Source AP ©

Boy found in Japan's anonymous drop box for unwanted children

A toddler was found in Japan's only anonymous drop box for unwanted children on its first day in use last week, media reports said Tuesday.

The baby drop-off, called "Stork's Cradle," was opened by the Catholic-run Jikei Hospital in the southern city of Kumamoto on Thursday 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 hospital notified local authorities about the boy, believed to be 3- or 4-years old, who appeared to be in good health, Kyodo News agency reported, citing unnamed officials. The boy said his father took him to the hospital.

The hospital said it could not comment in a statement.

The disclosure triggered a wave of criticism from government officials, including Health Minister Hakuo Yanagisawa, who said such drop offs "shouldn't happen."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said abandoning children was unacceptable.

"Parents have the obligation to raise their children. We find this extremely regrettable," he said.

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.

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