CBS News interviews Chris Savoie after his return to US


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Hi Blog. Left-behind father in the Savoie Abduction Case, Christopher Savoie is interviewed on CBS’s Early Show earlier today (courtesy of Newscenter5 Tennessee) after his recent release about his treatment in Japanese jails and the US Consulate Fukuoka. According to him, they knew he was coming and a consulate official was present when he arrived there with the kids, but for some reason the Consulate front gate never opened. He also says he is not permitted any contact whatsoever with his children now and must pursue matters through Japanese courts. Well, that’s it then. He’s lost them. Courtesy of Paul Wong. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


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American Dad on Losing Kids, Japanese Jail
In an Exclusive Interview, Christopher Savoie Tells Story of Trying to Take Back His Kids with Police on His Heels
CBS Oct. 20, 2009

(CBS) The American father who tried to take his children back from his ex-wife in Japan said in an exclusive interview with Phil Williams, chief investigative reporter of CBS Nashville affiliate WTVF that he’s not only have trouble getting over what he endured in Japan — he’s also now having to come to grips with the real possibility that he won’t be able to watch his own children grow up.

Christopher Savoie said the ordeal of more than two weeks in a Japanese jail was bad enough. But coming home without his children — Isaac, now 9, and Rebeccab 6 — was excruciating.

“There are no words for it, you know. There just aren’t any words for it,” he said.

Savoie, who’s from Nashville, made international news when he picked up his kids as they walked to school with their mother.

He says his ex-wife, Noriko Savoie, had abducted the children to Japan in August — and Tennessee courts gave him full custody. But Japan doesn’t honor foreign custody agreements, so Chris took matters in his own hands.

Savoie told Williams the physical act of taking his children from their mother wasn’t aggressive, saying, “Oh, no, hugging your kids and putting them in a car, I hardly think that is a violent act.”

Savoie added he didn’t push or hit his ex-wife when he took the children.

Finally reunited with them, Savoie raced to the nearby U.S. consulate. Savoie said the consulate knew they were coming, because he called ahead.

However, Savoie’s plans for returning his children were thwarted by his ex-wife, who had alerted local police. They were waiting outside the Consulate.

With Rebecca in his arms and Isaac trailing behind, Savoie said he tried to race past a police barricade, to get the children to U.S. soil. Savoie said he ran to the door with police in riot gear running after him with shields and batons.

“It felt like a movie, actually,” Savoie said. “It was very unreal for me.”

Japanese police arrested him and, for 17 days, held him in jail, repeatedly interrogating him, while they decided whether to indict him on kidnapping charges.

Savoie said, “Everything that you’re not supposed to do to a defendant, especially pre-indictment, they did — and a whole lot more.”

While imprisioned, Savoie said he argued that he had a right to his children.

“They didn’t disagree with me on that,” he said. “They just said I’m not allowed to see them.”

Then, last week prosecutors let Savoie go, with the stipulation that he leave the country and his kids.

“Basically, I’m not allowed to see them. I’m not allowed to call them,” Savoie told Williams. “I’m not even allowed to send them birthday presents.”

While Japanese authorities say he can pursue custody of his children through Japanese courts, Savoie knows the odds are against him. He said he just hopes the memory of the incident will let his children know he tried.

“They’re going to find out who their dad is, what he’s all about, and that he loves them,” he said. “And if loving my kids so much that I really want to be with them is a crime, then, well, I’m guilty. I’m guilty of loving my kids.”

Williams added on “The Early Show” that Savoie also said that, when he got to the onsulate gates, one official reached out to take his daughter. But for reasons he doesn’t understand, the gates never opened.

23 comments on “CBS News interviews Chris Savoie after his return to US

  • I can’t imagine losing my children like that. The grief and outrage is beyond me. And I wonder if anyone (living in Japan) would risk being a proxy on Chris’ behalf, so some form of correspondance could reach them (a letter, a postcard, something that gives the kids and Chris any connection). But I realize this is Japan: rules are rules, no contact means no contact. Unbelievable.

  • This, and the many other similar cases, honestly makes me want to boycott Japan indefinitely. That is sad given the years and time I’ve invested in the country and language.

  • Its heartbreaking reading that because the consulate didn’t open the gates and for whatever reasons he couldn’t get his child to the consulate staff now his children will be nothing more than a memory. How one little act could have meant a reunion with his children.

    And its not like there is any reason for the children to never see their dad again, just a divorce angry tempers and a country that gets in-between it all. Are the administrators of Japan really that blind to see their country is being used for angry individuals to steal away children too?

  • What the f*** is Japan going to do if Chris tries to contact his kids by mail or phone, or God forbid send them a birthday present? Have him extradited from the US to stand trial in Japan? Fat chance. I hope he starts a blog or YouTube channel that his kids can see so they know he loves them. I hope he sends them a never-ending deluge of gifts that their cruel mother will somehow have to explain. And I hope he gets that Gus Zamora army ranger dude to grab his kids and bring them back to America. Ganbatte, Chris!

  • Adding to Justin’s comments…

    If he does try and send his children something for their birthday, the ex-wife will most probably send back the presents. It happened to me. Some items have not been returned, but that is not to say that the kids actually got them.

    Phone calls are not welcome. Even passing on news that both their UK grandmother and uncle had both recently died was not possible. I was told that “it has nothing to do with the children.” Their grandmother dying?! Nothing to do with them?

    In the UK at least, it is the children’s right to have a relationship with BOTH sets of parents that take centre stage. Having “been there, done that,” I’d say get married in the UK and get divorced in the UK – at least the kids are treated as human beings!

  • My feeling is maybe it was prearranged between Chris and the US embassy for him to go there and basically hand over the kids. If he went back to the US, maybe he would have been forced to return the kids anyway – and this would have been a wasted journey and trauma for the kids. Obviously the US embassy couldn’t have sheltered him, and surely he never believed that (though he says they said they would shelter him), so why else go there than to be to part of publicity stunt to draw negative attention on GOJ.

    Since this incident, some pressure has been put on Japan right? So perhaps this kind of ‘sacrifice’ strategy was effective.

  • That’s easy, John; he should just send the presents to his kids at their school. Should work a few times at least, until the mom intervenes.

    I imagine a rich guy sitting in America can find plenty of ways to make his presence known to his abducted kids in Japan if he really puts his mind and his wallet to it. Personally, I am looking forward to the day Mr. Zamora snatches Chris’s kids back to America for him. I hope.

  • Eido and Mameha seem to be missing the crucial point – it wasn’t illegal. He was a father taking his kids to the consulate. It can’t possibly be considered kidnapping as they were HIS kids and no court order had been made in Japan. The only way it was ‘illegal’ was that he is a foreigner. In fact, since a court order was in force in America but not in Japan, it would seem the consulate acted illegally, and hence a rich American dude should be suing the ass off them.

    What this all makes me think is that next time, distraught father probably won’t use non violence, but think that the only way to succeed is by using force. The stakes for everyone have just been ratcheted up a notch.

  • Len,
    Its interesting you mention that about being a proxy of some sort. The town of Yanagawa is close to where I live. Another friend has a child abducted to the next town called Omuta. There isnt one occasion when I am driving through those towns that I dont think of those children. If I was every lucky enough to meet any of those kids I would be more than happy to tell them they have a Daddy that loves them very much and is waiting for them.

    I was lucky when I went through my split since my kids were too old to be fed a bunch of crap and now grown have a good relationship with both parents.

  • Well, I guess that explains the consulate’s refusal to open the gates for him. I’m still trying to figure out why he left the country if he has citizenship…

  • I dunno. If he is desperate, I think his best bet would be to get that Rambo guy on the case. But the problem is there would be no way for him to get out of Japan. They would have to charter a small piper cub or something and fly it to Korea.

    This would all have to be done ninja-style, in the middle of the night, like that Bond movie. That might also make it difficult.

    Although, the guy that did that Nova girl in somewhere in Chiba, is still at large. So it might be possible to pull off an un-abduction and evade the authorities.

  • News5 in Tennessee has an “exclusive” interview with the father.

    Nothing too revealing there, but I was surprised to read the comments on this column, mostly by Americans, who have no sympathy for this guy whatsoever.

    When you think about it, almost everything that we’ve heard about this case has been directly from the father or the Japanese police. Not a single word has been reported from the mother. How can we come to any conclusions when we’ve only heard one side of the story?

    — Hard to when the other side ain’t talkin’ (except to complain to the Asahi that she didn’t get enough respect or money from her ex). We also heard her talk (and make oaths that she subsequently broke) in the court transcript. Read up. It’s not “not a single word”.

  • Kakui Kujira says:

    To those questioning how the authorities could force him to leave the country if he has citizenship: They just told him that if he stayed, he would be prosecuted. Very, very simple.

  • Let me clarify: we have not heard “a single word” from the mother since the alleged abduction took place. We do not know her rationale behind why she would have done such a rash act, or her interpretation of the “counter-abduction” that subsequently took place. I imagine that the police have heard this, but that information has not to my knowledge been released in any form. But if they went through the trouble of arresting him, I think what they heard is out of sync with the docile actions that Mr. Savoie portrayed his doings as.

    So I am still not in any position to make any judgment on the actual “abduction”.

    — Given the inverted quotes, I think you have done just that.

  • My opinion on this keeps changing, the more information I’m given the more despicable BOTH of these parents seem…. Noriko lied in court and broke the law with full knowledge that she was doing so.

    Christopher also broke the law, and also probably knew that he was doing so. If he wasn’t divorced in Japan and still is on the same koseki with his kids, whether he broke the law by putting them into his car probably comes down to how “forced” it was, and is a gray area. But he certainly would have known that neither he nor Noriko had reported their divorce to the Japanese embassy. Especially if he was on TV brandishing a koseki. So, KNOWING that he was still married to Noriko in Japan, he married Amy in the US? I’d be pretty pissed if I were Amy, right about now.

    It’s sad, really, that THIS is the case getting all the attention, when there are others that highlight the problem much more clearly without issues of dual citizenship and extramarital affairs to complicate things.

    — Yes. Now all we need is the perfect victim to take the law into his own hands like Chris did…

  • What a sad story….as I said before I wish I could have help him in someway like distracting the cops by me running by with my 2 kids taking their attention away from the gate to kill time, or myself going to the gate and getting buzzed in right before they came and either the gate would be opened at that point or opening it from inside when they approached. What to do or say if I saw this woman and the kids?? I often go to Yanagawa. I guess Tell the kids your dad loves them, ….

  • Dear Ningen,

    Yes, there are problems here, but they are so small when compared to Japan. Fathers have rights, even though the movment mentioned in Wikipedia say otherwise. They are a bunch of time wasters that think paying a paltry sum in maintenance and having access twice a month or more to their children makes them hard done by! Try the same thing in japan!

    I sadly know a few divorced couples and the agreements they have are AMAZINg in comparison. I do get very hot under the clooar when my UK friends tell me they are hard done by! Even fathers with history of abuse and violence see theor children – under supervision – but they do see them!! It all comes down to one thing and one thing ONLY – The right of the child to have a relationship with BOTH parents.

    One couple I know of for example… Kids are both still under 18 and live with their mother. If she takes them away anywhere, she needs his written blessing. They cannot change their name back to their mother’s maiden name (As happened to my kids….)

    Nowhere is perfect. Divorce is never easy. But the rights of the child MUST be respected.

    John Evans

  • Dear All,

    An article today in the telegraph is interesting – to me at least – when a judge here had ordered a boy to live with his father in order to stop the mother from continuing to poison him against his father. Radical for sure and I’m not 100& for it, but it does send out a clear message. No matter what, it is the children that shoul dbe the focus, NOT the parents. It is the CHILDREN’S rights, not the parents.

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