TOKYO October 15, 2009 -- A Tennessee man arrested in Japan for forcefully taking away his own children from his Japanese spouse was released from jail today.
Christopher Savoie's lawyer's office confirmed his release but did not comment on further details.
"We were pleased to learn that Mr. Savoie was released from police custody this afternoon," said Lori Shoemaker, U.S. Embassy press officer. "We hope that we can work with the Japanese government to come to a long term solution on the issue of international parental child abduction."
Savoie's first wife, Noriko, violated a U.S. court order by taking their two children, Isaac, 8, and Rebecca, 6, out of the country and to Japan.
In turn, Savoie flew to Japan and tried to take them back.
Savoie was held for over two weeks in jail in Yanagawa. According to his lawyer, Savoie was said to be in violation of "Japanese penal code 244" for forcefully taking away underage children.
"I'm thankful that he's released," said Paul Toland who is also in Japan to try to reunite with his child. "I look forward to meeting him someday soon, as one father to another."
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., was scheduled to arrive in Japan this weekend to help with Toland's case. Smith's trip has reportedly been postponed.
Toland plans to come back to Japan when Smith does. "I don't want to burn my vacation time," said Toland about now needing to rearrange his travel plans, "so I can come back when he comes back."
Toland said he hoped "we don't lose sight of [...] the entire issue of parental child abduction."
Custody Cases in Japan Involve More Than 100 Children
According to the U.S. State Department, as of May, there are 73 recorded cases of abduction to or retention in Japan. That's more than in any other country, and these cases involve more than 100 children.
An additional 29 cases involve American parties in Japan with one parent denied access to their child. Smith this year introduced legislation on international abduction. "There is no known case of Japan ever returning an abducted Japanese-American child to the left behind parent."