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Update: Japan and International Child Custody Case

By Neetal Parekh on October 12, 2009 12:50 PM

As we posted earlier this month, a father in the U.S. has been jailed in Japan for attempting to see and regain custody of his children who were taken to Japan by his ex-wife, in violation of a U.S. custody order that granted him limited custody of the two children.  At that time, the father--  Christopher Savoie-- picked up the children as they walked to school and then headed for the U.S. Consulate.  They was met by local authorities as he tried to enter the Consulate and booked for abduction.

Most recently, Japanese police have decided to keep Savoie in jail for another 10 days.  Reportedly, they have extended his prison stay on the southern island of Kyushu so that the country's legal authorities can determine if any charges will formally be brought against him.  He is said to be in touch with U.S. officials, who visit him on a regular basis.

Pressure on Japan?

Japan's refusal to sign the Hague Convention has made the nation an unlikely refuge for mothers escaping custody arrangements.  Japanese law favors the mother in custody scenarios and does not recognize joint custody agreements. 

However, the recent case and the publicity it has garnered has given the issue a new life.  According to the Associated Press, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada has stated publicly that the country is reviewing the matter.

Whether this recent case will catalyze any far-reaching change or the country will slip back into its status quo remains to be seen.  For now Christopher Savoie will be extending his forced stay in Japan's southern coast a little longer.


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