Travel back with me, reader, 60 years in time. It’s 1953. Two booms are in full swing: one economic, the other reproductive; the first fueled largely by the Korean War, the second, in part, by the first. Among the 2 million babies born in Japan that year — nearly twice as many as were born this year — were two who lately, approaching 60, were the center of an acrimonious court clash — which is not, except peripherally, the subject of this story.

The two were born on the same day — March 30, 1953 — at the same hospital: the Sanikukai in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward. Back then, there was as much pressure on maternity hospitals as there is today on senior-citizen facilities. Demand outpaced supply. Maternity ward nurses were run off their feet, as are caregivers for the elderly today.

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