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kuchikomi

'Non-existent children' fall through cracks because they've never been registered

39 Comments

At a dorm for women in the "fuzoku" (ero-entertainment) industry, “I saw something really terrible,” Spa! (July 17) hears from a young woman it calls R-san. The story involves a small child and got Spa! thinking about the plight of “disappeared children.” Education ministry figures for last year show 5,877 children nationwide failing for one reason or another to attend elementary or junior high school. Of those, 1,191 – topping 1,000 for the first time – are listed as “whereabouts unknown.”

“There was this girl who worked in the same fuzoku place as I did,” R-san relates. “She had a little boy who would’ve been in about grade five. There was something a bit creepy about him."

He seemed terrified at the very thought of leaving the room – a tiny room stripped of all but the most basic furniture. R’s friend was not the child’s mother. His real mother, also a fuzoku worker, got hooked on stimulant drugs and disappeared. R’s friend took the child under her wing and no doubt did her best under trying circumstances, but a child needs more. He never went to school. “I was in her room one time and I said to him, ‘Come, let’s you and me go out,’” R tells Spa! “He just shrank from me. Didn’t say anything. No expression on his face.” Soon after they moved away and R has no idea what became of them.

No one has any idea what’s become of the 1,000-plus “disappeared children,” but the glimpse R caught of the one is suggestive. Fuzoku seems a recurring factor, as is – more prominently – domestic violence. A woman grabbing her children and fleeing an abusive husband is not likely to advertise her whereabouts, and the situation is hardly conducive to a normal life for the kids.

Theoretically, it’s up to the school to check on children who are suddenly absent, but that usually means visiting the children’s homes. What can the school do when there is no home to visit? More likely still to fall through the cracks in the system are preschool children. If they are included, says an education ministry official, the ranks of the “disappeared” would likely swell to several thousand.

The story of 25-year-old “T-san” epitomizes the limbo of life among the “disappeared.” She’s 25 now, was 19 when she gave birth. “I didn’t realize I was pregnant,” she says, “and when I did realize, it was too late to have an abortion. After the baby was born, we lived with my boyfriend’s parents, but my boyfriend beat me and his father raped me and forced me into fuzoku. They took all my earnings. I put up with it for five years before I finally escaped.”

But all she escaped to was another fuzoku establishment. Spa! talks to her current boss. “Her daughter isn’t in school,” he says. “The mother is incredibly insecure. She doesn’t mistreat the girl, but she looks about three – she’s tiny and hardly talks at all. More than school, what she needs is institutional care.” But there is no indication she’s going to get it.

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

39 Comments
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Article needs to translate the word "fuzoku" I had no idea what it ment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Lowly Glad that you try and hopefully succeed at keeping children safe.

As you and Yabura are the only two to take me to task about my attitude and since as_the_crow_flies and a dozen other support me I will leave this line of discussion with my head held high.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No you haven't struck any nerves. And no, I am not a bureaucrat, I don't know why you say that. I was simply interested in reading what other ppl had to say, and I didn't think that your heavy handed self-righteous prodding of them helped them or these kids. You are entitled to your opinions about any country,but entering others' conversation and telling them what to think and talk about may lead to ppl getting annoyed.

I don't know if you have fired anybody else up, even a little bit, with your words but you have certainly not fired me up, so I would suggest of thinking of some other strategies, or perhaps other, more fire-uppable words.

I have done absolutely nothing to help the anonymous masses of lonely kids out there in the world. However since I didn't come on here telling everyone what the correct thing to think and say was, I don't feel like I have an obligation to show I've done something.

Since you're asking, what I do do, is my best to keep the kids I see every day straight and focused on what's important, at least for the little slivers of time that have together with them. I personally think that is a better strategy for community building than taking on stress and guilt for the unhappiness of distant ppl who I have no direct relationship with, and who haven't asked me personally for something. (And then transferring that stress and anxiety to others). Focus on what's in front of you to the best of your ability. And try to increase that ability.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Forgot to say good job to JT for posting the articles about children being harmed, can't fix the problem if it's is being ignored.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I see I struck a nerve, perhaps you are on of those bureaucrats sitting in an easy chair not doing their job? Yes I am the outsider looking in, and just like the people there who state their opinions about my home country I am stating opinions about Japan. The only way I can help the children there is by getting the adults there fired-up by my words, so I feel I have helped even if it is just a tiny amount. Back home I gave to appropriate charities that took care of children (scouts, 4-H, etc.) And now where I am my wife and I are going through the process of becoming foster parents for children in need of a safe and loving home (so far, so good in the application). Please do us the courtesy of telling the rest of us what you are doing to help?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@crow-flies

"creepy" was not a throwaway comment for one thing because it was not the reporter's commient but something one of his sources said. Also, I have seen quite a few creepy kids. In general I can guess that it is some kind of abuse or neglect that leads them to that state, and as an adult I wouldn't hold it against them exactly, but creepy is what they are. Could also be a poor translation of st the jpns said, but meaning a bit different thing. Especially since the person who said it tried to play with the kid and take him outside.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Personally, very sad story, but probably barely scratching the surface. The world is full of runaways, abused kids, bullied kids, weak kids who are afraid to go outside, kids sold into some form of slavery or other...

Japan seems like it is better off than a lot of countries in that respect, but really Jpns propensity to hide, obfuscate, and also keep their distance from ppls private business, plus gnrl unwillingness to talk about anything that could be a "national shame" at all publicly, means there is probably quite a bit of awful stuff here, too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Frank,

"ignore me if you must but don't ignore these children"

And what, exactly are you doing? Besides talking about other ppls suggestions about how to get government officials to get off their butts on an English bbs where very few participants have voting rights in Japan, and many don't even live here? Why not move faster to open a shelter for these kids and devote all your energy to it, instead of wasting your time on this board telling ppl here which topic is best to talk about.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Maybe some day in the future, everyone will be traceable. If a child isn't attending the proper educational institute then an organization can locate and address the issues that are causing that. A lot of grief can be prevented. In a way, it is beneficial for the government to protect children up to a certain age by preforming some kind of tracking. They are the future citizens that will either make or break the country as a whole, so why not protect them. In no way am I saying "punish those who break the rules".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

FadamorJul. 16, 2012 - 10:09PM JST I'd agree with you if we were talking about any first-world country OTHER than Japan, but Japan is losing its battle with gentrification.

I'm pretty sure "gentrification" is not the word you were searching for there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's not as if Spa is a particularly reliable magazine to begin with.

What's idiotic about the Japanese system is that birth registration is not handled automatically by the hospital or clinic. Family registers? How positively medieval.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We're not struggling to populate our world anymore, children are no more valuable than the countless others who are in trouble for whatever reason.

I'd agree with you if we were talking about any first-world country OTHER than Japan, but Japan is losing its battle with gentrification. Japan needs to improve its birth-rate, but before that will happen Japan needs to improve the support infrastructure for new parents. Until that happens, no one can afford to have children and the gentrification problem will only get worse.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thank you Frank., for injecting a bit of sanity into this thread. I read the article with it's breezy talk of "girls" and "the industry". From the patchy anecdotes about "so and so-san", it sounds like what this is referring to is not just disappearing children, it's vulnerable young women, mothers who had their children young, subject to abuse and violence themselves, living in an "industry" which is unstable, and doesn't give them the chance to bring up children. A large number of those children are at huge risk of growing up damaged by neglect, insecurity and lack of parenting. Sounds to me like a large, unacknowledge social problem, one of those which the Japanese welfare state doesn't address. Schooling, while important in helping them connect with other children and having a semblance of a "normal" life, whatever that might be, sounds to me like just one of their problems, and not the greatest. Although the article does touch on several points, like domestic violence, abuse of the women, psychological damage to the children, it manages to trivialise it, by things like the throwaway comment of one girl's colleague that a small child was "creepy." How can a 3 year old be creepy, for chrissakes?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Mr. Hunt,

A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life he is able to assist and shirks from injuring anything that lives. Albert Schweitzer

As children as the most vulnerable they must come first and then there has to be some truth to the old saying that "charity begins at home" so even though your are correct about people all over the world needing help, a people should help those at home first.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When did CHILDREN become a buzzword for people to lose their minds? We're not struggling to populate our world anymore, children are no more valuable than the countless others who are in trouble for whatever reason.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

For those interested in a more comprehensive discussion of statelessness in the Japanese context, the UNHCR has produced a lengthy, but readable document. Skip to p. 23 to get to the part directly related to Japan. http://www.unhcr.org/4ce643ac9.pdf

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't get how "unaccounted for" producing an actual number of "1.101". Seems to me they are, indeed, accounted for.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

<>albaleo I would say that <ubikwit> had a very good suggestion for a place to start. Getting the government officials out of their easy-chairs and out into the streets finding the children would appear to be the best place to start, after all the article says they admit to knowing of 1,191 who are unaccounted for.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A further issue that this article doesn't touch on is the case of children whose mother is in the "fuzoku" industry (and who is likely from another Asian country). Even if the mother wants to register the child, say to facilitate adoption, because the Japanese father, in most cases, doesn't want to be linked to the child or mother, the Japanese government says there's no proof that the child's Japanese and refuses to register him/her.

The mother's home country may also refuse to register the child, with the result that the child is in effect stateless and can't do anything. That's a real tragedy.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

discussing ways to get the government there to help these children

Better yet, getting parents and grandparents to help these children.

Oh darn, there Ive gone and said it. Shame on me!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The point about children being neglected and abused is well taken. But don't let it detract from the fact that there very well may be loving, caring and well off parents who choose not to register their children for philosophical, religious or conscience reasons. There's no need to assume that simply because a child is unregistered that the parents are neglectful.

There are numerous Amish and Menonite communities in North America that refrain from registering their children in government authorities. Those children and loved and raised well by their parents and they receive an education in the Amish/Menonite community.

Japan may very well have similar traditional down to earth communes and we should judge them or disparage them simply because they are different.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

@Frank Vaughn

"but don't ignore those endangered children"

So what do you suggest we do about it, Frankie?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

The government needs to prevent this type of scenario from happening in the first place.

The very first sentence of the article shows where to start:

At a dorm for women in the “fuzoku” (ero-entertainment) industry...

It is this so-called "industry" itself that needs to be dismantled. And that is obviously a complex problem that involves multiple issues at various levels of society.

the point is that you don't treat the symptoms of the problem, you have to treat the cause of the problem.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yubaru

If we are done YELLING at each other what do you say we get people discussing ways to get the government there to help these children, such as getting them safe shelter and well fed then back into the educational system.

Ignore me if you must, but don't ignore those endangered children.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

@Frank...

.What the hell is wrong with you?????

Look, discussions have their own way of taking off on to different tangents, you want to make your points fine. But SHOUTING at people does little good. If there was an ignore button here chances are you'd be first on the list, because I refuse to read posts of people who YELL in BOLDFACE TYPE

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

All you posters above me . . . WHAT IN THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU???

I read an article about CHILDREN , children who have disappeared from society, children who in all likely-hood are living in absolute poverty, children who are not receiving an education, not receiving medical care, CHILDREN who are probably going to bed each night HUNGRY and afraid for their life. I see an article about children who are at high risk of being physically abused, even higher risk of being sexually abused including being sold into sex slavery! If this child is a NON-PERSON then anything evil that can be done to a person can and probably is being done to these CHILDREN! And no one can do anything because the child "don't" exist.

And what are you people arguing about??? CITIZENSHIP and other non-sense!

Come on people young pre-school and elementary children are innocent and deserve every chance for a happy, SAFE and productive life. Get your priorities straight. Save the child from the dangers I listed first, then worry about which country he/she belongs to.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

I suppose the hospital where the baby was born has to register the child's birth, by law, and that information finds its way to a national registrar of some kind. Whether the child is later registered and re-registered at the ward offices etc., is up to the parent/s.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Depends whether the birth was registered. If not then they are not citizens.

Taking this one step further, if the government has a number, in this case 1,191, it means that they have to have been registered from birth, otherwise there would be no way the government would be able to track the overall numbers.

They are citizens, unregistered in the locations where they are living.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Thousands of missing people in Japan then?

Looking at the koban notice boards I can only make out around 5!!!!!!

News reports don't seem to mention this either.........

Strange indeed........

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

yubaru

It's very easy to move around and not register your child with the local city office. It does not make them non-citizens.

Depends whether the birth was registered. If not then they are not citizens. If yes then you are correct.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Since they were born here they would not be "aliens"

3rd generation Koreans born and educated in Japan may find a flaw in this argument

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Since they were born here they would not be "aliens" and they would not be required to have a Gaijin.

Japan does not give citizenship based upon whether someone is physically born here or not, like the US does. They very well could be aliens if either of their parents are not Japanese, or both.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

yubaru: if they aren't registered they aren't citizens hence they are required to carry ID. Non citizen : equal alien regardless of ethnicity

It is not safe to make assumptions here; not being registered does not necessarily mean that they are not citizens. You assume they are not on the koseki tohon of the parent.

It's very easy to move around and not register your child with the local city office. It does not make them non-citizens.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Since they were born here they would not be "aliens" and they would not be required to have a Gaijin.

In Common Law people with this type of status are called sovereign Citizens

2 ( +6 / -4 )

yubaru: if they aren't registered they aren't citizens hence they are required to carry ID. Non citizen : equal alien regardless of ethnicity

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Legally, the non-registered individuals are not liable for any taxes nor must they carry ID.

Why are you assuming that they are foreigners? No Japanese citizen is required to carry an ID anyway.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

when they become adults they'd have a certain advantage

I was thinking the same thing. But it that would require some forward thinking parents of means. The folks in this article are anything but.

I think the best possible thing you could for a kid these days is give them an education in the necessary arts to make a decent living, while keeping them unplugged from the grid. It would be the best of both worlds.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

never submit

when they become adults they'd have a certain advantage as they wouldn't need to pay taxes nor would they need to enroll in any mandatory scheme like national healthcare and the pension system

presuming they could get a job, they also couldn't own property or a car or get a license or open a bank account. Yeah huge advantage to give your kid. And in case you think they could go to another country, no passport. Oh and how could they rent somewhere to live?

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Legally, the non-registered individuals are not liable for any taxes nor must they carry ID.

These days with the home-schooling programs that are available you could leave your child unregistered, give them a proper and accredited education and when they become adults they'd have a certain advantage as they wouldn't need to pay taxes nor would they need to enroll in any mandatory scheme like national healthcare and the pension system.

-21 ( +4 / -25 )

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