So near and yet so far

Japan is currently reeling in shock over the starvation deaths of two small children by their 23-year-old mother, a sex-worker.  According to news reports, the young woman originally moved from a rural area to big-city Osaka after divorcing and breaking off all contact with her own family.  She and her two babies lived in a one-room apartment provided by the sex club which the woman worked for, and the children were often left to fend for themselves.  In June of this year she simply decided not to bother coming home any more.  It was shortly after this that the neighbours heard the sounds of distressed young children crying, and some time after that noticed a rotten smell emanating from the apartment.  Finally they contacted the child welfare authorities, who came and called on the apartment on at least five occasions without attempting to enter it. 

Needless to say, it has now been discovered that the children, aged 3 and 1, starved to death on their own, even as social workers were banging on the door (and refusing to attempt to enter it, because of the Rules).  The mother has since been apprehended, and has stated that she was overwhelmed with the responsibilities of childcare, and wanted to have some fun in life.   So far she has shown little remorse.

It’s hard to decide where to apportion the blame here.  Obviously the bulk of it should fall on the mother, who seems to have been little more than a child herself (not to mention her former husband).  And what about the people who raised her?  Obviously they did not do a good job of it, or of keeping in contact with their own grandchildren.  Or how about the neighbours, who waited until the smell of rotting flesh had become unbearable before lodging formal complaints?  Or the social workers who didn’t bother following through with a thorough investigation?  Or the predatory sex club, that didn’t seem to care a fig about the young mother who worked for them as long as she showed up?

Or people like me, who walked past her apartment several times earlier this year without noticing anything amiss … or especially caring anyway.

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11 comments on “So near and yet so far

  1. Karen says:

    Well, why would you have noticed if you only walked by. The social workers should have called the police, and gotten access to the apartment. But you are right, there is plenty of blame to go around. This is currently making headlines here (and around the world, I assume)

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE66S22Z20100729

  2. Miko says:

    Yes, that’s been in the news a lot too. Actually cases like that occasionally pop up in Japan – and elsewhere – and they always puzzle me. I feel that women like that are genuinely ill, whereas the young mother I mention above was just immature and selfish.

    Social workers need more teeth here. But I guess it’s a fine line sometimes.

  3. dodi says:

    Japan is a wierd society of its own. People are reserved and tend to keep a distance from each others. Miko I live in the US, and I have two little kids that are very close to Sakurako and Kaede ages. I just wanted to let you know after seeing this news, I am very depressed. Every time I think about it, tears fill my eyes. Why can’t she just give up her kids to some kind of government agency instead of letting them die like that. I can’t stand seeing the sentence “distressed children crying.” I can’t even imagine how those poor babies had been days before they died.

  4. Miko says:

    Here’s a photo of the mother that seems to have been taken several weeks after she abandoned her kids.

  5. dodi says:

    the Chinese has a saying “even a tiger wouldn’t eat her cub.” is she lucifer from hell? sad thing is she even locked up the entry way to the bathroom. at least let the children get some water. according to the news, she didn’t bath them since April. i can’t bear reading this anymore. Does Japan have death penalty? what are the chance of her being sentenced to life prison? She wants freedom? Then let her stay in her prison cell for the rest of her life.

    I don’t know what are the chances you’ll pass by this apartment complex again, but if you do, please send my prayer to those poor babies.

  6. Miko says:

    This case bears an eerie resemblance to that of Rie Fujii. Japan does have a death penalty but it’s almost never handed out in cases of infanticide.

  7. Karen says:

    Infanticide and cop killings almost always result in the death penalty here. I say if she doesn’t get the death penalty, and there is any chance she might be paroled, a condition of the parole should be that she get sterilized. She has no business having children. And, Dodi, sometimes animals do kill their young. It’s usually, however, because of a defect in the offspring. Sometimes, however, even animals are bad at mothering, and just let their young die.

  8. Petra says:

    Miko, yopu once mentioned this movie: Nobody Knows (誰も知らない; daremo shiranai).

    I watched it and is is haunting me still. What a sad, sad, sad and harrowing story.

  9. dodi says:

    Karen:
    I didn’t translate the proverb well enough for you to understand. It actually goes
    “Tigers are dangerous animals that hunt and kill, but yet they still love their cubs.” If I’m able to get on a computer that has Kanji input, I’ll type it out to show you.

  10. dodi says:

    藤井理絵 ‘s case is horrific. So this is not the first time happening. Why would a mother did that to her own children. These women are from HELL? These women, value love more than parenting??!!! Nuts… get sterilized and don’t have kids.

  11. Miko says:

    Petra, from what I remember, the real-life mother of Daremo Shiranai was eventually granted custody of her two younger children!!!!

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