What are children’s welfare institutions?

Sometimes called orphanages in English, children’s welfare institutions
house children from 3 to 18 years old who cannot be supported
by their parents. The children receive a safe place to live, along
with support to live independent lives.

At present, almost 30,000 children live in about 600 institutions
across Japan. Approximately half are large-scale facilities with more
than 20 children living in one dormitory. The likelihood that a
child will be adopted or placed in a foster home is almost nonexistent
due to a number of cultural and legal factors.

Why are children there?

Why are children there?

Source: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, 2011

The number of children in welfare institutions (2012 statistic)
The approximate cost per month to care for a child placed in a welfare facility

Source: Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, 2014

What challenges do they face?

Children’s welfare institutions do an admirable job of providing a safe place and the basics for living, but most children still struggle with a host of unmet needs:

Emotional and psychological damageEmotional and psychological damage
Severe academic deficits and little academic supportSevere academic deficits and little academic support
Lack of parental guidance and role modelsLack of parental guidance and role models
Inadequate support networks,
very little safety net as they enter adulthoodInadequate support networks,
very little safety net as they enter adulthood

What are the common outcomes?

Little education after high school(University entrance rate: 11%)Little education after high school
(University entrance rate: 11%)
Unemployment, or dead end jobs as part of the working poorUnemployment, or dead end jobs as part of the working poor
Disproportionate employment in the sex industryDisproportionate employment in the sex industry
High divorce rateHigh divorce rate
Placement of their own children into welfare institutionsPlacement of their own children into welfare institutions

It all adds up to a terrible loss of human potential and real social and economic costs for Japan.


SBI Children’s Hope Foundation

logo in ENSince 2005, SBI Children’s Hope Foundation has been supporting children living in institutional care through donations, organizing seminars for care workers, and arranging educational opportunities on the subject of child abuse.

Bridge for Smile

b4s_logoBridge for Smile is one of the leading organizations in Japan who supports the children living in institutional care. They mainly focus on supporting children in their transition from care to being active members of society.

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch defends the rights of people worldwide since their
establishment in 1978. They published their first major report, Japan: Children in
Institutions Denied Family Life, since the launch of its Tokyo office in April 2009.

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