit suicide in front of the kids, sleeping with Isaac at age 8, her medical neglect of the children, refusing to let Isaac play baseball, breach of contract, perjury in court, obsession with fashion and make-up and money, constant need to use her children as mini-therapists by defaming her ex-husband in front of them in a most pathetic and immature fashion, and her defamation of Dr. Savoie to anyone who would listen to her whining, her general grumpiness even after becoming a near-millionaire, her announcement that the “US is not a very nice country”, her assertions that all Americans are obese, and please include her strange marital misconduct that granted Dr. Savoie grounds for divorce FIRSTMANY, MANY, MANY YEARS AGO!!

    If you know her so well, thrill us with your acumen: why would she have LIED to the courts and claim on a July 3, 2008 document that they had been “separated since 2005” and “lived separately”....and yet she whined to others that the couple had been “happily married” until very recently? What’s with the disconnect?? Her story changes depending on the audience and you are too foolish to see it, so it is very sad that you are wasting your time defending her. You poor thing.

    The lies are a very interesting component of her mental instability.”

  371. Having read through some of the other posts, I’m 95% sure that it is Amy Savoie. Her TV interviews have been bad enough but…. how many years before one or both of the kids decides to read this stuff online?

  372. Applying for the ESTA nonsense for an upcoming trip to the US, I found this item which I don’t recall seeing before (or at least never noticed):

    E) Have you ever detained, retained or withheld custody of a child from a U.S. citizen granted custody of the child?

  373. Huh, I’ve never noticed that question either. All I remember were the political ones about the Communist Party, Nazi Party, and terrorism. Is it new?

  374. I don’t remember it, but there is a reference to it in a book dating back to 2000 I found on Google Books. So I guess I just never noticed it. Odd. Not that I would pay any attention to it, as it’s neither applicable in any sense, nor insane like the Nazi thing.

  375. I know the above discussion has gone in many directions. I just want to say that the initial posting by Curzon was very much appreciated. It was obvious from the beginning that the writing on English news sites (in particular, CNN) was bias. And that’s disappointing since (I presume) bloggers write as a hobby while reporters are paid to do it. Especially when after the other side starting appearing in blogs, the media still did not report it—not even months later. Of course, this is true with the media well before the Internet; but I just felt that it was very obvious this time…

    Anyway, to those of you who know both languages and take your time to post facts that are not reported by the media, thank you!! I know there were competing opinions above—but with the facts, I guess we can form our own opinions.

    BTW, about the Hague treaty, it is true that Japan has not signed it, but a similar treaty seems to be needed for international marriages and divorces first. Focusing on just the Hague treaty seems to address one significant part [the children] of a much bigger problem. And the scary thing is that if Japan were to sign it, everyone would pat themselves on the back and say the “job is over”...job’s just beginning…

  376. i have no sympathy for both parents in this case. the day when my ex walked out the marriage, left me with nothing ($0 in bank account) in a foreign country, and yet he threatened to take our only child away from me by lunched a series of allegations (anything that you can think of to take a child away from another parent) against me in the court. the result is a bitter, expensive, and long custody battle. i know that my parents and some other family members would never see my child again in their life time. my only hope was to maintain share custody. to do that I must sacrify my career and personal life, so i can be there for my child for as long as she needs me. it’s a big price to pay, but to me it’s worth it. nothing in life is more important than making sure you are there for your children no matter what happens in your own life…as an adult, we made our choice, we must bare the responsibility, and never let the children suffered from our mistake.

  377. To all of the above people: I just wanna give a piece of my opinion.I dont take any sides but just weighing two sides of the coin.As a mother myself the thought of sharing my kids to my ex is unbearable,I could never stop thinking of them when theyre out with him specially with their stepmother and I am hurt and battered inside when I heard them talk nice things about her but that is the truth the fact I guess most women feel…Based on my own prsonal friends experience which ha s avery very similar case.I dont feel sorry for Noriko with the divorce but I do symphatize her feelings of having to be away from her kids during the visitation.but this doesnt justify her actions at all.Japanese women who are married to American/Foreign nationalitys tend to appear innocent vulnerable and frail,when divorce arise which is most of the case( the result of years of neglect and coldheartedness,selfishness,dominantness and luck of intimacy to the Japanese women side) they’re changed they know so muc and they just dont care about american law after getting all the money/alimony they have nothing to care for but themselves they dont even care about kids feelings.They main theme os to hurt the other party and make them suffer specially If they knew how much the othe rparent loves the kids. to understand more about being married to japanese women visit http://www.stippy.com

  378. “Japanese women who are married to American/Foreign nationalitys tend to appear innocent vulnerable and frail,when divorce arise which is most of the case( the result of years of neglect and coldheartedness,selfishness,dominantness and luck of intimacy to the Japanese women side) they’re changed they know so muc and they just dont care about american law after getting all the money/alimony they have nothing to care for but themselves they dont even care about kids feelings.”

    All of them?

    Anyway, who is doing the dominantness – the Japanese women or the foreign men?

  379. i don’t think the law helps at all in any custody. when two adults cannot manage their own behavior, they are responsible for any consequence happened after the bitter divorce . when you start thinking along that line, you will know what to do. instead of bitterly blaming the other parent, perhaps working with the other parent is the best way and only way to not to hurt your own kids feeling. people (including american) are selfish, because we all love our children. when it comes to high conflict divorce, this is not unusual behavior. i have come to understand this point after a long bitter battle that costs me bankcrupt both financially and emotionally.

  380. does anyone have any updates of Mr. Savoie the two face guy?
    I call him two face.
    i think what he did is shameful for the americans. He abused the US system and the japanese system. And he is a disgrace to the japanese society.
    makes it more difficult for foreigners to live in japan.

    Second Noriko what she did was not legally right but understandable.. She had to endure the nagging of Amy.
    The American culture where “I” is strong something that I believe Noriko was not used to.
    Someone here said she was very fluent in English.. then my question is then why did she have difficulties with college classes? Her grammer might be great better than some Americans.. but usually japanese people are not good in verbal.
    I also believe Christopher communicated with her in Japanese..

    Overall this whole case was reported one sided.. It was a shame that the kids picture were put out in the media.. Plus i felt Christopher was a good actor..
    so is amy..

    I feel sorry for the other parents who can not see their kids.. I hope there will be resolutions soon.

    One thing though that no one talks about anywhere that I have heard.. is American dads walking away from Japanese wife and leaving their kids behind.
    I have heard cases from Hawaii that there are Americans who leave the japanese woman hanging with a child and the woman having no choice than returning to japan because some paperwork are not filed etc.. No money given for them to live on etc.
    I know it is case by case.. but makes me wonder maybe Noriko did a right choice returning to Japan in order to protect her kids from the whole fiasta that is happening..
    Also how do we know if Christopher or Amy are telling the truth?
    Where is Noriko’s statements.. until I hear what she has to say .. I am going to keep my mind open..
    And will hope the charges against Noriko will be dropped and something will be worked out between both parties..

  381. I’m still confused at how he can be a Japanese citizen (according to many news reports) and ‘American’ all at the same time.

  382. I assume he never actually gave up his US citizenship and just told Japan that he had, in which case he would be both – at least unless the Japanese MOJ decided to invoke their statutory power to force him to choose one or the other. Presumably at this point he would give up his Japanese nationality since he’s back to living in the US, but that would be his choice to make.

    While we’re back on this topic, I recently noticed a very peculiar thing about Taiwan’s relevant laws:

    The legislature also approved an amendment to the Civil Matters Involving Foreign Elements Law (涉外民事法律適用法), marking the first time the act has been through a major revision since it was enacted in 1953. Under the amendment, the laws of the country where transnational couples live or the laws of the country in which they are citizens are applicable to civil lawsuits involving such couples.

    Currently, civil suits regarding the effectiveness of a marriage, common property of the marriage, or divorce are resolved in accordance with laws of the husband’s country.

    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2010/05/01/2003471887

    Does such a system exist in any other country’s law?

  383. I just want to know which publicity consultant he hired and how much he’s paying. I’m not sorry he’s giving the issue more coverage, but the more I read about him the more I think he’s a slimeball.

  384. “It’s worse than a death. At least with a death there’s closure”

    That’s %#&”ed.

  385. You know, his ex-wife is just going to use that quote as evidence that he considered murdering his own children to keep them away from her if he ever gets a chance for another custody hearing.

  386. If that is anything other than a calculated TV quote, I just don’t understand the sentiment. Is there anyone who wouldn’t rather give their child to a complete stranger than see them (say, get sick and) die?

    Roy’s point also reminded me of all of those posts from his wife calling Noriko everything under the sun. Plus the new article doesn’t mention the possibility that his attempt to reclaim the children involved violence. Whatever happens with international custody on the grand scale, I think that C. Savoie has gone and martyred himself well and good.

  387. Um, if she wanted a divorce-you know, which means you LEAVE, and he “refused” to let her divorce, that means he’s refusing to let her leave. Which is basically imprisonment, especially when you consider (from what I’ve read) that she was a housewife. So all this “oh she willingly came to america” crap is-well, crap. How can you call it willingly if he was REFUSING to let her get a divorce? If she didn’t come to the US, what would happen to her? Would she become poor? Lose her kids? Lose a home?

    He was clearly controlling and abusive, since he wouldn’t let her leave the moment she wanted to. I wouldn’t want an asshat like that to have custody of any child. If he gave two shits about her or the kids, he would have given her that divorce, at least to enforce the supposedly crazy idea that you can’t MAKE someone stay with you. What a creep.

    Just ask the kids what they want and be done with it. Leaving the kids voiceless is the worst thing anyone can do.

  388. ”Leaving the kids voiceless is the worst thing anyone can do.”

    Not really.Some one using your picture on CNN news program without your permissions IS the worst thing anyone can do.

  389. Holy crap. What the hell happened to this post? And Ace, why are you wasting your time?

  390. I’m kind of curious, if as you say, he’s still the recognized married partner and father in japan he can be prosecuted for ‘abduction’ when he has the right to take his children with him to an embassy doesn’t he?

    I have a feeling honestly you have it wrong, and as most sources say they are legally divorced in japan, with her having recognized custody. Of course if you’re wrong on that count, what else may you have completely backwards?

  391. Meanwhile Chris Savoie managed Tennessee court made $6.1 million judgment to Noriko Savoie….Jeez.

  392. I think the whole point is not the money but to give Noriko some siege mentality.
    Here’s what the man says on twitter.

    cjsavoie Christopher Savoie
    今朝、アメリカの裁判所で元妻に対して約5億円($6.1M USD)の契約違反等による賠償責任判決を受けました。当然、お金より子供と時間が欲しい。(涙)
    18時間前

    So two kids=6.1M USD.Means three and a half million per head?
    I’d sell one of mine for that amount of money…...

  393. so Noriko will never come to USA with kids because of this stupid father.
    to get arrested, and to pay 6 M !? he is an idiot. this man should have Talked to her,
    be Nice to her, be Thoughtful to his kids mother more. that is why she ( with her kids ) run from him. he was thinking too selfish, wanted a new woman, wanted kids
    in his country, and now money. alllll these are pushing his kids away from USA.
    and more facts comes about him, more Japanese are against this man ( and Hage )
    many people understand Norikos view. they think that they would do the same as
    her. Keep staying in Japan Noriko ! Japan is a great country, Do not enter US with kids. this father is a real idiot..

  394. For those who are interested, there’s some discussion on the likely Japanese stance toward the judgment here: http://www.eiko.gr.jp/topics/kokusai110601.html

    Japanese attorney Yoshifumi Ikeda argues that the judgment probably won’t be enforceable in Japan because most of the damages are apparently punitive in nature; the compensation in Japan for Chris Savoie’s mental distress would be quantified in millions of yen rather than millions of dollars. This makes it void in Japan as against public policy. He also speculates that there’s a strong possibility of defects in the service of process, an issue which I recently discussed with Hoofin (in a different context) here.

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