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
killed them as a result. I thought about a week later they might be
dead. I didn't
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
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
my own daughter"
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
free time. I wished I hadn't had children. I knew that such young
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
"One cannot imagine the
pain of the children whose lives were cut short as they
grew weaker in a situation of despair. It can be summed up in the
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
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:
situation of the starving babies was beyond all imagination. Their
were extremely cruel"