The Modern Tokyo Times

International news and neglected issues

Japan and child welfare: continuing inaction in child abuse cases in Japan

Japan and child welfare: continuing inaction in child abuse cases in Japan

James Jomo and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

This article focuses on two young children who were killed by their parents in Japan because the reasons are all too familiar and the same applies to lack of care within all relevant areas. One child died because his father was more concerned about his girlfriend and the second child was neglected because the father loved the cat more. Also, the usual complete failure of child welfare services happened once more and it appears that it doesn’t matter if hundreds or thousands of children die in similar circumstances, because little changes in Japan.

Of course, children are killed by parents all over the world and neglecting children and child abuse is a global reality. Every day children will be killed by parents in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America. However, each nation will have different safety mechanisms in order to spot children who face danger. Therefore, providing an adequate system is in place then many children will survive their brutal ordeal.

In Japan, and other nations, it seems that children don’t count so much when it comes to adequate government and local government guidelines. This applies to enforcement policies and taking a firm approach when child neglect is noticed.

After all, the reported deaths in this article are nothing new and the same applies to inaction of so many institutions. Not only this, what happened to other family members in these selected cases, neighbors, health check-ups of children and other family and friends? 

It appears that children can just disappear within the home environment and in cases where it is noticed that children are in danger, little is done to prevent further abuse. Therefore, you can read constant cases whereby the system betrayed countless numbers of children in Japan and the circumstances are often infuriating because of the lack of concern and inaction. This is the crux of the matter because when will anything be learnt?

The father of the boy who died at the age of 2 years and 10 months old is adamant that he did try. However, the argument by Yuzo Kosaka sums up this individual because he states that “It’s not that I didn’t do anything.  It was just my cat was more important than my child.” This isn’t a very convincing statement and just highlights the neglect that this child faced in his short time on this earth.

However, who should be on trial for the death of this boy called Aoshi? This applies to the fact that the boys check-up at hospital when 6 to 7 months old indicated that child abuse and neglect was happening. Yet, despite this being noted the child suffered two more years of neglect.

Like usual, the social services tried five times to see the boy but either his father refused to let them in the house or nobody was at home. In other words, if you close the door and refuse to let social services check the child then no problem. However, once the child is reported dead then action will be taken against the abusive parent or parents.

The baby boy should have weighed around 29.7 pounds which is average but instead he weighed only 12.8 pounds when he died. However, like the father noted “It was just my cat was more important than my child.” Therefore, I am sure that the cat is either a little overweight or in trim condition.

Also, the role of the mother (Satomi Kosaka) in this case highlights the complete neglect of this child and I hasten to mention friends and other family members – after all, how did anyone not notice that this child needed help?

In another case whereby the father and uncle just allowed a 5 year old child to die we have the usual lack of care, no emotion and so forth which is all too common. The father, Yukio Yoshida, 27, stated about the death of his son Hibiki, (reported by The Mainichi Daily News) that “he was more concerned with his girlfriend than with Hibiki.”

The uncle, Takeshi Yoshida, 25, also commented that he “wanted to sleep during the day after working night shifts.” The father, uncle and child all lived together in Kasukabe in Saitama Prefecture and like usual other family members, friends, and so forth, appear to allow children to go off the radar without many questions being asked.

The article states that “Five-year-old Hibiki’s father Yukio Yoshida, 27, and uncle Takeshi Yoshida, 25, are accused of failing to feed the boy properly for the eight months before his death, giving him nothing but bread and rice balls twice a day from January to June and then locking him in a room without even access to fresh water.”

“Police also emphasized that the two did not consult a doctor despite Hibiki’s obvious drastic weight loss and malnutrition. When he died in August, the boy weighted less than 10 kilograms — about half the average weight for boys his age.”

In an earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times it was that that “In 2008 you had 42,664 cases of child abuse and in 2009 you had 44,210 cases of child abuse.  New laws passed were meant to give welfare workers more power to apply for warrants in child abuse cases.”

“However, in 2008 only two warrants were asked for and astonishingly in 2009 only one warrant was asked for.  Therefore, basically, out of over 86,000 reports of child abuse only three child warrants were asked for.” 

In the same article Modern Tokyo Times also reports on two disturbing cases which highlight the complete failure of the system in Japan. It was stated that “The decomposed bodies of 3 year old Sakurako Hagi and her baby brother, Kaede, aged 1, were found after months of inactivity by the child welfare organizations.”

“The mother, Shimomura, aged 23, stated that she wanted “to flee from everything and have time to myself…I knew they wouldn’t be able to survive if not given food or water.  I abandoned them and killed them as a result.”

“Shimomura killed her children but the child welfare institution was also behind the deaths of these two children because they failed to help and rescue them from the pits of hell.” 

“In another case in Osaka a mother killed her child because the child had thrown away her console game. 

“Shizuku Tanaka, aged three, was suffocated and put in a garbage bag by her mother and boyfriend.  This child had her hands and feet taped up and died in agonizing pain because Yui Tanaka, her mother, and her boyfriend, wanted to play a game and apparently the child was noisy.”

Her mother stated that “Even when we scolded her, she didn’t listen.”  Apparently Yui Tanaka had stated the previous year that “Even if this kid died, I wouldn’t cry.”

Japanese newspapers are constantly reporting about this issue and raising serious questions. However, little is changing and this is the problem.

In The Asahi Shimbun it was stated in the link below this article that “Some officials in urban areas say applying for the warrants is complicated and time-consuming and often not practically possible given their heavy workloads.”

This is a shocking comment because it implies that you don’t have enough care workers and that rather than being concerned about children, other lesser factors like “time-consuming” comes first. After all, with very few warrants being called for it is abundantly clear that something is happening at the senior level and it appears to be a standard policy where no action is taken.

Given this, it is abundantly obvious that child abuse isn’t being taken seriously in Japan because you have systematic failure of all major institutions with regards to this issue. The government of Japan did introduce new laws to try to alleviate the crisis and protect children but nothing is changing. Therefore, new measures and policy guidelines are needed whereby institutions become pro-active instead of in-active and safety mechanisms are needed in all areas so that children are protected from child abuse.

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