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  • Tokyo Shinbun and Mainichi weigh in on Savoie Abduction Case

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on October 1st, 2009

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    Hi Blog. Domestic press is beginning to weigh in on this case. (It’s getting too big to ignore.)

    I have the feeling the wagons are circling, and the “Japanese as perpetual victim no matter what” style of reporting is starting to emerge. Like we’ve seen before. Debito in Sapporo

    Here are some domestic articles sent to me by KY. Interpretation is KY’s. (Feel free to send in more in the Comments section. Please be sure to include full text with the links.)

    ——————————-

    The Japanese news’s take on things, at least as represented online:

    Tokyo Shinbun presents a pretty matter-of-fact, if unsymathetic view

    わが子『奪還』の米人元夫 略取容疑、日本で逮捕
    2009年9月30日 夕刊

    http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/world/news/CK2009093002000225.html

    【ニューヨーク=加藤美喜】日本人の元妻が連れ帰った二人の子どもを取り戻そうとして、米国人の元夫が日本で逮捕された事件が二十九日、米メディアで一斉に報じられ、論議を呼んでいる。元妻には米国で逮捕状が出ており、日米で“犯罪”が逆転した形。国際離婚の親権問題の難しさがあらためて浮き彫りになっている。
    米CNNテレビなどによると、二十八日、福岡県警に未成年者略取の疑いで逮捕されたのは米南部テネシー州のクリストファー・サボイ容疑者(38)。同日、福岡市内で八歳の息子と六歳の娘を連れて米領事館に駆け込もうとしたところを、元妻の通報で警戒中の警察官に逮捕された。
    テネシー州の地元テレビによれば、元妻は夏休みに子どもたちを連れて里帰りすることを求め、同州の裁判所は一時帰国に同意。しかし元妻は一度はテネシーに戻ったものの、再び子ども二人を連れて帰国し、日本に残留。裁判所はサボイ容疑者に二人の養育権を認め、地元警察は二人が誘拐されたとして元妻の逮捕状を取った。

    国際離婚した親の片方が一方的に子どもを居住国から連れ出すことは、ハーグ条約(一九八三年発効、八十一カ国が締結)で不法とされているが、日本は締結していない。

    ==============================
    Mainichi Shinbun basically condemns the father:
    http://mainichi.jp/seibu/shakai/news/20090929ddp041040037000c.html
    連れ去り:離婚した元妻から、通学の2人 容疑者逮捕‐‐福岡・柳川
    毎日新聞 2009年9月29日 西部朝刊
    福岡県警柳川署は28日、米国籍の自称会社経営、クリストファー・ジョン・サボイ容疑者(38)を未成年者略取容疑で逮捕した。

    容疑は同日午前7時45分ごろ、同県柳川市内で、離婚した日本人の元妻と一緒に通学していた小学3年の男児(8)と同1年の女児(6)を無理やり抱きかかえて、自ら運転してきた乗用車に乗せ、連れ去ったとしている。

    元妻が110番通報。同日午前9時40分ごろ、サボイ容疑者が子供を連れ福岡市中央区の米国領事館前に現れ、警戒中の警察官が職務質問し、子供2人を保護した。サボイ容疑者と元妻は3年前に、米国で協議離婚し、親権は元妻にあるという。サボイ容疑者は「子どもに会いたかった」と供述している。【井上秀人】

    ================================

    The second article is absolutely horrible, it says that custody was with the mother
    (which doesn’t seem true if all of the other articles are correct) and that Savoie
    forced his kids into his car…. which may or may not be true, but doesn’t seem to
    come from any real source. I’ve seen nothing so far that indicates whether or not
    the kids wanted to go with their father or stay with their mother, and taking such a

    biased article’s word for it doesn’t seem like a good idea.
    And those are the only two official news stories I’ve been able to find in Japanese.

    ends

    24 Responses to “Tokyo Shinbun and Mainichi weigh in on Savoie Abduction Case”

    1. crustpunker Says:

      If there were only some way to get some unbiased reporting froma credible media outlet on this case. This really is the time to get this issue on the table. If not now when? Will Japan continue to ignore these kinds of stories and sweep everything under the carpet? Why is the media here always so afraid to criticize it’s own laws? I am sure there a lot of good journalists here in Japan that are brave enough to see this story for what it is and use this as an opportunity to attempt to instigate positive change in regard to these contemptible laws.

      On a side note, When Japanese fathers are put in the same situation in cases of divorce and the children going to the mother, do they not feel the same kind of helplessness and desire to be with their own children? Do they just shrug it off and start a new family? Seems pretty soulless to me to just be like “Well, kids are gone. Best to just get on with life”

      I wish there were something I could do to help

    2. adamw Says:

      debito ,
      you are claiming that only he has been hard done by but
      imho,she got shafted.
      they were having apparently marital probs,he takes her to usa after many yrs in japan,divorces her almost straight away,remarries then gets custody of kids and she is stuck there..
      anyone would feel cheated like that.
      equally though i can understand that he knew that was his only chance to ever see the kids with the laws in japan..
      horrible all round.
      again though i cant understand what grounds they have for arresting him,if hes japanese,and not divorced from his wife in japan,and father of the kids..
      how they will sort this out who knows but its obvious these kids will never leave japan

    3. Icarus Says:

      I agree that the Mainichi article is terrible, but these stories are already too old to be useful. Now that we know that Savoie is a naturalized Japanese citizen AND still married to his ‘ex-wife’ in Japan, the implications of this incident are pretty crazy. This really should be treated as a domestic issue based on these facts alone, but with the news gaining popularity overseas, it’s hard to put a damper on it now.

      I still want to know how he managed to gain Japanese citizenship and live in the US. Does that mean he still holds his US Passport?

      – Where is the confirmation from the Savoie camp (as in his lawyer) that he has J citizenship? Still awaiting, don’t fall for rumor yet.

    4. betty boop Says:

      crustpunker – from what i know of friends` experiences and readings – that is pretty much it. whoever does not get custody is left out in the cold and/so they get on with life for the most part. sad, isn`t it?

    5. Frodis Says:

      With news cycles being what they are, I hope this catches. If not, it’ll fizzle out and be a nonstarter by the time the news picks up again after the weekend.

      I think it might be a good idea for American readers to write and contact their consulates/embassy and Department of Foreign Affairs back in the States to complain not only of the abduction issue but also of the level of service/protection afforded to American nationals abroad. Also maybe try to keep the press back in the States keyed up to pursue this by emailing them (abduction issue as well as consulate actions/inactions), tweeting them, and by posting on their bulletin boards, or they may move on to the next new topic as well.

    6. M&M Says:

      It is interesting that both articles above seem to stress Christopher Savoie is an American and that they are divorced – disputing other reports that the Japanese police have said they all hold Japanese citizenship, they are not divorced, and it is a looking like a case of kidnapping by a father within wedlock (from the CNNJ article in Japanese that Mumei posted).

      – Yes, what a hash is being made of this story.

    7. HO Says:

      Mainichi reports the details.
      http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20091001p2g00m0in009000c.html

      “Court records in Tennessee indicate the Savoies lived in Japan from 2001 to 2008, and that Savoie obtained Japanese citizenship.”

      “Savoie moved back to the United States in January 2008 and Noriko Savoie and the children moved here in June of that year. Divorce proceedings began soon after.”

      “He first asked a court in Tennessee to block a possible abduction in October 2008 during divorce proceedings, and a Williamson County judge ordered Noriko Savoie to turn the children’s passports over to the court clerk.”

      “Soon after their divorce was final in January 2009, he again asked for help from the courts, seeking primary custody of the children or an assurance that his ex-wife would not flee with them.”

      Now he has a new wife.

      Things look very different. Why did not CNN report the fact that the family basically lived in Japan? I can see most Japanese will emotionally support the ex-wife in this case with good reason. Why should the kids stay in the US if the kids were raised in Japan? It is unfortunate that this particular case got too much media attention.

      – Er, because they were abducted back? Not because they moved back with the consent of both parents (like they did to the US), and she did it against American court rulings and international law?

      This is not what adults do to children. And Noriko is in the wrong for doing it at all.

    8. Graham Says:

      Supplementary note: court documents apparently indicate that she has been experiencing a lot of trauma during her stay in the US, such as breaking down into tears. She was not happy over there. If so, did she ever want to go over there in the first place?

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

    9. Tornadoes28 Says:

      to Adamw:

      They were living in the United States. That was the children’s legal residence at that time. The mother was not prohibited from traveling with the Children to Japan. She refused to return to the US with the children which was their legal residence. She took the children from the father and that is illegal. She is a criminal and that is why there is now a warrant for her arrest in the United States for child abduction or kidnapping.

    10. David Says:

      The Hague convention on Child Abduction states that the kids should be in the country of ‘habitual residence’.

      I’m not an expert on international law here but could someone fill me in on how these children are not habitual residents of Japan. I’m not exactly too sure how to define habitual residence.

      The timeline creeps me out a little. In my opinion the husband was strong-arming the ex-wife to force her to stay in America.

      June 08 – Wife comes to America with kids.
      Before October 08 – Husband begins divorce proceedings. Fearing that the wife would return to Japan has a Tennessee court confiscate the passports of the two kids.
      January 09 – Divorce finalized. Custody agreement states that she must live and raise her children (who were born and raised to this point in Japan) in Franklin, Tennessee. (WTF?)
      February 09 – Wife begins citing difficulty adapting to life in America. Husband uses her complaints in effort to gain sole custody and is denied.
      April 09 – Passports returned to kids.
      Summer 09 – Japan vacation.
      August 09 – Wife comes back to America shortly and then skips back to Japan with kids.

      Am I missing anything?

    11. Hoofin Says:

      If the court records aren’t sealed (usually they are in divorces), this would be one way to get a lot of facts.

      I posted in a blog note that some of the new information would tend to paint Noriko Savoie in a more favorable light. From her perspective, the family lived most of its time in Japan. When Chris Savoie decided to go back to the States, the family went in tow. (Did Savoie point out to his wife that he intended for the family to return to Tennessee so that he could get a divorce from her?)

      Christopher Savoie gets what he wants. He remarries, and then Noriko Savoie is stuck in Tennessee. Otherwise, she has to fly back from Japan to see her kids.

      So from Noriko’s point of view, take the kids back to the real home country and let Mr. Savoie and the new Mrs. Savoie do their thing. That’s obviously how she saw it.

      This human side to the story is going to get in the way of the issue of joint custody…

      I happen to believe that Japan should recognize other countries’ joint custody determinations. But as the story develops, this is starting to look like a very sophisticated maneuver by a guy who was arranging things in a way to get the advantage. Except he got one-upped by the ex.

    12. well Says:

      It’s wrong that she took them away in the US.
      But isn’t also wrong that he took them away in Japan?
      Both parents seem to not know how to resolve things.

    13. lynne Says:

      I had originally thought that the kids were raised here, but after finding out that they were in Japan until last year, I can see why the wife would feel wronged. She moved to America and divorced while he remarried. She probably felt trapped. I do not think what she did was right but it gives you a more complete image of the story that many news networks failed to report on. The poor kids… they have to deal with the effects of it all.

    14. Hs Says:

      What Noriko the wife did (flying to Japan with the children) is exactly the same what Christopher the ex husband did (trying to fly back to the US with the children) the only difference is that he got caught before he took off. If the police cached her before she left to Japan, she would had been taken by authority just like the her ex-husband. she was just luckier than he was. same crime. If you are surprised that he was taken by police, you must surprised that Norko was under arrest in the states too.

      [paragraph of supposition not backed up by evidence deleted]

      – Not the same crime.

    15. chuckers Says:

      Asahi has picked it up:

      http://www.asahi.com/national/update/1002/TKY200910010490.html

      Tennesee local news report also claims Savoie has Japanese citizenship:

      http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=11236448

      The only people that deserve sympathy in this case are the children.
      Neither Noriko nor Christopher are completely blameless in this.

      Asahi:
      子ども「連れ去り」事件 日米ルールの違いで解決難しく(1/2ページ)
      2009年10月2日3時1分
       離婚した日本人の元妻が米国から実家の福岡県に子どもと帰国したため、子どもを取り戻そうとした米国人の元夫が、警察に未成年者略取容疑で逮捕された事件が、米国内で報道され、高い関心を集めている。米国では、子どもを勝手に海外に連れ去ることは犯罪行為とみなされ、米国側も元夫を支援する。背景に、国際結婚が破局した場合の日米のルールの違いがあり、問題解決は難航しそうだ。

       混乱の背景には「ハーグ条約」がある。「拉致された家族を救うための行動が逆に日本で犯罪に問われた」「釈放に向けて外交努力が求められる」。CNNは「拉致」という言葉を使いながら、連日、大きな扱いで伝えている。

       逮捕されたのは、米テネシー州の男性(38)。福岡県警柳川署によると、逮捕容疑は9月28日朝、柳川市内の路上で元妻と一緒に登校中だった長男(8)と長女(6)を無理やり抱きかかえて車に乗せ、連れ去ったというもの。元妻が110番通報し、福岡市の米国領事館に来た男性を警察官が発見し、逮捕。署は30日午前、男性を未成年者略取容疑で送検し、今も勾留(こうりゅう)中だ。男性は「子どもに会いたかっただけ」と否認しているという。

       テネシー州で4月から男性の代理人を務める弁護士によると、夫婦は今年1月に離婚。両親がともに親権を持ち、子どもは母親と一緒に、男性宅の近所で住むことで合意した。男性は米国人女性と再婚した。ところが母親は男性に告げず、8月13日に子どもと帰国したという。弁護士は「日本は、米国の法律を破った母親をかくまうべきではない」と主張する。

       一方、離婚調停時に母親の代理人だった弁護士は「米国の法律を守らない行為は支持できない」としつつ、「母親は、常に支配的な男性の態度に悩んでおり、家族で一緒に住むことを望んでいなかった」と説明。夫婦は日本での結婚生活後、08年6月に渡米したが、男性は渡米の翌日に離婚の書類を示した。日本生活が長い子どもたちも米国暮らしに慣れなかったという。

       米国務省は取材に「個別事案にはコメントしないが、この問題については承知している」と指摘。「日本は大事なパートナーで友好国だが、子どもの連れ去りについては意見が異なる。米国で取り残された親は大きな心理的負担を強いられ、子どもを取り戻せないでいる」と話している。

       県警は「子どもを無理矢理連れ去った行為自体が犯罪で、離婚の経緯などは事件と関係ない」としている。(ニューヨーク=田中光)

           ◇

       ■ハーグ条約 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いる。国境を超えた「面接権」を定め、米国やカナダなど80カ国以上が加入している。

       日本は未加入であるため、日本人の親が子どもと日本に帰国した際に、外国人の親が子どもを連れ戻すことは極めて困難だ。トラブルが相次ぎ、欧米諸国は条約に加わるよう、日本政府への圧力を強めている。

    16. chuckers Says:

      Another article from Tennessee states that court records during the divorce
      list Christopher as a Japanese citizen and Noriko as a legal permanet
      resident of the US.

      http://www.tennessean.com/article/20091001/NEWS03/910010361/Japan+detains+Franklin++Tenn.++father+in+custody+fight+for+kids

      Pg. 3.

      Again, the children are the only ones I can feel sorry for in this case.

    17. Charles Says:

      #9 Hs

      It is NOT the same crime. Remember, this all started in the U.S. where he was awarded custody of the children. Again, this was presented, the case looked over by the family courts, the Judge made a decision and that decision should stand. Noriko had no right to just take it upon herself to overrule the Judges authority and to basically say, “Screw the system” I get so tired to see when it is the woman(often in these kind of situations)claiming to be the victim and yet, why is that these women hardly come on TV to present their case or to prove their innocence. I live in Fukuoka and I work ironically in Yanagawa(where she lives allegedly)she vanished from radar and is nowhere to be found, not wanting to give any interviews.
      This idea of the child should always be with the mother mentality needs to change and change quickly. The child needs both parents, but a father is just as capable of caring and nurturing for a child as any woman can. What makes a woman a better parent. Why is it that Japan can claim unsubstantially and unequivocally without a shadow of a doubt that these women’s accusations are true? Is it because, we men/foreigners are unsophisticated, illogical, ill-rational, violent Troglodytes?
      I don’t think it was the smartest thing for him to take the kids like that. But as I stated in another post, from my own experience I was witness to. My best friend went through the same thing, this did not get ANY media attention at all, but he felt that there was no other recourse, the Japanese judicial system did nothing for him, just wasted close to ¥700.000 on basically legal advice. Was lectured by his so called lawyer to be a good boy, pay until his daughter was grown, work hard, show good effort and maybe when she is 18 try again. That was when he decided to take manners in his own hands. He never felt good about taking his child, but he felt she will always block him, which she did. I heard quite a few women tell me that a father is never as important as having a mother. Huh??? What’s that supposed to mean. He always tried to have a logical conversation with his ex, but she always declined, turned off the phone, never answered the door, hardly left the house, her family always lying and covering for her. So what else was he supposed to do. I remember his lawyer asking him. “Why don’t you just start a new family? You are young and handsome, you can easily have more children.” My jaw dropped when I heard him say that and he was so calm and soft spoken, sincere and serious about it! Seeing this guy go through this or any man(sometimes women too)go through this is so disturbing and heart-wrenching, you really have to be a parent to understand that kind of intense pain and to not knowing when or if you will see your kids again is the absolute worse, but it’s the kids that will ultimately pay the full price as a child that went through a very, brutal and nasty divorce, I assure you, it will leave scars and alter them for sure without a doubt. Who speaks on their behalf? What do they want? Aren’t their feelings important? Are they not individuals with their own thoughts and feelings.
      Think about this deeply people.

    18. Philip Says:

      There are many things we don’t yet know. Is Savoie a citizen of Japan, of the US, or both? Is the couple still technically married in some jurisdictions? What are the circumstances surrounding the move, the divorce, the marriage to another woman? How did his wife get the children out of the country? How well-adjusted are the children to each country, and what do they want? The rumors we are being fed concerning these issues absolutely affect public perception of the incident, and it is important to find the truth behind them to make a truly just decision.

      There are a few things we do know, though, and these are enough to hold some opinion on the issue. These children have a mother and a father. In America, the parents would typically end up with some kind of shared custody, or at the least, visitation rights. In Japan, Savoie will almost certainly get nothing. I have seen no contention on this statement.

      I’m sure many see the situation with the American Embassy as being absolutely typical of America’s disregard for its citizens abroad; still, for a country that claims to lead the world, one would think they could return a few children.

    19. Paul Says:

      http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/09/30/crimesider/entry5353939.shtml

      CBS in reporting on this issue apparently conducted an interview with Savoie. What struck me was the requirement that Savoie was required to “speak in Japanese” during the interview, per jailhouse rules. I wonder to what extent this rule extends. For example, if he, or anyone else, were unable to speak Japanese, would he/they not be allowed to have visitors, or to speak with anybody? Is this only applicable to media interviews, or does it apply to any discussions held from the jailhouse with anybody for any reason? What is this jailhouse rule?

      – That is the rule. The police attending the proceedings must be able to understand what is being said between the apprehended and the visitor.

    20. Jib Halyard Says:

      Hs,
      enough with the moral equivalency already. There is none.
      The US has a fair, open and transparent system that allows both parties to have their say in court. Japan does not. She had the benefit of a fair hearing, he did not.
      it really is that simple.

    21. Ningen Says:

      David, the divorce was filed June 16, 2008, which would have been very soon after she arrived. The judge says in the hearing transcript at page 121-122 that she knew there would be a divorce. Maybe, but the landlord says she still wanted the marriage to work but the husband soon left.

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

      Dissatisfaction with the Japanese system, however well-grounded, is not a justification for a Tennessee court to assert jurisdiction over child custody issues under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Child_Custody_Jurisdiction_And_Enforcement_Act

      I wonder how Tennessee could be the home state for child custody issues under that law, based on the facts that have been reported. It seems the home state would be Japan.

    22. Hs Says:

      The American courts gave primary custody of the children to Noriko and only AFTER Noriko kidnapped the children fleeing to Japan did the courts award full custody to Chris at which time a warrant was issued for Noriko’s arrest. At the time she flew back to Japan with the children, she did have the prime custody and living with the children. Please see the mother side story too.

      http://japantherald.blogspot.com/2009/10/noriko-savoie-i-felt-trapped.html

      US media is forgetting to mention that the family was living in Japan for nearly a decade then moved to the states and 6 months later Christopher divorced Noriko and married an American woman with the condition that Noriko and her children must live in Tennessee for his visitation rights.

    23. Manga Says:

      read the mainichi article. it’s hardly an article, just a brief footnote not even going any deeper on the case. and it doesn’t affirm that the mother had the custody, just a nebulous “it seems to be” (あるという)which is pretty normal a language here (eg そういう風に考えていいと認識しているところだと思います。)

    24. The Envoy Says:

      The media inevitably tends to be biased to its largest reader base’s opinions. How else would one sell papers?

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