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American Jailed in Japan, Part III

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Here are a few more updates on the Savoie case via the Stripes:

“Toland’s wife absconded with his daughter, Erika, from their home in Yokohama, Japan, in 2003 while he was stationed at Yokosuka Naval Base. She was not charged with child abduction and was able to prevent Toland from even visiting his daughter.”

“Japanese law says that parental [child] abduction is not a crime,” said Toland, whose daughter was taken by his in-laws after his Japanese wife died in 2005. “So it’s asinine that he’s being charged because he’s the biological father and his rights have not been terminated by a Japanese court.”

“As of August, the State Department had identified 118 Japanese-American children who are living in Japan and cut off from their American parents.”

According to Savoie’s lawyer,Yoshino: “This case is not about diplomacy. It’s not even a criminal case. It’s a family matter, which countries and police should stay away from.

Savoie, fluent in Japanese, obtained Japanese citizenship in March 2005. I am not sure what passport Savoie used to enter Japan but it would have been real interesting if he and the kids made it to the US Naval Base in Sasebo and had someone sponsor them onto base.

Although Savoie is not protected under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in Japan, the U.S. SOFA includes the provision that service members are not turned over to the local authorities until they are charged in a court. Would this apply to Savoie? Japan reports that Savoie is still married to Noriko, so would he be considered a Japanese citizen and the case a domestic dispute between husband and wife?

As an “American citizen” with a US court order granting Savoie custody, I wonder if he would be sitting in Japanese jail and if his former-spouse, Noriko, would risk arrest by entering the visitor center in order to gain access to the base?

Part I

Part II

One Comment

  1. FYI FYI October 7, 2009

    “Japanese law says that parental [child] abduction is not a crime,” said Toland…

    This is not true. The parental child abduction is considered a crime, even when the couple has not yet divorced. However, there are several conditions: They have become estranged from each other and have been living separately. Or, They are already in the divorce suit. Another important matter is that there should not be any serious problem such as child abuse and domestic violence. If these conditions are met, a father, who had forcibly taken children away from his wife temporarily rearing children, is guilty of kidnapping or abduction of minor.

    Japan reports that Savoie is still married to Noriko, so would he be considered a Japanese citizen and the case a domestic dispute between husband and wife?

    Maybe, no longer considered as a domestic dispute within a family. It seems to be clear that Savoie had attacked his ex-wife with his collegues, and then he had forcibly pushed his children into a car and drove away. Noriko had been living separately from him and she reported “his crime” to the police after that incident. It is not very clear if he is actually considered as a criminal. There may be still a chance that the police decide it as a civil affair, especially if there are no habitual violence or abuse toward Noriko.

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