Due to past difficulties with the foster care system, institutional placement is still the primary response to providing vulnerable children with alternative care. There are an estimated 40,000 children in alternative care in Japan, with 29,979 in orphanages (2013 figures).

In Japan, the term “family-based care” refers mainly to foster care and adoption. There has been slightly more emphasis placed on family-based care since amendments were made to the Child Welfare Law of 2016 and there are now plans to deinstitutionalize the Japanese alternative care system. The government recently announced its goals to transfer one-third of the children in institutional care to family-based care by 2029.

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