Reforming Japan’s Alternative Childcare System

For over two years, we had the privilege of being part of a legal team that assisted Human Rights Watch Japan in its efforts to reform Japan’s alternative childcare system. The team included both bengoshi admitted to practice in Japan and attorneys admitted to practice in the United States.

This project arose out of a report that Human Rights Watch published in May 2014. The report demonstrated that, among developed countries, Japan is overly dependent on institutional care for children who have been removed from their families. In addition, many of these institutions lacked adequate facilities.

As bengoshi, we helped prepare a legislative and regulatory reform outline that was presented to key politicians and regulators in Japan. The U.S. attorneys on the team provided assistance by researching childcare systems in six of Japan’s peer countries.

It was a proud moment for us when on May 27, 2016, the Japan national diet affirmatively voted into law the innovative amendments to the Child Welfare Act.

Some parts of the amendments have already gone into effect, and the rest of the amendments will become effective as of April 1, 2017.

We believe that these reforms represent a dramatic policy change that will help place more than 39,000 children living in institutional homes with individual families.

Human Rights Watch is an independent, international organization that works as part of a vibrant movement to uphold human dignity and advance the cause of human rights for all. You can learn more about its efforts on its website.