Net cafes becoming delivery rooms for poor pregnant girls

Around 8 p.m. on Sept 29, a 30-year-old woman gave birth in the restroom of an Internet cafe near Yokohama Station. Then, says Shukan Shincho (Oct 16), she returned to her booth and resumed reading her manga comic book. About 40 minutes later, a cleaner found the infant in a plastic garbage bag by the sinks. She called police. By the time they arrived, the infant, a boy, had stopped breathing. They successfully resuscitated him. 
“Are you the mother?” they asked the 30-year-old woman. She denied it, but a female officer, pursuing the matter, found the woman’s panties soaked with blood. She was taken to hospital, and subsequently charged with abandoning her baby.
Net cafes began as venues for cyber-surfing or manga-reading in the privacy of a quiet cubicle. The “working poor” phenomenon turned them into places of nightly refuge for people who, though in many cases employed, find a fixed address beyond their means. Now, Shukan Shincho fears, they are seen by a growing number of rootless pregnant women as a delivery room of last resort. 
The Yokohama case was not the first of its kind. Last November, a 23-year-old woman gave birth at a Net cafe in Saga City, Kyushu, and left the baby in a train station coin locker. She was given a two-year sentence—suspended for three years—for abandoning a corpse
Net cafes aside, gynecologists are concerned about a growing number of women who go through an entire pregnancy without medical care and then abruptly show up at a hospital at the onset of labor pains. There are risks of various sorts involved—most, though not all, of a medical nature. The gravest, of course, is death—the infant mortality rate in such cases is an estimated 18 times higher than normal. Premature birth and infectious disease passed on from mother to child are two others. A fourth is the possibility of not making it to the hospital in time. Births have been known to occur in the ambulance while the crew frantically searches for a hospital able to accommodate the emergency.
The principal non-medical risk is financial. Only one-quarter of mothers in this situation pay their hospital bills, Shukan Shincho hears from the Kanagawa Children’s Health Center. Twelve percent are runaways, reports a separate study cited by the magazine. Twenty-seven percent are not enrolled in the national health insurance program. Failing to enroll, they forfeit a 350,000 yen lump-sum maternity allowance.
“There are no precise statistics,” says Masataka Togashi of the NPO Independent Life Support Center, “but my feeling is that the number of women in their 20s and 30s with no place to live is rising.”
Shukan Shincho recalls with a shudder the string of “coin locker baby” episodes of the 1970s—a seeming epidemic of babies abandoned in coin lockers. “Are Net cafes,” it demands, “the latest substitute? Let’s put a stop to this appalling story before it goes any further.”

  • 0

    LIBERTAS

    Porn-saturated Japan, fixated on little girls to be used and then disposed of like Kleenex has a new problem (which it will sweep under the carpet) that defies comprehension. Up to 30% of Japan's workforce are homeless net-cafe refugees. This was just a matter of time. The world's 2nd largest economy comes crashing down to earth, leaving havoc in its wake. A child-deprived nation abuses its children. Mr. Aso, do you know where your daughter is tonight?

  • 0

    HaroldSteptoe

    Blimey, the more i hear about Japan the worser it seems.

    These stories seem like they come from a third world country, worse than the stories my dad used to tell me about Britain before the war.

    Why don't they have a NHS so poor people don't have to worry. surely that is the civilised and humane way for a wealthy nation to go.

  • 0

    greensatindress

    good god, I almost didn't believe my eyes when I read the title. Unbelievable. I wonder how she cut the cord.

  • 0

    Yuukorin

    Up to 30% of Japan's workforce are homeless net-cafe refugees.

    Well I don't know where you got that from but I will say that this story is a good metaphor for a Japan that is going down the toilet.

  • 0

    nigelboy

    Up to 30% of Japan's workforce are homeless net-cafe refugees.

    You're off by three decimal points but don't let me stop ya.

  • 0

    Thenewfront

    nigelboy- Trying to defend the indefensible is ludicrous, take off your rose coloureed glasses pal.

    I agree with HaroldSteptoe, a wealthy country that does not have healthcare accessable to all is a failure, ie Japan, USA.

    The net cafes should be monitored by police to see if vunrable , and people at risk need help.

  • 0

    Yuukorin

    Trying to defend the indefensible is ludicrous

    I don't think he's doing that, just correctly pointing out that it's not quite 30 percent of the workforce living in net cafes.

    The net cafes should be monitored by police to see if vunrable , and people at risk need help

    Yeah I can see that happening - 1) cops intruding on business premises and 2) cops intruding on the privacy of cubicles. Plus I think they're already busy making sure old people bother to confirm it's not their long-lost grandson who has had another car accident.

  • 0

    Deepinside

    Too much mangas= people living outspace,crashing with the planet earth.

    Girls who dont even learn how to care about them self,thats is the young generation of many japanese girls this days,if they learn how to prevent a child,to have some comdon in thier pockets,they will save many lifes..but in a society who only care about how you looks like,and which is the last cell phone,i dont think that they will care about a new birth as well,and for nigelboy,you always try to hide the sun with your fingers,the true is: we in Germany are the 5th,power rich nation in the word but when i read japantoday i think we are in the second place no japan..,keep dreaming and have and pink day.

  • 0

    nigelboy

    Trying to defend the indefensible is ludicrous, take off your rose coloureed glasses pal.

    If LIBERTAS argument is indefensible, what's the point of over inflating the stats by 1000 times?

    The article states that there was this case along with another LAST NOVEMBER where somebody gave birth in the NetCafe. But the headline saids "Net cafes becoming delivery rooms for poor pregnant girls" Wow. One birth/year. That's an epidemic!!!! (sarcasm)

    So what's this article really about? It states that there is a growing number of women who go through an entire pregnancy without medical care and then abruptly show up at a hospital at the onset of labor pains but fails to state how many.

    Then it goes on to further state that of those people "Only one-quarter of mothers in this situation pay their hospital bills" and "twelve percent are runaways". My reaction to this is "No duh!" Of course majority of them don't pay bills because they are POOR. And of course runaways are most likely, POOR. No DUH!!!

    So just like many "Shukan" articles, the title is an eye catcher but the content is rather bland.

  • 0

    temporaryVisa

    I think this article highlights the failure of the Japanese government to implement any realistic policies to create the conditions for boosting the numbers on a healthy happy new generation. They are failing badly in providing adequate and affordable medical and psychological health care especially to young mothers. Mostly because the feudal views on what beautiful japan should be like, which they share with many health care professionals, bear no resemblance to anything approaching reality. Shame on those people who condemn women and children to such misery.

  • 0

    labrat

    Since when is a 23- or 30-year old a little girl? To choose giving birth in a net cafe and leaving the baby there, over being in debt with a hospital? i can't see how one can blame the government for that. get a midwife or something.

    Can you give your baby up for adoption in Japan and have the adopters pay the bills?

  • 0

    BlackFlag

    so it has happened twice, hardly a boom. probably happens more regularly in train station toilets. crap journalism

  • 0

    noborito

    ”Failing to enroll, they forfeit ” You need money to enroll. You need an address to enroll. Bot of which are out of their pospossession

  • 0

    LIBERTAS

    Numbers are Govt. "stats" if they are to be believed. (Freeters/Neets and Net-cafe-nanmin make up about 30-60% of those in the underclass.) Not inventing anything, not that imaginative. Surf the .gov.jp (or whatever they use as a suffix) sites. Up to date "stats" always welcome. Fact remains: A child-deprived nation abuses its children, and its weakest members. No sympathy here.

  • 0

    Triple888

    I agree with another comment about the "porn-saturated" Japan being the most likely cause of unwanted pregnancies and crime!

  • 0

    nonchalant

    I don't generally get cranky about using "girl" inappropriately, but this article doesn't mention anyone who could possibly be considered a girl. I know the moderator frequently flags posts that get off topic; who is responsible for flagging headlines that are off topic and misleading?

    The inaccuracy of the headline notwithstanding, this is a distressing article. It would be appreciated if JT were able to run some in-depth investigative reporting (supported with sources and statistics in the text) that exposes the underlying socio-economic conditions that are contributing to these events.

  • 0

    555Book

    (Freeters/Neets and Net-cafe-nanmin make up about 30-60% of those in the underclass.)

    I have lost touch with the situation in Japan since the early 90's and I am really curious to find out what on earth bad has befallen the dynamic Japanese economy I once knew. Can someone be kind enough to recommend me a good book on this subject?

  • 0

    LIBERTAS

    "Dogs and Demons" by Alex Kerr. A snapshot of the real Japan. Amazon JP link: http://www.amazon.ca/Dogs-Demons-Alex-Kerr/dp/0141010002/ref=pdbbssr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1221913294&sr=8-1 but, as you're outside Japan, by all means order it on your local supplier's site. Wish I'd had it 20 years ago. Tells it like it is. No bile. Just the facts.

  • 0

    555Book

    Thanks LIBERTAS, really appreciate it.

  • 0

    shuuu

    Ah, the wonders of socialized medicine.

  • 0

    cow76

    I think the problem here is the lack of socialised medicine. It is not extended to pregnancy because it is not a disease. I love Japanese logic.

    The half million yen baby bonus usually covers the hospital costs but there's always the temptation to take the bonus and run.

  • 0

    miumaru

    Absolutely awful and disgusting that someone would do that to a child, especially their own. Don't you just love the world? :)

  • 0

    Sammi33

    For a developed country, the birth control education is well, not so much. Does anyone remember the epidemic 10 years or so back when abortions were a popular form of birth control? Birth control is still seen as the man's responsibility, a lot of j-girls are too uninformed or too quiet to say "put it on or you're not putting it in". The only method for women is the basic hormonal pill, no mini-pills, Centchroman, Depo, IUD, patch, ring, etc. India's way ahead of all of us, and even in South Korea you can buy low hormone birth control OTC!!! (although the women's mindset is kind of the same as Japan unfortunately) But still, I come from America where we have a president pushing abstinence only education, and a VP candidate with a pregnant teen daughter (a product of that education most likely) These things can't be prevented 100% but we can at least try.

  • 0

    cwhite

    one of those articles that needs figures...

    let me see how many people actually live in net cafes around Japan? Even if there were 3000 net cafes www.cafeman.jp and on average their are 10-20 cubicles? and 50% were occupied by people who life in the 24/7 that's around 30,000 people.... of those most do have a house and are just saving money while they work a full time job, some are runaways, others are probably what one calls homeless. I would have to say 80% are males vs females and the age group 18-35. If they were not living out of the shoe box most of them would be back with the parents, crashing at multiple friends places, renting an ultra cheap apartment and doubtfully living in a cardboard box under a bridge. 73% of those do have health insurance, but obviously 75% of the pregnant girls don't want to pay for the hospital bills. All in all the article means very little without more figures.

  • 0

    rurika

    This so-called "financial risk" should be irrelevant. Japan is a rich country and can afford to give every pregnant woman the proper medical care needed during pregnancy and delivery whatever her circumstances. Is this really the 21st century??

  • 0

    shuuu

    I think the problem here is the lack of socialised medicine. It is not extended to pregnancy because it is not a disease. I love Japanese logic.

    Pregnancy is not covered under socialized medicine?

    Well, then (Ha. Ha.), the jokes on all of you Japanese taxpayers, because I was reimbursed for the costs of both of my kids born here.

  • 0

    nigelboy

    Numbers are Govt. "stats" if they are to be believed. (Freeters/Neets and Net-cafe-nanmin make up about 30-60% of those in the underclass.) Not inventing anything, not that imaginative. Surf the .gov.jp (or whatever they use as a suffix) sites. Up to date "stats" always welcome. Fact remains: A child-deprived nation abuses its children, and its weakest members. No sympathy here.

    Let's review what you stated exactly shall we?

    "Up to 30% of Japan's workforce are homeless net-cafe refugees"

    http://www.mhlw.go.jp/houdou/2007/08/dl/h0828-1a.pdf

    According to the reports published by MHLW, the estimated number of homeless net-cafe refugees is 5,400.

    The total workforce in Japan is aroun 67 million

    http://www.stat.go.jp/data/roudou/sokuhou/tsuki/zuhyou/05401.xls

    Now, 30% of 67 million is 20 million.

    5,400 out of 67 million is .008%

    "Not inventing anything" my ***

  • 0

    mojibake

    The gravest consequence is death? No way -- even graver would be a lifetime of state-paid care due to avoidable birth defects.

    Oh, and Libertas -- I'm glad you finally found the "real Japan" in Alex Kerr. Because no foreigner has ever claimed to expose the "real Japan" before.

  • 0

    Thenewfront

    The fact that this is happening, should ring alarm bells to those with power in Japan. Iimust say it is getting tiresome, the amount of pro Jpanese here, who have eother just come or never ser foot in Japan.

    I care about Japan because i live here with my family. I want people to ba better protected by their governments and society in general be more open and caring.

    How desperate must a woman be to do such a thing?

    nigelboy- please stop trying to paint a rosy picture on anything japan or Japan related.

  • 0

    shayouzoku

    All the anti-Japan people who like to comment that this article is exposing the downfall of Japan obviously don't watch the news in their own country. And the Shunkan Shincho gives us two examples? And they blame Japan's system, not the girls? Oh, the innocence of these poor girls, stolen from a country that hates them and doesn't care about their babies!

  • 0

    jmarc

    this is sad news, when there is so much birth controls method. Is Japan back in 19th Century ?

  • 0

    timorborder

    Charming! and what advances this society is making.

  • 0

    Apsara

    Nigelboy is just rationally calculating the statistics, and he is correct- who could possibly believe that 30% of Japan's workforce lives in netcafes? If that were true then almost 1 in every 3 people you see on the trains going to work every morning would live in a netcafe, which defies common sense.

    There aren't enough netcafes in the country to accommodate that number of people. I think someone pulled that "statistic" out of their butt. The true number would be somewhere well under 0.01%.

    I also agree that a 30-year-old isn't a girl, and a 30-year-old who gives birth, dumps the baby and goes back to reading manga has severe psychological problems, just being a member of the "under-class" is far from the only issue there.

    2 cases in the last year hardly constitutes an epidemic, either, if that is all the cases.

    Do people really not believe that women never abandon their own babies in any country other than Japan? If so, you need to read some international news. Not painting an overly rosy picture of Japan, just trying to provide some balance amidst the hysteria.

  • 0

    Youdontknow

    1 woman giving birth in an internet cafe toilet is NOT

    Net cafes becoming delivery rooms for poor pregnant girls

  • 0

    Good_Jorb

    Do people really not believe that women never abandon their own babies in any country other than Japan? If so, you need to read some international news. Not painting an overly rosy picture of Japan, just trying to provide some balance amidst the hysteria.

    Balanced views gets you labeled Japanophile, but not everyone can be a brunt out jaded English teachers.

    Well, then (Ha. Ha.), the jokes on all of you Japanese taxpayers, because I was reimbursed for the costs of both of my kids born here.

    You most of qualified for income assistances (under 4m yen in family income) and even then you have pay up front and then get reimbursed. http://www.alientimes.org/Main/PregnancyAndGivingBirthInJapan

  • 0

    Blue_Tiger

    The headline of this story makes it sound like Jr. Hi. and High School Girls are doign this.

    Newsflash:

    20- and 30-year-old women do not classify as "girls"!

    They are grown women who should know the difference between doing what is right and wrong. Of course, in this day and age where the perpetrator is handled as fragilely and carefully as the victim, it should be no surprise that this is a growing trend. After all, look at the sentences that the 30-year-old in Yokohama, and the 23-year-old in Kyushu, both received for abandoning their newborns (the 23-year-old's died, making her a 2nd degree murderer): the latter received a two-year sentence suspended for three, and the former basically seems to have received the same, or a lighter sentence....and the latter's baby died thanks to her abandonment. Again, this is all nothing more than a grotesque symptom of selfishness.

  • 0

    Nordon

    Remove the doors in net Cafes.

    They can be in cubicles, but there needs to be some ability for the owners to check up on the condition of their equipment, rooms, and the occupants.

  • 0

    ALHQQ

    Last November, a 23-year-old woman gave birth at a Net cafe in Saga >City, Kyushu, and left the baby in a train station coin locker. She was >given a two-year sentence—suspended for three years—for abandoning a >corpse.

    She should have been given a more hefty sentence, I do think they call this murder. 2 years is unacceptable!

  • 0

    rtrhead1

    >

    Births have been known to occur in the ambulance while the crew frantically searches for a hospital able to accommodate the emergency. >

    does this strike anyone else as ridiculous? hospital - emergency. if you can't handle an emergency birth, you have no right being called a hospital or even being open. you are worthless.

  • 0

    notimpressed

    In a country supposedly worried about a dropping birth rate, you'd think they would make it free, easy, and safe for giving birth. For a "hospital" to turn away a pregnant woman in labour should be criminal. It amounts to throwing a harmless baby to the wolves, not to offer to help. The selfishness lies not only with the woman who would drop a sprog on the floor then read a manga like laa dee da, but with a society that would see only thier own inconvenience/expense, before the needs of a baby about to enter the world. That includes the hospitals, and the government.

  • 0

    notimpressed

    Oh and by the way....if you are old enough to be pregnaant, you are no longer a 'girl'.

  • 0

    rtrhead1

    eh, beg to differ. ever heard of sexual abuse? rape? girls getting taken advantage of by older men? hello incest. that's a pretty narrow way to look at it notimpressed.

  • 0

    nodame

    if you are old enough to be pregnaant, you are no longer a 'girl'.

    Umm... a 5 year old girl once gave birth in Germany, is she not considered a girl?

  • 0

    usaexpat

    Sammi33 right on the lack of sex ed here but wrong on the availability of contraceptives. IUDs, Depo and the ring are for sure available as my wife has done all three in the past 12 years. The point of this article really is just a wake up call that Japan has an underclass just like all developed nations. That fact alone is news to many Japanese from the working class to the wealthy. Like all developed nations the underclass is usually under or un-educated about life in general and how to live better than animals. Throwing money at the social saftey net is only part of the equation. The real problem is that the cohesion of Japanese society has started to break down.

  • 0

    Orchid64

    Balanced views gets you labeled Japanophile, but not everyone can be a brunt out jaded English teachers.

    I can't help but note the irony of calling for balance in the same sentence as a heavily prejudicial statement about anyone who puts forth a negative view of Japan.

    Certainly two births under unusual circumstances does not indicate a trend, but there haven't been only two of these cases. If you do a search, you'll see that there have been other cases that were not cited in this article. One occurred in a net cafe on October 3 in Yokohama, for instance. There's also the well-known "baby hatch" situation where mothers abandon their babies. It had been shut down for awhile, but was reopened and is seeing notable business, particularly in a country where the birth rate is low and adoption is nearly unheard of.

    The problem is that Japan's large middle class is starting to separate into lower class and the safety nets, which have largely been part of the family structure, are changing. It used to be that family took care of their elderly, less financially well-off, etc. members. Now, they're doing so less and less and there's nowhere else for them to turn to. The culture hasn't experienced such things long enough to set up services or to educate people about which ones are out there.

  • 0

    nigelboy

    Certainly two births under unusual circumstances does not indicate a trend, but there haven't been only two of these cases. If you do a search, you'll see that there have been other cases that were not cited in this article. One occurred in a net cafe on October 3 in Yokohama, for instance

    I believe it's the same one mentioned in this article.

  • 0

    notimpressed

    I didnt say you are old enough mentally to be having sex, but if you are biologically ready to reproduce, you are no longer a girl, you have become a woman. And therefore have the responsibility that comes with the ability to bear children, to both your own body and to the child. And nodame...thats sounds like a freak occurance, which has nothing to do with this story. Maybe you didn't notice teh ages of the "girls" in this story, 30, 23....not girls. Don't know where you came up with the word incest from, no incest mentioned here either, maybe you meant paedophilia, well, there are no children in this story except the ones abandoned on the floor of a cafe. Why do people feel the need to over-react to a single sentance without understanding it, or the preceding sentences before they rattle off reactionary garbage?

  • 0

    SpanishEyez37

    In the end , women or girls, please use birth control. Thank you.

  • 0

    oberst

    anyone claims those pregmant girls are not Japanese yet ?

  • 0

    ptolemy

    Shukan Shincho better be careful, if 2 Channel finds out that they are doing this story and its translated, it'll end up like the Mainichi Wai-wai and the Japan Times Tokyo Confidential.

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