DEBITO.ORG
Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle's Home Page

New ebooks by ARUDOU Debito

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Joseph pieces together plausible timeline in Savoie Case, finds for Christopher

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on October 15th, 2009

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
    UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

    Hi Blog. I received this comment early this morning from “Joseph” regarding the Savoie Case, piecing together with a minimum of speculation (shame on all you online rumormongers) a probable plausible timeline for what happened between Christopher and Noriko. It’s too good to be buried as a comment, so I create a separate blog entry for it. He finds for Christopher, concluding:

    In Japan, sole custody is awarded to one parent, and one parent only. This means that if there is a messy divorce, as it appears to be in this case, and the mother doesn’t want to allow the father to see his children, there is nothing that can be done. Period. Christopher was obviously well aware of this, and knew that if he wanted to have any access to his children, he needed to have his divorce here.

    Noriko, with full knowledge of Amy, came here specifically for the purpose of getting that divorce – she was not “tricked” into it. She came here, she had her day in court, she received a large financial settlement, she repeatedly assured the court that she had no intention of removing the father from his childrens’ lives, and then she went ahead and did just that. She took the children away, took the money, and now she happily spends her days walking the children to and from school, while he spends his being interrogated in jail. He sits there knowing that, as the Japanese courts always favor the Japanese parent in these cases, he will in all likelihood never see his children again.

    Read on. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    ===============================
    LETTER FROM JOSEPH BEGINS

    Hello, This is a very confusing case due to all of the “facts” that are flying around. I have read everything that I can find, including the court transcripts (http://wtvf.images.worldnow.com/images/incoming/Investigates/savoie1.pdf and http://wtvf.images.worldnow.com/images/incoming/Investigates/savoie2.pdf) and I’m wondering whether anyone can add to any of this:

    It has been reported that Noriko has either US citizenship or US permanent residency status. Some have suggested that this is false because she only just came here this year, and could not have gotten either in such a short amount of time. However, in the transcripts I mentioned above, Noriko states that she and Christopher have known each other for 18 years, and have been married for 14 years (See page 79 http://wtvf.images.worldnow.com/images/incoming/Investigates/savoie2.pdf).

    This would mean that they met sometime in or around 1991, and married sometime in or around 1995. From reading around, it seems that they had lived in Japan from 2001 through 2008. That would mean that they met outside of Japan? This seems to corroborate the information relayed on this message board by Amy Savoie (http://www.topix.net/forum/source/wtvf/T40LV9OOMRME6BAHB/p2) Specifically, she stated that Noriko had been working in Silicon Valley, and that Isaac was born at Stanford University, in California. This suggests that the claims of Noriko’s US citizenship / permanet residency status might have some truth after all.

    Combining those dates, with the other significant dates, allows one to contruct a possible timeline:

    - 1991: Noriko and Christopher met in California, where Noriko was working? (Partial Speculation)

    [correction from Joseph: -1995 ~ ? Christopher begins work at Kyushu University]
    – 1996: Noriko and Christopher were married in California? (Partial Speculation)
    – 2001: Issac was born at Stanford University, in California? (Partial Speculation)
    – 2001: Noriko, Christopher, and Issac moved to Japan after Issac’s birth (Confirmed)
    – 2003: Rebecca is born in Japan (Confirmed)
    – 2005: Noriko and Christopher were separated. (Confirmed)
    – 2005-2008?: Noriko asks for a divorce in Japan (Confirmed)
    – January 2009: Noriko comes to Tennessee for the divorce (Confirmed)
    – September 2009: Noriko takes children, and returns to Japan (Confirmed)

    I will state outright that this timeline is partial speculation, but it fits the facts, and it does seem to paint a somewhat more sympathetic picture of Christopher.

    He meets a Japanese woman in California in 1991. They are married, in California, in 1996. Their first child, Isaac, is born at Stanford University, in California, in 2001. Shortly after Issac’s birth, Noriko convinces Christopher to move to Japan. What the reasoning for that move was, only those two can know for sure, but knowing what I know of Japanese families (I am married to a Japanese national. My wife’s sister is a happily married Japanese woman, married to a Japanese man, and she and the children spend 75% of their time at her mother’s house. This is common over there), I am going to assume the reason was so that she could have lots of help raising Isaac (and eventually Rebecca) from her mother and extended family. Again, whatever the reason, the three of them move to Japan. Rebecca is born there three years later. Sometime between Rebecca’s birth and 2005, things fall apart, and he and Noriko are separated.

    Once again, the reasons for the divorce are known only to Noriko and Christopher. People can speculate that it was because of Amy, but we do not yet know if the relationship with Amy started before or after the separation. Additionally, I have also read speculation or accusations that it was becasue Christopher was abusive, but the facts do not support this. Noriko was divorced here, and had her day in court. If he was abusive, she easily could have brought that up, received sole custody of the children, alimony, and carte blanche to return to Japan with the children permanently. She made no such claims, and Christopher was awared substantial visitation rights.

    Either way, during this separation, Noriko asks Christopher for a divorce in Japan. Christopher knows that if he divorces in Japan, he will, with almost absolute certainty, have no contact whatsoever with his children, and refuses. He then talks Noriko into coming to Tennessee for the divorce, where he will receive the visitation rights he would never get in a Japanese court, and where she would recieve a large monetary settlement that she would never receive in a Japanese court.

    She accepts this arrangement, comes to the US specifically for the divorce, and receives: (1) $800,000 in a lump sum; (2) $30,000 in an account for Isaac; (3) $30,000 in an account for Rebecca; (4) an unspecified (in the transcript) amount money for Noriko’s education; (5) unspecified (in the transcript) monthly alimony payments; (6) primary custody of the children (7) The right to take the children to Japan for 6 weeks every summer, with Christopher paying for all airfare (please see page 95-96 http://wtvf.images.worldnow.com/images/incoming/Investigates/savoie2.pdf)

    While staying here, the two of them continuously spar via email, culminating in an email from Noriko in which she basically threatens to take the children to Japan, and cut off all contact with him. This causes Christopher to file for a restraining order preventing Noriko from taking the Children to Japan for the six week vacation awarded in the marriage dissolution agreement, out of fear that she will not return, and that he will never see his children again.

    It is at that hearing (again, the transcripts can be found at http://wtvf.images.worldnow.com/images/incoming/Investigates/savoie1.pdf and http://wtvf.images.worldnow.com/images/incoming/Investigates/savoie2.pdf), that Noriko repeatedly lies to the court:

    Pg 77————————————————————–

    Q: And do you think it’s important for the children to visit their father?

    A: Yes, of course.

    Q: Do you have plans to move permanently to Japan since we signed the – since you signed the permanent parenting plan and the final decree was enacted?

    A. No, I haven’t.

    PG 88————————————————————–

    Q. Ms. Savoie, you know that one of Dr. Savoie’s biggest fears is that you will take the children to Japan, and he will never see them again –

    A. Right

    Q. — you know that correct?

    A. Yes, I do.

    Q. And he’s expressed that to you many, many times?

    A. Yes, he did.

    Q. But even knowing that, you put in writing to him, february 12th that “it is very hard to watch the kids become American and losing their Japanese identity. I have tremendous fear for my children and myself. I’m overwhelmed without a problem. Therefore, please cooperate with me in order for us to stay here”?

    A. Correct.

    Q. The only way I can read that is that was a threat to him; that if you don’t do what I want you to do, I’m going to take your children away and you will never see them again. You understand the fear?

    A. I do understand his fear, however –

    Q. Well, what can you do today to alleviate that fear; what can you do, what can you say to Judge Martin, what can you say to their father that assures us that when you get to Japan –

    A. Yes

    Q. — you will not let your parents and your friends and your — as you said, all the people that came to the airport, influence you to just stay there, what assurance do we have?

    A. Yes, actually that’s why I brought this here. First of all, I have never thought about taking children away from their father, never. And — but based on that –

    Q. Well, let me ask you this — and I’ll ask the questions, if you would — do you have plans to take your children and move to Japan?

    A. No, I don’t.

    Q. And are your plans to take the children for a vacation and return home?

    A. Return home means –

    Q. To Tennessee.

    A. Yes.

    p 100————————————————————–

    Q How can we know that when you go, that you won’t let your family persuade you to stay there;

    A. Because I won’t; I mean, because I won’t stay there.
    ———————————————————————

    In the end, it is that lying, and that dishonesty, that I have a real problem with. That, and the fact that the Japanese courts, with regards to this sort of thing, are a complete and total mess.

    In Japan, sole custody is awarded to one parent, and one parent only. This means that if there is a messy divorce, as it appears to be in this case, and the mother doesn’t want to allow the father to see his children, there is nothing that can be done. Period. Christopher was obviously well aware of this, and knew that if he wanted to have any access to his children, he needed to have his divorce here.

    Noriko, with full knowledge of Amy, came here specifically for the purpose of getting that divorce – she was not “tricked” into it. She came here, she had her day in court, she received a large financial settlement, she repeatedly assured the court that she had no intention of removing the father from his childrens’ lives, and then she went ahead and did just that. She took the children away, took the money, and now she happily spends her days walking the children to and from school, while he spends his being interrogated in jail. He sits there knowing that, as the Japanese courts always favor the Japanese parent in these cases, he will in all likelihood never see his children again.
    ENDS

    38 Responses to “Joseph pieces together plausible timeline in Savoie Case, finds for Christopher”

    1. Tom R. Says:

      Wow, its getting to be to the point where the cards are stacked against foreigners even if they marry in Japan! You’d think marriage to a native would give you a deeper connection to that country, I guess not. I personally thought marriage was because of the right to freely associate, quite a serious commitment with certain rights and privileges bestowed to those who make that choice. This makes it sound like the Japanese can’t be taken at their word and no consequences if that agreement is broken, especially with regards to foreigners, it seems everything can be undone.

      Tell me again, with the uncertainty and ambiguity shown here when the law can be muddled to the point the father has to kidnap his own children to get visitation, how did Japan get to be the worlds second largest economy with all the responsibility that confers?


      — Because economics (including preferential postwar terms of trade, and an Asian base for a US Vietnam war economy) and family law are quite separate things.

    2. Joe Says:

      Shouldn’t that title be “Joseph pieces together _plausible_ timeline in Savoie Case, finds for Christopher” That’s certainly one valid interpretation of the information out there, though certainly not the only one, and by no means vetted as “probable”

      – Yes, quite. Duly noted and corrected, thanks.

    3. Jerry Says:

      Debito, you just published a statement saying that “as the Japanese courts always favor the Japanese parent in these cases”. Unfortunately all we have is overwhelmingly anecdotal evidence and that evidence is almost entirely from white English speaking males which make up a minority of the international marriages (and I have to assume a minority of the international divorces and child custody decisions).

      We have no actual data on how the Japanese courts find in the majority of divorce cases dealing with international marriages, but my guess would be that they find overwhelmingly for the mother regardless of her nationality. Of course that is a guess. But until we can get more data on what happens in the majority of international marriages that fail and how the courts find in those cases we can’t say that this is some sort of racist conspiracy by the Japanese judiciary.

      Now what I would be interested in for the above timeline is – does Savoie have Japanese citizenship as has been reported and when did he get it?

    4. Mumei Says:

      Tom wrote: “You’d think marriage to a native would give you a deeper connection to that country, I guess not. I personally thought marriage was because of the right to freely associate, quite a serious commitment with certain rights and privileges bestowed to those who make that choice.”

      In a very strict sense, marriage between a Japanese and non-Japanese is not legally recognized in Japan. Marriage in Japan is defined and so listed on a koseki tōhon (戸籍謄本). As a foreigner if you get married your name will not be listed as a spouse. The best that you can do is get it listed as a footnote. I think that Debito has an article about this somewhere.

      Japanese and non-Japanese marriage in Japan is a legal hack. The only right / privilege is a better visa status (在留資格). But remember that all visa statuses , even permanent residency, is a _temporary_ status be definition. (Compare 在留 vs. 在住.)

    5. debito Says:

      CNN just reports:

      Japanese authorities drop all charges and free from jail American accused of snatching back his children from ex-wife.

    6. Mumei Says:

      > All charges dropped.

      Wonderful news. Like I said in another post, the police may be able to arrest anyone for up to 23 days, but I did not think that they had any legal grounds to charge him for a crime. Congratulations.

    7. john Says:

      Great news ,but this may only shut the case down from an international media point of view.Now he is to be released, i would worry that the Status Quo will return to Japan,(Harmony restored) and the real issue of japan being a safe haven for Japanese nationals who break the law in other countries regarding child custody will not be addressed.The gentleman concerned is still in a lose/lose situation.He returns to the US and loses contact with his kids here in japan, or he stays here, and probably still gets no contact with his kids.Furthermore, if he stays here, he may lose contact with his current partner in the US.However,I think he may well be deported.

    8. Chris K Says:

      Deported why? They’d have to strip him of his Japanese citizenship first.

    9. D in Aichi Says:

      It seems that things “happen” in this country when the glare of the international media is turned upon Japan (not a few local rags). What this guy has got to do is go to his (ex) wife’s house along with a CNN news crew who’ll be recording and let her know that he’s taking their children as he’s been granted custody by a US court and there is no ruling in Japan saying that either one of them have sole custody. When he leaves with his kids straight to the airport and get the flick ouuta here. Also leave a second CNN news crew camped outside his (ex) wife’s house to ensure she doesn’t try anything too stupid.

      Whatever he does has to be played out in front of the international media to ensure he has a chance. It’s a sad way to do it IMHO but the only way as Japan doesn’t want the spotlight on them and this seems to be only way to force it…

    10. debito Says:

      Christopher’s associates just called me. CNN has gotten the headline info wrong:

      American dad jailed in Japan set free
      ========================
      http://edition.cnn.com/
      An American man who had been accused of trying to take his children from his ex-wife in Japan has been released from jail. All charges against Christopher Savoie have also been dropped, according to Japanese officials
      ========================

      However, excerpt from full story linked from there by Kyung Lah:
      ========================
      http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/15/japan.custody.battle/index.html
      Police in the rural southern town of Yanagawa let Christopher Savoie go Thursday without indicting him on charges of child kidnapping.

      Officials said the indictment was “on hold,” but did not elaborate.

      The prosecutor’s office in nearby Fukuoka said Savoie was released after he promised not to take his children back to the United States “in this manner,” implying he could not have any contact with the children.
      ========================

      This is quite different. Charges being put “on hold” (as in suspended) is quite different from being “dropped” (as in annulled). A person from Chris’s side just called me to say a Japanese reporter covering the Public Prosecutor’s office told him that the information up on Debito.org was incorrect. (Well, I was just quoting CNN, sorry. Thanks for reading Debito.org.)

      Point is, it seems likely at this writing, according to his associates, that Chris was released with the condition that he get the hell out of Dodge.

      We are still waiting to hear from Chris himself. There is word that there may be a press conference at the FCCJ tomorrow at 3PM, but there are too many contingencies at the moment.

    11. jonholmes Says:

      Does anyone think that what she said in court was “Tatemae” (the official line, what they want to hear) and what she then went and did was “honne” (what she really privately thought?

      I m just wondering if a “cultural difference” can be applied.

      Naturally I speak with an element of irony included.

      Or, one could dispense with all politeness and just say SHE LIED IN COURT.

    12. john Says:

      I think the word deport was a bit strong.(CNN stated they didn’t know if he would be deported or not)But the police could threaten him with something, unless he leaves japan.We don’t know! However he is now in an impossible situation.Torn between his children here in japan,and far away from his other family in the USA. Maybe not deported but it’s a position nobody should be in. I hope the press continue with this case and don’t let this fall off the radar.For all fathers in japan.(and NJ)

    13. level3 Says:

      Turnabout is fair play.

      Patience and planning (and never trust an American diplomat’s word again)….

      If Dr. Savoie was maltreated by the cops regarding medicine, I hope he deamnds an apology and prosecution.

      It’s still telling that the prosecutors got the first 10-day extension of custody. But I guess they wanted time to double and triple check that under Japanese law, there’s nothing they can do, while getting the opinion of the police interrogators as to whether he could be intimidated into a false confession on some bogus charge. Apparently he can’t. Really looking forward to his story. Though in a way, I hope he remains fairly quiet, which I would take as a sign that he’s willing to be patient and wait for the heat (and police attention) to die down before whatever his next step is.

      I bet I, like many, first thought he was a tragic hero, then thought he was no poster boy after the first bits of history started being made public, though I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Now it seems safe to be on his side again. Though I suppose this means she’ll start claiming abuse to try and rebalance the scales of opinion in her favor. Then she could be a perjurer in Japan, too. Ironically, Japan’s tougher laws regarding slander and “insult” could work for Dr. Savoie if she tries this.

      After seeing the timeline, and now knowing that the ex-wife had likely already lived in the States for several years, the J press/2ch-er image of “pity the Japanese mother who was dragged to the USA where she couldn’t possibly make a living, just to be immediately, shockingly divorced by her cheating husband” is no longer valid.
      She went because she knew she could get a lot of cash, and then just abduct the kids back to Japan anyway. They both schemed, but SHE broke the law.
      Her big miscalculation is Savoie’s Japanese citizenship means that he could follow her back and fight for his kids without risk of deportation. He enjoys rights (such as they are) that many other international fathers didn’t have. He has come this far, obviously a driven man, I don’t think he’s going to give up. I hope he doesn’t. And I bet he has a plenty of savoir-faire. ;]

      Of course, to allow joint visitation, he would have to stay in Japan, because she is a fugitive according to US law. If the splintered family goes back to the USA, she’ll be arrested for perjury and child abduction. How would his new wife fit into life in Japan, and would some bureaucrat deny her a visa just out of spite?

    14. Joseph Says:

      # Joseph Says:
      October 15th, 2009 at 2:03 pm

      Debito,

      I have been checking things out on another forum, and have been corrected. It is being incorrectly reported by many news agencies that he was in Japan starting from 2001-2008. It is not the whole truth. He was there at Kyuushuu University around 1995.

      This seems to be one of the worst things about this case. The US media is doing a VERY poor job of getting the facts together.

    15. Graham Says:

      Level3,

      > Her big miscalculation is Savoie’s Japanese citizenship means that he could follow her back and fight for his kids without risk of deportation.

      That is if the Japanese government does not strip him of his nationality for failing to abandon his US citizenship (I personally think this is rather unlikely, but you never know).

      At least this information about Isaac being born in the United States solves the question of whether the kids have US citizenship or not, which was–belive it or not–argued on the J-side that they only had Japanese citizenship. Of course, when I say J-side I mean 2-channel, which also argues that Chris does not possess US citizenship (they site a US law that says naturalizing into another country will get you to lose your US citizenship automatically, but not aware that it was deemed unconstitutional back in the 60s, or simply unaware that Japan cannot force a naturalized citizen to abandon his/her original), along with the story about how he lied to Noriko about wanting to reconcile in the US (there’s still no solid evidence that supports this clame, right?).

      – The kids have US citizenship no matter what. They were born to an American.

      Forget citing 2-chan as a source for anything trustworthy. Believe me I know.

    16. Eido Inoue Says:

      I’m curious as to why a Japanese woman would come to the U.S., to take her chances and deal in a foreign language with a foreign court, to get a divorce? Where’s the motive?

      “Why, it was for the $800K, of course!” Christopher’s supporters will say.

      But wait a second: how did she know she would receive a large cash settlement of that amount? How did she know she would even prevail in a foreign court in a foreign language? That’s a mighty big gamble. Don’t give me that “because American courts are always fair” baloney. I read the court transcripts and saw how, pro interpreter-less, Noriko got rolled by the lawyers: interrupted, and had her English mistakes dissected, searching for nuances in things that were simply difficulties in expressing herself in a foreign language. How thankful Christopher must have been to, unlike his wife, have access to an interpreter, even though he’s a Japanese citizen and can should be able to speak Japanese.

      I believe she did go to the U.S. for the money. But it wasn’t for the $800K. Rather, it was to avoid being an unemployed single mother in Japan.

      You think divorced foreigners got it bad in Japan? You should try being a divorced Japanese mother of two that spent most of her prime years as a full time homemaker.

      Noriko needed whatever financial help she could get for the sake of raising her children. Much like divorced dads know the odds of seeing their kids in Japan are slim, divorced moms know the odds of seeing child support payments are slim. Especially if the dad is overseas.

      Noriko moved to the U.S. not because of a sure thing $800K payday, but rather because staying in Japan could have left her with the prospect of ZERO income (especially during the recession), which would have harmed her kids.

      She was financially trapped. For the sake of her kids, she had to move to the U.S.

      – So for the sake of the kids, she also had to abduct them to Japan?

      Look, let’s forget motive. Look at the system that fostered this.

    17. Ningen Says:

      The below Rhode Island report says that the father went to Japan for graduate school. I don’t think it has ever been reported he met the mother in California in 1991. More likely, he was in Japan studying before entering the doctoral program in 1995. The father went to Stanford as a guest lecturer in the late 1990s, and started a company there. That’s the first reported contact with California.

      http://www.projo.com/news/content/amy_savoie_speaks__10-03-09_28FU7SH_v12.38b229a.html

    18. Ningen Says:

      This timeline is also mistaken because the mother and children went to Tennessee in June 2008, not January 2009. January 2009 is when the divorce proceedings, which began in June 2008, were finalized. This is clear from the 2nd hearing transcript linked to by Joseph (mainly p. 121-122).

    19. Cathy Says:

      I think that both the father and the mother in this case have acted irresponsibly. As the details are really convoluted, the only thing to be said with certainty is that the kids are the real victims here.

      To add to the info being collected here, CBS news (you can see it on youtube) broadcast an interview with Chris Savoie’s Japanese lawyer Mikiko Otani in which she claims that he was shocked by his arrest and ‘had no idea that his act is criminal under Japanese law because he is the biological father and also he has the legal custody right.’ That is clearly false. Why else would he pick them up off the street and make a run for the consulate? The Savoies read up on all of this a long time ago. They knew the misfortunate stories of other fathers who have tried to get their kids back and failed. That’s why they told the courts in TN that Noriko was likely to try to take the kids back to Japan.

    20. Chris B Says:

      Forget the lying, I have a problem with her wanting to take her children away and not let them see their father, that’s the primary crime here.[hyperbole deleted] You have to call into question the mental sanity of anyone with that kind of attitude.

    21. Suppose it's true Says:

      I’m not surprised Debito that you are having trouble following the story. I have had difficulty understanding their lack of ability to put the facts together in a cohesive narative. They just jump around like a bunch of Mexican Jumping Beans, with a few incorrect “facts” thrown in for flavor. “Sigh”.I guess there are just NO competent journalists anymore, heck there are no journalists anymore, only spot-light grabbing superstar wannabees. That being said, the press is still saying that Bruna Goldman was the ex-wife of David Goldman when she abducted Sean to Brazil. Most of the stories in the press are not only incorrect, but suspiciously lack mention of facts that would make this, and probably many other cases, painfully clear. In the rush to be “first” with the news, they overlook many details of these cases, misquote people, or quote people saying things that are just not true. These lies and omissions are then repeated over and over by not only people in these columns but by other news reporters. Unfortunately, people have to fill in the missing blanks with their imagination. I commend you for stating at the outset, that this time line contains speculation. In the case of Sean Goldman, Brazilian family member have intentionaly misrepresented, (lied?) to their press and sadly, our own press has not taken the time to investigate the truth. They print or air it as fact over and over. When the opportunity to interview people with “hard” questions presents itself, they fumble or is it take a dive? Supposedly capable and educated journalists can’t seem to ask any of the questions that average people(unless you’re above average like me :) would ask, and want to know. Soft, is what they are, because they want to keep their jobs. I am so glad they are not the detective on my murder case, or the specialist trying to find out what rare tropical disease I have. Like it or not, Public Opinion holds much sway in these cases. If they can’t be honest and diligent in their work, then they should all stand up, place their hands on a bible, and swear to god that they are no more than entertainers. I guess it is easier to write what is available, true or not, and forego the extensive, and expensive, and cerebrally intensive, investigation.
      Our news reporting has become yellow journalism while we weren’t looking.

    22. Charles Says:

      Kyung Lah repoter from CNN has just reported that Japan will sign the “Hague International Child abduction Treaty” How much this is true or just conjecture remains to be seen. But if it is true and Japan does decide to sign it, then this would seriously be the news of the century. But until then, I’ll be holding my breath.

    23. Jim Says:

      Jerry, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that Japanese fathers will most often get custody over foreign born spouses – if they want it; they usually don’t. I have worked in the Japanese legal system for many years and know that there is an inherent bias against foreign parents – it is widespread in the system. Doesn’t matter if you are male, female, black, brown or white.

      These cases make me physically ill. While I am not at liberty to share specifics, I was asked to work on one of these cases with a Japanese attorney about two years ago. The mother had cut off all communication with the father in direct violation of stateside court orders. The mother came to the Japanese law firm and asked an attorney to help her change the children’s given and family names as she claimed she was being harassed by her former husband. I wasn’t sure if I could assist (mostly in a research capacity) but I agreed to read the file and obtain copies of some of the stateside legal documents. It was a pretty standard divorce. The Japanese spouse was alleging domestic violence and threats and produced photos and threatening emails from the US spouse, etc. None of this was documented in the US divorce by any of the attorneys, social workers or custody specialists. It seemed to appear out of nowhere and I suggested to the Japanese attorney much of the evidence seemed manufactured here in Japan and long after the actual divorce. I had to decline work on this case as I felt that what the mother and attorneys were doing was unethical. One of the Japanese attorneys was also licensed in a US state and I believe if his behavior (circumventing the court orders of another state) were discovered, he would be disbarred in that US state. In closing, I would like to advise all US parents to have some type of legal counsel in Japan. I know it may seem futile at present and there are no victories to be found in the courts here. However, if you have Japanese counsel, and they are, at minimum, in contact with your ex-spouse’s counsel, you can help to prevent tricks such as this name change (which I learned later was granted by the Tokyo District Court) and worst, the possible adoption of your children by your ex-spouse’s new husband or wife.

    24. john Says:

      Actually CNN Asia(tokyo reporter) didn’t report that japan “WILL” sign the treaty.They certainly reported that japan is considering signing the treaty,and are looking into it,but not “they will sign it”.

    25. Mumei Says:

      Below is some coverage in the Japanese media.

      『我が子連れ去りの米国人男性、処分保留で釈放』
      http://kyushu.yomiuri.co.jp/news/national/20091016-OYS1T00221.htm

       福岡地検久留米支部は15日、我が子に対する未成年者略取容疑で逮捕、送検されていた米テネシー州在住のIT関連会社社長、クリストファー・サボイ氏(38)を処分保留で釈放した。

       福岡地検は「日本の法を犯したことを反省し、二度と同様の犯罪を起こさないと誓っていることなどを考慮し、これ以上の身柄の拘束は不要と判断した」としている。

       サボイ氏は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小学生の長男(8)と長女(6)を無理やり抱きかかえ、レンタカーに乗せて連れ去った疑いで、同県警柳川署に逮捕された。

       サボイ氏と元妻は1月、テネシー州で離婚。同州ウィリアムソン郡裁判所の離婚判決書などには「両親のどちらかが子供とともに州外に引っ越す場合は、事前に相手の同意を得る」などと定められていた。

       しかし、元妻は8月、サボイ氏に連絡せずに子供と日本に帰国。このため裁判所は両親で共有していた子供の監護権をサボイ氏のものとし、地元警察は子供の略取にあたるとして元妻の逮捕状を取っていた。サボイ氏は「親権は自分にある」と主張していたという。

       捜査関係者によると、サボイ氏は「子供に会いたかった。探偵2人を約300万円で雇い、子供の通学路などを下調べしてもらった」と供述。事件現場にはレンタカー2台で探偵らと一緒に計5人で訪れており、サボイ氏は子供の顔写真を持っていたという。

       サボイ氏は事件後、子供と一緒に在福岡米国領事館(福岡市)に向かったが、元妻の110番を受け、領事館付近で警戒していた警察官に捕まった。
      (2009年10月16日 読売新聞)

      —-

      『米出身の父、処分保留で釈放=元妻から子供連れ去り-福岡地検支部』
      http://www.jiji.com/jc/c?g=soc_30&k=2009101500942

      日本人の元妻と一緒に米国から日本に渡った子供2人を取り戻そうと、車で連れ去ったとして米国出身の男性が福岡県警柳川署に未成年者略取容疑で逮捕される事件があり、福岡地検久留米支部は15日、逮捕された会社経営クリストファー・サボイ氏(38)を処分保留で釈放した。
       福岡地検は「(サボイ氏は)日本の法を犯したことを反省し、子供の養育監護については代理人を介した話し合いで解決すると誓約している。こうした事情を考慮して釈放した」としている。
       サボイ氏は先月28日朝、同県柳川市で、元妻が付き添い通学途中だった小学3年の長男(9)と同1年の長女(6)を、無理やり抱きかかえて車に乗せ、連れ去ったとして逮捕された。同氏は同日、福岡市中央区の米国領事館前で、元妻の110番を受けた県警の警察官に見つかった。
       県警によると、サボイ氏と元妻は1月に米国テネシー州で離婚。元妻と子供は州内に住み、子供を同氏に面会させる取り決めをしていた。8月、元妻が無断で子供を連れて日本へ帰国し、柳川市の実家で暮らしていたという。(2009/10/16-00:37)

      —-

      『柳川・実子連れ去り 元夫 処分保留で釈放 養育問題「話し合う」』
      http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/item/128491

       日本人の元妻が米国から連れ帰った子ども2人を米国人の元夫が奪い返そうとしたとされる事件で、福岡地検久留米支部は15日、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。

       サボイ氏は9月28日、元妻の実家がある福岡県柳川市で元妻と一緒に通学中だった小3の長男(8)と小1の長女(6)を無理やり車に乗せ、連れ去った疑いがあるとして同署に逮捕された。サボイ氏は同日、子ども2人と一緒に福岡市中央区の在福岡米国領事館前で、元妻の110番通報を受けた同県警の警察官に見つかった。

       サボイ氏の逮捕は米国で報道され高い関心を集め、国際結婚した夫婦の一方が離婚後に無断で子どもを自国に連れて帰ることを防ぐ「ハーグ条約」に日本が加盟していないことに批判が出ていた。

      =2009/10/16付 西日本新聞朝刊=

      —-

      『柳川・実子連れ去り事件 ハーグ条約 火種の恐れ 米国世論に配慮か』
      http://www.nishinippon.co.jp/nnp/item/128547

      日本人の元妻が米国から福岡県柳川市に連れ帰った子どもを奪い返そうとして、米国人男性が逮捕された未成年者略取事件では、国際離婚の紛争解決ルールを定めた「ハーグ条約」に加盟する米国と、そうでない日本との溝がクローズアップされた。事件は外交問題の新たな火種となりつつあっただけに、男性の釈放で、過熱しつつあった米国世論が沈静化するのではとの見立てもある。

       福岡県警によると、釈放された元夫クリストファー・サボイ氏(38)と元妻は今年1月に米国テネシー州で離婚。元妻と子どもは州内に住み、子どもをサボイ氏に面会させる取り決めをしていた。元妻が8月、無断で子ども2人を連れて帰国し、柳川市の実家で暮らしていたという。

       拘置中、西日本新聞記者の接見に応じたサボイ氏は「元妻が、違反して連れ去った。その因果関係がなければ、ここにいない」と強調した。

       ハーグ条約に加盟する米国では、子どもを勝手に国外に連れ出した元妻に非があるとされ、CNNテレビによると、米国の裁判所はサボイ氏に養育権を認め、元妻への逮捕状を発付。米国内で、サボイ氏支援の世論が急拡大した。

       日本側は「サボイ氏は日本国籍も取得しており、日本人が国内で起こした犯罪」(福岡県警)として粛々と対応してきたが、米政府高官が日本へのハーグ条約加盟を求めたことなどを受け、岡田克也外相は2日の定例記者会見で「どう対応するか、きちんと結論づける必要がある」と説明。米国世論に押され、ハーグ条約加盟まで視野に入れざるを得ない状況となった。

       福岡地検は、釈放の理由について「代理人を介した話し合いで解決するよう(サボイ氏が)誓約した」などとしている。ただ、事件が日米間の火種になりつつあったことから、ある司法関係者は「自由の身になれば、米国世論はある程度は収まることが見込まれる。この点も考慮されたのではないか」と推測する。サボイ氏釈放を受け、米国領事館は「私たちは日本政府と、国際的な子どもの奪取について、長期的な解決に向けて取り組んでいけることを希望する」としている。

      =2009/10/16付 西日本新聞朝刊=

    26. john Says:

      I have noticed in the press that they use the statement”due to cultural reasons, Japanese courts will always grant custody to the mother in separation battles.
      Isn’t this just a misnomer? Wouldn’t sex discrimination and racial discrimination be a more honest way to report how courts treat men and NJ?

    27. Sean Says:

      To Cathy,

      Sort of disagree with the statements below.

      “I think that both the father and the mother in this case have acted irresponsibly. As the details are really convoluted, the only thing to be said with certainty is that the kids are the real victims here.”

      There is no winner in any divorce, but as Chris said in an interview “Divorce is not a tragedy unless the parents made that way”. Therefore, as Debito point out numerously, the root course of these incidents is Japanese family law and court system. You must have seen countless healthy children in various divorces in any society outside Japan. Unfortunately this rate in japan is scarce as you may find exact data on web.. as their divorce is almost complete clear-cut. Then question is, who can stand this sudden disappearance? If answer is No, we have no reason to criticize Chris choose an alot more fair system to finalize, to make divorce less tragedy so that kids are guaranteed to access both parents freely. In present Japan, the system assures the clear-cut, which permanently traumatize and destroy the children and the left behind.

      “… Chris Savoie’s Japanese lawyer Mikiko Otani in which she claims that he was shocked by his arrest and ‘had no idea that his act is criminal under Japanese law because he is the biological father and also he has the legal custody right.’ That is clearly false. ”
      Why? my current Japanese-Korean half wife and her many friends were surprised as Mikiko Otani was, when i told them about the arresting news… She follows this story closely and writes the post on as many japanese BBS as possible to claim Chris is not wrong. As we all know, the couple officially in marriage, he holds full shinken as she does, and this is completely a family issue according to current law, and police has nothing to do with it.

      Again, the system, or at least a mechanism to resolve the custody dispute in international divorce. I believe many foreigners don’t care about what Japanese law is as long as it doesn’t harm their benefit. (Of course human rights organization would not say yes to it as the childrens’ right is concerned)

    28. Sean Says:

      Hi Eido Inoue,

      A curious question, how much percentage of divorced single mom could get below upon a divorce in Japan? Dont tell me below from US court is false or trick too.
      My wife was so excited when she sees this, kidding me that she insists us to divorce in US or Canada once our marriage comes to an end. This is just a big lucky draw as Noriko gets a permanent and guaranteed job in the rest of life.

      “She accepts this arrangement, comes to the US specifically for the divorce, and receives: (1) $800,000 in a lump sum; (2) $30,000 in an account for Isaac; (3) $30,000 in an account for Rebecca; (4) an unspecified (in the transcript) amount money for Noriko’s education; (5) unspecified (in the transcript) monthly alimony payments; (6) primary custody of the children (7) The right to take the children to Japan for 6 weeks every summer, with Christopher paying for all airfare (please see page 95-96 http://wtvf.images.worldnow.com/images/incoming/Investigates/savoie2.pdf)”

      Tell me, what kind of conclusion Chris may get if they were to divorce in Japan? and then compare with above.

      If you don’t draw an conclusion that Chris is a loving dad to both kids, and willing to sacrifice at all costs as long as he can be kept in the kids life, then ask your motive.

    29. adamw Says:

      only very minor bit of good news is that it seems confirmed that the japanese gov does not do anything about dual nationals..

    30. let`s talk Says:

      Jim says:
      “I suggested to the Japanese attorney much of the evidence seemed manufactured here in Japan and long after the actual divorce.”

      Because a person(s) who did it knew there is no punishment for that.The Penal code of Japan says it is a crime to counterfeit or alter evidence in a criminal case. In some countries falsification of evidence in a civil case, by a person who takes part in this case or by his representative, is a crime too. Not here.

    31. HO Says:

      let`s talk, it is a crime in Japan to counterfeit a evidence in civil cases. See article 159 of Penal Code. I am afraid there are so many comments in this blog that claims “it is not a crime in Japan” whereas it is a crime. Innocent readers may be misguided into committing crimes.

      Furthermore, let`s talk, I think it is unwise to take Jim’s comment #23 seriously.

      Procedure for name changes in Japan does not involve defendant or respondent. So, there is no defense attorney. People who want to change their names just file a petition at a family court. If the court grants the petition, they can change their names.

      Divorce is almost irrelevant to name changes. What is relevant is the intent to change names. Court will not look into grounds for divorce or DV.

      Jim says it was Tokyo District Court that granted the name change. Wrong. Name changes are handled by Family Court only.

    32. Jim Says:

      HO,

      Thanks for correcting the proper court for name changes – it is the Tokyo Family Court – not district. Other than that, I think you misinterpret the issues involved in my post and let’s talk’s response. We are discussing a petitioner manufacturing evidence (emails, signatures, documents, etc.); given to an attorney, who doesn’t question it and then submits it to the court. Another area you misunderstand is that name changes under these circumstances (foreign names and dual citizenship) are VERY RARELY granted. The Japanese attorney researched the case law extensively and was unsure if the petition would be granted without significant proof of the reasons and allegations as very few were granted. This was not a standard adoption, marriage or other run of the mill name change. These children held both US and Japanese passports AND their father was the legal guardian in the States – the burden was very high indeed. Whether or not submitting questionable evidence was not a topic in my posting – and, as you may or may bot know, evidence in Japan is NOT treated with the same standards that apply to it in the US. In this case – the petitioner did not have to authenticate any of the documents – whereas, in the US she would have. It was and is a joke – you seem unaware of this. And YES, all of the divorce papers from the US and Japan as well as DV and harassment, stalking, etc., were considered by the court here.

      Finally, no one was talking about a “defense” attorney for the father in this case. It is a lengthy explanation – however, a foreign parent can petition a Japanese court to have his/her foreign custody decree accepted. It won’t work; it never does -but, your spouse and his/her attorney are then on notice and will have to deal with you in Japan. That is the context in which a foreign spouse is advised to make a record of petition for custody – future moves such as this name change, will have to be run by the foreign spouse’s attorney. If you are not here – have no representation and figure what’s the use? Then, your ex-spouse has free reign and will do what he/she can to screw you over.

      I worked on this case – I read the file and I was told of the outcome – I have seen it work.

      Again, you misunderstood the context in which this petition was filed. I do indeed know what I am talking about.

      Jim

    33. HO Says:

      Jim, as I assume the name change was from a “foreign” sounding name to a Japanese sounding name after an international divorce, such name change will be granted almost automatically.

      – I agree. But source?

    34. TJJ Says:

      HO

      I’m curious, why would a name change for the children, from a foreign name to a Japanese name, be almost automatically granted in the case of an international divorce?

    35. Jim Says:

      HO,

      Children’s legal names were foreign sounding and legal family name on passport was that of the father. The mother was petitioning on behalf of her children, and I believe herself (not sure about that) to change the family name and given names – not to her family name mind you but to completely different Japanese names in order to shield the children from their father. It was an unusual case. Again, she claimed abuse and harassment and had a protective order – perhaps under the anti-stalking law. Can you imagine? You are a father in the US and you have no notice or opportunity to be heard and no say in a foreign court’s attempt to erase your children’s American identity. Anyway, I was just trying to give folks a heads up to be vigilant and to seriously consider staying engaged in some kind of process here in Japan to have any hope of preventing this type of action.

    36. let`s talk Says:

      HO,

      In addition to what Jim already told you, I wish to say the following:

      The article 159 of Penal Code is about counterfeiting of private documents with the use of a seal or signature of another person. Evidence in a civil case is not only signed or sealed documents but also tapes, videos, photos, material objects, etc. Moreover, falsification of evidence in a civil case, when evidence was “created” for the purpose to be presented at court, in some countries is a SEPARATE crime against the ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE. It is a crime against state power, not just against an individual`s rights and duties. Such crime is not mentioned in the Penal Code of Japan. The result you know.
      The only thing that is punishable is suppression of evidence in a criminal case (article 104, same code).

    37. HO Says:

      let`s talk, will you stop making unsubstantiated legal arguments.

      Penal Code of Japan
      Article 159 (1) A person who, for the purpose of uttering, counterfeits, with the use of a seal or signature of another, a document or drawing relating to rights, duties or certification of facts or counterfeits a document or drawing relating to rights, duties or certification of facts with the use of a counterfeit seal or signature of another, shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not less than 3 months but not more than 5 years.
      (2) The same shall apply to a person who alters a document or drawing bearing the seal or signature of another and relating to rights, duties or certification of facts.
      (3) Except for the cases provided in the preceding two paragraphs, a person who counterfeit counterfeits or alters a document or picture relating to rights, duties or certification of facts shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than 100,000 yen.

      Paragraph (1) is about counterfeit of sealed or signed document.
      Paragraph (2) is about alteration of sealed or signed document.
      Paragraph (3) is about counterfeit or alteration of any document or picture.
      So, what evidence you raised are all punished by paragraph (3).

      – Yes, if it’s enforced or there’s incontrovertible evidence that somebody used somebody’s inkan without their consent. But that can be awfully hard to prove in these cases.

    38. let`s talk Says:

      HO,

      I know the article 159. You don`t have to quote. In addititon to what Debito told you, I have to say again: the crime in article 159 “counterfeiting private documents” is a crime against an individual`s private rights. The submition of false evidence to court is a crime against the administration of justice, against state power. The object of crime is different. In some countries, not here.

      I am sure if somebody used your seal without your consent and submitted this paper to court without any obligation to authenticate this document, you opinion would be different.

    Leave a Reply