D.C. Protesters Demand: 'Free Christopher Savoie' - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

NC5 Investigates: Abducted to Japan

D.C. Protesters Demand: 'Free Christopher Savoie'

Christopher Savoie with Rebecca and Isaac Christopher Savoie with Rebecca and Isaac
Walter Benda Walter Benda
Isaac and Rebecca Isaac and Rebecca
Children abducted to Japan (www.crcjapan.com) Children abducted to Japan (www.crcjapan.com)

Protesters gathered Saturday outside the Japanese embassy and the White House in Washington, D.C., urging the Japanese government to free Franklin's Christopher Savoie.

It follows Savoie's arrest 7,000 miles from home in Fukuoka, Japan -- accused of trying to abduct the children who were abducted from him.

As a solitary drummer beat a steady cadence, a small group of sign-carrying protesters marched as they chanted, "Free Christopher Savoie! Free Christopher Savoie! Free Christopher Savoie!"

Savoie's arrest has become a rallying point for other fathers whose children have also been abducted to Japan. The rally was organized by an advocacy group, Children's Rights Council (CRC) of Japan, that represents the interests of those fathers.

Savoie's current wife, Amy, joined the protest.

"After listening to the heartbreaking instances of parental abduction, you can see that we are not alone -- Christopher is not alone," Amy said in her prepared remarks.

CLICK HERE to watch
a video of the protest
prepared by CRC Japan

The protestors voiced the same sentiment expressed by Savoie before his ill-fated mission to Japan to rescue his children, Isaac and Rebecca.

"I want the Japanese government to join ... the rest of the world in supporting the known fact that it's better for kids to have two parents in their lives," he told NewsChannel 5 Investigates in an exclusive interview.

Savoie's effort to grab the children came after his ex-wife, Noriko Savoie, abducted them to Japan in violation of court orders here in Tennessee.

Walter Benda, co-founder of the Children's Rights Council of Japan, said he hopes Savoie's case will help the rest of the country to understand their plight.

"I had two U.S. citizen daughters who were abducted in Japan while I was living there, and I have gone through the family court system there," Benda said in a phone interview.

"I have appealed to the Supreme Court in Japan twice, and I have not had one face-to-face meeting scheduled by the government or anyone else in 14 years."

Another father, Patrick Braden, said this week he didn't blame Savoie.

"I mean he can have no confidence in the State Department -- he can't really have confidence in our government," Braden said on CBS' Early Show.

Activists say Christopher Savoie's case dramatizes the desperation to which some fathers are driven.

That's because Japan refuses to sign what's called the Hague Convention, under which it would recognize family court orders from other countries.

This week, the U.S. State Department reiterated its calls for Japan to join other nations in the international agreement.

Read statement from U.S. on Japan's parental abduction laws

"There is a growing public awareness of it, which is in turn putting pressure on Japan," Walter Benda said. "It's a slow process, but it is going to cause Japan to change over time and, hopefully, sooner rather than later."

Benda said another rally was also planned by activists in Tokyo, but the Japanese government refused to issue a permit for that protest.

Activists there will try again soon, he added.

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