The Atlantic Monthly on mercenary child-retreivers, mentions Japan


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Hi Blog. Here are the lengths people will go to if there is no legal framework to enforce international child abductions:  even hire a professional to retrieve your child. From The Atlantic Monthly November 2009, courtesy of Children’s Rights Network Japan.  This is it, the big leagues.

Congratulations, left-behind spouses. You’ve hit a home run with this issue. All these years talking and writing about the Otaru Onsens Case and “JAPANESE ONLY” signs proliferating across Japan, and pffft — few countries really press Japan nowadays to enforce the UN CERD.  Yet here practically overnight you’ve got US Congressional and State Department hearings, and Diet lobbying, and worldwide press.  You’ve put Japan into the international spotlight over a problem just as long-suffering as racial discrimination in Japan.  I guess Chris had to get arrested before it would happen, alas.

It will probably will get the GOJ to sign the Hague. Getting us to enforce it, however, is another matter. Keep on it. Arudou Debito in Kyoto


The Snatchback
by Nadya Labi
The Atlantic Monthly, November 2009

If your ex-spouse has run off and taken your children abroad, and the international legal system is failing to bring them back, what are you to do? One option is to call Gus Zamora, a former Army ranger who will, for a hefty fee, get your children back. Operating in a moral gray area beyond the reach of any clear-cut legal jurisdiction, Zamora claims to have returned 54 children to left-behind parents. Here’s the story of number 55…


The left-behind parent faces tough odds. Many countries, especially in Asia and the Middle East, have not signed the convention. Those countries have a tendency to favor the rights of their nationals, even if they’re the taking parents. Japan has one of the worst records among non-Hague countries. The State Department is handling 73 outstanding cases involving 104 children who have been abducted to or retained in Japan by parents.

The predicament of Walter Benda is typical. In 1995, he was living with his wife of 13 years in her home country of Japan. According to Benda, he wanted to return to the U.S. and she did not. One day, she disappeared with their two daughters. “Please forgive me for leaving you this way,” she wrote in a note she left. The Japanese police, Benda says, would not investigate what they viewed as a family matter; it took him three and a half years to find the girls. He never won visitation rights. “It took a couple of years before the courts even interviewed my children,” he recalls. “By that time, they’d been brainwashed and didn’t want to see their father.”

Rest at

11 comments on “The Atlantic Monthly on mercenary child-retreivers, mentions Japan

  • Savoie returns to U.S. to work out next move
    By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer

    Christopher Savoie, an American freed Thursday from a Fukuoka Prefecture jail after being arrested for allegedly trying to abduct his children to regain custody, flew back to the United States Friday after promising prosecutors he would not contact his kids without going through lawyers, his lawyer said Friday.

    “I recommended to him to go back home, take a rest and take the next actions — and he agreed,” said lawyer Tadashi Yoshino, who represented the Tennessee native during his incarceration.

    Asked what Savoie’s next actions should be, he said it could be to consult a family court in Tennessee to make custodial conditions more favorable to his former wife, Noriko, so she can keep from breaking the arrangement this time, or sue for custody in a Fukuoka family court.

    His ex-wife broke a custodial arrangement in Tennessee by taking the children to Fukuoka in August and not returning them to the state. Following this, the court granted Savoie full custody and issued an arrest warrant for his former wife to local police.

    As far as a custodial arrangement mediated by a Tennessee family court goes, she has to bring the children to Tennessee, Yoshino said.

    “If she cannot keep her promise, he can present her with a new offer,” said Yoshino, who often handles cases at the request of foreign consulates in Fukuoka.
    Continues at:

    — Fire that lawyer.

  • “– Fire that lawyer.”

    I heartily agree with that sentiment. In fact, I said almost the same thing as I was reading the article, except I inserted a word between “fire” and “lawyer” that probably shouldn’t be published even in the comments section of a good blog.

    By the way, on a slightly selfish note, I’ve been asked to help put together a workshop for January here in Hamamatsu under the rather vague title of “Nihonjin, Gaikokujin, Jinken?!”. I was going to do something based around Sour Strawberries, but after following the developments in the Savoie case, the current international attention it’s getting makes it more topical and definitely worth doing. Unfortunately, while there’s plenty of meat for a good lecture, I’d be stumped at how to make it interactive.

    If anyone reading this with any tips or advice can contact me then I’d really appreciate it (or maybe I should stick to my original idea after all…).

  • i wonder why his japanese lawyer never made a statement when his client was released on thursday? maybe because the prosecutor demanded on a condition of his release that they will stop any more bad press or comments on this subject, therefore stopping freedom of speech. in this country it does not surprise me at all.and they wanted to get this taken care of before obama visits next month. see the GOJ is just hoping that this will just die down.

  • ““I recommended to him to go back home, take a rest and take the next actions — and he agreed,” said lawyer Tadashi Yoshino, who represented the Tennessee native during his incarceration.”

    Savoie is at home in Japan.

  • [quote]Fukuoka prosecutors freed Savoie after he admitted to kidnapping, showed remorse and promised not to commit a similar offense or directly contact his children[/quote]
    Well, business as usual in Japan, CONFESSION. It`s very clear evidence showing Japan accept child abductions. He lost forever and wife is happy being protected by her government. Good for her, but she should be now on Interpol list which would make her stay only in Japan or be arrested elsewhere. She is kidnapper after all. I think int`l press helped him a lot. It was too embarrassing for japan, this is why they let him go.
    Debito, you right FIRE LAWYER. I think lawyers in japan are big joke anyway.

  • 1. Where’s her money? Can he put a lien on it? if it is still held by some us bank or securities firm?

    2. Japan is considering signing the Hague treaty. bull shit!!
    Whenever there is any ‘pressure’ some Japanese official trots out this phrase, to make the pressure go away. You probably could find the same phrase in the press dating back all the way to the date of the Treaty.

    3. Does he have a website? or email?

  • Odorikakeru,

    > “Nihonjin, Gaikokujin, Jinken?!”

    Over the weekend I did a bit of tachiyomi at a bookstore. A new(ish) paperback by Kadokawa titled 『日本人と差別』 caught my attention. (Amazon link here: )
    You may recognize one of the authors Nonaka Hiromu as a former chief cabinet secretary. His family has a burakumin background for which he faced discrimination. The other author, Shin Sugok, is a well-known zainichi activist. Depending on your perspective and objectives, perhaps not the ideal book for your topic, but you may find a few things to draw from it. Just a thought.

  • One comforting thing at least is knowing that she paid a hefty price for bringing her kids back to Japan permanently–never be able to travel to the US without getting arrested, or anywhere else in the world maybe. Doesn’t do much if she has no intent to step outside of the country for the rest of her life, but at least the fact that a huge chunk of her freedom of transportation has been limited makes me feel a bit better than thinking she got away without losing anything.

  • John (Yokohama) says:

    In the perhaps we will get to it one day dept.:

    “Govt unlikely to sign child custody pact for 2 years”

    Oct 19, 2009
    The Yomiuri Shimbun

    The government will need at least two more years before it will sign an international treaty designed to settle child custodial disputes arising from failed international marriages, according to government sources.

    In the wake of an increasing number of such cases, the government intends to speed efforts to sign the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. However, relevant legislative measures are unlikely to be submitted to the Diet until 2011 at the earliest, according to the sources.

    The treaty stipulates that if a parent takes a child to his or her home country without the other parent’s consent after their international marriage has failed, the dispute needs to be settled after the child has been returned to his or her habitual country of residence. The treaty aims to preserve the child custody arrangement that existed before an alleged wrongful removal.

    The treaty has been ratified by 81 nations, including the United States and European countries.

    Among the Group of Seven industrialized countries, only Japan has yet to sign the convention, which has resulted in conflict with parties in the treaty’s signatory countries. Child custody problems arising from failed international marriages are dealt with under domestic laws in Japan.

    In September, police arrested an American man on suspicion of abducting minors after he took his children from his former Japanese wife in Fukuoka Prefecture.

    In this case, however, the former wife had taken the children from the United States without the man’s consent. Therefore, the case stirred protests in the United States as the former wife was seen at fault in the country.

    Japan has been cautious about joining the treaty due to concerns that many Japanese women brought their children back home due to domestic violence by their former husbands, the sources said.

    But there is growing momentum for the country to join the treaty.

    Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada has expressed his intention to speed up an examination of the pros and cons of joining the treaty.

    There also is mounting international pressure on Japan to sign the treaty. On Friday, ambassadors and ministers from eight countries, including U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos, asked Justice Minister Keiko Chiba to sign the treaty at an early date.

    But it likely will take some time until the country is able to facilitate such a move by addressing the necessary domestic laws.

    Under the convention, signatory countries are obliged to help locate a child who has been taken away and return the child to the country where he or she originally lived.

    (Oct. 19, 2009)


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