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Three-year-old Abandoned in Box Meant for Unwanted Babies in Japan

Close on the heels of the outrage over an insensitive caption for the picture of an abandoned baby in Melbourne in Australia, comes the news that a pre-schooler was found left in a cardboard box kept by a Japanese hospital for unwanted babies.

The drop-off was opened by the Catholic-run Jikei Hospital in the southern city of Kumamoto to discourage abortions and the abandonment of children in unsafe public places.

A small hatch on the side of the hospital has been set up to allow people to drop off babies into an incubator 24 hours a day.

The drop box was created after a series of high-profile cases in which newborn babies were left behind in parks and supermarkets, triggering a public outcry and government warnings against abandoning babies.

As it happened the very day the box was set up by the hospital, a boy, probably three years old, was in it.

The Catholic innovation, dubbed Storks Cradle, is now seen as being open to abuse. Several newspapers warned that youngsters abandoned in the cradle could be traumatized.

The boy left behind Thursday was in good health. He reportedly said he was dropped off by his father, who was seen holding the youngster's hand as they approached the hospital.

I came with Daddy," the boy was quoted as saying by the Mainichi newspaper.

The find triggered a wave of outrage among political leaders on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying "Anonymously throwing out a child is unacceptable." He urged parents to consult social workers for help if raising children gets too tough.

The hospital has refused to comment on the case, citing privacy concerns, but said there were age limits on its drop-off service.

Police have decided no crime was committed in the current case because the child was left in a situation in which it was not exposed to immediate harm, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.

"We must rethink the meaning of the baby drop-off," the conservative Sankei newspaper said in an editorial. "Unlike a baby, a toddler may suffer from trauma."

"This little boy must be experiencing great loneliness. We urge his mother or father to come forward," the newspaper said, calling his abandonment "unforgivable."

The Yomiuri newspaper said it was too early to judge the baby-drop, but said that it must be used for its original purpose of receiving newborns, not young children. Parents should also be encouraged to seek outside help before dumping their offspring, it stressed.


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