In the United Kingdom, the United States and other developed countries, abused or neglected children are often sent to live with a foster family. But that rarely happens in Japan, one of the world's wealthiest and most progressive societies.
Close to 90 percent of Japan's troubled children are placed in state institutions. Foster care has not emerged as a viable alternative for abused children in Japan because governments have failed to properly train carers, monitor the placements, or adequately educate the public about its benefits. In addition, Japan strongly values blood ties, so welcoming a stranger’s child into a family seems unnatural to many people. Japan is also a country where speaking out about child abuse causes great shame.
Some 33,000 children currently live in 131 child nursing homes. Inside these institutions, there are babies as young as six months old, and institutionalised children spend on average five years there.
There is no institution where parents can learn about child-rearing and that is why the chain reaction of abuse cannot be stopped. With child abuse cases rising to a record 73,000 cases last year, the problem of institutions and where to place troubled children is unlikely to go away.