YOKOHAMA – Police have arrested the 29-year-old manager of an unlicensed nursery in Yamato, Kanagawa Prefecture, on suspicion of causing physical abuse that led to the death of a 2-year-old boy, police officials said Wednesday.
The child died Feb. 18, shortly after suffering a fractured skull at “Smile Mom Yamato Room,” a nursery managed by Junko Izumo, a Yokohama resident, according to police.
Police believe Izumo physically abused the boy while he was at the nursery, causing serious damage to his skull. An autopsy suggested he had either been dropped from a height or hit around the head with a blunt instrument.
Earlier on Feb. 18, the boy’s 25-year-old mother had visited the nursery to drop him off for the day.
Izumo denies the allegation, saying the boy’s injury was due to an accident of which she has no knowledge, investigators said.
But police believe Izumo was responsible because the boy’s injuries were too serious to have been caused by an accident and because the suspect was alone with the boy at the nursery on that day, they added.
Also, police suspect that the 2-year-old may not have been the only victim. Another boy, 20 months old, died Feb. 4 from a hemorrhage inside his skull shortly after returning home from the nursery, they said.
At least four other children at the nursery have also suffered serious injuries, including a broken arm and a ruptured eardrum, they said.
Izumo has told investigators that all the children “hurt themselves,” according to police.
The child welfare section of Kanagawa Prefecture has received complaints from a number of parents of children at the nursery, claiming the children suffered injuries while at the facility.
Officials of the prefecture have inspected the nursery on four occasions since last summer.
A 51-year-old woman from Musashi-Murayama in western Tokyo turned herself in to police earlier this week and confessed to killing her own newborn baby 15 years ago, police officials said Wednesday.
Local officers later found what appeared to be the decomposed body of an infant at the woman’s house, the officials said, and opened a murder investigation.
Police plan to perform an autopsy to determine the gender of the baby, as well as to ascertain the cause and date of death.
The woman, whose identity has not been revealed, visited the Higashi-Yamato Police Station on Monday afternoon, accompanied by her 54-year-old husband, and told investigators that she had killed her newborn baby around the fall of 1985.
The body was found wrapped in a vinyl bag stuffed inside an aluminum can and stored in a cabinet beneath the kitchen floor of the woman’s house.
The woman has told investigators that 15 years ago, she was divorced from her former husband and was living alone in an apartment in Tokyo. After giving birth in her room, she smothered the baby, and hid the body in the can.
She married her current husband in 1987, and took the can with her when she moved into their Musashi-Murayama house. “I was hard pressed when that happened. I feel sorry for the baby,” the woman was quoted as telling police.
Her husband learned about the body recently after asking her why she had become depressed, police said.
If the woman’s account is true, the murder investigation will soon reach its 15-year statute of limitations.