In his Oct. 6 article, “Savoie case shines spotlight on Japan’s ‘disappeared dads,’ ” Debito Arudou makes several valid points about the need to revise the way that child custody and visitation rights are treated under Japanese law, and about Japan’s koseki (family registration) system being an obstacle to the needed changes. The changes are needed for the benefit of mothers and fathers, Japanese and non-Japanese and, above all, the children themselves.
However, I must take issue with Arudou’s contention that the lack of a postdivorce legal framework to prevent abductions, secure joint custody and guarantee visitation rights “forced” Christopher Savoie to take the law into his own hands. Christopher Savoie was no more “forced” to break the law by abducting his children than his ex-wife Noriko was “forced” to break the law by abducting the children in the first place.
Both parents were confronting real problems, yet both chose the most disruptive and irresponsible course of action available to them rather than put the children’s interests first. To his credit, Arudou writes that “it’s the children that get hurt the most in this tug of war.” Sadly, this is one point on which all can agree.