Japan opens baby hatch to protect infants

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Japan opens baby hatch to protect infants

A citizens' group working to protect children in the town of Tobetsu, Hokkaido, opened a baby hatch, where parents can anonymously drop off infants they can't take care of.

It is the second such service to be opened in the country after one at the Jikei Hospital in the city of Kumamoto.

On May 13th, the children's SOS Hokkaido announced that it has opened a baby box. The group is not involved with a doctor or a hospital on the newly opened facility, unlike the one in Kumamoto. The Tobetsu town office and the Hokkaido Prefectural Government spoke to the group on the same day about medical care after an infant is taken into its care, and asked them not to accept babies. The baby box will be kept open while the group continues to discuss the matter with the governments.

Shima Sakamoto, a licensed psychological counselor, said she and two others, including a children's social worker, started a test run of the baby hatch on April 1. It was officially opened on May 10, but so far no babies have been left there. Touching on Jikei Hospital, where the baby hatch has been in operation for 15 years, Sakamoto said the baby hatch is necessary to protect the lives of children. She said that it'd be more appropriate to have this at a medical institution, but outside Japan they're sometimes set up at a regular home. I want to eliminate child suffering as much as possible. Jikei Hospital Director Takeshi Hasuda, who set up Japan's first baby hatch in May 2007, told the media that he called Sakamoto on the morning of May 13 after learning about the new facility. He said that it is a welcome move as long as it is a safe system, but it should be predicated on cooperation with a medical institution, obstetrics and pediatrics. A system to ensure 24 hour service is essential is also essential.