Japan needs foster care rather than institutions: U.K. experts

William Hollingworth - The Japan Times

According to this article from the Japan Times, Japan places around 85 percent of children and babies who need care into institutions, and "British-based experts on the welfare and rights of vulnerable children" are calling for increased provisions for foster care in the country. The article highlights the work of Michael Rivera-King, "who has a doctorate from the University of Oxford and will publish a book on foster care in Japan this year." According to the article, "Rivera-King found staff are wary of placing children in foster care due to fears they will develop bonds with foster parents at the expense of their relationship with birth parents."

According to the article, Rivera-King also argues that the legal system hinders foster care in Japan because "social services generally need parents’ permission before putting their child in care — and parents are more likely to grant permission if the child is going to an institution staffed by professionals, rather than 'amateur' foster parents who might form a 'natural' bond with the child and become a potential rival."

The article also features a brief statement from Kanae Doi, the Japan director at Human Rights Watch, who recognizes that the use of institutional care in Japan conflicts with international human rights law which stressed the importance of the family setting for children. Doi notes that “budgets need to be shifted from institutional to foster care. Institutions are paid on a per-child basis and, in order to keep them open, this provides an incentive to place kids there rather than with foster parents.”