Is Christopher Savoie, the “abandoned father”, also a Japanese citizen?

CNN reports from Savoie’s jail cell in Fukuoka

CNN coverage (link)

This story from yesterday gets more and more interesting. I used not to be so big on human interest stories, but I’m starting to see why People magazine has been so popular in the last 35 years.

What’s surfacing in this news cycle via Mainichi (English) is that Christopher Savoie sought and obtained Japanese citizenship about four years ago. Elsewhere on the net, I learned that his dual degree M.D./Ph.D. was from Kyushu University (on the southern island for those back home). After post-graduate work, it looks like Chris went into the venture capital business rather than a hospital residency. He was involved in a company called GNI Ltd. in Japan, which trades here in small shares and looks like it’s not doing so well. It got a “going concern” remark in its last audit, which in the CPA world is seldom good news.

So bottom line is: Christopher Savoie has spent a lot of time in Japan.

A friend of Noriko is also out there as a source to the Associated Press about Noriko Savoie’s side of the story.

So this story is starting to shape up as one of a dual national, between two worlds so-to-speak, who decided that it was better for himself to high-tail it back to America when he got his divorce. Because in America he could at least get joint custody, where had he stayed in Japan he would get bupkis. Maybe not have to pay over the $800,000 to Noriko, but probably not get to see his kids at all.

In Japan, the father is usually shut out in divorces. Except I remember reading where the former Prime Minister Koizumi kept his kids and shut the wife out. It has to do with something called the concept of “House” here, which is different than how westerners regard the family unit. But again, that could just be B.S. to cover the fact that a well-connected and powerful man gets the kids.

Some bloggers in Japan are faulting CNN for some of the drama behind this story, when there are in fact these shades of gray. But fairly, CNN is doing it right. They are reporting on what they know so far. If every news agency had to do a research report on a purported victim before they would be covered by the news, you’d get no news.

Everything we know about Chris Savoie as an American puts him in the right. But it’s what we don’t know yet about Chris Savoie as a Japanese that makes the story more complicated.

It can easily be said that the “child abduction” issue is actually a Japanese domestic one about the rights of fathers in a divorce proceeding.

Even the consulate’s “hey, don’t mess with our good thing here in this exotic country”-style of service is put in a different light if the Fukuoka office had been tipped off ahead of time that the gaijin heading for the gates was actually a Japanese citizen. Wouldn’t Noriko Savoie told the cops all of that, and wouldn’t they have shared it with the consulate?

When it comes to duals, the State Department doesn’t get involved so easily in matters that could be construed as domestic. Since, of course, the dual owes allegiance to (at least) two countries, not one.

So in Fukuoka, instead of it being something like:

“hey guy, why are you bothering us with whatever your issue is? Look, you got Muffy (who’s high-powered Daddy got her the job at this consulate) all upset,”

Now, it’s more like,

“hey fella, once you figure out what country you’re really part of, and sort things out there, then we will review the situation and figure out what’s in America’s best interests.” Or something like that.

Seriously. Seriously. It’s one thing if you charge the gates (which the Japanese apparently never allow here anyway) and that diplomatic soil is the only real home you have. It’s another when America has become a passport of convenience in your domestic disputes and child custody policies of your adopted country.

It’s a shame when so many important issues:

– like the bizzaro worlds that American State offices are to Americans in Japan;

– like how some Japanese tend to want to carry as much of the 19th century into the 21st as they can, while rewriting the history of the 20th

get mangled in somebody’s scheming for advantage.

This is not a pitch to sell some one-in-a-thousand-shot breakthrough drug to some rich investors. It’s about people’s sympathy and time that touch on issues that the people deeply care about. Venture capitalist investors know that they might be played for fools. The general public isn’t as forgiving.