Archive for September, 2012

Body of newborn baby girl found in garbage bag in Kobe

Posted on September 30, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , |

CRIME SEP. 28, 2012 – KOBE —
The body of a newborn baby girl was found in garbage bag in Kobe on Thursday morning.

A local resident contacted police at around 1:30 a.m. to report that one of the garbage bags left out for collection contained an object shaped like a baby, Fuji TV reported.

Police rushed to the scene to find the dead, naked body of a baby girl in the bag which was left in the street. A police spokesperson said the child appeared to have been disposed of shortly after birth. Police said that there were no obvious injuries on the infant’s body.

Japan Today

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Couple arrested for allowing 4-year-old daughter to die

Posted on September 22, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , |

CRIME SEP. 22, 2012 – AICHI —
Police said Friday they have arrested a man and woman after their 4-year-old daughter died of neglect at their home in Toyohashi, Aichi Prefecture.

According to police, Kazuhisa Kato, 48, and his wife Yoko, 38, are believed to have begun neglecting their daughter Anna in the winter of last year when she caught a cold. The couple are accused of failing to take Anna to a doctor and of not feeding her properly, Fuji TV reported.

Police said the couple contacted emergency services on Thursday and told the operator that their daughter had stopped breathing. She was taken to a nearby hospital where she was confirmed dead.

Police have charged the couple with parental neglect resulting in death. Both parents have reportedly confessed to the charge, Fuji reported.

Japan Today

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Father kills his 1 & 5 year old

Posted on September 21, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , |

IBARAKI —
Police said Thursday they have arrested a 32-year-old man after his two young daughters were found dead in his car at Aqua World Aquarium in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture.

According to police, the man, who lives in Saitama Prefecture, called emergency services from his car at around 11 a.m. on Wednesday and said that he had killed his daughters, Fuji TV reported. Police arrived at the scene to find the man bleeding from both wrists. The bodies of his two daughters, aged 5 and 1, were in the back seat.

Police said there were no signs of external injuries on the bodies and an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

The father has been hospitalized and police are unable to obtain any further information from him.

Japan Today

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Mom puts newborn in fridge

Posted on September 21, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , |

TOKYO —
A 42-year-old woman has been arrested after the body of a newborn baby boy was found in her refrigerator at her home in Tokyo, police said Thursday.

The woman, who has been named as Emika Terada, told police that she gave birth to the child alone at her Toshima Ward home on Sept 17, TBS reported. She was quoted as saying that because the child wasn’t breathing, she wrapped him in a blanket and placed him in her refrigerator because she didn’t know what to do.

According to police, a male acquaintance of Terada informed a doctor that she had given birth and had placed the body in a refrigerator. The doctor notified police.

Terada also has an 11-year-old son who lives with her.

Japan Today

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Man arrested for scalding son with boiling water

Posted on September 19, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , , |

CRIME SEP. 19, 2012 – OSAKA —
Police said Tuesday they have arrested a man who threw boiling water at his 12-year-old son at their home in Hironoku, Osaka. The boy sustained severe burns which will take about three weeks to heal, police said.

According to police, the attack took place on Monday at about 8:30 p.m. The suspect, Yasunori Saeki, 56, has admitted to the charge, Fuji TV reported. He was quoted as saying that he got mad because he told his son to go and buy some groceries and he didn’t. After throwing a cup of boiling water in his son’s face, he took the boy to a hospital, where staff notified police.

This is the second time that Saeki, who works as a taxi driver, has been implicated in a domestic abuse case. Last December, a child consultation center questioned him about injuring his second son by hitting his head against the wall. Saeki promised never to do it again, the center said.

Japan Today

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Woman held for strangling two daughters

Posted on September 17, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , |

CRIME SEP. 16, 2012 – KYOTO —
Police on Sunday arrested a 33-year-old woman for allegedly strangling her two daughters to death at their home in Kyoto.

According to police, they received a phone call from the woman’s husband at 4 p.m. on Saturday, saying that his wife had killed their two daughters, TBS reported. Police rushed to the apartment and found the bodies of the two sisters, Anji Furuta, 9, and Yuan, 6, lying in the livingroom.

Their mother, Yuko, has admitted to killing her daughters, police said, but has so far given no motive. Police said her husband was in Osaka at the time and that she called him there, telling him what she had done.

Japan Today

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Bullied teen remains in coma / Boy unconscious since alleged assault by 3 classmates in January

Posted on September 15, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

The Yomiuri Shimbun

SAITAMA–A 15-year-old boy who attended a middle school in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, has been in a coma since January after he was punched and kicked by three of his classmates, according to investigative sources.

The then second-year student had reportedly been a target of chronic bullying by the trio since enrolling in the middle school in 2010. The municipal school had acknowledged frequent troubles between the boy and the trio, but failed to recognize them as bullying before the incident, according to the sources.

The incident occurred on Jan. 5 during a winter recess. After finishing morning activities related to a sports club that the boy and the trio belonged to, the three told the boy to come with them to a city park where they allegedly punched and kicked him repeatedly. Noticing that the boy had stopped moving, one of the three called for an ambulance.

Prefectural authorities arrested the three later that day on suspicion of injurious assault. They were later sent to a juvenile reformatory.

The trio reportedly told the police they punched the boy because they “disliked the boy’s attitude,” claiming the beating was the result of a “one-on-one fight” rather than bullying by the group. Further investigation, however, led to the suspicion that the three likely assaulted the boy in turn while surrounding him.

The school did not acknowledge the boy had been bullied until it conducted a questionnaire-based survey among its students in January after the incident. Up to that point, the school had recognized altercations between the boy and the trio on eight occasions from April 2011 to December 2011, including a fight that broke out in class after the boy was teased by the trio. At that time, the teacher reprimanded both the boy and the trio, possibly unaware the boy had been bullied.

The survey, conducted among about 130 second-year students in mid-January at the request of the boy’s family, revealed alleged chronic bullying by the trio. Respondents reported they saw the boy frequently beaten by the trio and others immediately after they enrolled in the school in 2010. There were also reports of the boy being verbally abused with phrases such as “kimoi” (creepy) and “Don’t come near me.”

The boy also was forced to wade into a pond to retrieve a ball the trio threw into the water, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Thursday.

According to the municipal board of education, the incident occurred in the second term from September 2011 to December 2011. The trio threw a ball into a pond near the school, then ordered the boy to retrieve it. As the boy waded into knee-deep water, the three taunted him and took pictures with a cellular phone. They later showed the images to their friends for amusement.

The board of education also found the trio forced the boy to play a game involving money dubbed “the home run game,” in which the boy pitched a ball for the trio to hit. According to the rules established by the trio, the boy had to pay 500 yen every time they successfully hit the ball. The education board said it could not confirm whether the boy actually paid money.

The board of education now believes malicious bullying of the boy, including the above instances, occurred repeatedly.

Just after the January incident in which the boy fell into a coma, the board of education said there had been no bullying. It claimed to be unaware of the bullying until it conducted the survey later that month.

“Because we did not realize it was bullying at the time, we addressed the series of incidents on a case-by-case basis, as if it were an issue such as a quarrel. We apologize for our lack of awareness,” an official from the municipal board of education said.

===

Mother demands probe

The boy’s mother demanded the municipal board of education and the school conduct a thorough investigation, saying she “wanted to ask my son, but he can’t speak now.”

“Why couldn’t the school prevent the incident from occurring when it was aware of the troubles [between my son and his classmates]?” she said.

The boy has been hospitalized in a coma for eight months since the January incident. He has suffered cardiac arrest twice–just after the incident and again this spring. He was weaned from ventilatory support, but is still being fed through a tube. His mother goes to the hospital every day after work to take care of her son.

The mother recalled the boy had complained of a stomachache around last April and often missed school. Now she wonders if that might have had to do with bullying. But the boy started going to school again the following month because he “loved the club” he belonged to, according to the mother.

(Sep. 14, 2012)

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Child care left undecided in divorces

Posted on September 15, 2012. Filed under: Child Custody and Visitation, Divorce | Tags: , , , , |

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Less than 50 percent of divorcing couples have planned for such matters as child support and visitation rights since the revised Civil Code was implemented in April, which requires couples with small children to do so, according to the Justice Ministry.

As local governments accept divorce applications without making couples declare such arrangements, the effectiveness of the revision has often been questioned.

The ministry collected its first statistics on the issue during the first quarter since the revision came into force. The results reflect the difficulty couples face in reaching an agreement on child-related matters.

In tandem with the implementation of the revised code, the ministry in April added items to the divorce application form asking couples with young children to verify they have come to an accord on certain issues. This includes whether they have agreed on visitation arrangements for the noncustodial parent and how child support will be handled.

According to the ministry, 32,757 couples with young children mutually consented to file for divorce from April to June. Among them, 15,622, or 48 percent, indicated they had made arrangements regarding visitation for the noncustodial parent, and 6,843, or 21 percent, had not. The remaining 31 percent did not check any boxes.

Concerning payment of child support by noncustodial parents, 16,075 couples, or 49 percent, had made a decision on the matter, while 6,316, or 19 percent, had not. The other 32 percent left the boxes blank.

In 2011, about 235,700 couples got divorced, with about 90 percent of them doing so by mutual consent. Still, there have been many problems concerning the handling of these child-related matters after divorce.

“It’s necessary for couples to reach an accord [on such matters] for their children’s sake,” said Noriko Mizuno, a Civil Code professor at Tohoku University.

“In Western countries and South Korea, couples are not allowed to get divorced unless they agree on a plan to raise their children and the plan is approved by the court. In Japan, it’s not sufficient to simply check whether parents have come to an agreement on such matters. We must also create a system to verify their decisions really serve the best interests of the child and enforce them if so.”

(Sep. 15, 2012)

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Man gets 12 years for starving baby son to death

Posted on September 15, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , |

CRIME SEP. 14, 2012 -CHIBA —
A man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for starving his 2-year-old son to death last year at their home in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture.

According to the ruling, Yuzo Kosaka, 29, and his wife Satomi, 39, failed to provide enough food for their son Soshi, resulting in his eventual death from starvation at the age of 2 years and 10 months, TV Asahi reported.

Prosecutors told the court that at the time of his death, Soshi had weighed less than half the average for a boy of his age. They also said that Soshi had suffered from an intestinal obstruction after eating hair and paper from his diaper, TV Asahi reported.

The boy’s parents were charged with parental negligence resulting in death. Satomi Kosaka was sentenced to 7 years in prison in an earlier trial. She had pleaded guilty to the charge. Her lawyer told the court that emotionally and psychologically, she was being controlled by her husband, 11 years her junior, and that as such, she was unable to seek advice from childcare professionals.

Japan Today

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70,231 school bullying cases reported in 2011

Posted on September 13, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

NATIONAL SEP. 12, 2012 – TOKYO —
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology on Tuesday said that the number of reported school bullying cases for fiscal 2011 decreased by 9.5% to 70,231. It also added that the number of cases reported was the lowest since the current survey methods were established in 2006.

However, a ministry spokesman added that a spate of bullying cases which hit headlines and sparked off a national debate this year, including the suicide of a schoolboy in Kansai, have led the government to conclude that its methods of identifying bullying may be inadequate, Sankei Shimbun reported.

Bullying occurred in 38% of all schools nationwide, according to the ministry’s survey, with the highest number being 33,124 cases in elementary schools. However, the ministry said only cases that were considered “resolved” or “approaching resolution” were reported, according to Sankei.

Reports of bullying were most prevalent in Kumamoto, which reported 32.9 cases per 1,000 children, and Oita, where 18.3 cases were reported per 1,000 students. The lowest number of reports per 1,000 students were made in Saga, with 0.6, and Fukushima, with 0.8.

The suicides of four students, including a widely publicized case in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, were attributed to bullying, the ministry said.

Japan Today

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Woman, 5-year-old son found dead in Tokyo apartment

Posted on September 13, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , |

CRIME SEP. 13, 2012 -TOKYO —
Police said Thursday that a woman in her 30s and her son, aged around 5, were found dead in an apartment in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

According to police, the bodies of the woman and the boy were found at around 7 a.m., Fuji TV reported. Both were lying on their backs on a bed with towels wrapped around their faces. Police said it appeared they had been suffocated to death, adding that the woman had been dead for about a day and the boy for half a day. The woman also had strangulation marks on her neck, police said.

Police said they are searching for a man in his 60s who lived with the victims, Fuji reported. The man has been missing after calling his relatives early Thursday, saying he had killed the woman and the boy. Police said they found a note in the bedroom, which said “I will follow you.”

Police said the man’s car was missing and his cell phone was not receiving calls.

Japan Today

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Woman arrested over dead baby found in locker

Posted on September 13, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , |

CRIME SEP. 12, 2012 -TSUKUBA —
Police said Tuesday they have arrested a 30-year-old woman in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, following the discovery of the body of her one-week-old baby daughter in a coin locker.

According to police, the infant’s body was found wrapped in a plastic shopping bag in a bus terminal locker on Sept 8 at around 10 a.m., TV Asahi reported. Police used surveillance camera footage to trace the bag back to the mother, identified as Miyuki Nagamine, who was arrested on Monday.

Nagamine was quoted by police as saying she had given birth alone on Sept 3 and then put the child in the locker, TV Asahi reported. Police said an autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of the infant’s death.

Japan Today

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Boy dies in apparent suicide from bullying

Posted on September 11, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

The Yomiuri Shimbun
SAPPORO–A middle school student has fallen to his death from an apartment building in an apparent bullying-related suicide.

Police believe the 12-year-old male student jumped from the building in Sapporo to kill himself.

At about 7:10 a.m. Wednesday, a neighbor found the boy lying on the street in front of the building where he lived. The boy was then taken to a hospital and pronounced dead at about 8 a.m. from severe bodily injuries, sources said.

According to Hokkaido prefectural police and the Sapporo city education board, the boy’s belongings included what appeared to be a suicide note saying, “I want to die because I’ve been bullied.”

(Sep. 7, 2012)

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Antibullying guidelines released / Designated special advisers to provide expert advice on handling incidents

Posted on September 11, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , |

Jiji Press

The education ministry has published guidelines for a more comprehensive approach to dealing with school bullying by using experts.

In a bid to step up efforts to tackle the problem, the ministry plans to increase its budget request for related programs for the next fiscal year by about 2.7 billion yen from fiscal 2012 to about 7.3 billion yen.

Education minister Hirofumi Hirano said at a press conference Wednesday, “After serious cases in which students’ lives were at risk, we will face the issue directly and sincerely.”

The ministry plans as early as this month to start designating experts such as lawyers, former police officers and psychiatrists as special advisers.

The advisers will offer opinions on how to prevent and handle bullying incidents. Local boards of education will launch similar efforts.

In its budget request, the ministry said it plans to send clinical psychologists qualified as school counselors to all of the nation’s 9,835 public middle schools and 13,800 public primary schools, up 2,110 from fiscal 2012.

The list of schools with bullying problems that are regularly visited by government-appointed advisers recruited from among former school teachers will also be expanded.

The ministry aims to double the number of social workers to work between schools and the organizations that help schools and victims from 1,113 to 2,226.

An emergency information card with a 24-hour hotline number set by the ministry for school bullying counseling will be distributed nationwide to all primary, middle and high school students.

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Shinagawa to suspend bullies

The education board in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward plans to step up the use of suspension orders to combat students who persist in bullying, it was learned Thursday.

The aim is to deter school bullying and provide some sense of security to victims, education board officials said.

All primary and middle schools in Shinagawa Ward will also carry out anonymous surveys on school bullying every month.

Under Japan’s School Education Law, local education boards can issue suspension orders to the guardians of students who repeatedly use violence at school.

However, no such suspensions were given in Tokyo in the five years through March 2011, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education.

(Sep. 7, 2012)

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Child abuse cases hit record in Jan.-June

Posted on September 11, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , |

Jiji Press
A record 248 child abuse cases were recorded by police in the nation in the first six months of the year, up 62.1 percent from a year before, National Police Agency data showed Thursday.

The number of abused children increased 55.6 percent to 252, also the highest since comparable data became available in 2000.

Meanwhile, 12 children died from abuse in the first half of the year, accounting for a record low of 4.8 percent of the total abuse cases.

An NPA official said increasing reports from neighbors helped alert the authorities to abuse and enabled prompt action to avert further damage.

The number of physically abused children totaled 178, accounting for 70 percent of the total. Sexually abused children amounted to 69, while five were victims of neglect.

Police reported 7,271 children, an increase of 37.7 percent, to child welfare consultation centers as being suspected abuse victims.

The rise came after the NPA instructed prefectural police departments in April to better coordinate with child welfare centers in order to better deal with increasing child abuse cases.

Nearly half of the children reported to welfare centers were victims of psychological, including verbal, abuse. Some of them witnessed domestic violence.

The NPA also reported the number of child pornography cases hit a record high of 764, up 19.9 percent from a year earlier. The number of offenders rose 37.2 percent to 612, also a record high.

The number of child pornography victims reached 596. As many as 319, or 53.5 percent of the total, are believed to be of primary school age or younger.

(Sep. 7, 2012)

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Junior high school boy committed suicide over bullying in April 2011: education board

Posted on September 11, 2012. Filed under: Bullying | Tags: , , , |

YATSUSHIRO, Kumamoto — A third-year junior high school student committed suicide in April 2011 after being bullied by his schoolmates, the education board here said on Sept. 10.

A memo found in a pocket of the 14-year-old boy’s clothing read in part, “It was grueling,” the education board said, adding that the memo had a list of names of several students who had apparently bullied him. The education board and his school interviewed the victim’s classmates, home room teacher and others as part of their investigations into the case. The investigations found that the boy had begun to be verbally abused and ostracized in his club activity in the first semester and in class in the second semester of the second year in junior high school.

The education board concluded that the students mentioned in the boy’s memo and other schoolmates had been engaged in the bullying. Several students and their guardians apologized to the bereaved family of the victim, according to the education board.

The education board said it had “refrained from announcing the findings at the request of the bereaved family.” But the education board decided to release the findings in time with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s fact-finding investigations into bullying. Toshikuni Takaue, chairman of the municipal education board said, “We truly feel sorry that we could not protect his precious life.”

September 11, 2012(Mainichi Japan)

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26-year-old woman arrested for drowning baby son in bath

Posted on September 9, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , |

CRIME SEP. 09, 2012 – HIROSHIMA —
Police said Saturday they have arrested a 26-year-old woman for allegedly drowning her 4-month-old son in the bath in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture.

According to police, the woman, who has been named as Yuki Nakamatsu, contacted them at around 10:45 a.m. on Friday to report that she had killed her son, Fuji TV reported. Officers arrived at her home to find her son Haruki in the bathtub, submerged in water.

Haruki was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead two hours later. According to police, Nakamatsu has confessed to the crime but gave no motive.

Japan Today

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Man arrested for murdering father, kidnapping 7-year-old girl

Posted on September 6, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, Child Abduction | Tags: , , , , |

Aug 6th, 2012, Aichi – Japan Today

Police said Tuesday they have arrested a 23-year-old man on suspicion of killing his father before kidnapping and imprisoning a 7-year-old girl in Nagoya.

According to police, the man, who has been named as Makoto Mizushima, is suspected of taking the girl back to his Nagoya apartment and confining her inside. It is believed he approached the girl as she left her home to go to school on Monday morning, Fuji TV reported.

Upon hearing that their daughter had not made it to school and had not attended the school opening ceremony, the girl’s parents alerted the authorities.

A police investigation was launched and a search of the apartment block carried out, during which police discovered the girl in Mizushima’s living room next to a body believed to be that of Mizushima’s father. Police say the girl was unharmed, Fuji reported.

Mizushima was quoted by police as saying he killed his father. According to police, injuries found on the body were consistent with those sustained during death by strangulation.

Japan Today

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Student abducts 12-yr-old girl, confines her in travel bag in taxi trunk in Hiroshi

Posted on September 6, 2012. Filed under: Child Abduction | Tags: , , |

CRIME SEP. 05, 2012 -HIROSHIMA —

Police said Wednesday they have arrested a 20-year-old university student for allegedly kidnapping a 12-year-old elementary school girl in Hiroshima on Tuesday night.

Police said the suspect, identified as Tomohiro Kodama from Setagaya in Tokyo, is accused of forcing the girl to get into a large travel bag at knifepoint and then placing it in the trunk of a taxi. The girl had been waiting for her mother to pick her up at Nishi-Hiroshima Station after attending cram school.

According to police, Kodama asked the taxi driver to help him put the bag in the trunk at about 8:50 p.m. Tuesday and then drive to Hiroshima Station. The driver was quoted by NHK as saying he felt something warm and soft. He drove along for about four kilometers and could hear cries coming from the trunk. When he asked Kodama if there was a dog in the bag, Kodama said nothing. When they stopped at a traffic light, Kodama asked to get out.

However, the driver restrained him and asked a passerby to call police. Then he and the passerby opened the bag and found the girl, unharmed.

Kodama, who belongs to a martial arts club at his university, has confessed to kidnapping and confining the girl. He was quoted by police as saying he did not know her and that he had planned to take her back to a hotel near Hiroshima Station, where he was staying.

Japan Today

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Bullied junior high school boy commits suicide in Sappo

Posted on September 6, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , , |

NATIONAL SEP. 06, 2012 -SAPPORO —

A junior high school boy from Sapporo committed suicide on Wednesday by jumping from the roof of his apartment block, police said Thursday.

According to police, the 12-year-old boy was found on the ground outside of the apartment block in which he lived at about 7:30 a.m., NTV reported. He was taken to hospital where doctors pronounced him dead.

Police said a note was found in the boy’s room, indicating that he was being bullied at school and had decided to kill himself. The boy’s school reported that he had been an active member of his school club and had not been absent from school.

The Sapporo Board of Education has announced that it plans to hold a meeting to discuss ways of dealing with bullying in the future.

Japan Today

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Mom arrested for attempted murder

Posted on September 5, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death | Tags: , , |

TOKYO —
Police said Monday they have arrested a 41-year-old woman for allegedly attempting to murder her 5-year-old son after he was found with his hands and wrists bound, wrapped in polyethylene bags, in their home in Tokyo on Sunday.

The woman, who has been named as Shizu Shigeta, allegedly bound and wrapped the boy, her third son, in the living room of their Nakameguro home she shared with her sons and husband, Fuji TV reported. Police said Shigeta’s husband found his son lying limp on the floor and took him to a hospital. Doctors say the boy has yet to regain consciousness.

During police questioning, Shigeta was quoted by police as admitting to the charge and said the boy wouldn’t clean up after she told him to, so she punished him.

Japan Today

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Unwanted Pregnancies need to be discussed

Posted on September 3, 2012. Filed under: Abuse Neglect Death, mental health | Tags: , , , , |

By PHILIP BRASOR (Japan Times)

Two weeks ago a 17-year-old girl collapsed in a shopping mall in Hiroshima and was rushed to the hospital. At the same time a dead fetus was found on the floor in the corner of the mall’s food court. The girl eventually admitted that she had just given birth to the child.
On Aug. 6 a baby’s corpse with the umbilical cord still attached was discovered in a plastic bag at a refuse collection station in Mie Prefecture. A 24-year-old woman who lived nearby was later arrested. She had given birth to the baby about a week earlier.On Aug. 9, a cleaning person found the body of an infant wrapped in a towel in a train station rest room in Hamamatsu. An autopsy revealed that the baby was born shortly before it died and that the cause of death was an injury to a blood vessel.

In July, a 27-year-old woman in Osaka was arrested for possession of illegal drugs and when police searched her apartment they came across the remains of a baby in her closet. She said she had drowned the child five years earlier in a bathtub right after giving birth, which she never reported.

These four news stories appeared within the space of a month — and were not the only ones involving the killing of newborn babies — adding a dramatic dimension to a larger story that has been covered extensively by the mainstream media.

In late July the health and welfare ministry released figures showing that the number of child abuse cases in 2011 rose for the 21st straight year, which isn’t necessarily surprising since it has only been in the last two decades that local governments have addressed the problem and encouraged people to report suspected abuse. but the part of the report that attracted the most scrutiny is the section on “death from abuse.”

In 2010, 98 children died as a result of abuse, 10 more than in 2009. When the number of children who perished in “group suicides” is subtracted, the number is 51, 80 percent of which represent children less than 3 years old. Twenty-three were less than 1 year old. If you expand the time frame and include all the children known to have died “through abuse” since 2003, the year the ministry started compiling figures, you find that between that year and 2011, 193 were less than 1 year old and 39 percent of those (76) died “on the day they were born.” Ninety percent of these infants were killed by their mothers.

It doesn’t take much deductive reasoning to conclude that these babies were not wanted in the first place. One can imagine the 17-year-old girl in Hiroshima slowly realizing that she is pregnant and suffering in silence as she tries to hide her condition from friends and family, and then going into labor in a shopping mall; or the 24-year-old Mie woman, who reportedly returned to her home town from Tokyo, presumably to have her unplanned child in secret, and when that happened she panicked and put the baby in a garbage bag.

News reports avoid the word “unwanted.” They use nozomanai, which means “unhoped for.” It may sound like a trivial distinction, but the idea that one’s pregnancy was “unhoped for” leaves open the possibility that it will result in something better. “Unwanted” doesn’t sound open-ended at all, and the gist of the related news reports and editorials is what the authorities are doing to address the problem. The solution is always to help these women accept what has happened to them and “rescue” those children born into situations where they become victims of abuse.

A recent Asahi Shimbun article reported on a counseling service set up by a maternal health center in Izumi at the request of the Osaka prefectural government. The center brought in an outside organization, Ninshin (pregnancy) SOS, which specifically answers queries from women about unplanned pregnancies. The stories followed the same patterns: the high school girl who can’t confide in anyone, the woman who finds herself pregnant, and then dumped, by her married lover.

The person in charge of Ninshin SOS, Takuyo Sato, told the Asahi that the prefecture set up the service because “there are too many babies dying from abuse.” Almost all the calls they receive are from women “who don’t want to be pregnant, and haven’t seen a doctor yet.” If the caller is a minor, she is urged to talk to her parents. If it is a woman who says she can’t afford a baby, they refer her to services that can help her for free or at minimum cost. If the caller sounds depressed, they urge her to seek a friend’s assistance, or go to her local welfare office and consult a case worker.

Sato believes that the work she is doing will be effective in “preventing abuse” of children who are the products of unplanned pregnancies. “We can reduce the risk that these women will go through labor without medical attention,” she says. “We can also reduce child abuse as a result of the feelings of mothers who didn’t want to give birth to them.”

And then she adds, “It might help if they work out the problem at an early stage.” The reporter doesn’t ask for clarification, but we can assume this means at an early stage in the pregnancy. Sato doesn’t say if she advises callers about abortions or even if any of the callers ask about the procedure, though SOS’s website offers information about terminating pregnancies. Abortion is never discussed in relation to this particular problem in the media. As it stands, hundreds of thousands of Japanese women undergo abortions in clinics and hospitals every year, even though technically abortion is illegal and not covered by any form of national insurance.

The fact that abortion is available and never discussed in the media when the topic is infanticide is like talking about suicide without mentioning intervention. Adoption should also be discussed in the same conversation, and it isn’t. As long as scared pregnant women are made to feel that their only recourse is having and raising a child they don’t want, it will be difficult to talk to them.

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