Japan Times Amy Savoie on int’l child abductions and the manufacturing of consent for it within Japan

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Hi Blog. Thoughtful letter to the editor in the Japan Times on the International Child Abductions Issue. Excerpting the most interesting part for me — the rhetoric the media uses to keep the public unconsciously supporting the “home team” as their apparent members keep kidnapping kids to Japan with impunity. Well taken. More on the issue at the Children’s Rights Network Japan site. Arudou Debito


The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010
Japan must end the scourge of parental child abduction
AMY SAVOIE, Tennessee


(Dr. Amy Savoie is the wife of Christopher Savoie. In August 2009, Savoie’s children were abducted from the U.S. to Japan by his ex-wife. A few weeks later, he was arrested while trying to reclaim his children. Last month marked the one-year anniversary of his release from Yanagawa prison in Fukuoka Prefecture. Send submissions of between 500 and 600 words to community@japantimes.co.jp)

To the government of Japan:

For years, the Japanese government refused to acknowledge that parental child abduction was even a problem, but this issue has finally become too big to ignore. In September, Virginia Rep. Jim Moran warned Japan that Congress “is watching and expecting action.” Now the Japanese authorities are, at long last, talking about child abduction to the media and to foreign governments, although they are unfortunately doing so in a highly guarded and disingenuous manner, often with the complicity of the Japanese press, who use “quotes” when discussing “abduction” in order to minimize the “issue.”…

• Excuse #4: These are not really abductions. The parents are merely coming home to Japan.

Perhaps Japan was the abducting parent’s original home (where the abductor grew up), but “home” for the children was the country where custody had already been decided, i.e. where the children had been living at the time of the abduction. So this “coming home” argument is specious and hypocritical.

The government tries to convey that it is justifiable for Japanese parents to “take kids home to Japan” (tsure-kaeri or tsurete-kikoku), but when a foreign parent takes the children to another country (that parent’s home country), the Japanese call it kidnapping (tsure-sari) or abduction (rachi). The Japanese government and media behave duplicitously every time they pretend these unilateral relocations (relocating without permission from the other parent) are not the same thing.

Instead of describing both situations only as tsure-sari (or only as tsure-kaeri), the Japanese government cleverly (and intentionally) uses different sets of words that convey two totally different meanings depending on who the kidnapper is…

Rest of the letter at


47 comments on “Japan Times Amy Savoie on int’l child abductions and the manufacturing of consent for it within Japan

  • One of the main problems is the status kids have in Japan’s legal system, which regards them as property of the parents (mostly of the mother), instead of human beings who have human rights (as the right to both parents!!).
    Just look at recent cases where mother have killed their kids, or neglected them to death, and compare the sentences to perps who have killed others’ kids. While the latter get severe punishment (justifiedly so!!), mothers who kill their own offspring get much lighter punishment, as if it were “destruction of property”…

    And the GOJ hasn’t thought about one problem: if fathers are faced with the prospect of never seeing their kids again if something goes wrong and mon decides to grab the kids and run – they won’t make them in the first place!! Although numbers are uncertain, this sure is a factor contributing to Japan’s falling birthrate.

    Don’t anyone dare and give me that horse manure about “Japanese Culture”!!! I know plenty of *Japanese* fathers who haven’t seen their kids in ages due to this inhumane system, and who have become mental wrecks, and guess what!! The system is finally suffering!! Those left-behind, expendable, wasted fathers contribute less to the system (taxes, social security) than they could if they had access to their kids, and thus the mental stability which is necessary to work a demanding job that secures a high income… The system as it is now is a lose-lose situation for society, for the nation, and – above all – for the kids who miss their fathers dearly!!

    And as a sideline to the GOJ – to the crazy guy in N. Korea, abductions may be a “cultural thing” too, so get over it!!! That doesn’t mean I condone his actions, but I can’t support the official Japanese position any more, unless Japan considers ALL abductions for what they are – a breach of national and international law, an expression of utter disrespect for the rule of law, and a violation of human rights!

  • I am afraid Christopher and Amy Savoie are the least wanted persons for this important issue to be solved because of so many moral issues. They are the living example that Japan should not sign the convention.

    >”home” for the children was the country where custody had already been decided, i.e. where the children had been living at the time of the abduction.

    She is the last person to say this. On the very day the children arrived at the US, Chris Savoie gave their mother filing of divorce and trapped them in the US. Their “home” is Japan, for all people with common sense. Savoies should not manipulate the laws.

    This case is filled with questionable behavior by the Savoies. If they want Japan to sign the convention, they should be quiet.

  • Debito, no offense, but is HO a handle you created to try to create, or push, discussion? I mean Ho makes such blatant ignorant remarks. I really can’t believe anyone can be this dense on purpose.
    HO: if you are a real person. Give me a definition of ‘abduction’ in regards to law, both domestic and international. As for the whole ‘culture thing’ i call great heaps of bs on that arguement. If it was a cultural thing then Japan can’t complain about N. Korea.

    — No, HO is not a “sock puppet”. I don’t know who he is. A search of his IP reveals his location as South Korea.

  • Ho,

    dont know what youve been reading but according to her own sworn statement,the childrens mother knew she was going to be divorced when she went to america.
    she recvd 800,000$ for her trouble as agreed beforehand.

    she also swore to the court not to take them out of the states other than for a holiday when she was given custody.(custody which the father as an american would never been given if he’d stayed in japan)
    so she in addition to kidnapping,theres perjury charge as well.

  • >”home” for the children was the country where custody had already been decided, i.e. where the children had been living at the time of the abduction.

    I suggest she study the Hague Convention regarding child abduction a little more carefully. While this may be the definition of “home” in some state’s laws, Hague is a little more intentionally vague and allows for exceptional cases. The Savoie’s claim of “habitual residence” in Tennessee is questionable. Perhaps she’s misinterpreting Hague on purpose to read it the way she’s hoping it will be interpreted for her case.

    @Adamw: you got that paraphrase “knew she was going to be divorced when she went to america” from the Tennessee JUDGE in the case, not from Noriko (“her own sworn statement”) directly.

    // Interesting that Amy should complain about vocabulary choice, since the team on the other side doesn’t like to use the word “re-abduction” (the U.S. State Department term) and instead prefers euphemisms such as “returning them home.”

  • HO said:
    “She is the last person to say this. On the very day the children arrived at the US, Chris Savoie gave their mother filing of divorce and trapped them in the US. Their “home” is Japan, for all people with common sense. Savoies should not manipulate the laws.”

    The mother had a full opportunity to make her case in the US, as well as a legal right to visit her children. And the children had a legal right to see both their parents there.
    In Japan, on the other hand, the father was given no such opportunity. The children are indeed “trapped” now — in Japan.
    Parents who defy legally binding custody arrangements in the US to whisk their children off to Japan have committed a serious crime, and belong in prison. I would more than happy to snitch out any such person to US police should they ever take a holiday in Guam or Hawaii.

  • @Adamw: one more thing: [copy/paste from an earlier Debito.org thread]

    [T]he “$800k” figure you cite as “given” is not a verified “fact.” Nobody (in the public) knows if she received all that money (there are questions regarding the state of Savoie’s financial health) and the court transcripts hint that [even in the U.S.] not all the money was received or transferred. There is the possibility that she left (some, much, or all) of the money behind, either because it was inaccessible (tied to investments, etc) and not liquid or portable.

    Given that moving very large sums of money internationally as an individual leaves a very clear paper trail, and it’s in her best interest to lay low (OTOH, it’s obvious that Savoie knew where they live, as he and his cohorts intercepted them during their school commute), I’d be surprised if she got more than a fraction of that money.

    // I’m a Hague Convention for Japan supporter, btw.

  • Kevin, your argument is irrelevant. When did I say anything about “culture”? I can give you the definition of abduction, but what does that have to do with this argument?
    US, International parental kidnapping

    Japan, Penal Code Article 224 
    A person who kidnaps a minor by force or enticement shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not less than 3 months but not more than 7 years.

    adamw, do I need to point out all the questionable behavior of Mr. Savoie, and show why he is not a good example?

    1. Christopher Savoie is a naturalized Japanese citizen, who should have renounced all his former nationalities. But he somehow retained US citizenship, which is illegal. He does not disclose this fact to US media and seeks sympathy from US citizens.

    2. He is the founder and former Chairman of a profitable bio venture called GNI, whose stocks are listed in Tokyo Stock Exchange. He gained multi-million dollars when his company went public. His former wife is entitled to half of that money by Japanese law. However, she received only $800,000 in alimony. He testified at Tennessee court that his only asset after paying the alimony was his car. His lawyer is very knowledgeable about the disclosure requirements of assets, by the way.

    3. Within a few months after divorce, Chris Savoie married with Amy who had just divorced with her husband and was living in Tennessee. How could he have chosen Tennessee, if he had had no relation with Amy before his divorce?

    4. Whatever their father or mother says, the home of the children is Japan, where they were brought up. Trapping them in Tennessee is by no means in their best interest.

    adamw may think alimony payment is liked to where they live, payment and place to live are different issues. They are no slaves. They should live where their home is, regardless of money.

    I can make a longer list, but I stop here.

  • Adamw,

    So she was given the “choice” of going to America to receive a payoff, or staying in Japan while her husband ran off with his lover and left her alone to try to raise his children on her own with nothing?

    That is not to say he’s not legally in the right on everything. But while Noriko’s actions were illegal, they seem a lot more morally understandable than the moves of her legally correct sleazeball husband.

    As this history will come up and obscure the real issue every time his name is mentioned, I don’t think that having the Savoies as the face of the Japan child abduction problem is a good idea for anyone.

  • Eido, I think you might need to study Hague a little more. Whatever you think of Savoie, he would have had one of the best possible cases under the convention.

    In short, his ex-wife submitted herself to American legal process – which she was under no obligation to do – and a priority for Hague is to respect that process.

    His ex-wife is currently in breach of a US court order and one of the first obligations of Hague is to return the children to the state which has legal jurisdiction over the case.

    “Habitual residence” seems a much misunderstood concept. It mainly comes into play where there is no outstanding legal jursidiction claim or if a claim is being pursued belatedly and children are judged to have established a life elsewhere.

    If Savoie’s ex-wife had taken the children to the US, not submitted to any court proceedings, and decided after, say, 6-12 months to take them back to Japan, Savoie could probably not have stopped her. He certainly wouldn’t have had a Hague claim once she was back.

    However, that’s not what she did.

  • Ho,
    Abduction in this case is the taking of the children across international boarders with out both parents consent. Abduction is also taking the children when custody was granted by a court of law, in this case most likely a family court, which means that all the hoops were jumped through. So if you have kids and are granted custody in the event of a divorce and your ex-spouse takes them to an an accessible location, that isn’t abduction?

  • “1. Christopher Savoie is a naturalized Japanese citizen, who should have renounced all his former nationalities. But he somehow retained US citizenship, which is illegal. He does not disclose this fact to US media and seeks sympathy from US citizens.”

    Ho makes a good point, which most readers would assume applies to everybody. According to some sources, however, Savoie never actually renounced in front of a U.S. consular officer. This doesnt make sense to me, as I thought the Japanese gov required U.S. citizens to show they had renounced after taking the oath, or risk penalty. One source claims that the U.S. gov doesnt enforce this rule because otherwise people will become stateless if they renounce, then decide not to take the oath. That makes sense but on the Japan side, I can imagine they will come after you if they find out you never renounce. Perhaps Debito can clarify more since he knows this territory well.

    — I renounced a year and a half after my naturalization and taking an oath as a Japanese citizen. However, nobody would have come after me, I believe, if I had retained both. Evidence demonstrates that others, including Ken Joseph Jr. (mentioned here a couple of days ago, critical of my naturalization) still retain both even after naturalization (yes, J media has reported him as having Japanese citizenship).

  • As far as I’ve read (including the mutantfrog’s blog), Amy Savoie isn’t a person of very high moral intergity. My sympathy to her husband, but she has no right to intervene. Honestly, I’m sorry to see her writings on this site. She isn’t saying something new, I guess JTimes have posted this article only because of the name Savoie. Indeed the US press has gone “Japanese” and presented quite one-sided story (I couldn’t find one single US edition presenting Noriko’s side), because otherwise even a blind would see here a crime -adultery, between Chris and Amy.
    While I sympatise to all “left behind” parents and I want Japan (and China, and Korea, for what matters) to sign this convention, I’m disappointed to see this woman’s writings dicussed here. As another woman, wife and mother, I despise her.

    — No more attacks like this. Let’s get back to the topics being raised by the JT letter.

  • So Amy and Chris Savoie aren’t the ideal poster children for this campaign. Doesn’t mean its not valid.

    Japan’s attitude toward parents and childrens rights, and needs for that matter, belong in the edo period, and Japan as a nation should be rewarded for it’s arrogance with ostracism, ironically at Tge exact time it’s seeking greater influence at the U.N.

    That it treats it’s own with the same disdain is no excuse. But hey, it’s Japan, after seeing the economy spiral further into the crapper under inept leadership for 8 years, why would any of us be expecting anything close to progressive reforms?

    [Gross tangental overgeneralizing rant about Japan and the Japanese deleted. Deep breaths, people.]

    Likewise, I doubt she or any other Japanese even consider the plight of foreign parents shafted much worse than Chris Savoie, and much more deserving of their Childs custody, even in cases where their spouse has died and the Japanese grandparents abduct. It just never makes the media when the shoe is on the other foot, and if it does its twisted to justify the actions of the Japanese party.

    And that’s something else my Japanese colleague acknowledged, a need to seek different news sources to get to the truth of what really goes on in this country beyond the mainstream media. I was encouraged when she expressed the view that Japanese media is a wholly owned govt subsidiary. At least some educated locals here have a sense they’re treated as mushrooms by their leaders.

  • Such an ambigious situation opens the door to much speculation and creates precidents for future cases. This would seem to be very unusual when it pertains to all things U.S. law, but since citizenship and Japan are such touchy issues, perhaps this is actually the case.

  • I can see how Savoie and others got away with it- they can claim they never had an intent to relinquish, so the Supreme Court would rule that their citizenship is intact since they have ruled in other cases you must show intent. This is where it would get ambiguious and start precidents. What if people hand over fist started to take oaths of alleigence to Japan, but never renounced? They could hold both nationalities and enjoy the benefits of both worlds. I find this very weird, but typical

  • Blame your reps for not caring about this issue. The bigwigs are more interested in money not social issues. It`s a sad state of affairs when a serious problem like child abduction lingers for decades yet everyone continues to do business with one another as if the problem doesn`t exist. Japan continues to “assess this” or “we`re looking in to it” for how long now? Despicable.

  • Also, when they are abducted to Japan why is it that they are off limits? If a mother or father is planning on keeping their children in Japan then the other should still have the right to spend time with them. What`s with all the hiding and lying?

  • Legal Eagle: I disagree. Your statement … “[Noriko] submitted herself to American legal process … and a priority for Hague is to respect that process,” is in direct contradiction of the very short and clear Hague Procedures, which is summarized as:

    Return of the child is to the member nation rather than specifically to the left-behind parent. … The Convention mandates return of any child who was a “habitual resident” in a contracting nation immediately before an action that constitutes a breach of custody or access rights.

    based primarily on Article 4:

    <blockquote cite="http://hcch.e-vision.nl/index_en.php?act=conventions.text&cid=24"The Convention shall apply to any child who was habitually resident in a Contracting State immediately before any breach of custody or access rights. The Convention shall cease to apply when the child attains the age of 16 years.

    and also Article 16:

    After receiving notice of a wrongful removal or retention of a child in the sense of Article 3, the judicial or administrative authorities of the Contracting State to which the child has been removed or in which it has been retained shall not decide on the merits of rights of custody until it has been determined that the child is not to be returned under this Convention or unless an application under this Convention is not lodged within a reasonable time following receipt of the notice.

    In fact, contrary to your claim that the “first obligations of Hague is to return the children to the state which has legal jurisdiction over the case”, everywhere I read it says that the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction is not about that and ALL ABOUT habitual residence, and makes a specific effort to stay away from siding with one country’s ruling or legal jurisdiction. (with obvious exceptions for extreme circumstances: war and life threatening situations, etc)

    I’m not a lawyer, but apparently you are (according to your handle, “legaleagle”), so I’m willing to keep an open mind on this. Can you cite or explain the specific relevant articles from Hague (NOT U.S. federal or state law — I know what it wants) that supports your interpretation please? I’m including a link to the entire Hague text (it’s actually quite short) here: http://hcch.e-vision.nl/upload/conventions/txt28en.pdf

    Furthermore, I noticed you used the word “ex-wife.” I noticed this because there’s a disagreement here: according to Japan, he’s still married. Japanese law (article 24, 25, 27) is clear on this: between two Japanese nationals, for a Japanese marriage, only divorce under Japanese law is recognized. This is to keep people from doing exactly what Chris did: shopping for a better deal in another country. Thus, Japan has an argument that this is a matter between two Japanese nationals, two Japanese national children, with a marriage registered under Japanese law, and any agreement reached or related to the TN divorce court is invalid in Japan.

    And to make things even MORE complicated, I’m sure that Chris did not mention to the Tennessee State Courthouse or the judge that he was both (a) a Japanese national and swore an oath to the Japanese Constitution and laws and (b) Japan thinks he doesn’t have American citizenship and (c) therefore Japanese law thinks they have divorce jurisdiction. He parked in Tennessee for exactly six months, and not a month more, to make Tennessee think they had jurisdiction for that divorce. I’m pretty sure he didn’t mention to the Tennessee courthouse that Japan had him still registered as married when he applied for his new marriage license, either.

  • @Eyeinthesky

    People who become Japanese Citizens are required to promise, under penalty of imprisonment, to uh, “*try their best*” to renouncing their other Citizenship. Oops, weak language there.

    So, if someday a Japanese prosecutor were ever to decide to prosecute someone for not renouncing their old Citizenship, the defendant could say to the judge, “Well, I *tried*, but I simply haven’t succeeded yet. I tried to get time off from work on a weekday, but I simply haven’t been able to yet. One day on my lunch break I tried to figure out where the embassy was, but I got lost. I tried to call the embassy to see if it could be done by mail, but their answering machine didn’t tell me how. So your honor, it was never my intention to not renounce, god forbid: I promised to try, I did try, I’m still trying, and I intend to continue trying until one day I will successfully manage to renounce my old citizenship.” But of course, the Japanese judge will probably reply, “I’m not buying any of that, you’re lying, you didn’t try at all: prison time for you pal.” 😉

    — But AFAIK it’s never happened. Nobody as yet has ever been made an example of. Quite the opposite, given the Fujimori Case.

  • Vindictiveness and selfishness Colin. It’s the only explanation. It’s the only explanation. How else could a person take alimony/child support from her ex husband for over a decade every month, when he lives just around the corner, but tell that mans children that he is dead.

    Or that he is a thief, or in prison, or that he beat me, so I left with you. I don’t mean to cheapen actual cases of DV, but there’s a fundamental dishonesty in SOME Japanese I’ve crossed paths with in my life here that staggers me. They’ll literally say anything. Truth be damned. Like the guy who wrote the two piece article for Japan Times recently. Link anyone? A farce, backed up and supported by Japanese authorities at every turn. This place can be very messed up people. Be careful who you marry boys, and cover your ass vigilantly. Japan can turn on you for no reason.

    — I think you’re referring to these articles:

    To Debito.org Readers: In the heat of the moment, there is a tendency of rendering “Japan” as your enemy. Let’s show more sophistication. Speak of “the system” or “the Japanese government”, etc. Such as mentioning the weak perjury laws in the Japanese judiciary which allows people to get away with telling such porkies about their relationship.

  • Ho,
    interesting to see you coming out against people having dual nationality.
    i note that you insisted that the ex peruvian dictator fujimori did nothing wrong in hiding his,so wonder why you have changed your mind?it would appear also that the j government dont have an issue with it either.
    interested also in why the wifes abduction of her children in violation of the court order and her personal testimony doesnt figure on your list of immoral behaviour-and that you dont see a reason why japan should do anything when children are kidnapped from a foreign country.this stance makes any moralizing on your part completely moot.
    its also quite obvious why savoie didnt want to get divorced in japan,he knew perfectly well he would never get to see his kids again under the crazy,outdated system.

  • @eido inoue,

    the point that the you mentioned about them not being divorced in japan also interested me before.
    it makes it seem even more incredible that the japanese police could arrest savoie for abduction of his own kids.its obvious that they had no legal reason to do so which is why he was released.
    even more obvious is the fact that if a foreigner had their kids taken by a spouse(or ex spouse) and you phoned the police,the japanese police wouldnt lift a finger .
    i find it incredibly suspicious how fast the j police moved to intercept and arrest savoie in this case.

  • Excuse me, yes, the Japanese system can viciously turn on you for no reason.

    Speaking of, what are the perjury laws here Debito? And is there any recourse for those perjured against in this way?

    — According to my lawyer, without really, really specific proof (as in something recorded in advance vs. something different said in court), not really. And I think that means a separate lawsuit with separate costs.

  • Wow, the moralising people are doing here, it would be nice to see a little more tolerance from people. When families break up skeletons come out of people’s closets, I’m sure most people are not perfect, so what if he did start a relationship with another woman, perhaps he had good reason to, we just don’t know enough to judge if we should be judging at all.

    The whole child abduction issue is IMHO part of a much wider issue about the way children are treated in the Japanese legal system, surely it should be incumbent on the courts to ensure children get to see any relative who is not a clear danger to them on a regular basis, particularly a parent. While it might have some kind of traditional element to it, the way children are disappeared never to be seen by one parent is not widely supported in Japan and cannot be considered a matter of Japanese culture, many Japanese fathers (and some mothers) are just as devastated by the poor state of affairs as NJ. Children are children, whatever culture they are raised in, unnecessarily removing a child from one of its parents is nothing short of child abuse wherever and in whatever country it occurs.

  • AdamW, Debito,

    So then, what happens if a foreign father, divorced, with shared custody or visitation rights approved by the mother, takes that child to the airport to board a flight? Can he be stopped/questioned/even arrested if he has proof of paternity on his person? If the mother got wind of it would the J police intervene without a court order, or just hold him on suspicion, of god forbid, taking his own child on vacation, or to innocently visit his grandparents, assuming for the moment there’s no intent to abduct, and he has purchased a return ticket?

    Could that Polish guy from Gifu who “abducted” his child last year have been arrested like Savoie? It’s a right can of worms isnt it?

  • Eido-chan, ummm.. in a word, no. My Japanese nationality was right there in the initial pleadings of my divorce, in fact in the first paragraph. My ex had an opportunity to plead against the jurisdiction but chose not to. She really did come here voluntarily (perhaps not with a good faith intent but certainly voluntarily). She could have chosen a unilateral divorce in Japan but did not. Many Japanese victims of parental alienation in Japan are victims of unilateral (indeed, even SECRET!) divorces under Japanese jurisdiction. So that was an option for Noriko as well. Noriko’s lawyer, who was retained by Noriko before she came to the U.S. (so there was no element of surprise, or gotcha) is the current PRESIDENT of the U.S. divorce attorneys association so I think she could have figured out how to argue a simple change of venue or jurisdiction argument.

    As for your other stupid and untrue slander (my finances are all a matter of public record if you could even read Japanese and use your own Google products in the language of your chosen nationality so there is no guesswork even necessary, the numbers all match), why don’t you grow up and stop stalking me on these forums. Or keep it up and continue to make an ass of yourself. It is completely up to you. Have a party with it dude. See ya!

  • Oh, and as for the Hague, six months of residency by the child is what decides jurisdiction and “habitual residence”. My kids had been in the States for a year at the time of the kidnapping so under the Hague the jurisdiction would clearly be in the U.S. A moot issue of course, but in normal countries, that’s how it would work. You may think 6 months is short, but those are the rules and many countries have agreed with that standard. Which works both ways. If Japan signs the Hague, 6 months in Japan as a JET teacher with a kid would probably give a U.S. mother with a U.S. ex-husband Japanese style custody when Japan joins. Yippeee for that, eh?

  • AJ, Japanese Penal Code Article 224 
    “A person who kidnaps a minor by force or enticement shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not less than 3 months but not more than 7 years.”

    If neither force nor enticement is used, it is not a crime in Japan. Savoie used violence. That is why his act was a crime. Did Noriko use “force or enticement”? If such is not proven, the Japanese police will not arrest her.

    >i note that you insisted that the ex peruvian dictator fujimori did nothing wrong in hiding his, so wonder why you have changed your mind?

    When did I say so?
    Besides, there is a grandfather rule that a Japanese citizen who gained dual nationality before January 1st, 1985 is exempt from choosing one nationality.

    >it makes it seem even more incredible that the japanese police could arrest savoie for abduction of his own kids.its obvious that they had no legal reason to do so which is why he was released.

    I really hope you stop this silly comment. The prosecutors released him just because they were lenient. What Savoie did in Japan was clearly a crime under Japanese laws. If foreigners in Japan keep saying like you do, they will change their mind and will be strict in teaching real lessons to foreigners.

    Why cannot we use someone else to promote Hague?

  • @AJ

    I think there was a case some time ago, involving a Dutch father, who wanted help his own father back in Holland see his granddaughter one more time, as he was dying from cancer.
    The father was arrested before he could leave Japan, and needless to say, the grandfather died without having seen his granddaughter again… :-(.
    The Dutch father, I think, was a legal resident of Japan, and he didn’t even intend to take his own child out of the country for good…
    I’m sure Debito has the relevant links to the case.

    — I don’t, sorry.

  • Just one more, because I am on a roll. There is no “penalty of imprisonment” under the nationality laws in Japan. Japan is a Civil Law jurisdiction and criminal penalties are solely by statute and are controlled by the penal code. The laws on nationality are not a part of the Japanese penal code, which is the only place in the law where criminal penalties are described. The only possible penalty for not renouncing one’s previous nationality would potentially be losing Japanese nationality. But that is not what the law says either about compliance and for good reason. Legally, one must “choose Japanese nationality” not lose the old one in order to be in compliance. This is done because for some people (Iranians or Swiss for example) CANNOT renounce their nationalities because the renouncing is controlled by the foreign country’s rules not Japanese law. And that leads to an equal protection problem under the Japanese constitution for having different standards based on one’s former nationality. Hence, the very typical Japanese solution. One may “choose” Japanese nationality by filling out a form at the local kuyakusho that says “I choose Japanese nationality” and hanko it. Done. In compliance forever under the regulations. UNLESS… one gets a NEW nationality, AFTER naturalizing. That is quite different. In that case, the new nationality acquisition is an expatriating act and it is theoretically and practically very easy to have one’s citizenship revoked for such conduct. So one cannot become a naturalized U.S. citizen as a Japanese born person and achieve the same result. Unfair? Yeah. It is. But that’s the way things are. And that’s why most countries do not insist on single nationality because it is very impractical and cumbersome in a global world.

  • @adamw (trying to keep this short because it’s off topic; I’m intentionally glossing over / simplifying details) Fujimori didn’t hide his dual-nationality; he didn’t need to because

    ex-president Fujimori is a grandfathered-in case. Japanese nationality law changed radically in 1985 and Fujimori is old. Fujimori was born Japanese (Japanese parents registered him at the JP Consulate in Lima after birth) and did not naturalize. Fujimori was grandfathered under the pre-1985 rules. The pre-1985 rules say that if you have multiple nationalities and you do not explicitly choose, the JP government assumes/defaults you to “chose Japanese nationality;” pre-1985ers are not required to explicitly choose. “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice” (“Freewill,” Rush) was the JP nationality motto back then. ” Furthermore, choosing” another nationality (ie. naturalization, or post-1985 adult dual national Japanese requirements) is a potentially expatriating (meaning the penalty of loss of Japanese citizenship) act, but having another nationality from birth (Fujimori’s case) or automatically/involuntarily acquiring one (eg. marriage) is not. Hence no conflict (at least from the Japan side. From the Peru side? Let’s not get into that on this thread)

    // still doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s a very bad man, though.

  • @Christopher

    I hope you are right about there being no penalty of imprisonment for not renouncing as one promised to endeavor to do. My belief about potential (not likely, but POTENTIAL) incarceration came from here:


    “… because the information the US Consulate holds may in fact, if made public, cause me to incur severe penalties (INCARCERATION, deportation, heavy fines) from the Japanese government, I see no other choice but to make a clear resolution and follow Japanese law – which means renouncing my US Citizenship. It is a very unfortunate act but I see no alternative.”

    If there is actually no law threatening incarceration, that’s good news, thanks for pointing that out, I’m sure Debito and I (and many others wondering what they should do) will be happy to know that.

  • Christopher, there is no such thing called “unilateral divorce” in Japan. Divorce is either by agreement or by court.

    >my finances are all a matter of public record

    You mean financials of Chris Savoie? Where are they disclosed?

    >Oh, and as for the Hague, six months of residency by the child is what decides jurisdiction and “habitual residence”.

    Here is the full text of the convention.
    Where can we find that “6 months” magic number? You must be confusing Hague with Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction And Enforcement Act which is a local rule in the US that determines “Home State” not “habitual residence”.

    >There is no “penalty of imprisonment” under the nationality laws in Japan.

    Read article 20 of Nationality Act.
    Article 20
    “In cases of notification provided for in the provisions of Article 3, paragraph (1), a person making a false notification shall be punished by not more than one year of imprisonment with work or a fine of not more than two hundred thousand yen.”

    Though this clause is irrelevant to choice of nationality, the law does contain imprisonment penalty.

    >This is done because for some people (Iranians or Swiss for example) CANNOT renounce their nationalities because the renouncing is controlled by the foreign country’s rules not Japanese law.

    This is true. But do you know this?
    Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    Article 15
    (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

    Japan does not have any trouble with countries that honor International Bill of Human Rights.

  • HO wrote:

    “Read article 20 of Nationality Act.
    Article 20
    ‘In cases of notification provided for in the provisions of Article 3, paragraph (1), a person making a false notification shall be punished by not more than one year of imprisonment with work or a fine of not more than two hundred thousand yen.'”

    Wow, thanks HO. So it is as Debito originally thought. The potential IS there for imprisonment, however slight. Even if the chances are slim, even if the law has never been used in prosecution before (like the “not carrying one’s Alien Registration Card” law): the POTENTIAL for imprisonment is there.

    So, Christopher Savoie, when you said there is no potential for being imprisoned for keeping your second citizenship, that statement of yours was incorrect.

    And when you said the Hague defines habitual residence as being 6 months, that statement of yours was also incorrect.

    Sometimes HO’s “long pinky finger scratching law books” can be quite helpful.

    Let’s admit it, even though HO sometimes refuses to admit when Japan’s laws are wrong, at least he keeps donating his time and energy to post the laws for us.

    Think about it, if you were posting relevant laws on some forum, and everyone kept ridiculing and insulting you, wouldn’t you just say, “Forget it, I’m not going to post any more laws for you, go ahead and get arrested.”

    HO, I seriously want to thank you for continuing to share what you know, I really appreciate it, and I’m sure that deep down in their hearts, others here (even including Debito) really appreciate it too. 🙂

    PS – HO, if you start admitting that many of the laws and practices of the country you happened to have been born in are NOT perfect, then I think folks here will start replying much more nicely to you when you post. 🙂

  • No, OG and I really do want to make this my last post because trying to talk sense to people who WANT to hate you is like pissing into an ocean…and why non-lawyers and non-law students really shouldn’t post on legal subjects.

    Here is what Article 20 says.

    Article 20.
    Any person who has made a false notification when filing a notification pursuant to the provision of Article 3, paragraph 1 shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than one year or a fine of not more than 200,000 yen.

    Now, note that it refers ONLY to Article 3, so you need to read this too!

    And note that:
    2. The crime set forth in the preceding paragraph shall be governed by the provision of Article 2 of the Penal Code (Act No. 45 of 1907).

    Like I said. They need to invoke the Penal Code to get the punishment.

    But here’s the key, Article 3:

    1. A child (excluding a child who was once a Japanese national) under twenty years of age whose father or mother has acknowledged paternity or maternity respectively , may acquire Japanese nationality through a notification to the Minister of Justice, if the father or mother who made the acknowledgement was a Japanese national at the time of the child’s birth, and such father or mother is presently a Japanese national or was a Japanese national at the time of his or her death.

    2. A child who makes notification in accordance with the preceding paragraph shall acquire Japanese nationality at the time of the notification.

    I have not had any natural children with Amy or any other woman since my two kids were born, as far as I am aware. Maybe you know something I don’t? I don’t recall ever having had sex with someone named OG and I haven’t donated sperm either. 😉 And I certainly have not reported the birth of any kids who were not mine to the consulate as my children, so no I am not at the slightest risk of imprisonment. Please enlighten us as to how you think I might be at risk!

    Here’s the rest of it which carries no criminal penalty:

    ..(Loss of nationality)
    Article 11.
    A Japanese national shall lose Japanese nationality when he or she acquires a foreign nationality by his or her own choice.

    2. A Japanese national having a foreign nationality shall lose Japanese nationality if he or she chooses the foreign nationality in accordance with the laws of the foreign country concerned.

    Article 12.
    A Japanese national who was born in a foreign country and has acquired a foreign nationality by birth shall lose Japanese nationality retroactively as from the time of birth, unless the Japanese national clearly indicates his or her volition to reserve Japanese nationality according to the provisions of the Family Registration Law (Law No.224 of 1947).

    So if you follow Law number 224 (koseki) and fill out the form at the kuyakusho, no problem according to current law, as I have said all along. I have not since doing kika chosen another nationality nor naturalized to a country besides Japan. The fact that I am jewish and because of the law of Aliyah, there are some interesting first impression issues there that have never been resolved in Japan to my knowledge, but unless I move to Israel permanently under Aliyah, we can call this theoretical risk at best and probably challengeable and that’s a conversation for another day with people who are actually knowledgeable about the law, not people just trying hard to defame me on some blog. Have a blessed day.

  • Dear Dr. Savoie,

    I must admit I’m flattered by you referring to me with the diminutive “Eido-chan.” Despite me being older than you, surely my deceptively youthful appearance must’ve thrown you off! After all, a lawyer in training would surely not resort to cheap name calling.

    Regarding your accusation of “stalking:” I have a relatively small group of niche blogs and news sources I follow. Naturally, I follow, out of personally-related self-interest, news sources which are related to who I am and my life (Japan, naturalization, Japanese spouses, Japanese children, life in the U.S. after Japan, etc). By coincidence, it appears that our spheres of experience have a bit of overlap. Goodness, you’ve even lobbied the Congressman who represents my (not your) district that I grew up in, the Honorable James Moran (D-8-VA)! Voted for him by the way. He’s a good man.

    I have a suggestion: if you really want for me (and tens of thousands of other “stalkers”) to stop “stalking” you, I have an effective idea: stop appearing in my personalized Japan news / blog feed; stop appearing on my television news and videos; stop appearing in my printed newspapers. Of course, I’m being facetious here. My point is that if you want your life, your story, your issues, and your name to be private, perhaps you shouldn’t be soliciting people to broadcast it.

    Now, if your definition of “stalking” isn’t that, then perhaps your definition of “stalking” is me criticizing you and/or your actions on social Internet sites. Well, all I can say is, get used to it.

    You’re a public figure. I didn’t make you public. Japan didn’t make you public. America didn’t make you public. Becoming public is a very deliberate choice you made and continue to do. A public figure that put a huge chunk of your life, which most people consider private, on world display. You’re a public figure that has dabbled in working with and lobbying politicians too, I may add.

    Thus, you’re going to have to get used to people following up on what they read, see, and hear, and yes, comment and express their opinions on it. Because of the choices you’ve made, you’re going to have to get used to people not agreeing with you or what you’ve done or what you stand for. I know I’m not the only one. You can take solace in knowing that you have many supporters too.

    I hope this clears up any confusion you may have had over the word “stalker.” Best of luck in getting Japan to agree to the Hague Convention.


    Eido Inoue

    P.S. As a legal eagle in training, you should know that you word you wanted to use was “libel,” not “slander.”

  • HO,

    > If neither force nor enticement is used, it is not a crime in Japan. Savoie used violence.

    When did he used violence? As far as I remember the case, he seated his children in taxi, and rushed to the US Embassy. You call this violence? Please clarify.

  • HO watch yourself before I check you. Instead of castigating one person’s individual case you guys need to just change the rules and stop all this delaying and beating around the bush. We have no more patience. Either you guys get it done or face human rights violations, now legally argue about that. You know its coming next, the international community has its eyes on this issue and parents are not going to give in. Its simple if Japan doesn’t make the changes we are going to fight for parental rights, whether you agree or disagree. The voices are getting louder and the anger is getting stronger. The Japanese side knows what has to be done so get it done so parents and the children can start the healing process.

  • OG Steve,

    > So, Christopher Savoie, when you said there is no potential for being imprisoned for keeping your second citizenship, that statement of yours was incorrect.

    Do not be mislead. Chris was correct.
    Please re-read the law. Here is the original:

    第二十条 第三条第一項の規定による届出をする場合において、虚偽の届出をした者は、一年以下の懲役又は二十万円以下の罰金に処する。

    The referenced 第三条第一項 is this:
    第三条 父又は母が認知した子で二十歳未満のもの(日本国民であつた者を除く。)は、認知をした父又は母が子の出生の時に日本国民であつた場合において、その父又は母が現に日本国民であるとき、又はその死亡の時に日本国民であつたときは、法務大臣に届け出ることによつて、日本の国籍を取得することができる。

    This section is about citizenship from birth to Japanese parents, not naturalization. As such, it has absolutely no bearing on keeping another citizenship.

  • So basically, without the bias of defending your actions or position, your saying that I can go and take up Japanese citizenship without fear of penality if I keep my U.S. nationality? This is where the ambiguiousness creeps in. Can you answer that question with a yes or no, or are you only able to defend what you did? Otherwise, if its a Yes, then doesnt that open the door for many to naturalize and become dual nationals?

    — I say yes.

  • I will not give legal advice. I am just quoting the law off the MOJ website. But as a matter of fact, there are already many many many LEGAL dual nationals so I don’t see what the big deal is. The problem is only age-limited as far as “legality” (or better “recognition”) is concerned. There are probably over a million (just guessing because there is no official census) fully legal binational Japanese citizens out there at this point. Dual national children. There is an age discrimination lawsuit in there somewhere methinks… 😉

  • Christopher, I do not know if you are real Christopher Savoie, but let us assume you are.

    Your attitude toward Japanese citizenship tells a lot about your character. In the naturalizing process, you have to pledge that you renounce all your previous nationalities. You pledged without meaning it at all, cheating Japanese government and Japanese people. There are people who do not hesitate to lie for personal gain. They boast their lying skills. I do not believe what they say.

    In the Tennessee court record, Noriko repeatedly complained you mistreated her. You denied her. Guess whom I believe.

    Here are questions I have for you.
    -Did you cheat Noriko and had an affair with Amy?
    -Where do you hide the money you earned through GNI?
    -Why did you have your kids come to Tennessee?
    -What negative affects did the move have on your kids?
    -Did the prosecutors “torture” you? If so, how?
    -Did you admit your guilt in front of the proctors?
    -Why did you say to the US media that the prosecutors had released you because you committed no crime?

    >When did he used violence?
    Mainichi, Sept. 29, 2009
    “The allegation is that he grabbed his son (age 8 ) and daughter (age 6) by force who were going to school with their divorced Japanese mother, put them in his car and drove away in Yanagawa city at around 7:45 am on the same day (Sept 28, 2009).”

    — I’m shutting this thread down. This blog entry is not about the Savoie Case. It is about the issues raised in the Japan Times letter, about child abductions to Japan and the domestic and international treatment of the issue.

    No more comments (including any further angry responses from Christopher too) mentioning the Savoie Case in specific will be approved. We’ve already dealt enough with the Savoie Case here both now and in the past, and many comments this time are trying to undermine the messenger without seeking to address the message being raised.

    I will approve this comment from HO as a justification for this action, as evidence of how loaded this exchange has become, and how leading the questions are becoming (e.g., “What negative affects did the move have on your kids?” falls squarely into the “Why did you beat your wife?” genre of biased questioning.). But that’s all. Enough. Back on topic.

  • glad im not the only one who actually quite likes Ho.
    I think some of his opinions are deliberately perverse and ridiculous,but some of his opinions and facts
    are very valid.unfortunately the former means the latter are not given the attn they deserve.
    also,admire his spirit for fighting on against overwhelming numbers..
    good work ho-however,if there was more of a balance in accepting when something is obviously out of whack and needs changing here,then i think youd get a better hearing..

  • On this issue, it’s VERY important to separate the cast of characters involved in promoting the issue of Japanese child abductions from the critical question of what role joint custody must play in international marriages which end in divorce.

    I, for one, am just plain tired of hearing about the Savoies. From the Savoies, OK. To the extent that people want to push the issue of dual responsibilities and joint custodies, I think it’s highly relevant.

    The problem when the People Magazine-style soap opera comes to the fore, is that it moves people off the basic issue of whether and when Japan should join in international agreements. It’s good to see U.S. Congress, with the urging of Congressman Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) getting the issue some airtime. More must be done.

    Several or many joint custody issues are always going to have a soap opera attached. Isn’t that clear? Isn’t that really clear? The important thing is to reason, to rationalize, what the best rule should be for these situations.

  • Debito, since you did allow Ho’s final post could I please offer at one non-angry clarification of translation which I think is is ideal here because it may alleviate some of the future soap opera nature of this case. I take no issue with the Japanese version of the article which says there was an *allegation* of “muriyari” putting kids in the car. Muriyari is a very vague word in Japanese and simply means “compel” (against one’s will). It is often translated as “by force” but it hardly rises to violence in its definition in the sense that word has in English. Violence (boryoku) was never even alleged in this case (because it didn’t happen). Had it been, there would have been an assault charge. But the U.S. press and other places have picked up on the (misleading) translation from Japanese and have accepted the worst possible interpretation of “muriyari” and this is not correct. In Japanese, one can “muriyari” try to eat too much, “muriyari” try to jump over a fence or even “muriyari” try to catch the earlier train. Or yes, even muriyari put one’s kids in a car. None of these acts necessarily indicate violent acts either per se, just a bit of measured overkill or over extension in the action, if that.

    — Okay. Thread closed.

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