UCA News
Contribute

Sounding the alarm on baby abandonment, infanticide in Japan

Recent news of infants facing such tragic fates remains a lesser-discussed yet deeply troubling issue
A soft toy in a nursery for newborn babies at Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto, southern Japan, whose mission is to rescue an infant left in the country's only baby hatch. Recently reported cases of newborn abandonment and infanticide shed light on a serious societal issue in the nation

A soft toy in a nursery for newborn babies at Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto, southern Japan, whose mission is to rescue an infant left in the country's only baby hatch. Recently reported cases of newborn abandonment and infanticide shed light on a serious societal issue in the nation. (Photo: AFP)

Published: August 21, 2023 11:44 AM GMT
Updated: August 21, 2023 11:59 AM GMT

Amidst a historical decline in birth rates and an alarmingly high prevalence of youth suicides, another distressing phenomenon has emerged in Japan in recent times — newborns being abandoned or killed by their own mothers.

In a society grappling with multifaceted challenges, the shocking news of infants facing such tragic fates remains a lesser-discussed yet deeply troubling issue.

Recently reported cases of newborn abandonment and infanticide shed light on a serious societal issue that requires a comprehensive analysis.

The tragic incidents, involving mothers abandoning or intentionally causing the death of their newborns, raise important questions about the state of mental health support, social pressures, and the solitude of mothers in Japanese society.

One recent case involved a woman giving birth in a pub toilet — not the first time this year — and leaving the baby in a manner that resulted in death. This act, coupled with her collapsing upon leaving the restroom, hints at the potential physical and emotional strain she might have been undergoing.

The assertion that she believed someone else would find the baby underscores the desperate, yet tragically misguided, attempt to avoid direct responsibility.

The tragic event clearly showcases the disconnect between individuals in distress and the support networks available to them.

In another case, a woman's act of infanticide after birth in a parking lot exposes the complexities of her circumstances.

The isolation of living alone, the extreme physical violence inflicted on her newborn, and the subsequent abandonment suggest profound desperation and a severe lack of social resources available for individuals facing such challenges.

In another extreme case, a partially burned newborn girl's body was found on the shore near Numazu, a coastal town in Shizuoka prefecture. The gruesome nature of the incident signifies an utter disregard for the sanctity of life. It again reflects a lack of awareness, resources, and support available to those in need.

The fact that many of these incidents occurred in isolation, or went unnoticed for an extended period, reflects a lack of community engagement and connection, potentially preventing timely interventions.

One striking aspect contributing to the escalating trend of newborn abandonment is the stark reality that a significant number of women now reside in Tokyo and other sprawling urban centers, often far removed from their familial roots.

This geographical disconnect places an extraordinary burden on their lives, leaving them without the traditional support structures that family proximity could offer. The resulting isolation, heightened by the absence of a close-knit support network, weighs heavily on these women, often pushing them to the brink of despair.

Furthermore, the erosion of effective communication within modern relationships compounds this issue.

In contrast to previous generations, which navigated relationships without the ubiquity of instant messaging, contemporary couples appear to grapple with communication breakdowns. This widening gap in communication impedes the mutual understanding that could otherwise serve as a buffer against the overwhelming stressors faced by new mothers.

The profound solitude that captures the lives of many Japanese women amplifies these challenges. The scarcity of genuine confidantes — partners who can serve as both companions and empathetic listeners — exacerbates their feelings of isolation.

Frequently, public political discussions revolve around the imperative of providing subsidies to women based on the number of children they bear. While financial support certainly holds its place, a more profound need seems to emerge — one that transcends monetary considerations.

Amidst the transformative journey of motherhood, what may be truly indispensable is the reassuring presence of a dedicated social worker. Such a companion could share the weight of this pivotal life phase, particularly during the experience of a woman's first childbirth, offering not just advice but an empathetic ear to unburden the overwhelming stress that often accompanies motherhood.

The conventional focus on financial assistance sometimes overlooks the fundamental emotional terrain that new mothers navigate. The presence of a trained social worker could fill this crucial void.

By offering guidance and insights drawn from both professional expertise and lived experiences, these companions could serve as indispensable pillars of support, providing a nurturing environment where mothers can voice their anxieties and seek solace.

This approach not only aids in alleviating the mother's psychological load but also cultivates a sense of camaraderie and encouragement, promoting a healthier transition into the role of motherhood.

*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.

Help UCA News to be independent
Dear reader,
Trafficking is one of the largest criminal industries in the world, only outdone by drugs and arms trafficking, and is the fastest-growing crime today.
Victims come from every continent and are trafficked within and to every continent. Asia is notorious as a hotbed of trafficking.
In this series, UCA News introduces our readers to this problem, its victims, and the efforts of those who shine the light of the Gospel on what the Vatican calls “these varied and brutal denials of human dignity.”
Help us with your donations to bring such stories of faith that make a difference in the Church and society.
A small contribution of US$5 will support us continue our mission…
William J. Grimm
Publisher
UCA News
comment

Share your comments

1 Comments on this Story
EARL H. KINMONTH
There's nothing notable about the Japan fertility rate except the amount of attention it gets. There are predominantly Catholic countries in Europe with a lower fertility rate than Japan including Italy, home to the Vatican. Abandonment of newborns is nothing new in Japan and is not a Japan-specific pattern.
Asian Bishops
Latest News
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia