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The kids aren't alright: Japan struggles to protect its most vulnerable children

31 Comments
By Chang-Ran Kim

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31 Comments
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Repugnant. The number of adoptions is 500?

Will the government enact laws with enforcement mechanisms? If not, don't waste taxpayer money enacting the law.

Time to join the late 20th century on this, Japan.

13 ( +17 / -4 )

How convenient, a seemingly well researched article being published NOW in the wake of all these incidents regarding children, and now this about those who were actually taken from their homes and institutionalized by the state.

Kind of like feeding fuel to the fire of anxiety about raising children in Japan.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Kobato Gakuen and Wakayama Prefecture declined to discuss Miwa's case with Reuters, citing privacy policies.

The young woman is now 23 years old, and adult, if she gives her consent, your responses here just add the the image that you have something to cover up!

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Our neighbors have a 5 year old son diagnosed at 3 to be along the autism disorder spectrum. His meltdowns often turn violent. The parents been told the number of children with similar diagnoses here in Japan is increasing. The parents struggle to get even minimum assistance. The Japanese education system views children as fungible units and ignores individual characteristics, limitations and talents. How many hikikomori might have turned out differently had there been proper assistance for them when they were younger? How many criminals?

http://theconversation.com/too-many-children-with-autism-are-let-down-by-schools-and-end-up-in-prison-107376

13 ( +15 / -2 )

This is what I wish people would consider every time they cry out on these pages for kids to be taken away from their "bad" parents. In many cases, at least the bad parents have some love for their kids, even if they are faulty parents. A kid plopped in a home like this is grows up traumatized and with a sense of complete loss, without love, without anyone really caring if they live or die. Of course they have trouble becoming functioning adults.

Unless the child's situation with the parents is even worse than this, they should be left with their parents.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Declining population and the country can't even protect the future of its existence, its children. Japan's safety net is non-existent and whatever is in place is a very poor and embarrassing model.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

@ PTownsend

Excellent point.1!!!!

Compared to , say, North American education system, ( i.e US & Canada) - Japanese education system has NOT formally and systemically implemented access to appropriately diagnose any neuro-developmental disorder (such as some as ADHD,)

....... never mind , the higher level disorders such as spectrum disorders (Aspergers, Autisms, PDF) or other Cognitive processing disorders that impact learning,

Consequently, it does not have appropriate academic / social programming in place which these children need. Many kids get lost because they get labelled as behavior 'problems" and are bullied as social misfits;

---- when, in fact these kids learn differently - and cannot fit into the rigid lock-step education system that the J Ministry of Ed enforces.

We know from over 20 years of research and active implantation in US & Canada No Am's school systems that kids CAN learn, and develop OPTIMALLY, given the correct 'supports.

Many of these J kids - shoved into institutions - will present with learning and social adjustment issues that the J system has do idea of treating , bc the institutionalization throws the developmental process off .

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Time to join the late 20th century on this, Japan.

This and everything else they are falling back on.

The young woman is now 23 years old, and adult, if she gives her consent, your responses here just add the the image that you have something to cover up!

Of course its a cover up. Its SOP here in Japan.

The Japanese education system views children as fungible units and ignores individual characteristics, limitations and talents. How many hikikomori might have turned out differently had there been proper assistance for them when they were younger? How many criminals?

Excellent point.

Declining population and the country can't even protect the future of its existence, its children.

Insane, isn't it. And yet the LDP worries about low birth rate..sort out the problems being faced by the children you have now before asking people to have more.

Japan's safety net is non-existent and whatever is in place is a very poor and embarrassing model.

100% agree

8 ( +12 / -4 )

It would also help if they would give non-family and non-Japanese more opportunities to foster and adopt.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Unlike most developed countries, which place the majority of children who are abused, neglected, or can't live with their parents for other reasons in foster homes, Japan puts more than 80% of the 38,000 such children in residential-care facilities, according to government figures.

Last summer, the Japanese government said it wanted at least three-quarters of preschoolers in need of state care to live in foster homes within seven years, and the number of adoptions to double to at least 1,000 within five.

These two paragraphs explain the plight of disadvantaged children very well. It also explains why social workers are reluctant to remove children from abusive environments and why they push to have the children returned to their homes. Unfortunately, the children who are returned to their homes are all too often returned to the same abusive environment they were taken from in the first place.

My sister has been fostering abused and disadvantaged children in Australia for decades. Some of the horror stories that have come from the children make you sick to your stomach. However, at least the kids in her charge have had a chance at a normal interactive life and a chance to vent their frustrations, which is very unlike most of the disadvantaged kids in japan who are just thrown in a void and left to figure it out for themselves.

The situation in japan is unique and quite scary. The birthrate has dropped by nearly 50% in recent years years. However, in that same period, child abuse has increased 10 fold. Yes, a small percentage of the increase is due better public awareness and more cases being reported, but that is only a small percentage. This reflects poorly on Japanese society as a whole. Dealing with all the disadvantaged and abused kids is one thing. However, understanding and addressing why so many kids are suffering abuse and why it is increasing so rapidly are a completely different issues that are being ignored by the J-Gov.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

However, understanding and addressing why so many kids are suffering abuse and why it is increasing so rapidly are a completely different issues that are being ignored by the J-Gov.

It is not rocket science to know why child abuse is on the rise. Most occur in low income households . In most cases most have to do 2 low paid jobs to barely live and most don't have dinner as a family. Parents vent their anger for working long hours with no improvement in their livelihood. Expect the situation to only worsen the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

I was half interested in adopting but we ended up having a third child. I was 44 at the time. Many adoption agencies is Japan will not place children with parents over 45. The welfare ministry is also unwilling to do so.

Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't want a fourth child because of the school, club, and neighbourhood obligations I know it would entail. There is far too much drudge, all at the expense of family life and opportunities for us to make something of ourselves.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I am still shocked after reading this article. How can an advanced country like Japan which I admire so much allowed such a case like Miwa to happen & there must be many more! I get the blues just going to 3 months of stay-in military training in Singapore. For a 6yr old to be taken away by case-workers, away from her mother for 8years, this is criminal!

7 ( +9 / -2 )

How we can call them welfare workers or social workers ???

//

In February, Miwa requested the release of her casework to learn more. The 276-page file paints a picture of a struggling mother who needed someone to look after Miwa while searching for work or a place to live away from her partners, including Miwa's father.

The file shows social workers were in no rush to reunite Miwa and her mother. Miwa doesn't recall a caseworker ever visiting her when she was little - a fact the records corroborate.

//

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Truly heartbreaking stuff, Japan has been getting all this horribly wrong since forever sadly & very few seem to care or affect change.

We are witnessing ANOTHER aspect of the death of the country Japan with the absolutely dismal protection & "help" if offers its most vulnerable

What an awful place to grow up sure glad I didn't grow up here, no wonder so many people around us are

zombie like & have mental issues that are untreated...…...

1 ( +5 / -4 )

There is nothing wrong removing children from abusive homes. The problem is that the alternative is no better. The facilities need programs to prepare these children to be independent. Teach them trades, teach them how to cook and clean for themselves, help them get part-time jobs when they turn 16, teach them about government services available to them, help them save money for their departure and get them involved in community service work.

The current facilities don't provide a means of instilling independence or confidence. If they child's family is messed up and don't want to improve, f$%7 'em and teach the children to do better without them.

Most times, Japanese culture tend to amplify psychological issues because Japanese people prefer to ignore problems and imagine that everything is "Beautiful Japan" than confront them.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Little love for children in this country. Emotional and social foundations are poorly built. Low self-esteem, loneliness, anti-social behavior, bullying, suicide... Connect the dots. That is very sad.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Classic insane system.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

No surprise then that the Japanese are giving up having kids!

Resources allocated to children in such a wealthy country is scandalous.

Those with abusive or no parents are in a worse situation.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Japan: In 2018, 45,000 children were in foster care 13.3% and orphanage 86.3%. In 2017 there were 130,000 reported abuses. One in seven children live in poverty.

https://npojcsa.com/en/index.html

Japan needs to be so much more for these children.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I've volunteered a couple of times at a place that helps feed kids who are in rather poor conditions, albeit not foster homes. Usually single parent families where the mom (always mom) has to work and the kids often don't eat well, if at all. They come in, the people cook for them (and sometimes together), and then the volunteers eat together with the kids and most importantly, talk and laugh.

All of these kids need help, and it seems the government has no interest except to pass the buck and then pat themselves on the back for lip-service laws that do nothing.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Like SmithInJapan, I volunteered in a facility (in Wakayama!) that was described to me as part-orphanage and part-care-place. I had an interest in adopting a Japanese child in the future but was told adopting out was rare and that children were taken care of by other family members---perhaps extended family members-- never permanently out to other families. At this type of facility family would come visit, the kids just didn't live with their them. I just thought that maybe the families were on hard times and needed help in taking care of their child. I didn't question anything beyond that. Now after reading this article I wonder if where I volunteered indeed housed abused children or those dropped off by parents who just couldn't handle them. This makes me miss the kids all the more and glad that I took the time to go see them.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

How can you grow up without love and become a stable and a happy person?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Might seem off topic, but that is a really expressive photograph.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The hardest part of Volunteering to help with day action events for Kids in this situation, is the walking away at the end of the day.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Shame on Japanese government for having an "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. Any country that doesn't take care of its children/youth have a bleak future.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Many experienced caretakers say it won't be easy.

難しいですね!But hey, grow a spine and do it anyway. That said, most of the blame here (as usual) lies with lawmakers and other higher-ups that don't want to rock the boat ahead of their golden parachutes into retirement. The caretakers themselves, though, also have to create a better immediate environment and culture. Stick it to 'the man' and give these children the love and guidance that they need. Push back on the system that leaves these children cut-off!

A government investigation last month found sexual violence among children was widespread at institutions.

Oh, and how this point was so,so quickly glossed over... Meh, it's probably nothing, right?

This article is just outright disturbing, but we all knew how little Japan values its youth - how kids are just a number, or state property here (yes, even the ones that live at home).

Japan needs to make some big changes quick, including: scrapping the club requirements at schools altogether, limiting work days to 8-10 hours maximum - among many other glaringly obvious problems!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japan needs to stop being fanatical about damaging things that don't matter, and start putting efforts where they are needed!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How can kids be alright ???.Japanese have to look carefully at their society. In 1987, when I arrived in Japan people was kind and truly honest. Now ,U have the people between 40 to 55 years of age, 70% full of feelings of jealousy, robbing people behind their backs and hurting even people they have known for over 20 years due to their own incompetence & selfish thinking .Do U think that children of such kind of people can be healthy & happy ???.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I agree with most of the comments above, but in my opinion, there is one critical piece of information missing in this article...what was Miwa's Mother doing after she was taken from her?  Was she fighting each and every day to get her back?  Did she get on her feet, and then start fighting for the return of her daughter? She was taken away because her Mother needed to find a place to live away from her partners including Miwa's Father and she remained in government custody for 8 years.  Yes, the system in Japan of taking care of foster children is terrible, but the Mother seems to be the root cause of the issues for Miwa.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

vinarius: "Do U think that children of such kind of people can be healthy & happy ???."

It's not just the modern parents, my friend, adoption was even more of a nightmare when you came. It wasn't even "suggested" that parents stop abusing kids. I agree, though, society still very much needs to be looked at.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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