International pressure leading to change in Japanese family law
After her divorce, and against a court order, Noriko Savoie packed up her kids and moved them to Japan. For the children's father, Christopher, Japan is more than a continent away; it's beyond the reach of the Hague convention on international child abduction.
Following Noriko's return to Japan with her children, an American court ordered an arrest warrant for her. Since Japan is not a signatory to the Hague convention on international child abduction, the American court has been powerless to prompt the return of Noriko or the children to the United States.
Christopher did attempt to bring his children home to the United States, but he was arrested at the gates of the U.S. consulate and charged with child abduction. He was subsequently allowed to return the United States, without his children. Following this incident, a Tennessee court ordered Noriko to pay $1,000 to her ex-husband for every day that she falsely imprisons her children.
The Savoies' case has generated a lot of press, which, in turn, has led to more international pressure being applied on Japan to sign the Hague convention. According to CNN, Japan is feeling the weight of the pressure, and the Japanese Cabinet recently approved a plan to overhaul the country's laws in a way that would bring them "in line with the Hague convention". However, it could take years before Japan would be prepared to sign the convention.
Child custody issues involving international law are complicated; speak with a family law attorney with experience handling international family law disputes.
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