Sakurako & Kaede Kagi
June 2010

For weeks, neighbors heard two children crying in their home, some tried to get help for the children who were obviously in distress of some kind. A call went out to the Osaka Municipal Consultation Center in March  of 2010 saying that the children in the home were crying all night, every night and screaming for their "mama". A home visit was made at 3:00 p.m. the next day, but there was no response so they left. 

On April 1st another call was made and another visit brought no response, so again, they left. April 2nd brought another call, another visit and the same results. On April 8th another call was made by the same woman and at about 2:00 p.m. the next day, a visit was made with no response. Why didn't they go to visit on the same day, at the same time as the calls were being made? They could have heard the children crying and done something to help them.

On May 18, 2010 another call came in at 5:30 a.m., this time with only child crying and Social Workers visited the home at about 2:00 p.m., what is the definition of insanity? Someone should have changed their strategy and been more aggressive in their visits. When no one responded yet again, they left. Guidelines for the Welfare Ministry state that within 48 hours of receiving a complaint, a child's safety must be confirmed, in this case, someone did not do their job and they failed these two little Angels. Workers said they were unable to find out who rented the apartment because it was rented by Sanae Shimomura's employer. Sanae was the mother of the two children in the home. Family members could not be contacted because no one knew where they lived and the workers, for whatever reason, didn't feel the need to contact the Police in this matter and they also didn't speak to any neighbors because they didn't want to have a bad relationship with Sanae. Workers thought the case must not be urgent since there were no calls for help coming from inside the apartment. I believe that two children crying and screaming for their mother IS a call for help!

As it turned out, Sanae had sealed up her apartment leaving her two children inside alone. Sakurako was three years old and Kaede was one year old when their mother began to get tired of taking care of them and just closed the door, walking away from them forever. When Sanae failed to show up for work over several days, a co-worker went to her apartment to find out why. A strange, horrible smell was coming from the apartment and on July 30, 2010 when Police entered they found the two children had died. Police said that the children, who were found naked and decomposing,  had probably starved to death and had been dead for quite some time.

Sanae worked in the sex industry at the time and she was arrested on suspicion of abandoning her children. Sanae told Police that she had left the apartment in June because she wanted to get away from everything and have some time to her herself:

"I knew they wouldn't be able to survive if not given food or water. I abandoned them
and killed them as a result. I thought about a week later they might be dead. I didn't
feel I should return home to save them"

Police found traces of tape on the outside of the door and believed that she had used it to seal her children in. I have to ask, if there had been tape on the door, why didn't the Social Workers thing that was odd and IMMEDIATELY call the Police? Neighbors said that about a month prior to being found, the children had stopped crying and screaming and one man said that he had noticed a bad smell coming from the apartment in July.

Sane had moved to this area in December of 2006 after she had gotten married and in May of 2009, she had been divorced, her father said that he had not seen or spoken to her or met his grandchildren since that time. Sanae's ex-inlaws were upset about what had happened:

"Sakurako was a smart and cheerful girl. Although I hate her now, I was thinking of
her as my own daughter"
Grandmother - Mother-In-Law

Sanae's former Father-In-Law said that he was very sad about what happened to his grandchildren and that he has been unable to sleep because of it.

Sanae had returned to the home and found her children dead and didn't report it, but the next day is when Police entered and found the children. Sanae was arrested and charges that she had abandoned the bodies of her children. Autopsies showed that the children had died in June, though an exact cause of death was not found.

Sanae spoke to Police about her situation:

"Since I divorced in May last year, I had become tired of caring for my children. I
wanted free time. I wished I hadn't had children. I knew that such young children
couldn't live if I left them behind and refused to give them food or water"

While a timeline is hard to figure out, some experts have said that with all of the reports from the neighbors and then the neighbors telling the Police when the children stopped crying, it was assumed they died about a month before they were found.

Changes to the laws ahd been made in April of 2008 stating that Child Guidance Center Officials could get a search warrant to enter a home if it was felt that a child was in danger, even without parental consent. In the year 2008, only twice was that law put into action out of 44,210 complaints and in 2009 only once. Officials say that the process for obtaining a warrant is complicated and takes a lot of time because of what they call "a high hurdle". Tetsura Tsuzaki, a Professor of Child Welfare said that the current system needed an overhaul and was questioning why no one had spoken to neighbors or asked the Janitor to allow them in to the home.

In March of 2012, Prosecutors were asking for a life sentence for  24 year old Sanae saying that because her children had starved to death, Sanae's actions were an "unprecedentedly cruel" form of child abuse. Sanae was saying that for what she had done, she would be living the rest of her life without being able to make up for what she had done to her children.

Judge Masaki Nishida spoke to the courtroom during the sentencing hearing:

"One cannot imagine the pain of the children whose lives were cut short as they
gradually grew weaker in a situation of despair. It can be summed up in the
word cruel"

Judge Nishida spoke of the conditions the children had been found in, among trash and feces:

"There is no suffering rivaling this. During that time, the defendant turned her eyes from
reality and pursued pleasure with several men. Her actions deserve criticism"

Judge Nishida also said that it appeared that Sanae was unable to find any other way out of her situation. Sanae said that she had not intended to kill her children and the Judge reminded her that the last time she had seen her children alive, she knew that they were in trouble and the theirs lives were in danger, she had stayed for quite some time, giving her children very little to eat and then abandoning them without a chance for them to live.

Sanae was sentenced to only 30 years, the maximum she could receive for this conviction. The Defense appealed the sentence, but LUCKILY Judge Yasuhiro Morioka said that Sanae's own actions had been the cause of her children's death and he said that the sentence given to her by the lower court would stand:

"The desperate situation of the starving babies was beyond all imagination. Their
deaths were extremely cruel"

This page was created on December 18, 2014
Death occurred in Japan

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