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November 12th, 2009
06:24 AM ET

Charges dropped against U.S. father in Japan custody case

(CNN) - Authorities have officially dropped all charges against an American who tried to snatch back his children from his ex-wife in Japan, the Fukuoka prosecutor's office said Thursday.

Charges had been technically "on hold" since Christopher Savoie was released from jail in October, though legal experts had said the move essentially meant the charges had already been dropped.

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Filed under: World
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Atticus

    The Japanese mother broke the US law in taking her children back to her native country, and I sympathize with the American father who decided to get his kids back to the U.S. But while I side mostly with the American father on the issue of child custody (because the ruling was first made in the US), I am appalled, but not entirely surprised, to see the CNN exploit the family tragedy as an quick opportunity to engage in Japan bashing. The Japanese wife who took her children away to her own country and the Japanese legal system are not the same thing, though on the show they were treated almost as if. To be fair to the Japanese police, they were right, under the law, to arrest him for his attempt to kidnap the children to a foreign country. These kids are, after all, Japanese nationals. The father went on to complain, prompted by the CNN anchor Kieran Chetry, that the Japanese jail was “dirty,” legal representation was too slow a process, and custody disputes unfairly favor mothers over fathers. All of which Ms. Chetry urged her viewers to write letters to President Obama to complain about so he can negotiate the Japanese a one-sided change in their system, but not in ours.

    But let us sit back and examine what is going on in the US system. The torture of political prisoners (under Bush), zero tolerance approach of police and prosecutors, overcrowded prisons with no outdoor access, abuse of inmates by prison officials, frequent and secret transfers of immigrant populations from one facility to another to discourage their legal protections, and withholding medical assistance to them-all of these are chronic problems of American justice system. None of which was brought up by Chetry in the discussions, and imagine what her reaction would be like if the Japanese premier dares to bring them up. And yet it is somehow perfectly OK for her to loudly demand that Japan, not a signatory to Hague convention on international child abduction, comply with U.S. court orders and change their system so we don’t have to adhere to theirs. Aren’t bilateral negotiations supposed to be reciprocal and respectful of each other?? And who gets to decide what the Japanese legal system ought be like: Americans, or the Japanese?

    But the most troubling is her posturing and tone of language. She would never have denounced or demanded to “change” the social and legal system of another country if that country is one dominated by white people. The only reason she did that is because the country in question is a thriving Asian liberal democracy, and worst of them all, the Japanese. Her attitude seems to reflect the same racial double standards long practiced in this country against blacks and Native Americans, particularly when they were viewed as threatening to the image and status of white superiority. It is time for the CNN to recognize that it is no less morally wrong and unfair when practiced against Asians too.

    November 12, 2009 at 11:13 pm |
  2. donald

    I'm really disappointed in CNN's superficial and biased coverage of this story. Did CNN have to promise not to ask the tough questions to get him to agree to your 'exlusive'? Provide the facts, not puff.
    The next time CNN has Mr. Savoie on maybe they could cover the relevant background facts and ask the tough questions.

    November 12, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  3. donald

    Other news agencies and blogs have pointed out the following: Mr. Savoie, his kids and his Japanese wife are all Japanese citizens who lived in Japan until 2008. They were married for 13 years and Mr. Savoie lived in Japan and raised his family there as Japanese citizens. They've also noted that Mr. Savoie refused to give his wife a divorce in Japan when she asked for it a year earlier, instead having his wife move to Tennessee with him, where he promptly served her with divorce papers days after her arrival. There would be an advantage to him not dealing with the Japanese courts, but his wife would be stranded in Tennessee, facing divorce courts, a country where she didn't speak the language, have a job or a support system, and a husband in a relationship with another woman.

    It seems that, Mr. Savioe tried to play the system and his wife, to have both his new wife and her kids and his kids from his ex-wife. She took her kids back to their home in Japan, where Mr. Savoie would have to start legal proceedings without the advantage he had over her in Tennessee. They were still married in Japan, and he is a Japanese citizen, his US court order would be worthless, but he had all the same options of any Japanese parent going through a divorce in Japan. It appears he didn't want that, but took the kids from her in a struggle on the streets where she told the police she had been bruised. Picture that scene with the kids and the parents on the street. The police did not say anything about exonerating Mr. Savoie, but that they did not want to pursue charges because he was remorseful about what he had done and agreed to leave the country. Let Japan deal with their Japanese citizens, on Japanese ground, breaking Japanese law.

    November 12, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  4. Scott OBara

    Not as vehement or strong as a Father should have been in this interview which would have been a perfect venue to send a slam dunk solid message to his ex-wife.

    I would have stated:
    "I will not stop until I get my kids back"

    And at this point, solicit underground help, and would stop
    at (NOTHING) to sneak them back out of Japan, and back
    into the U.S.

    My message to Dad:

    If at first you don't succeed – try and try again.
    Forget appealing to Japans legal system, take your kids
    back by by any means, or by force if need be.

    Any Father or Mother that truly loves their children, never
    ever gives up the fight !

    Period – End of story !

    Scott O'Bara
    Middletown, CT

    November 12, 2009 at 9:13 am |