Two more unwanted children have been dropped off at Japan's new "baby hatch," reports said Sunday, which could fuel further debate about the controversial centre. The children, including a baby boy about two months old, were dropped off on Saturday, the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper and Kyodo News agency reported, citing unnamed sources close to the service.
The anonymous child drop-off opened last month at the Roman Catholic hospital in southern Kumamoto city, and received its first child the same day. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, an advocate of "family values", has expressed outrage at the drop-off but found no legal grounds to stop it from opening. Reports have said the first boy was aged three or four. Three children have now reportedly been dropped at the centre although details about the latest two are not known. Officials at the hospital were not Sunday immediately available for comment. Sunday's reports could reignite debate about the service which has advocates calling it a last resort to save lives and opponents claiming it allows parents to easily abandon their children. The hospital said it set up the anonymous drop-off to help children and troubled women who would otherwise resort to abortion or even infanticide to cope with unwanted babies.
Abortion is widely accepted in Japan, where adoption outside of extended families is rare. The hatch, modelled on a similar idea in Germany, looks like a mailbox with pictures of storks. When the door is opened, a nurse is alerted by an alarm. There is an intercom next to the door to encourage parents to contact hospital staff.