On September 24, the Kagawa Prefectural Police arrested A, 25, and his wife, B, 22, of Marugame City for dumping the body of an infant in their refrigerator. The prefectural police announced the names of the two men by their real names, and all the news organizations followed suit.
According to the Marugame Police Department at the time, the two were suspected of dumping the body in a bag in their refrigerator around the 22nd of the same month, and on the 24th, the prefectural child guidance center reported to the police that there was a family with a miscarried infant in their refrigerator, leading to their discovery and arrest that day.
I was in trouble, so I consulted with them, and they arrested me…
Later, on October 5, when the couple’s detention had expired, the charges were dropped and they were released. In response, Ms. B’s former lawyer, Ms. Michiko Sato, released a letter to the Marugame Police Station, the Kagawa Prefectural Police, and the media. She claimed that the arrest by the Marugame police was premature, that it was extremely unfair for the police to announce the real names to the press on the day of the arrest, and that it was extremely inconsiderate for the press to report the real names after the police announced them.
According to Mr. Sato, the couple was living in Marugame City with their one-year-old child when Ms. B gave birth to a stillborn fetus in the early morning of September 21, four to five months after conception, without knowing that she was pregnant. She noticed the stillbirth in the morning of the same day. She tried to visit her gynecology clinic, but was unable to do so because the clinic was temporarily closed. So she decided to visit the clinic as soon as it reopened and ask for the doctor’s advice, and to bring the fetus with her.
After the stillbirth, Ms. B finally realized that she had been pregnant and that the stillbirth itself was a tragedy. Her husband, Mr. A, suggested that she keep the fetus in the refrigerator, since she had a few days before the clinic visit. The two of them stored the fetus in the refrigerator together.
On the morning of the 24th, after the national holiday on the 23rd, they were arrested when they told the nursery teacher about the incident when they took their one-year-old child to the nursery.
“When she dropped her child off at the nursery, she told the nursery teacher that B had given birth to a stillborn baby. She explained the circumstances of the stillbirth and that she kept the fetus in her refrigerator, and asked what procedures she should take. The town office staff said they would look into it and get back to her.
However, there was no contact from the town office, and at around 1:00 p.m. on the same day, several police officers from the Marugame Police Station visited the couple at their home. They were arbitrarily taken to the Marugame Police Station and arrested. The child was placed in the temporary custody of the Child Guidance Center (the temporary custody had already been lifted when the couple was not charged).
She had no intention of hiding or abandoning the body of the fetus, but consulted with the authorities out of trouble, which led to her arrest. In addition, “In the process leading up to this arrest, the staff of the Child Guidance Center never contacted the couple” (the same), and the Child Guidance Center reported the case directly to the Marugame Police Station without conducting any confirmation work such as interviewing the couple.
Speaking of the Marugame Child Guidance Center, it is still fresh in our minds that the family was involved in the case of Yua Funato (5), who was abused by her parents and died in Meguro-ku, Tokyo, in March 2018, before the family moved. It is possible that the child guidance center in Marugame took such a preemptive action because at that time it was pointed out that there was insufficient handover between child guidance centers.
Sato’s lawyer wrote in a document that there was no incident in the death of the fetus and that the arrest on suspicion of dumping the body was a brave move.
“In a written statement, defense attorney Sato wrote that the death of the fetus was not incidental and that the arrest on the charge of abandonment of a corpse was a brave move. Mr. A was in the process of consulting with the town office about what procedures to take. This is a far cry from “abandonment of a corpse” where the body is concealed or abandoned. A stillbirth in the fourth or fifth month of pregnancy can happen to any woman in any family without being noticed. It might have been better to call an ambulance when she found out that the baby was stillborn, but the fact that she failed to do so does not mean that the circumstances of this case are such that she should be charged with a crime.
After checking the fetus and hearing a little bit about the situation from both of them, they should have known immediately that this was not a case in which they could be charged with a crime, and the arrest by the police was extremely hasty. If we are suddenly arrested and detained for an incident like this, which has no malicious intent and could have happened to any woman in any family, we as citizens will never be able to live our social lives in peace.
According to Mr. Sato, Ms. B was bleeding profusely on September 19, two days before the stillbirth of her unborn child. At that time, she thought that she had had a miscarriage. However, it turned out to be an impending miscarriage, as she later found out. Then, on the night of the 20th, she began to experience severe abdominal pain. “She thought that the placenta might be coming out, so she stayed at rest and got some sleep.
On the morning of the 21st, after taking a shower, when she was checking the discharge, she saw a small hand and realized she had a stillbirth. She thought about going to another hospital, but she decided to wait until the clinic was closed because she was worried about whether they would return the fetus after the examination and for financial reasons. As a result, she was arrested.
“If I had known about the pregnancy earlier, I might have been able to deliver the baby,” Mr. B said.
The wife was forced to voluntarily resign.
The couple was not prosecuted, but despite this, their real names and photos from the arrest are still on the Internet. In addition, a person claiming to be an “acquaintance of Mr. A” posted untruthful information on an anonymous bulletin board, and information such as “he also inflicted domestic violence on his previous wife” was posted on a summary blog.
In addition, his wife B was forced to voluntarily resign from her job and was asked to move out of the apartment where the family was living (later, the landlord understood and they were able to avoid the move). During Mr. A’s detention, the joint guarantor received a lump-sum demand from the creditor for the debt that he had been paying off without delay. Because of his unusual surname, Mr. A’s parents and other relatives also suffered various disadvantages. After her release due to non-prosecution, she has been able to gain the understanding of the people around her, but the effects of the incident are still being felt.
The Kagawa Prefectural Police commented, “We would like to take appropriate action after confirming the contents of the protest letter.
At the end of the interview, Sato’s lawyer said, “The two of you acted as if you were dead.
“The two of you may not have acted in the best way in the case of a stillbirth. But if you deviate from the best way, you will be arrested. I don’t think such a world is a good place to live. I am worried that people who have had similar experiences in the future will be too scared to ask for help when they search the Internet and see the reports of this case.
Also, according to court precedents, a dead fetus after 12 weeks of pregnancy that has a human form is considered a ‘corpse’, and I think they were arrested for ‘concealing’ this in the refrigerator, but if their actions really fall under the category of a crime, that is still not right. I feel that the requirements for the crime of abandonment of a corpse are overly broad or unclear, which is problematic. I think there needs to be a system where women are not unfairly arrested and charged with crimes for unexpected miscarriages.
There has been no end to the number of cases in which women have been arrested for abandoning their newborn babies. On the 7th of this month, a high school girl (18) was arrested again on suspicion of murder for giving birth at home in Ibaraki Prefecture and then strangling her child to death. She gave birth without consulting her family about her pregnancy or childbirth. Also on the 13th, in Saitama Prefecture, a woman (26) from Kawagoe City was re-arrested on suspicion of murder for killing a baby boy she gave birth to at home immediately afterwards.
The high school girl in Ibaraki Prefecture stated that she had trouble handling the baby, and the woman in Saitama Prefecture stated that she was not prepared to raise the baby. In addition, the Saitama woman is an adult and her real name is being reported. In December last year, a Vietnamese technical intern was arrested for leaving the bodies of twin newborns at home, and was later charged with abandonment of a corpse. He was later charged with abandonment of a corpse and convicted by the Kumamoto District Court in July of this year.
Such cases are often reported at the time of arrest without clarifying the background of the women’s positions and relationships with their families. This situation further pushes women who have unexpected pregnancies or who lack confidence in their ability to raise children into a corner.
Reporting and writing by： Yuki Takahashi
Observer. Freelance writer. She is a freelance writer and has written many books, including "Tsukebi no Mura: Rumor Killed Five People? (Shobunsha), "Runaway Old Man, Crime Theater" (Yosenya Shinsho), "Kanae Kijima: The Secret of Dangerous Love" (Tokuma Shoten), "Kanae Kijima Gekijo" (Takarajimasya), "Kasumikko Club: Daughters' Court Hearings" (Shinchosha), and many other writings based on interviews on murder cases and court hearings.