While on my way to join the participants for the March for Life in Tokyo, I read this simple and surprising news story: “‘Special Adoption’ System Eyed for Change”. (*See excerpt below.)

Japan’s March for Life was begun by Kenzo Tsujioka, a pastor who had already helped to change the nation’s adoption laws, to make it easier for Japanese parents to adopt, and with less stigma. When I saw this article on the morning of the March for LIfe, I thought about how Pastor Kenzo’s legacy was carrying on. As the March for Life quietly proclaimed the pro-life message, the newspaper was announcing the government’s plans to take adoption more seriously. It was a happy coincidence–and maybe a gentle kiss of Providence. Japan is taking some steps in the right direction.

–Joe Woodard

*The excerpt below was taken from “‘Special Adoption’ System Eyed for Change”, The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan), July 16, 2018:

The so-called special adoption system has been given priority in discussions on revising the Civil Code to safeguard children’s interests, in keeping with Justice Minister Yoko Kamikawa’s request in June for the Legislative Council to review the system.

The justice minister usually makes requests to the advisory body in February and September regarding what to discuss, but Kamikawa did so earlier than usual because child abuse is becoming an increasingly serious social issue.

Special adoption is a system under which children who cannot live with their biological parents for such reasons as poverty or abuse are legally considered the children of their adoptive parents. The Legislative Council is considering raising the maximum age of children eligible for the system from the current level of less than 6 years old.

The panel is also examining a measure that would limit biological parents’ right to retract their agreement to a child’s adoption.

These discussions have been prompted by the insufficient number of special adoption cases. About 45,000 children living at orphanages and other facilities nationwide needed protection as of 2017, but only about 500 special adoption cases are settled each year.

According to a survey compiled by the government in February last year, the legal framework was cited in 298 unsuccessful cases as the reason for not completing the necessary procedures. Of this number, special adoption was abandoned in 46 cases because the children involved had turned 6.