Children with foreign roots a growing social issue in Japan

Asahi -- Apr 19
Nearly 4 percent of children living in group homes for youngsters across Japan have at least one parent with foreign roots, forcing staff members to confront issues they were not initially trained to handle, an Asahi Shimbun study shows.

The welfare ministry began a nationwide survey on children of foreign ancestry at children’s institutions last year due to a lack of official data on the subject.

In the study last autumn, The Asahi Shimbun sent questionnaires to about 600 homes for orphaned, neglected and abused children as well as 150 or so homes for infants up to the age of 1 to ascertain problems that arise due to nationality.

Valid responses were given by 60 percent of the facilities. Kayoko Ishii, a professor of sociology at Tokyo's Rikkyo University, assisted in analyzing the findings.

It emerged that 16,776 children were registered in about 450 such institutions as of Oct. 1.

Of that figure, both or one of the parents of 637 children had foreign nationality, accounting for 3.8 percent of the total.

Twenty-four of the 637 children were stateless or in limbo with regard to their nationality. The study found that there were more than 30 such cases in the past.

The ratio of children with mixed parentage was higher at facilities in urban centers in the Kanto, Chubu and Kansai regions than those in other regions.

At a home in Kawasaki, 10 of the 27 children had at least one parent who is not Japanese, making it the facility with the nation's highest ratio of such children.

The study revealed that the number of mixed parentage children is rising even in local regions. One facility in the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan responded that a child in this category had recently become its first case.

Respondents in the study voiced concerns about their ability to communicate with children with overseas roots. - Asahi