In the middle of a hot summer day, a 23-year-old woman was sitting on the toilet of an Internet cafe near PARCO in Shibuya, trying to give birth to a baby. The head, wet with amniotic fluid, was coming out of her vagina.
She had been a runaway since the age of 15, and had been involved in aid work. Ever since she became pregnant, she had never even consulted anyone, let alone gone to a hospital. She didn’t even know who the father was. She is about to give birth to such a baby in the Internet cafe where she used to sleep.
At 4:40 p.m., she gave birth to the baby with a lot of blood. The baby and placenta fell noisily into the toilet bowl, and blood splattered on the walls and floor.
She saw the horrible scene in the toilet bowl and didn’t know what to do. She ran out of the bathroom, leaving everything as it was, and locked herself in her own private room in the store.
Shortly after, a store clerk found the baby in the bathroom and called 110. A police officer arrived a few minutes later, checked the store’s security video, and arrested her as she lay limp in her private room.
An ambulance took the baby to the hospital, but she died a half hour later because her skull was compressed as she passed through the birth canal and she was left in the toilet bowl without any treatment.
In the fall of 2009, I decided to visit a woman who had once given birth to a baby in an Internet cafe and let it die, when I heard that she had become unwantedly pregnant again.
I arrived at “Baby Poketto,” a non-profit organization in Tsuchiura City, Ibaraki Prefecture, that supports special adoptions.
Here, they provide special adoption services to infertile couples for children born to women who have had unwanted pregnancies. A woman who had been involved in an incident at an Internet cafe in Shibuya was living in this dormitory.
She chose a career as a “SM queen.
On the day I visited the dormitory, the woman, Haruna Sumiyoshi (pseudonym), had given birth a month earlier and had already given her child up for adoption to a couple living in western Japan. Currently, she has no place to live, so she is living in a dormitory for mothers and children while looking for a job.
We decided to ask her about her life history, from her upbringing, to the incident, and now to her pregnancy.
Born and raised in Kanagawa Prefecture, Haruna’s parents lived in a house that was integrated with a community center. A room separated from the community center by a wall was used as a rented house.
Ever since she can remember, her mother has been a “strange mother” to Haruna, who was born at the age of 20, and her occupation was a queen in a SM club.
She was born at the age of 20, and her occupation was the queen of an SM club. Her childhood memories are of her mother boiling thick ropes for SM in a pot in the kitchen as part of her daily routine. She must have been famous in the world of SM, because she had appeared in a SM magazine.
When she was in the sixth grade, her mother divorced her father. Only a few months later, she remarried a man six years younger than her. He was a cook at a club, but he was a methamphetamine addict and a terrible drunk. One morning, her mother suddenly brought him into the house, and he stayed and remarried.
Haruna describes what happened then.
Haruna recalls, “After the divorce, she moved to a new house, but before I could get used to the new place, she suddenly remarried. He would come home in the middle of the night and start drinking, and when he got drunk, he would start committing domestic violence almost every time. At first, they would argue, and then they would end up punching and kicking each other.
It was like that every day, and I was really fed up with it. There were times when I tried to stop him, but it was useless. I was the one who got beaten up and had my nose and ribs broken.
And yet, my mom is obsessed with him. She was like a “woman” forever, leaving me alone with him. I was so fed up with everything that I spent all my time hanging around outside instead of going to school.
The only time I went to school was to eat lunch. The only time she went to school was for lunch, and the school required lunch boxes, but if she couldn’t bring her own, the teacher bought her rice balls from a convenience store.
“Have her have an abortion.”
After graduating from junior high school, Haruna went to a regular high school. She didn’t want to stay at home and get caught up in her stepfather’s domestic violence every day, so she started staying with her first boyfriend.
In the second semester of her freshman year, Haruna found out that she was pregnant with her boyfriend’s child. Her boyfriend’s mother found out and angrily called Haruna’s mother.
“What are you doing, your daughter? She says she’s pregnant with our son’s child. If you can’t pay for the surgery at home, we’ll pay for it, so let her have an abortion.
It’s not hard to imagine that both parents had problems.
After the abortion, Haruna couldn’t stay at his house, but she didn’t feel like going back to her parents’ house either, so she drifted to Shibuya as a runaway girl.
At the time, prostitution was popular in Shibuya, where people called teleclubs from public telephones, and called it “aid dating. Most of the customers were men in their 40s and 50s, and the market price was 20,000 to 30,000 yen per call.
Haruna would take on two or three clients a week, earn a few coins, and sleep in an Internet cafe. When she ran out of money, she would go to teleclasses.
She says, “I feel like a homeless person.
“I’ve never had a friend I could trust. I’ve never had a friend I could trust, but it was lonely not having anyone to talk to, so I spent my time talking to runaway girls in Center Street. I don’t remember what we talked about. I don’t remember what we talked about. She wasn’t really a friend either, more of a person to pass the time. I think we were both like that.”
While she was a refugee at an Internet cafe in Shibuya, she was picked up by the police several times and sent to a juvenile detention center. However, her mother never came to visit her.
Her only hobby was to buy raw photos of idols at the Johnny’s store. With the money she earned from her support group, she bought hundreds and thousands of photos, and when she had too many to store in an Internet cafe, she sent them to her parents’ house in Kanagawa. Like a girl selling matches looking at a small flame, she looked at the photos of idols for emotional support.
For such a girl in her mid-teens, the place to be was a happening bar. It was called N in Shibuya. It was a place where strange men and women would meet and have sexual relations on the spot, or just watch them.
That’s what Haruna said.
“‘N was free for all women to eat, drink and stay overnight. I grew up watching my mom go to work every day at the SM club with a Dolce & Gabbana bag full of rope. So I was always interested in the underworld of sex. I wondered what it was like.
So after I ran away from home, I went to a hap bar out of curiosity. I was a teenager, so I was flattered.
I was a teenager, so I was fawned over, but there was nothing good about having sex in a hap bar. I didn’t feel anything. But it was nice to have a place to go back to, a place where I could be. The staff would say, “Thank you for coming back,” or “Come back tomorrow. It’s a much better place to be than an Internet cafe where you’re treated as just another customer.
Having been abandoned by her parents and unable to build a trusting relationship with her friends on the street, she must have found happening bars to be like home. It was around this time that she began to appear in adult videos.
As the price for such a disorderly life, Haruna was finally sent to a reformatory for girls in northern Kanto at the age of 19. She was sent to a reformatory for girls in northern Kanto when she was 19.
Back to Shibuya
She was 20 years old when she was released from the reformatory. She returned to her parents’ house in Kanagawa Prefecture. However, her father-in-law’s domestic violence continued, and Haruna soon became fed up with her life. Within a year, she ran away from home.
When she returned to Shibuya, she found the same life as before: Internet cafes, support groups, and happening bars.
At that time, Haruna had no hope for life, and had no time to even think about what she wanted to do or be in the future. She just sold her body, slept at Internet cafes, bought raw photos of idols, and when she couldn’t stand the loneliness anymore, she went to a happening bar.
Haruna describes her feelings at that time, “I felt like I was dead even though I was alive. She must have been so discouraged about everything that she could not value her own body or even her life.
It was three years later, when she was 23 years old, that the incident occurred. Haruna was still living in an Internet cafe. Before she knew it, she was pregnant with a baby whose father she did not know, and without even going to the hospital, she gave birth to the baby in the bathroom of the Internet cafe where she lived with a pain in her stomach.
She looks back.
“I don’t remember much about what happened. I don’t really know. I don’t really remember what happened. I didn’t care if I got caught or not. After the birth, I was just lying there. Then the police came and caught me. I don’t know what it was. I don’t know.
She probably didn’t care about her own body or even her own life, so she couldn’t think about the baby.
As a result of the trial, she was sentenced to a year and a half in jail for the manslaughter of a responsible person.
At that time, the judge must have had no idea that she would give birth to a child she could not raise again more than ten years later.
In Part 2, I will detail the tumultuous events from her release from prison to her second birth.
Interview, writing, photography： Kota Ishii
Born in Tokyo in 1977. Non-fiction writer. Graduated from Nihon University College of Art. He is active in reporting and writing about culture, history, and medicine in Japan and abroad. His books include "The House of 'Demons': Parents Who Kill Their Own Children," "Forty-three Killing Intentions: The Depths of the Kawasaki Jr. 1 Boys' Murder Case," "Rental Child," "Kinship Murder," and "Social Map of Disparity and Division.