Jikei Hospital, Director Taiji Hasuda Who Made “Konotori Yurikako” Interview (December 13th, 2007)
Interview: Jikei Hospital Director, Taiji Hasuda (10-minute read).
This is an interview article of the background of Director Hasuda’s novel from 13 years ago.
Seiryukai Medical Association Jikei Hospital Chairman, Taiji Hasuda
December 13th, 2007 (Thurs)
The inspiration behind Konotori no Yurikago
This hospital was established in Meiji 31 (1898) by Franciscan missionaries of Catholic Maria.
Therefore, we do not perform abortions at this hospital. Most people who got pregnant and came to our hospital wanted to experience the joy of pregnancy and wished to have a baby.
However, there were incidents seen in society where women become depressed after giving birth, and news about mothers killing their children and, at first, I couldn’t understand how a mother could do such a thing.
At our hospital, I had hardly seen any patients who had become depressed, but I had heard at medical events of the increase in depression after childbirth becoming a bigger issue. Therefore, in order to put a stop to the issue, I made a system where the midwife would build a relationship with the pregnant mother before, during and after pregnancy, and would call a week after being released to check on the mother’s condition, to which a home visit might be necessary if there was some concern. Also, in 2002, I created a 24-hour phone consultation service that lasted a year after pregnancy for any mothers who were having problems. The first year, there were 10 consultations and, when there were many, we received as many as 26 cases and the content was serious.
In 1993, Tokyo’s Seimei-Soncho Center, a fund for women who want to have children but due to financial problems cannot afford a child began where we asked members of the country nationwide to donate ¥1 coins and started relief activities with the collected money.
Babyklappe (Baby Hatch) “Konotori no Yurikago” Origin
At that time in Germany, 1,000 babies were abandoned yearly, so, in order to save them, in 2000, there was a report of an anonymous collection for babies created called Babyklappe (Aka-chan Posuto/ Baby Hatch), and in 2004, I went with Sonmei-Soncho Center to 4 different areas in Germany, and felt that there was a huge religious impact in terms of life. They care for the baby inside the stomach.
That is, according to the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, the state must protect the human rights and lives of its people, and that includes babies inside the womb. In Japan, life starts only after the birth. For that reason, if you were in a car accident and lost the baby in the womb, the perpetrator would not be held responsible. That is the big difference in regards to life. In Germany, there are many believers of Christ and the impact of religious thought is great.
At first, according to Japanese reports, it was said that 1,000 babies were abandoned yearly in Germany, but actually it was around 40, and half of the babies found were dead, leaving only half alive. At the time of the visit, BabyKlappe had 70 locations, with 1 baby coming in every 2 years to one location. 4 years after establishment, the amount of babies being collected did not increase, and there was opinion that mothers were in a very tight state to where they couldn’t easily hand over the baby.
When I asked if maybe 70 locations for 40 babies a year was a bit much, I turned red with embarrassment when they snapped back at me harshly and said, “What a thing to say in regards to life.”
How the German Version of “Konotori no Yurikago” Works
In Germany, I visited 1 public hospital, 2 private hospitals, and 1 nursery.
I didn’t think it would be too difficult to operate the hospital since the workers are there 24 hours. However, private nursery employees only work in the afternoon. And then, when I asked, “What are the yearly expenses?,” it was said that it would cost 8 million yen (around $77,000 USD) a year. When thinking that the nursery business was not so profitable and asked, “Where do the public funds come from?,” it was said that it came from donations from the general public and charity concerts. When I asked, “The first year, the money may come, won’t ever year after that be in the red?,” they said, “yes.” And then, I asked, “What do you do when that happens?”, to which I was told, “When that happens, we borrow from the banks.” I thought that If you don’t make any profit, it’s difficult to borrow from the banks, so when I asked, “How do you get the banks to lend you money?,” I was shocked to find out that they are able to borrow money and operate by using the land in which the nursery is on as collateral.
When you deposit a baby in Germany, it is published. By doing this, donations seem to be received. The nursery is run by women, and the garbage bin with many large boxes are piled is across the road, in which babies were found dead before. They thought that there must be something done about this, and that is when Babyklappe began. Babyklappe isn’t publicly funded. The principal was very young. The other directors were all women. I also looked at other reports, and not only Babyklappe, but in order to to protect mothers and children, I discovered that the “Children House Sunflower” was also established. That establishment is also run by collecting donations. I can’t help but admire these amazing women in Germany.
Foster Parents Over the Birth Parents
Another thing that impressed me in Germany was that in the case that the baby was healthy, they would be entrusted to be taken care of a home. In Japan, babies entrusted to us are first entrusted to an infant care center through a child guidance center. However, in Germany, if the baby is not ill, you can leave everything to the foster parent.So, if the foster parent keeps it for eight weeks and the parent does not come forward, their will adopt it as their child (It may be adopted by a foster parent or another place). At that time, I still didn’t really realize the difference between raising at home and raising at a facility. And, “What would you do if a child with a disability was collected?” When I asked, “What happens in the case of an external malformation (a baby that can be identified as a malformation)? “, they said that the number of applicants has increased 15 times. It is said that there are many times more people with disabilities who want to raise a baby than a healthy baby, but I wondered if that was the case.
In fact, we received a consultation that they couldn’t raise themselves, and when we were watching the pregnancy process of that person, it seemed that there was something wrong with the fetal brain. So, while I was observing the progress for a long time, it was said that there was a dilation of the ventricles, although the abnormality of the brain was not progressing. I consulted about the adopted child, but there were no applicants in Japan for children who have abnormalities from the beginning.So, I consulted with a foreign priest. Immediately after that, I was surprised there there was someone who wanted to raise it, but so grateful to the foreigners living in Japan.After that, after the child was born, I examined it in detail by MRI etc., and fortunately there was no abnormality. However, at that time, I realized that there are people in foreign countries who want to raise a child even if something is wrong.
Not Throwing Away, Saving a Life
I thought that BabyKlappe would save a life.I have been working at Jikei Hospital for almost 40 years, but only a few years after I came, only one baby was abandoned.
A baby was placed early in the morning under the eaves of the priest’s house where the Catholic church priest lived near the hospital.At that time, I immediately picked it up at the hospital. I had only one experience with abandoned babies, but just as I thought that there wouldn’t be many babies actually abandoned in Japan, there were three in a row in Kumamoto prefecture from 2005 to 2006… I was also surprised at this.
Therefore, I thought that I had to start BabyKlappe as soon as possible, so I asked the police of related organizations, Kumamoto city, and the prefecture to inform that, “We are planning to launch BabyKlappe, so we appreciate your cooperation.” However, the Minister of State for Measures for Declining Birthrate at that time said, “It will help crimes and encourage abandonment. “It may lead to crime,” the police said. “It will be kept in a safe place, checked for criminal activity, and if there are no abnormalities, it will not be investigated.” After that, the mayor and related staff went to the government for consultation, and the response was not pleasant, so the city seemed to have made a rather difficult decision to grant permission.
In Germany, it wasn’t made after getting permission every time.
Currently, in Japan, permission from a health center is required when remodeling a part of a hospital for a purpose different from the purpose of use. I applied for it in November 2006 and received permission on April 5, 2007, so it took about four months from the application. It was not illegal for the country and there was no reason not to allow it.
The matter that is legal and illegal is not for the installation of BabyKlappe, but for the change of use of the hospital, and it is the scope of permission in the hospital. It seems that it may conflict with the human rights issue of the baby and the abandonment of the parent’s protection officer. Mass media reports said it “May violate the law.” Therefore, we discussed what kind of law was being violated.In addition, parents were told that they must protect their children. However, it was reported that making a Baby Klappe could conflict with abandonment and aiding crimes, and could be an aiding aid for abandonment.Even if you make the facility, it is no different from throwing a baby on the road and leaving it in a safe place. Therefore, I think we have to convey the concept of “save instead of throwing away” as posted on the homepage.
Germany Fought the Administration
Currently, the entrusted children are raised in the infant care center for two years. After contacting the child guidance center for protection, we will cooperate.When the facility is installed, if you calculate these in detail such as maintenance costs, communication costs for consultation, labor costs, etc., the burden on the hospital will be quite a lot.So, if you do this in a nursery school, for example, it will cost more than 8 million yen a year.However, the nursery school did not provide consultation services. Since our hospital focuses on the consultation business, labor costs are high. That is the burden on the hospital.
There is currently no movement by other hospitals to install BabyKlappe. This is not profitable. We are volunteering, and it may be possible if it is institutionalized and subsidies come out from the government, but in the current tight financial situation of Japan, it is not cost effective to expand. It may be difficult.
Another reason why it doesn’t spread is that the Japanese administration is still confused.Unlike Japan, Germany is fighting the administration very much. After all, you can’t do it without that feeling. If you put in various shackles, there is no progress.That’s why I still have a lot to do from now on. Because it is my first time, it is critical for the administration. I have no idea what to do when it comes to the sake of the happiness of the baby and the story of the social environment such as why the baby was abandoned, etc.
The Lives Saved are More than 5x
As for future issues, the hospital staff is currently working 24 hours a day. The 24-hour system is so that you can consult at any time.For some reason, serious consultations come in at midnight, so the staff keeps their cellphones at the bedside and responds 24 hours a day. In fact, the number of babies saved is about five times as many as the number of babies entrusted to us.
And serious consultation takes a very long time.
In addition, there are verification meetings consulting on the verification on the facility running properly and about the children who are collected. Since consultation includes complicated content even for one consultation, there are quite a lot of documents. Take notes first. And we need someone to organize the records. Then you have to hire a new person. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has instructed local governments nationwide to strengthen the consultation system for pregnant women and postpartum women, and Kumamoto City has strengthened the consultation system with nine people in charge.
The city has also announced the consultations it has undertaken. And when we verify whether the consultation was actually resolved, we have more to resolve.The consultation does not end only once and will continue. People don’t want to talk about serious problems to more than one person. At first, it is very choppy. And since people can call many times, you have to listen carefully. When the person in charge changes, we have to talk from the beginning again.
In the case of our hospital, the same staff will listen to the story consistently, so the final solution will be resolved. However, since the city has nine people in charge, it seems that the story will change one after another, so it is difficult to continue talking.
¥1 Donations to Large Donations （Tajiri Nursing Director Discussion)
Until now, various people have donated with warm feelings. They say, “Please spend money for the babies”. I got to know the many good intentions of really warm people.
“I’m an office lady. Please donate this amount every month,” and 1 yen, 10 yen, and 100 yen donations from children to elderly people were constantly collected for the sake of the babies.
Also, there is a shop in the hospital, but, suddenly, I was brought 10 or 20 dumplings every day and told, “I don’t have the money, but please use the sales of this item for a cradle,” which I was so touched by.
A woman in her 60s has made a large donation, which is supporting us. I don’t think BabyKlappe is a job that the government should do. Before I came to this hospital, I was a public health nurse, so I understand it well. Originally, the Jikei Hospital was started by the Franciscan Order in 1898 to help patients with Hansen’s disease at the end of the Meiji era, so the sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Maria at that time did not ask for any compensation. The allowance for Hansen’s disease patients who had fallen over was free of charge. After that, a law called the Leprosy Prevention Law was enacted, and national relief had begun. Our philosophy is to reach out purely because of the baby’s life and the women who are in trouble.
The Opposite of Love is Indifference
When Mother Teresa came to Japan, she was told, “Japan is a very poor country,” and “it’s economically rich, but it’s an abortion paradise.” The activities of the “Seimei Soncho Center” began with the desire to protect the lives of babies in their stomachs. Later, when Mother Teresa came to Japan, she went to school and was told, “The opposite of love is not hatred. It is indifference.”
Do You Intend to Kill the Child Twice?
In Germany, there was some opposition to the installation of “BabyKlappe“. Do you intend to kill the child twice? At first, it’s thrown away and then killed. The second time, the child wants to know who their parents are when they grow up, but because the the parents are anonymous, they don’t know and suffer.So some thought that it’s like killing them twice. There was a similar opinion among the dissenting opinions sent to us. However, it seems that children raised in a loving family do not have to worry about not knowing their true parents. However, children who have had various serious sadness and pain in the process of growing up seem to have a strong desire to find their parents.
The difference between a child raised at home and a child raised at a facility from an early stage is that the people at the facility also raise them with deep affection and hard work, but at the facility they return home after working hours. In other words, there is a farewell even in the day. Also, in the case a woman, some will quit after getting married. No one thinks they are their parents. This is very shocking for children. Then, after two to three years, they will move to a protection facility with a completely different environment. It’s not the same staff as before, and they are dropped in a place full of bigger children. Then, it seems that they will cry for about two to three weeks. And even if such children suddenly enter the home, it will take plenty of time for them to adjust.
Japan has Little Awareness of the Foster Parenting System
At our location, there are people welcoming 5 children. And it takes time to come to yourself to build a strong bond between parents and children. For example, if you are raised in a facility until you are three years old, it will take twice as long to establish a bond and trust between parents and children. Therefore, I think it is better to enter the home as soon as possible. So I think it’s best for your child to be at home by at least three months.
When I see a mother hugging and bringing a three-month-old baby, the baby is actively speaking to her face in a babbling word that doesn’t make sense. Then, the mother is also staring at the child’s face and calling out. The truth is, I’d like the baby to enter the home before this happens. I’m complaining about it here and there now. Parents and children are more likely to attach to each other earlier, so I think it’s better before they recognize their mother.
In Germany, there is an anonymous birth, which is not yet institutionalized. Since giving birth at home is dangerous for mothers and children, the idea is to “give birth at a facility because it is okay to be anonymous”, such as “Sunflower House” where mothers and children can live together after giving birth. This is a “mother child house”, and attachment is formed when mother and child live together in the facility. Moms can rethink and want to raise on their own. Mothers will receive an explanation about various assistance systems for single-mother families.
In the two years and six months, 150 people gave birth anonymously, and 60% of them felt like raising themselves. Twenty percent of people gave their names and the other 20% remained anonymous.
In Germany, you will be adopted if there is not contact from the parents. Even if you are not the parent who gave birth, you are blessed with the love of parents and will grow up healthy. There is a big difference between Japan and Germany in that they are raised at home rather than in a facility. I would like to appeal this to the world as a major issue in the future. Japan has very little awareness of such a special adoption system.
You Can Save a Life with 1 Phone Call
In fact, 20 welfare-related civil servants from Taiwan came to visit the other day. When they heard that they we are raising abandoned children in a facility in Japan, they were confused and thought “how sad.” Japan, South Korea and Cambodia have facilities (dedicated facilities, not private houses). Everyone’s thinks that facilities are normal, so there is no choice but to change it little by little over a long period of time.
I think that the future of the collected child must be happy. I think home is good for that. Those who had a consultation now and who cannot just cannot raise a child will be adopted. Even if they have a consultation, there are 20 people now who decided they can raise on their own. However, there are cases where you can’t raise them. What I felt was that children can’t choose their parents, back actually that is not the case. It’s a huge difference for the child. In short, the fate of the saved life is heaven and earth after consultation on one phone.
There are many people who want a baby and who are not fortunate enough to receive fertility treatment and still want a baby or raise a child. So, when I see the baby who went to the family, it’s like my own child. It’s a real parent that I can’t even imitate. I think children will be born with that kind of fate. I feel that the future of the child will change depending on where they were born and how they grew up.
Children Choose the Parents
There are actually people who want to become foster parents, but the reality is that they don’t know where to ask. There are 7,500 foster parents registered in Japan with the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. However, the Japanese system does not easily lead to adoption. Currently, the child consultation center in the administration is playing that role, but the child consultation center is busy with abuse and cannot actively establish a foster parent system. Therefore, even if you register with the child consultation center, a person who wants to become a foster parent are told that the baby will not come for 7 or 8 years. After hearing the report of “Konotori no Yurikago” they will send a consultation by e-mail, phone or letter to Jikei Hospital.
Therefore, when I think that there is a child’s life to be saved after consultation, I think that I have to do something about the current situation where many babies are abandoned because I cannot consult.
Also, the other day, a 60-year-old who had been adopted visited us. It seems that they were adopted due to circumstances, but the family of the adoptive parents is a family of four, with a younger sister (adopted child) who had a disability. The younger sister died at the age of 20, and both parents are working hard. He said that they raised them and loved them very much. He told the media, “I’m glad I was adopted.” In other words, it’s not being born but being raised.
Parent-Child Bonds Are Not Always Innate
Since it has been a short time since the start of the “cradle of storks”, it seems that the child consultation center can only adopt for a year or a year and a half at the earliest. The babies entrusted to the “Konotori no Yurikago” go to the facility, and it still takes a long time before they can meet with foster parents from the facility. Therefore, if you consult with us in advance, it is easy to lead to adoption. That’s why I ask the private sector.
Looking at my grandchildren, I thought that parents and children would be better off if their children entered the home early. I have many grandchildren, but my daughter’s grandchildren have a girlish personality, with some rough points. They don’t really listen to my parents and say “yes.” The father is kind and the mother is noisy without scolding.
Even if a child comes to my place, there are places where I think that if such a child comes to adoption, the parents will still do something eventually. But they are so cute if you raise them as a baby. I think it’s a bond from a young age.
One day, there was a person who visited this hospital with an adopted child. They were surprised to hear that they were adopted because they thought the parent’s were their real parents.The little one will not be quiet. When I talked to the father and mother in the drawing room, the child ran around. I’m wearing a lab coat, so the kids are a little scared and wary. When I’m running around or mischievous, and say “I’ll hold you,” they are surprised and stare at me intensely. When I said, “Your hands look delicious. Shall I eat your hands?” they run away screaming,”Mom.” Then the mother hugs the child firmly. When I was watching the situation, I thought that even if they’re adopted, it was the real mother and child. Therefore, the bond between parent and child is not all innate. Motherhood is not something that is inherent, but is born by raising a child. It’s great to be raised as a child at home early on. In the adoption system, there are ordinary adoptions and special adoptions, but if it is a special adoption, the family register and custody are all recognized as real children.
In other words, I think that the baby will be saved the most if the system is finally established in which the entrusted baby can be raised at home immediately.
Children Should Be Raised in a Household
Next year, I would like to say a little louder and stronger that children should be raised at home. And I want to tell young people that they want their children to grow up happily in the future and that sexual activity can be life-changing.
That and the pill. In the UK, elementary school students take pills. There are quite a lot of obese children in the UK. Such children develop thrombosis and die. In addition, the urine excreted by those who took the pill is drained from the septic tank into the river, which affects the fish in the river. There is a problem with endocrine disrupters. And 90,000 teenagers are pregnant. So now it’s a social problem in the UK, but 3/5 of them have an abortion. It seems to be the most common in Europe. I think they are taking pills, end up pregnant and many have abortions.
Pregnancy as a teenager inevitably leads to poverty. It doesn’t mean that your child will not be good because they grew up in a poor family, but it can be hard if they’re too poor.
I experienced poverty when I was little after the war, and when I was in elementary school, my family was poor, so I’m glad I wasn’t in an era where I could play with poverty, but now depending on the economical situation of the family, there will be a huge difference between the children, which I think will be painful mentally.
Since there will be information disclosure in May 2008, one year after starting “Konotori no Yurkago”, I want to strongly emphasize and ask the world about the various social backgrounds that led to the establishment of the “Konotori no Yurikago“.
In addition, although the word “Aka-chan Posuto” (Baby Hatch) precedes our name, “Kototori no Yurikago” this naming was our beginning. And in the future, we are aiming for a society that does not require a “yurikago” (cradle).
Now, I believe that the children who leave the nest with a “cradle” will be happy. And I believe that the children who gather goodwill and hope of many people and leave the nest and grow into strong human resources who will support the future of Japan.
Won’t you warmly accept and raise these children as children of our society?
Novel “Yurikago ni Sotto” Author: Taiji Hasuda
―Kumamoto Jikei Hospital “Konotori no Yurikago” ni Takusareta Haha to Ko no Inochi