Hi Blog. Sorry I’m not updating daily recently. I’m changing my bedroom every night (two nights ago it was Nagoya, last night Saitama, right now again at the delightful Kamesei Ryokan in Nagano), and don’t often know if I’ll have email access or time to write (part of meeting people is engaging in conversation for many hours–always a joy with the people I meet–but the only time I have alone is to sleep these days). Speech tomorrow I’ve got to work on tonight. so let’s see if I can do better.
Meanwhile, a friend who wishes to remain anonymous posted me the following article. Mutantfrog travelogue took it up, so let me post both.
Kyodo News Monday September 8, 8:09 PM
Foreign baby left at ‘baby hatch‘
(Kyodo) _ A baby with foreign nationality was left at Japan’s first “baby hatch” at a Kumamoto hospital, according to a report on Monday by a panel examining the practice.The interim report, submitted to the Kumamoto prefectural government, also noted a handicapped baby was left at Jikei Hospital in the city of Kumamoto.
Details of the two cases were not immediately available.
It has already been reported that a total of 17 infants were left anonymously at the baby hatch between its opening on May 10, 2007, and March 31 this year.
Reiho Kashiwame, a professor of child welfare at Shukutoku University who heads the panel, said, “We have decided to make our report public in order to stir debate (on the baby hatch).”
The panel will compile its final report next year.
The friend replies:
COMMENT: So, er, this means that if the baby was provably born in Japan, not of provable parents, and stateless, the baby gets Japanese nationality?
Great, but if news about this loophole gets out, I can see
a lot of a strong incentive for NJ having an incentive to drop their babies off in the baby hatch now just to get their baby into Japan as a citizen. This is how warped Japanese citizenship laws are. Another issue earlier this year, involving a Supreme Court case and one Japanese spouse insufficiently acknowledging (as far as the law is concerned), even questions their constitutionality.
But I don’t see how item three above, which says (my translation), “in the case the child was born in Japan, but if one doesn’t know the parents, or if [the baby or the parents, unclear which] doesn’t have Japanese nationality, …then the baby becomes a Japanese national”, could ever be enforced. Or even why this provision exists.
Turning the keyboard over to Joe Jones at Mutantfrog:
September 8th, 2008 by Joe Jones
A baby with foreign nationality was left at Japan’s first “baby hatch” at a Kumamoto hospital, according to a report on Monday by a panel examining the practice.
A baby hatch, for those of you who don’t know, is a place where people can essentially drop off children who are unwanted or who cannot be cared for, no questions asked.
I was a bit curious when I read this story, asking one question: How do you know the baby is of foreign nationality when someone anonymously left it somewhere? It wouldn’t be right to judge that based solely on physical appearance. In fact, under Japanese law, if a child is born in Japan and the identity of both parents is unknown (or if both parents are stateless), the child is considered a Japanese national—the only way to acquire nationality by jus soli here.
Then Asahi Shimbun added some clarity to the story. According to their report, there are ten cases of baby drop-offs in which the source of the baby was clear. In two of those cases, the mother came by herself and dropped the baby off. There were also cases “where both parents were zainichi gaikokujin,” i.e. special permanent residents of Korean/Chinese descent who are largely indistinguishable from Japanese nationals, “and where grandparents and males deposited [the child].”
So Kyodo was being a bit too vague for information’s sake: the kid was not visibly foreign, but rather they deduced the kid’s foreignness from the nationality of the parents. Now let’s see what happens when a really foreign kid gets dropped in one of these hatches…
Comments? Arudou Debito in Kamesei Ryokan, Nagano