Police took a 13-year-old girl into custody Wednesday on suspicion of pushing a 5-year-old boy from the fourth floor of an apartment building in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward the previous day.
The girl, a second-year junior high school student, was quoted as telling police that she acted out of fear that the boy would tell her mother that she frequented a local game arcade and that she would be scolded. She voiced regret and said she wants to apologize, investigators said.
The girl, who cannot be identified because she is a minor, and the child, Sun Jizu, came to know each other at the arcade, according to investigators.
The boy, a Chinese national, fell into a tree and some bushes that cushioned his fall. He survived, suffering only minor injuries.
He was hospitalized and was being treated for scratches and cuts all over his body, police said.
Police said they are treating the case as one of attempted murder. They took the girl to the Tokyo metropolitan child consultation center because she is under age 14 and thus cannot be held criminally liable for her actions.
The consultation center decided later in the day to bring the case before a family court, which determined that she should be placed in the Nerima Juvenile Classification Home for two weeks while it probes the background of the case.
Yukio Iiyama, head of the consultation center, said that the girl “seems to be trying to justify and rationalize her actions, and we feel there are limits to what we can do for her while she remains at home.”
He said the girl told center staffers that she did not intend to kill the boy, adding that she was able to explain the events of the previous day calmly and in an orderly fashion.
The center told reporters earlier Wednesday that the girl’s school had brought to its attention in March 2002 the fact that the girl had trouble forging relations with others.
She had been referred to the center on five separate occasions since 2002 by police after she got into trouble with neighbors and with her mother. While on four occasions the referrals were just in writing, in December 2002 the girl spent one night at the center.
Officials at the center said she said on that occasion that wanted the facility to take care of her, because her rows with her mother would continue if she was sent back home.
They added that the girl met with a psychiatrist in June that same year and underwent a psychological test that October, though they refused to disclose any details. She had also been visiting the center about once a week since November 2002 and in recent months had appeared to be settling down emotionally, the officials said.
The girl and the boy often visited the game arcade, located about 1 km from the public apartment building in the Takadanobaba district where the incident took place, police said.
According to investigators, they were playing together in the arcade as usual Tuesday. Yet when the girl cautioned the boy about playing there, he told her he would tell her mother that she frequented the arcade.
She apparently decided to silence the boy out of fear that her mother would scold her if she found out about her activities, police said.
An employee at the arcade reported seeing the girl leave with the boy around 4 p.m.
Police quoted the girl as saying she took the boy to the stairs between the fourth and fifth floors of the five-story apartment building around 4:40 p.m., made him sit on the 1.1-meter high railing facing outward and then pushed him off.
She also admitted having checked the distance from the stairs to the ground before having the boy sit on the railing.
A local resident found the boy on the ground crying shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday after the girl told her there was an injured boy nearby. The girl disappeared while the woman was talking with the boy, police said.
The incident comes about three weeks after an 11-year-old schoolgirl fatally stabbed her classmate during a lunch break at an elementary school in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture.