HYOGO (TR) – Hyogo Prefectural Police this week announced the arrest of a married couple for abandoning their four children, including a newborn boy who died, inside their Kobe City residence last year, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Jan. 23).
Between around 10:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on November 26, Shinya Takashima, a 36-year-old company employee, and his wife, 38-year-old Hiromi, who works a dental hygienist, left the children at the residence, located in the Maeikecho of Suma Ward, while they played pachinko.
The suspects, who have been accused of neglect by a guardian resulting in death, admit to the allegations, police said.
In addition to the newborn, aged three months, the children include two other boys — aged 1 and 5 — and a 3-year-old girl.
“His body is cold”
Upon the return home of the suspects, Takashima alerted emergency services about the condition of the boy. “My boy is unconscious and not breathing. His body is cold,” he said.
The boy was later confirmed dead at a hospital. The cause of death has not been revealed. A staff member at the hospital later tipped off police.
Three years before the incident, the Kobe City government began monitoring the family after it was found that the daughter had not been receiving regular medical checks.
In 2018, police instructed the government to take action due to suspicion that the children were being neglected. Through November 6, 2019, the city had dispatched staff members to the residence on twenty occasions. On the final visit, the staff member found nothing unusual.
Overflowing with garbage
According to Fuji News Network (Jan. 24), Yoshihide Yoshii, the manager of the family support division for Kobe City said that the city was providing support for the Takashima family on a regular basis, including by telephone and through visits to the local ward office.
“At the time [of the incident], I had not received a report indicating that there was anything out of the ordinary [taking place within the family],” the manager said.
Two days after the death of the boy, the children were taken into protective custody. It was later determined that they could not return to the residence since it was overflowing with garbage.
Takashima and his wife later moved to another residence about 150 meters away. However, the children remain in protective custody at a children’s center in Kobe.