In October, I wrote about the attempted abduction/rescue of the Savoie children by Chris Savoie from his wife, and explained my sympathy for Noriko, the Japanese wife who had absconded with the children from Tennessee, USA to Japan. While acknowledging and criticizing the Japanese child custody regime, I was appalled by Chris’ conduct and said very clearly that “Christopher is the wrong martyr to rally behind in this fight.” Mulboyne disagreed (right after saying that the post was too long at 200 or so comments — it currently stands at 434), and had this to say:
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… for better or worse, his case has received significant coverage in the US and coverage in the Japanese media is now building up momentum… 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.
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.
Such was my disgust with Savoie that I did not want to agree with that analysis. Mulboyne later repeated this comment in more detail over beers a few weeks later (we’re a social bunch, us MF and CA bloggers).
Yet we now read that Foreign Minister Okada has set up a division inside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to study the issue:
The Foreign Ministry has set up a new division to handle international child custody issues in response to overseas criticism that Japan allows Japanese mothers to take their children away from their divorced partners.
The division, officially launched Tuesday, will study the issue, including whether to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, whose aim is to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any signatory countries, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said.
Of course, such criticism has been ongoing for years and has been well documented and criticized, yet only now, after the -awful CNN- press coverage of the Savoie fiasco is the Japanese government taking notice. My conclusion? I can’t bear to acknowledge it twice, so just read the post title again.