Japanese Prosecutors Finally Relent in International Child Custody Case Against US Father
Prosecutors in Japan have dropped the case against an American man arrested after he snatched his children from his ex-wife in her home country of Japan. An official with the Japanese Prosecutors Office said the department decided to abandon the case because the father’s intent was only to see his children. United States citizen Christopher Savoie, claimed his ex-wife Noriko Savoie had violated a U.S. court custody decision by taking the children from Franklin, Tennessee, to her home in Japan a month earlier. Savoie was arrested last September in Fukuoka, Japan, after picking up his 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter.
Even though a U.S. court had issued a warrant for Noriko’s arrest and had given Christopher full custody, the order is void in Japan because the country has not signed any treaties governing international child abduction. After arriving back in the U.S, Savoie said he still has the right to full custody of the children even though they remain in Japan. Japanese authorities said they are closing the case.
The arrest brought international attention to child custody issues in a country that almost always grants only mothers with custody and leaves fathers blocked from seeing their children until they are adults. The problem is common for foreign husbands whose Japanese spouses commonly refuse to let them visit their children in Japan. It is estimated that there are currently nearly 100 children of U.S. citizens who have been removed to Japan by their mothers. The Japanese government has claimed their laws serve only to protect Japanese women and children who are fleeing abusive foreign husbands. It remains to be seen whether or not this latest international flap will have an effect on that position.