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Father Takes Fight Over Abductions Back To Congress

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Posted at 5:21 PM, Jun 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-07 14:17:40-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn.  -- His children were abducted to Japan.

Now, a Middle Tennessee man has once again taken his fight to Congress.

It was six years ago that our NewsChannel 5 investigation first revealed how the justice system had failed Christopher Savoie and his two children.

This week, the Franklin father was back before Congress, begging for the U.S. government to listen to the plight of families just like his.

"I'm a father, a father who has been unable to meet with his children in nearly six unimaginably painful and heartbreaking years due to Japan's complicity in the kidnapping of our children," Savoie began his testimony.

Savoie took his case back before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, along with other parents who have fought similar battles.

Back in 2009, Savoie's ex-wife abducted his two children -- 8-year-old Isaac and 5-year-old Rebecca -- back to her home country of Japan, out of the reach of American law.

It was a story he shared with NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

"It's hard to have quiet moments because my kids' words haunt me in those quiet times," he said at the time.

Because Japan did not recognize the U.S. court order giving him custody of the children, when Savoie went to Japan to try to bring them home, he ended up being arrested, creating an international controversy.

"Our children had no choice in this matter whatsoever," Savoie told the Congressional committee. "And you empathize with them, all the hugs they are missing, all of the sporting events that they could have with you, the opportunity to speak your native language with them -- all of that gone."

Over the last six years, Savoie has pushed Japan to recognize international treaties regarding the abduction of children and lobbied the U.s. State Department to get tougher in dealing with our allies.

"The State Department has not formally demanded the return of any abducted children," the Franklin man testified.

This week's hearing highlighted how, even though Savoie's case and dozens of others remain unresolved, the State Department has released a report suggesting that Japan now has a clean record.

He argued that Congress should require the State Department to re-do its evaluation of Japan's compliance.  Beyond that, he argues that Congress needs to create an independent office -- separate from the State Department -- to advocate on behalf of the abducted children.

Still, Savoie acknowledged Congress cannot give him back what he would most like to have.
 
"It would be great at some point we could find a justice system that would give us back that time. But the truth is Congress cannot give us back that time, the U.S. government cannot give us back that time, God himself cannot give us back time with our children. It's gone forever."
 
To read Savoie's prepared testimony, click here.
 
To watch video of Savoie's testimony, click on Part 1 and Part 2.