I’m a human being,” said the principal, “I’m a stranger…” A girl left on a bus, “a sad sight when I found her.”
She was looking forward to going to kindergarten on the bus. How could this have happened? ……”
The father of the deceased girl expressed his anger at the parents’ meeting held on September 7. A total of 114 people attended the meeting. Panicked parents broke down in tears at the meeting, and 13 were taken to the hospital for hyperventilation and other injuries.
The incident occurred on September 5. China Kawamoto, 3, was left for dead on the bus transporting her to and from Kawasaki Kindergarten (Makinohara City, Shizuoka Prefecture), an accredited childcare center. The bus arrived at the kindergarten before 9:00 a.m., but the staff failed to check the bus, and China was left in the bus for five hours under the scorching sun at a temperature of over 30 degrees Celsius.
The bus driver was on vacation that day. Three temporary drivers were also contacted, but they refused, so Tatsuyoshi Masuda, 73, the president and director of the school, took over for them. A female dispatched employee in her 70s was on the bus, but she entered “Arrive at preschool” into the preschool’s app without checking that China was getting off the bus. The homeroom teacher was aware of China’s absence, but assumed that she was absent.
The director of the preschool said she was “sleep deprived” and “felt sorry for her.”
After the aforementioned parent-teacher conference, a press conference was held at the kindergarten. At the beginning of the press conference, Director Masuda bowed his head and apologized, saying, “I would like to express my sincere apologies to the deceased kindergarten students and their bereaved families. He also expressed his intention to resign as president and director of the preschool. However, during the press conference, which lasted for two hours and 40 minutes, Director Masuda seemed to take a somewhat nonchalant attitude. In response to a reporter’s request that he speak clearly, he responded, “I am not sure if it is due to lack of sleep and water, or to the age of the children.
I’m having trouble speaking due to lack of sleep and water, as well as my age. …… My throat is parched. I’m only human.”
I’m sorry you had to go through such a hard time. I felt sorry for her in that hot weather.”
Despite his apology to China-chan and her bereaved family, who were left behind in the car in the intense heat, he said that he was “parched” himself. When asked about his impression of China-chan, he said, “I don’t even know her name,” and at one point misspelled her name as “Chinatsu-chan.
On the day of the incident, the temperature was 30.5°C and the humidity was 70%. The temperature inside the car was probably over 50°C. I heard that China-chan looked really sad when she was found. …… The water bottle nearby was empty, without a drop of water. She had taken off her clothes and was naked, probably because she could not stand the extreme heat.
When asked about the cause of the incident, Director Masuda explained, “I was not used to driving.
When asked about the cause of the incident, the headmaster of the school, Mr. Masuda, explained, “I was not used to driving. （I did not look behind me (with China) and did the work on the driving record. Because of my age, I would forget the next thing I did.
I was in a hurry because I had another errand to run (to the hospital).”
Director Masuda also revealed that there had been “several times in a year” of pick-up and drop-off problems in the past. It seems that the tragedy was caused by a careless checking system and a lack of a sense of responsibility at the top.
Photo： Kyodo News