Japan’s institutionalised children

Masami Noguchi* resembles a typical Japanese schoolgirl. She happily lists music, origami and badminton as her hobbies and curry rice as her favourite food.

But the 17-year-old stands out from most of her peers in one respect – she is one of thousands of Japanese children who have spent years living in institutions.

Masami was put into care at the age of three, after her abusive grandfather stabbed her mother, marking the start of nine years living in the challenging confines of a state-run institution.

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