A JapaneseE city has approved plans for the country’s first "baby hatch", where parents can drop off unwanted infants anonymously, defying opposition from the conservative premier.
Advocates say the baby hatch, if it becomes a trend, could help boost the birth rate in Japan, where abortion is widely accepted and adoption outside of extended families is rare.
A Roman Catholic hospital in Kumamoto, a provincial city in southern Japan, in December sought official approval of the system modelled on the “Babyklappe” in use in Germany.
“We have approved the plan by the hospital,” Mayor Seishi Koyama told reporters today. “There is no legal basis to say that a baby hatch violates any relevant laws.
“We will make our utmost efforts to make sure it is not simple just to leave babies at the baby hatch,” Mr Koyama said, adding that the city would consult with the Government on its operation.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has campaigned for Japan to return to “family values,” has publicly opposed the plan, although his government found no legal grounds to block it.
The baby hatch at the Jikei Hospital in Kumamoto would be called “the cradle of storks” and set up in the lobby like a post box, according to hospital officials.
The cradle is equipped with a warmer and an alarm that goes off when a baby is deposited. The Catholic hospital would then arrange care for the children.