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:
Don’t blame the hospital; blame the newswire
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
6 comments on “NJ baby left at anonymous “baby hatch”. Kokuseki wa? Eligible for Japanese! Er, yes, but…”
“if news about this loophole gets out, I can see a lot of 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.”
Uh, two things: If you care so little about your baby that you’d drop it off at a baby hatch never to see it again, why would you CARE about its nationality. Or, phrased conversely: If you care about your baby enough to care about its citizenship, you probably care enough not to drop it off anonymously.
Second: You’re positing a situation where “a lot of NJ” are giving away their kids for citizenship, and the part that you think is most warped is the citizenship laws? If ANYONE, ANYONE else in the world had said that “a lot of NJ” would freely give up their children to take advantage (?) of a legal loophole, you’d be jumping their ass for painting NJ as such warped motherfuckers.
Next on Debito: “Food prices are going up. I can imagine a lot of NJ eating their own babies. That’s how warped the Japanese supermarket system is!”
–Quite right. Thanks for pointing out the problems with my phrasing. Sorry. Debito
I don’t think that Randomcommenter is being completely fair.
The purpose of the baby hatch, although I am by no means condoning it, is to allow parents who think they have no alternative but to abandon their child the ability to do that without endangering the well being of the child. Think of an NJ parent feeling like there is no choice but to do this. As far as I know giving the child up for adoption will not guarantee the baby Japanese nationality. The baby hatch however would. If the parent wanted the child to at least grow up as a non alien, can you not imagine them choosing the baby hatch?
On the baby hatch, in light of the number of reported cases of abuse and neglect of children in Japan, is a sane stroke of humanitarian genius in my book. Better left in Kumamoto’s hatch than found in Tokyo dumpsters, or in bits and pieces at rest-stops along the Tomei.
On Japanese citizenship for these kids, I am unsure how the law works, but would hope sanity might prevail, in the light of the recent granting of statehood to kids born of one Japanese parent and one NJ. (I know it’s different, but it gives me hope.) The roots of this issue spring from immature people having kids in a child-unfriendly society, but that’s a much larger debate for another day.
I notice Texas has “Baby Moses,” its own brand of a “baby hatch.” A mother can “drop off” her child at a fire station or a hospital if she does not want it.
>>>>> “But I don’t see how item three above…could ever be enforced. Or even why this provision exists.”
It’s not unique to Japan.
U.S. Code Title 8 Chapter 12 Subchapter III § 1401 (f):
“The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:
(f) a person of unknown parentage found in the United States while under the age of five years, until shown, prior to his attaining the age of twenty-one years, not to have been born in the United States;”
Sounds a bit like the Japanese law, doesn’t it?
>>>>> “This is how warped Japanese citizenship laws are.”
Compared to what? Is it the jus sanguinis system you dislike? Do you think the entire world should adopt jus soli?
Now consider this – As an American citizen, I have to prove that I “was physically present in the U.S. for a minimum of five years before the birth [of my child], two years after age 14″ in order for my daughter, whose mother is Korean, to get her U.S. citizenship.
Just being an American citizen does not satisfy the requirements for my child to become an American citizen in the case that she was born in a foreign country. What if I couldn’t prove that I had lived in the U.S. for 5 consecutive years (which, actually, I have not yet gathered the evidence for…), and my daughter was born in Japan? Which system is warped? Luckily, because of jus sanguinis, my daughter already received her Korean citizenship…it’s the jus soli citizenship that’s giving me the headache.
Jus soli is an old system where humans are considered to be under the rule of the “king” whose soil upon which they were born (English Common Law). Sounds a bit like livestock to me.
I thought I’d take a look at how this is being described in Japanese:
2008/09/08 18:31 【共同通信】
As in the English, it is stated matter-of-factly that the child is “foreign” but there is no indication of who the foreigness was determined.