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…