A Japanese woman has spent more than $20,000 on clothes for her three-month-old daughter, who she bought at a US department store for a mere $4,000, a newspaper said on Wednesday.
The baby, named Maya, had a fever, was malnourished and had ear infections, but the mother bought clothes in order to provide for the baby, whose birth mother had given birth in China.
In April, the baby was diagnosed with a rare form of birth defect that left her with a permanent disability, and the mother’s insurance company had refused to cover her costs.
A group of Japanese women and mothers from across the country rallied in front of the US consulate in Tokyo on Thursday, protesting the baby’s treatment and demanding compensation, the Japan Times reported.
The group demanded that the government “remove the barriers to medical care for children born with birth defects and other disabilities”, the newspaper said.
The protesters demanded the government provide more money to mothers who have children with disabilities, including the cost of the newborn’s care.
“It’s a sad reality,” one woman, whose name has not been released, told the paper.
“But we need to take responsibility for our babies.”
The US embassy in Tokyo said it was “aware of the situation” and the US Consulate General in Tokyo was investigating the case.
A spokeswoman said the consulate “continues to monitor the situation in Japan and in China”, but would not provide further comment on the case to Reuters.
“The US Consular Service remains committed to providing consular services to all who seek them, including those born with disabilities,” the embassy said in a statement.
China’s state media has been critical of Japan for its treatment of children with birth disorders, which have been a growing concern in the world’s second-largest economy.
Earlier this month, Japan’s Ministry of Health said it would spend $20 million to promote birth-control services in the country and help women find better ways to manage their pregnancies.
But a group of mothers from China who were attending a meeting of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday said they were outraged by the lack of care for the children.
“I want to bring Maya back to China,” one mother told the Reuters news agency, saying she had spent $20 on clothes.
“I think it’s wrong that I’m going to China with Maya and her baby.”
China has a high rate of congenital birth defects in its newborn population, and Japan’s government has pledged to provide medical and surgical treatment for the most vulnerable children with the exception of children born to mothers with disabilities.