KUMAMOTO (Kyodo) A hospital here plans to create a drop box where parents can anonymously leave unwanted babies, hospital officials said Thursday.
Jikei Hospital said it will begin the work to create the drop box as soon as it obtains permission from local public health authorities. The hospital wants to set it up by the end of the year.
Drop boxes for abandoned babies have been introduced in Germany, where they are known as a "babyklappe" (baby flap) or "babyfenster" (baby window) in German. In Italy, they are called "culle per la vita" (cradle for life).
A Jikei Hospital official visited Germany, where they are usually set up at hospitals or social centers, in 2004.
Jikei Hospital said its baby drop box, called "konotori no yurikago" (cradle of storks), will be a boxlike chamber similar to an incubator, accessible from outside the hospital by opening a window. When a baby is dropped off, an alarm will alert nurses.I had heard of this idea before, but did not know it was already well established in Europe.
It's a peculiar idea in some respects; and I find it odd that giving up a baby this way doesn't cause all sort of problems for the mother in explaining to neighbours and relatives what happened to the baby.
Further down in the article, the depressing figure of the number of abortions in Japan is mentioned:
According to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, in fiscal 2004, the number of abortions in the prefecture stood at 5,619, while the nationwide figure came to 301,673. No figures were available on abandoned babies in Japan, which is struggling to find ways to stem a falling birthrate.
Just how big a difference to the population problem in Japan would a reduction in abortions mean? According to the BBC in August 2006:
Almost 550,000 births were registered in the six months from January to June, up by more than 11,600 from the same period last year.
So, that means (if this increase holds up), about 1,100,000 births a year. The number of deaths in 2005: about 1,077,000. (More people died in 2005 than were born.)
The point is, if they are going to insist on very low migration as a source of population growth, then halving the current abortion rate would stop the population slide by a substantial number.
UPDATE: by coincidence, I see that there is a recent Japundit post about the birth rate, and the strange attitude of Japanese to immigration.