All too often we associate orphanages with the poorer, developing countries. Here is an insight into the plight of abandoned children in the country with the third largest economy in the world, Japan.
Here are some extracts from two articles written by Cynthia Ruble for the Japan Daily Press. Links to the two articles can be found below. Please read them both.
"A little boy had been brought over from the baby orphanage to join the 3-to-18-year-olds’ orphanage. This is the way the system is set up here. Suddenly uprooted from the only home he had known, he was plopped down into a big building full of older boys. Though I had just walked into the room and he was seeing me for the first time, he clung to me for all he was worth and would not be comforted. I’ve rarely witnessed anything as pitiful."
"Tokyo is one of the top cities of the world. Its name is synonymous with “leading-edge.” So, you may surprised to find that in 2010, child welfare workers there put 242 babies under one year of age into orphanages, while they put 0 babies into foster homes or the arms of adopting parents."
"There were 36,450 children in the orphanage system in Japan in March, 2011."
"The fact is that the vast majority of children in orphanages here do have parents. Parents are allowed to put their babies/children in orphanages for any number of reasons. They don’t even need to visit them. They can leave them there, and often do, until they reach 18 years of age. The government will not proactively sever their parental rights."
"... asked a high government official why Japan had such a system, as opposed to promoting adoption and foster care like other developed nations." The answer .... "There are many jobs involved in this system. Plus, we don’t like change."
"Tokuji Yamanta, a former child welfare worker in Aichi prefecture and well-known champion of Japan’s children, told me recently that the children who live in orphanages for many years are hurt in deep and complex ways. Some who eventually end up in family environments can develop reactive attachment disorder in which they regress to behaving like a baby. Some years ago, Britain did a study of children who grew up in orphanages and the findings were so disturbing that they shifted their policy to ensure more children were cared for in foster families. The Japanese government doesn’t study this issue, in Mr. Yamanta’s opinion, “because it doesn’t want to know the truth and thus be forced to change.”
"Orphanages receive government funds based on the number of children they have and are thus not motivated to try to get children adopted or into foster care."
Japan’s Forgotten Children
Japan’s Forgotten Children, Part 2