HYOGO (TR) – A married couple arrested last week for abandoning their four children, including a newborn boy who died, inside their Kobe City residence to play pachinko regularly visited the same parlor, police have learned, reports Fuji News Network (Jan. 24)
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.
Upon their arrest last week on suspicion of neglect by a guardian resulting in death, both suspects admitted to the allegations, police said previously. Police sent them to prosecutors on January 24.
In the latest development, police have learned that they regularly visited the same pachinko parlor, located near JR Kobe Station and about 4.5 kilometers from their residence.
“I saw them here regularly,” an employee of the parlor was quoted by police.
“His body is cold”
In addition to the newborn, aged three months, the children include two other boys – aged 1 and 5 – and a 3-year-old girl.
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.
Initially, Takashima said that he awoke that morning to find the boy “unconscious.” However, police later used security camera footage to show that the couple visited the pachinko parlor that day.
Other children in protective care
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.
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.