Judge Nobuyoshi Asami of the Itami branch of the Kobe Family Court handed down a unique ruling for Japan in a case involving a Nicaraguan father and Japanese mother.  Judge Asami’s ruling allows the father to meet the 8 year old child for about 30 days in the United States each year through August 2017 and orders the mother to have the father and child meet in Japan for about two weeks every year and stay in touch by web camera and telephone.  The case is being appealed, and unfortunately the ruling is unenforceable and the mother is refusing to comply.


Here are comments which were posted by the father regarding some facts that are not in the article link above:

“First of all, my US divorce judgment fulfills all the requirements for full recognition and enforcement according to the Japanese Civil Code. Second, I spent nearly 250,000 USD in legal fees in both countries, including also travel to Japan (8) times in total. I had full legal custody in both countries ratified up to the Tokyo Supreme Court. However, I was able to see my child only twice. In spite of this, the family court in Kobe decided to change custody to the Japanese mother for the “excuse” that the child had been living in Japan. However, this story doesn’t mention that the child was illegally abducted against US court orders, and that the Japanese mother has been found in contempt in US courts. I am fluent in three languages (English, Japanese and Spanish) so my child really doesn’t have to adjust to my language and culture as she was fully trilingual when she was abducted to Japan. The last comment is that this judgment lacks any enforcement in Japan and that the Japanese mother refused the first scheduled visitation after the judgment was released, in spite of the Japanese judge asking her to allow the visitation for the well-being of the child.”



Below is the link to C-Span’s video of Congressman Chris Smith’s subcommittee hearing on International Child Abduction on May 24.  

At the end of the hearing, Congressman Smith mentioned that the next hearing will be a “Japan specific hearing” that will look into Japan’s Hague Convention ascension and possible duplicity that may be involved in the small print by which Japan may try to circumvent living up to the spirit of the treaty.


(Special thanks to CDR Paul Toland, USN, for coordinating this effort)


May 24, 2011

Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
US Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madam Secretary,

We, the undersigned, appeal to you for help as left-behind parents of 114 American children who have been abducted and remain unlawfully retained in 25 countries. We also represent a number of U.S. servicemen whose children were abducted while serving our country overseas. Some of these countries are signatories to the Hague Convention while others are not, such as Japan, where we face overwhelming odds trying to reunite with our children. We and our families are devastated − emotionally and financially − by the loss of our children and seek your assistance in ensuring that the U.S. Government is exercising all lawful means necessary to return these American children to their home country and reunite them with us.

The continued retention of our children violates international law, ethical norms, and human decency. Put simply, our children have been stolen from us, and it is our legal and moral right to be a part of their lives. As our 83 cases demonstrate, there are a growing number of countries willfully ignoring or abusing their international obligations with regard to international parental child abduction. Each of us has had exasperating experiences seeking justice in foreign courts, where our cases are often treated as custody matters, rather than as abduction cases. Often times, victim parents are told to use the court system of the foreign country when it is well known that such action will likely result in a decision with custody of our abducted children being awarded to the abducting party.

Collectively, we have limited or no contact with our children, many of whom have been turned against us as a result of parental alienation, a documented form of child abuse. Our children lost half their identities when they were ripped from their homes, families and friends. Like us parents, our children’s grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and other family members have holes in their hearts left by the abduction of their loved ones.

We were encouraged by your July 2010 appointment of Ambassador Jacobs as Special Advisor to the Office of Children’s Issues (OCI). However, in working with OCI, we have experienced little improvement in the quality of service provided by the Department of State and almost no positive results. The current system has failed us. While our children remain unlawfully in foreign lands, the number of new child abduction cases from the U.S. continues to grow at an alarming rate. There is an urgent need for change, not only to prevent more of our nation’s children from being abducted across international borders, but also to effectuate the expeditious and safe return of our abducted children.

International child abduction is a serious human rights violation in desperate need of your attention. In our experience, all too often these international child abduction cases do not appear to be addressed aggressively because of the State Department’s effort to maintain harmonious, bilateral relations with other countries or to pursue other compelling foreign policy goals. The Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual on the issue of child abduction highlights this point by instructing OCI case workers to remain “neutral” when handling these abduction cases. This inherent conflict of interest cannot be ignored and we need to place a higher priority on the welfare of our children. We understand the necessity of maintaining strong relationships with other nations, but this should not come at the expense of our children.

Over the years, both houses of Congress have held numerous hearings on the issue of international parental child abduction, yet precious little has changed as our absent children grow older. On Tuesday, another group of parents will gather in Washington, D.C. for yet another hearing. It is our hope that this will be the year that Congress and the Administration unite to pass new laws to strengthen our nation’s capacity to help the parent and children victims of international parental child abduction. We also hope that the State Department, under your leadership, will advocate for and embrace these changes to finally end this gross injustice affecting thousands of American children.

Madam Secretary, we applaud your past efforts and record on children’s rights issues, but we are desperate and plead for your assistance. It is long past time for this great country to show leadership on the issue of international parental child abduction. We cannot grow complacent with each successful return, nor can we forget about all the other children who are being wrongfully retained abroad. We are fortunate to have the strong support of groups which advocate for victims of international parental child abduction. However, we need your unwavering support and determination to bring our children home.

Madam Secretary, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with you directly to discuss how progress can be made. Please help us to be reunited with our children.


David Brian Thomas, father of Graham Hajime Thomas (Nishizawa) (Age 20)

Abducted to Japan in November, 1992

Walter Benda, father of M.B and E.B (Ages 22 and 20)

Abducted to Japan in July, 1995

Charles A. Hamilton, father of Dakota Carmen (age 15)

Abducted to Spain in December, 1996

Eric Kalmus, father of Amy Ito (Kalmus), (age 14)

Abducted to Japan in 1998

 James Filmer, father of Sarah (age 13)

Abducted to Germany in October, 1998

David Hendricks, father of Daniel and Patrick (ages 17 and 13)

Abducted to Norway in June, 1999

Mark & Lydia Harrison, father and grandmother of Jessica Danielle (age 15)

Abducted to Mexico in July, 2000

Craig Alciati, father of Peter Spencer (age 12)

Abducted to France in March, 2001

Michael C. Gulbraa, father of Michael K. & Christopher R. Gulbraa (ages 21 and 20)

Abducted to Japan in November, 2001

CDR Paul Toland, USN and Linda Toland, father / sole surviving parent and stepmother of Erika (age 8)

Abducted to Japan in July, 2003

Richard B Kephart Jr and Martha Kephart, father and grandmother of Richard Kephart III and Nicolle

Hyler Kephart (ages 15 and 10)

Abducted to Japan in November, 2003

Brett Weed, father of Takoda Tei Weed & Tiana Kiku Weed (ages 13 and 10)

Abducted to Japan in January, 2004

Klaus Zensen, father of Maria Carolina (age 7)

Abducted to Brazil in July, 2004

Ariel Ayubo, father of Lorenzo (age 10)

Abducted to Brazil in September, 2004

Robert A. McConnell, father of Bianca Damanik (age 8)

Abducted to Indonesia in January, 2005

Deana Hebert, mother of Bianca Lozano (age 17)

Abducted to Mexico in April, 2005

Paul Brown, father of Liam Shiratori Paul Brown (age 8)

Abducted to Japan in June, 2005

William J Lake, father of Mary Victoria Lake (age 14)

Abducted to Japan in August, 2005

Stephen Christie, father of James Kento Christie (age 16)

Abducted to Japan in October, 2005

John Donaldson, father of Michiru Janice Donaldson (age 10)

Abducted to Japan in November, 2005

George A. Petroutsas, father of Andonios (age 6)

Abducted to Greece in December, 2005, re-abducted in June, 2010

Michele Swensen, mother of Amina, Layla, and Sami (ages 14, 12 and 10)

Abducted to Yemen in February, 2006

Didier Combe, father of Chloe (age 7)

Abducted to Mexico in March, 2006

Kelvin Birotte, father of Kelvin Jr. (age 5)

Abducted to Brazil in July, 2006

Timothy Weinstein, father of Paul and Anna (ages 13 and 10)

Abducted to Brazil in August, 2006

Marty Pate, father of Nicole (age 10)

Abducted to Brazil in August, 2006

Nigel Lewis, father of Jasmyn Lewis and Cody Lewis (ages 9 and 7)

Abducted to Japan in November, 2006

Donna Hesse, grandmother of Kai Noel Hachiya (age 12)

Abducted to Japan in December, 2006

Michael McCarty, father of Liam Gabriele (age 9)

Abducted to Italy in March, 2007

Douglas Brian Gessleman, father of David and Joshua Gessleman (ages 7 and 9)

Abducted to Japan in May, 2007

Trevor Richardson, father of Andrew (age 5)

Abducted to Mexico in August, 2007

Paul Wong, father and sole surviving parent of Kaya Summer Xiao-Lian Wong (age 7)

Abducted to Japan in August, 2007

Kirsten M. Snipp, mother of Joichiro Yamada (age 13)

Abducted to Japan in September, 2007

Michael G. Canopin, father of Christian Lehua Haolalani Yuuki Inamura-Canopin (age 13)

Abducted to Japan in October, 2007

Jose Maria Cacho Polo, father of Jose Martín (age 11)

Abducted to Japan in January, 2008

Michael Sanchez, father of Emily Machado (age 5)

Abducted to Brazil in March, 2008

Randy Ernst, father of Joseph and Nicole (ages 13 and 11)

Abducted to Russia in May, 2008

Sean A. McKnight, father of Kelly and Julia (ages 15 and 7)

Abducted to Poland in May, 2008

Randy Collins, father of Keisuke Christian Collins (age 8)

Abducted to Japan in June, 2008

Carlos Bermudez, father of Sage Antonio (age 4)

Abducted to Mexico in June, 2008

Bandi J. Rao, father of Anand Saisuday (age 6)

Abducted to India in July, 2008

Carl Hillman, father of Sean (age 8)

Abducted to Japan in July, 2008

Conrad Washington, father of Conisha Kanna and Maximus Riku (ages 16 and 7)

Abducted to Japan in July, 2008

Patrick McCoy, father of Yuuki McCoy (Kojima) (age 3)

Abducted to Japan in August, 2008

Regan Haight, mother of Chloe and Aiden Kobayashi (ages 9 and 5)

Abducted to Japan in September, 2008

James Robert Allen, father of Joseph Martin (age 2)

Abducted to Colombia in September, 2008

Brandon C. Neal, father of Alexander Hikaru Neal (Sugashima) (age 4)

Abducted to Japan in September, 2008

Michael Elias, Nancy Elias and Miguel Elias, father, grandmother and grandfather to Jade Maki Elias and

Michael Angel Elias (ages 5 and 3)

Abducted to Japan in December, 2008

Jessie Duke, Roy Duke and Deborah Duke, father, grandfather and grandmother of Shanonyuma Ishida

and Rikki (ages 8 and 4)

Abducted to Japan in December, 2008

Matt Wyman, father of Jake Taylor and Alex Michael (ages 10 and 6)

Abducted to Japan in January, 2009

Roy Koyama, father of Emily Alina (age 2)

Abducted to Costa Rica in February, 2009

Devon Davenport, father of Nadia Lynn (age 2)

Abducted to Brazil in February, 2009

John Henry Richardson III, father of Matthew and Dylan (age 8 and 7)

Abducted to Mexico in April, 2009

Dhanika Athukorala, father of Kali Soleil (age 3)

Abducted to Dominican Republic in April, 2009

Richard C. Nielsen, Peter Nielsen and Karin Heintz, father, grandfather and grandmother of Leo Nielsen

(age 4)

Abducted to Japan in April, 2009

Darshaun Nadeau, father of Kaya Nadeau (age 2)

Abducted to Japan in May, 2009

Mzimaz Youssef, father of Ghali (age 2)

Abducted to Morocco in May, 2009

James Patrick Carol, Jr., father of Andrea Vanessa and James Patrick (ages 7 and 6)

Abducted to Mexico in June, 2009

Tracy Baumgart, mother of Saxon Rayne Kawar (age 10)

Abducted to Jordan in July, 2009

Michael M. Bergeron, father of Ami Amor (age 6)

Abducted to Peru in August, 2009

Douglass Berg, father of Gunnar and Kianna Berg (ages 11 and 10)

Abducted to Japan in August, 2009

Christopher and Amy Savoie, father and stepmother of Isaac and Rebecca (ages 10 and 8)

Abducted to Japan in August, 2009

Colin Bower, father of Noor and Ramsay (ages 10 and 8)

Abducted to Egypt in August, 2009

Evangelina Pena, mother of Ilias Badys (age 4)

Abducted to Morocco in September, 2009

Brett Purcell, father of Dante (age 1)

Abducted to Argentina in September, 2009

Bruce R. Gherbetti, father of Rion Suzuki, Lauren Gherbetti and Julia Gherbetti (ages 8, 6 and 4)

Abducted to Japan in September, 2009

Mark Gomez, father of Haydn (age 3)

Abducted to China in January, 2010

Jeffery Morehouse, Madeline Morehouse & David Sorlie, father, grandmother and grandfather of

“Mochi” Atomu Imoto Morehouse (age 7)

Abducted to Japan in February, 2010

Stan Hunkovic, father of Gabriel Julius and Anastasia Sierra-Marie (ages 3 and 1)

Abducted to Trinidad & Tobago in February, 2010

Sara Edwards, mother of Eli Kiraz (age 3)

Abducted to Turkey in March, 2010

Michael Hassett, Dennis and Ann Hassett, father, grandfather and grandmother of Noah and Kynan

Hassett (ages 10 and 7)

Abducted to Japan in March, 2010

Alex Kahney, father of Selene and Cale (ages 9 and 7)

Abducted to Japan in April, 2010

Brian Prager and Morton Prager, father and grandfather of Louis “Rui” (age 5)

Abducted to Japan in June, 2010

Antonio Quintana, father of Victoria and Virginia (ages 4 and 3)

Abducted to Argentina in July, 2010

Rex S. Arul, father of Rhea Immaculate (age 4)

Abducted to India in July, 2010

Simon Williams, father of Noan John (age 2)

Abducted to Brazil in August, 2010

Sheena Howard, mother of Talan and José Otavio Ribeiro da Silva (ages 5 and 2)

Abducted to Brazil in September, 2010

Dennis Patrick Burns, father of Victoria Emma and Sophia Marie (ages 4 and 2)

Abducted to Argentina in September, 2010

Richard Joseph Gatt, father of Natasha Joanie (age 6)

Abducted to Brazil in October, 2010

Douglas Trombino, father of Morgana Gray (age 2)

Abducted to Colombia in November, 2010

Ray Rose, father of Kaia (age 15 months)

Abducted to Japan in November, 2010

Robert W. Makielski, father of Isabel Marie and Gabriel Leonardo (ages 8 and 4)

Abducted to Dominican Republic in January, 2011

Tim Johnston, father of Kai Endo (age 6)

Abducted to Japan in March, 2011



The Japanese cabinet has agreed to prepare domestic legislation for signing the Hague Convention.  

While this is a hopeful sign, there are many unanswered questions as to what this means.  

Will the Japanese Diet actually enact the necessary provisions?  

What time frame are we looking at?  

How committed will the Japanese government be to actually honoring the spirit of the Hague Convention, or will it simply treat this as a piece of paper as it is doing with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child?

Will the Japanese government retroactively address the currently outstanding cases?

Most left-behind parents who are being denied access to their children in Japan would rather see some concrete actions that would put them back in their childrens’ lives again rather than words and promises.









Tennessee man wins $6.1 million judgment from ex-wife who abducted children to Japan

  • JOE EDWARDS  Associated Press
  • First Posted: May 09, 2011 – 4:51 pm
    Last Updated: May 09, 2011 – 5:53 pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A judge on Monday awarded a Tennessee man $6.1 million from his ex-wife who took their two children to Japan and never returned.

It remains unclear whether Christopher Savoie will ever actually get the money on behalf of his children, 10-year-old Isaac and 8-year-old Rebecca, because laws in the two countries conflict.

His ex-wife, Noriko Esaki Savoie, who is Japanese, left with the children in 2009 after she and Christopher Savoie were divorced and each granted partial custody. When it became clear she might not return, a Tennessee court issued a warrant for her arrest and gave the father full custody. But the order had no effect because Japan hasn’t signed an international treaty governing child abduction.

Christopher Savoie, now 40, tried unsuccessfully to get the children when he made a trip to Japan in September 2009.

Japanese law allows only one parent to have custody in cases of divorce — usually the mother.

Christopher Savoie said Monday after winning the judgment that the money is not paramount to him and he hopes the court’s decision might influence his ex-wife.

“I just want to see my kids,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to get her to the table so the children can have a relationship with their father and mother.”

Franklin Chancellor Timothy L. Easter awarded the amount based on false imprisonment, emotional distress and breach of contract.

“We are hopeful that the breach of contract might allow him to go about collecting damages,” said Eileen Burkhalter Smith, one of Christopher Savoie’s attorneys. “But you never know.

“Hopefully it could give somebody, in the U.S. government in particular, the means to allow this father to get something or see his kids.”

Noriko Savoie, now 39, was not represented by an attorney during the 30-minute hearing.

Christopher Savoie is attending law school and working part time as a legal intern. He has remarried and has three stepchildren.