JAPAN: American father arrested for kidnapping his kids in Japan

The Palm Beach Post ran a story today about an American father from Tennessee who was arrested in Japan for trying to “kidnap” his children. The man, Christopher Savoie, tried to grab his 8 year old son and 6 year old daughter as they arrived at their school in Japan and almost made it to the U.S. consulate when he was nabbed by Japanese police.
Mr. Savoie was married to the children’s mother for some time before the couple obtained a divorce in Tennessee. Subsequently, Mrs. Savoie took the children to Japan without informing Mr. Savoie or getting his permission to relocate with the children. In short, she is alleged to have kidnapped the children herself and taken them to Japan which, it turns out, is not a signatory of the Hague Convention. As you know, the Hague Convention is that international treaty between member nations that was promulgated to protect children from being kidnapped and taken to foreign jurisdictions. Countries which are signatories of the Hague are required to send those children back, but it turns out that even when countries sign on to the Hague, they don’t always follow the rules of the convention. Certainly, when they haven’t bothered to sign on, then parents that are “left behind” can pretty much say goodbye to their kids once the child is abducted. See these Hague Convention posts on Divorce Saloon here: http://www.divorcesaloon.com/index.php?s=Hague+Convention
In any event, Mr. Savoie is still being held as we speak and he is expected to be held for about 10 days. His wife Noriko is wanted by US officials on kidnapping charges. But good luck to them getting her extradited in this lifetime. See, Japan follows the tender doctrine rule which used to be the rule in New York years ago. The tender doctrine rule is basically the belief that young children should be with their mothers – in other words, the mother gets custody of young children 9.9 times out of ten in Japanese society.
I don’t necessarily have a big problem with the tender doctrine rule. But it is no longer the law in New York. At the same time, I have a big problem with child kidnapping. It really is not right. I mean, you can’t just take a child and remove him or her from any and all contact with one of their parents just because you got divorced and you no longer love your spouse. Folks need to try to separate their issues and remember that the child does not belong to just one parent. It is so bad for the children as well. It must feel so dismal to them to be taken to a strange country and be divorced for a parent they probably love very much.
This really is not appropriate and hopefully, more countries will sign on to the Hague and the Hague will start to have more clout than just a pointed finger.
UPDATE: Check out the website on this case written by the attorney for Mr. Savoie. http://www.internationalfamilylawfirm.com/2009_10_01_archive.html