Suspect Nagano as she is being sent to the police station. In the past, she has been involved in police action due to her angry voice and noise. She was also reported to the Child Guidance Center.“One day in winter, around 8:00 a.m., I heard a voice yelling, “Walk properly!” I looked out the window and saw a child being made to walk barefoot. It was Ms. Nagano and his daughter, Saki.”
On May 31, the Saitama Prefectural Police arrested the mother, Nana Nagano, 31, on suspicion of abandoning her daughter Saki, then 3 years old, with broken femurs in both legs. Residents of Kasukabe City, where the suspect Nagano lived, had witnessed her abusive behavior for years. Another resident revealed that she had been showing signs of abuse for four years.
“Saki’s older sister used to go to daycare every morning crying and being dragged by the arm. Her cries echoed throughout the neighborhood, but instead of calming her down, her mother just yelled at her in a terrible manner, ‘Get on with it!’ I was worried about her, so every time I passed by her house, I would say, “Good morning,” or “Are you going to preschool now?”
A neighbor continued.
“It was the beginning of the year about two years ago. Saki was carrying a backpack, so I think she was on her way to the daycare center, but she was crying and clinging to Ms. Nagano’s waist and she was pulling her off. Saki was crawling on all fours in the cold, chasing after Ms. Nagano. She must have scraped her knees, and her preschool teacher must have noticed. Nagano-san’s language was abusive, saying things like, ‘’Walk properly.”
The incident was discovered at the end of December last year. Nagano’s boyfriend, A, a former bicycle racer, called an ambulance when he noticed that the child was not breathing properly.
“Saki was taken to the hospital in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest and died there. The cause of death was a brain injury, and the Saitama Prefectural Police arrested Nagano and A on suspicion of assault because of a broken femur and injuries and bruises on the face and head. In January of this year, the district attorney charged them with assault, but in March, A committed suicide in the Kasukabe police station where he was detained,” said a reporter from the society section of a national newspaper.
In late November of last year, shortly after the family of four, Nagano, her two daughters, and A began living together, Saki stopped going to preschool. It is highly possible that the abuse escalated when she moved in with A. However, the rest of the story is full of mysteries. The husband of Nagano, who was “seen at the park with the sisters until two years ago,” according to a neighbor, has disappeared for some time. It is not known why the mother and children began living with A in the home that her husband is believed to have built for them, nor why A committed suicide.
Shuji Suzuki, a lawyer with expertise in child abuse, explains the prospects for the investigation.
“Since there were traces of abuse and Saki’s death, I think the prosecutors are aiming to build a case for manslaughter, which carries a prison sentence of 12 to 15 years. However, the testimony of Ms. Nagano is essential to this, and they have not been able to elicit it. In fact, she was arrested on a charge of abandonment of a child under protective custody, which carries a prison sentence of 5 to 7 years. This means that the police have not been able to obtain conclusive evidence. Furthermore, the fact that Mr. A is dead is also significant. It is even more difficult to prove that she did it because she can easily be accused of doing it because she was threatened by Mr. A.”
If Nagano has even a trace of motherhood left in her, she should be the one to unveil the darkness of the case.