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Japan frees U.S. dad accused of snatching kids

Though freed from a Japanese jail after attempting to abduct his own children from his ex-wife, an American businessman remains emotionally devastated by the knowledge that he may never see his 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter again.“He’s been traumatized. It’s very difficult to talk about. It’s very emotional,” Christopher Savoie’s wife, Amy Savoie, told TODAY’s Ann Curry Thur
/ Source: TODAY staff and wire

Though freed from a Japanese jail after attempting to abduct his own children from his ex-wife, an American businessman remains emotionally devastated by the knowledge that he may never see his 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter again.

“He’s been traumatized. It’s very difficult to talk about. It’s very emotional,” Christopher Savoie’s wife, Amy Savoie, told TODAY’s Ann Curry Thursday in an interview from Nashville, Tenn. “His children are basically dead to him now. It’s horrible, and I don’t know how a parent goes forward from that kind of devastation. Our lives have been completely dismantled by this tragedy.”

Christopher Savoie was released Thursday after 18 days in custody. He was jailed after he abducted his children, Isaac and Rebecca, in southern Japan as his ex-wife was walking them to school.

Divorce, then disappearance

Savoie had married Japanese native Noriko Savoie and lived with her in Japan from 2001 to 2008 while he ran a company he founded. According to ABC News, he had become a Japanese citizen while in that country.

But the marriage soured, and after the couple moved to Franklin, Tenn., they divorced in January of this year. In April, Noriko took the children with her, with a court’s permission, on vacation to Japan. She returned with them, but two weeks later disappeared with the children.

Although Christopher Savoie had custody rights in the United States, in Japan, he had none. Unlike most developed countries, Japan has never signed a Hague Treaty guaranteeing custody rights to parents in international divorces. In Japan, the law allows one parent — usually the mother — to have exclusive custody in such cases.