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NC5 Investigates: Abducted to Japan

U.S. Calls for Japan to Sign Child Custody Pact

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Christopher Savoie Christopher Savoie
Outside U.S. Consulate, Fukuoka, Japan Outside U.S. Consulate, Fukuoka, Japan
Shannon Higgins Shannon Higgins
Amy Savoie Amy Savoie

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Reacting to the case of a Franklin, Tenn., father, the U.S. State Department called upon Japan Wednesday to sign an international agreement on parental child abductions.

Christopher Savoie sits in a Japanese jail, accused of kidnapping the two children who had been taken from him here in Tennessee.

And we're seeing how close Savoie came to getting his children back onto what might have been, at least legally speaking, U.S. soil.

Witnesses say Savoie and his two children raced past Japanese police just outside the front gate of the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka, Japan.

"He was screaming, 'Let us in,'" one witness recalled.

Savoie's friend, Shannon Higgins, was there. Higgins, who first spoke to NewsChannel 5 Investigates on Monday, told a CNN correspondent he could only watch as police arrested the Franklin man in front of his children, 8-year-old Isaac and 6-year-old Rebecca.

It was "gut wrenching to see the kids in the situation that they were, to see how this unfolded. It makes me ask, was there any other option," Higgins said.

As Savoie described it, his ex-wife -- Noriko Savoie -- had repeatedly threatened to take the children to Japan out of the reach of American law.

"Nobody was listening to me," he told NewsChannel 5 chief investigative reporter Phil Williams before his trip.

On Wednesday, Savoie's current wife, Amy, took to the airwaves in a national TV blitz, while her husband remains locked up here inside a Japanese jail, charged with trying to abduct the children who were abducted from him.

"I found this today --Isaac drew this for Christopher," Amy Savoie said on CBS' Early Show, holding up a blue piece of paper shaped like a light saber. "It says, 'The force is in you, Daddy.' They have their own little Star Wars language."

Patrick Braden, another father whose child was abducted to Japan, told CBS that he understands why Savoie reacted the way he did.

"I don't blame him at all," Braden said. "I mean, he can have no confidence in the State Department. He can't really have confidence in our government."

Savoie's case is now drawing international attention to what advocates -- mainly fathers -- say is more than 100 cases in which Japanese parents have abducted children to their homeland, and our own government can do nothing to help.

"In the end, it comes down to the kids," Shannon Higgins said. "They're trapped between two countries, two legal systems, two parents, two cultures."

In Washington, the State Department spokesman reiterated that the U.S. wants Japan to sign what's called the Hague Convention, under which it would recognize family court orders.

If that had been done Savoie's ex-wife would be the one who's considered the criminal, since she's wanted here in Tennessee.

Instead, she's free in Japan and she's got the children.

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