This week’s news roundup is dominated by crime stories. We begin with the arrest of three nursery schoolteachers on Sunday on suspicion of repeatedly abusing toddlers in their care. In Nagoya, two women and one man are taken in for questioning after 20-year-old university student Yuri Kako is found dead in a hotel room. A 50-year-old Adult Video producer becomes the first person to be indicted under the recently enacted porn law. And the mother of late Terrace House member Hana Kimura announces that she is suing Fuji TV and two other companies as she blames the reality show for the death of her daughter. In sport, Japan’s World Cup is over as they are beaten on penalties by Croatia.  

Government To Look Into Nationwide Cases Following Child Abuse Claims at Shizuoka Nursery School

The government said on Tuesday that it plans to look into child abuse cases at nurseries throughout Japan. The move comes after three nursery schoolteachers in Shizuoka Prefecture were arrested on suspicion of assaulting children. Last week Susono City Mayor Harukaze Murata revealed that there were at least 15 counts of alleged abuses between June and August of this year. Reported offenses include holding a boy upside down, slapping the head of another and pushing a girl in the face. The teachers also allegedly used verbal insults and even threatened the kids with a cutter knife. Sachi Miura, 30, Kaori Komatsu, 38, and Rie Hattori, 39, admitted to the abuse, but said they were trying to discipline the children. 

School director Toshihiko Sakurai was accused of covering up the issue. He ordered his staff members to sign a pledge asking them not to divulge confidential information about the facility and delayed explaining the situation to parents. The municipal government, meanwhile, was criticized for its slow response. It only disclosed details about the incidents last week, three months after a whistleblower came forward to speak about “inappropriate” cases at the school. Investigations are also taking place at a facility in Sendai Prefecture, where children were reportedly ordered to strip down to their underwear during mealtimes, and in Toyama, where crying kids were allegedly locked in a storage room.

A screenshot of one of Hana Kimura’s last stories posted on her official Instagram account @hanadayo0903 on May 23, 2020.

Mother of Late Reality Star to Sue Producers of Terrace House  

Kyoko Kimura, mother of late Terrace House Tokyo member Hana Kimura, revealed on Tuesday that she is suing Fuji Television Network and two other companies, alleging her daughter took her own life because of the reality show. The retired professional wrestler is seeking around ¥142 million in compensation. She claims that the program deliberately edited scenes to portray Hana in a bad light. The companies in question “have not responded sincerely, and I cannot expect them to change,” Kimura said at a press conference on December 6. She added that she hopes the lawsuit will help to eradicate online abuse. 

Hana Kimura passed away on May 23, 2020. Her body was discovered in her apartment alongside several suicide notes. In the weeks leading up to her death, she had been attacked by trolls on social media following an altercation she had on the show with fellow housemate Kai Kobayashi. She flew into a rage after he accidentally shrank one of her wrestling costumes in the dryer. Kimura’s mother told Shukan Bunshun that her daughter was pressured by staff to stage the fight. In May of last year, a man who posted hateful comments about the late reality star was ordered to pay ¥1.29 million in damages.

Three Arrested After Dead Body of Student Found in Hotel Room  

Three people were arrested on Thursday morning after the dead body of a 20-year-old woman was found in a business hotel in Nagoya. The victim, identified as university student Yuri Kako, was fully clothed and had no visible injuries but was discovered with a plastic bag over her head and tape wound around her neck. The police were called when Kako failed to show up at reception to check out. According to the autopsy, she died from acute respiratory failure. Mayu Watanabe, 39, Kenta Suzuki, 48, and an 18-year-old female college student were taken in for questioning. They reportedly got to know the victim via a social media site.  

In other crime news, the assailant who stabbed famed sociologist Shinji Miyadai several times outside Tokyo Metropolitan University last week remains at large. The victim couldn’t properly see his attacker because it was dark. Also, there aren’t many security cameras in the area, further hampering the investigation. The suspect is believed to be around 180 centimeters tall, heavy set and in his 20s or 30s. No weapon was found at the scene. Miyadai, who has since been discharged from hospital, released a video message on Wednesday. He said he was ready to resume working as an academic and pundit, though only online for the time being.  

The Adult Video Appearance Damage Prevention and Relief Law was passed into law on June 15 | Image from SOD Land

Producer First to be Arrested Under Recently Enacted Porn Law

On Tuesday, the Metropolitan Police Department announced that pornographer Takashi Sumiya, 50, had been arrested under the Adult Video Appearance Damage Prevention and Relief Law. He’s the first person to be apprehended on suspicion of violating the legislation since it was passed into law on June 15 of this year. According to the police, he failed to provide contract documents for seven adult videos he produced between August and October. Three performers, in their 20s through 50s, claim they weren’t told that the videos would be unpixelated. Had they known, they said, they wouldn’t have appeared in them. Sumiya admitted to the crime. 

The law states that performers must be given detailed contracts that explain what they’re getting into. This should include the precise acts expected of them. They then have the right to unconditionally terminate a contract at any time up to two years after the video’s release. That will be reduced to one year in 2024. Once a contract has been signed, producers must wait a month before they start filming. There also must be a four-month gap between shooting and the film’s release. These rules became necessary following a slew of reports in Japan about women being tricked or coerced into appearing in X-rated movies. 

Penalty Shootout Heartbreak for Japan  

“The wall of the best 16” was how Yuto Nagatomo described Japan’s challenge going into their clash with Croatia. This was the men’s team’s fourth knockout game at a World Cup. And for the fourth time it ended in heartbreaking fashion. As with the Paraguay game 12 years ago, it was decided by a penalty shootout. From the moment Takumi Minamino’s tame effort was saved by Dominik Livaković, the writing looked on the wall for the Samurai Blue. The Croatian keeper then kept out Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida’s spot kicks before Mario Pašalić coolly slotted home to send the 2018 runners-up through.  

For Japan, the elusive wait for a place at the quarterfinal stage goes on. This seemed like a glorious opportunity. Croatia were there for the taking. Hajime Moriyasu’s men were the superior side in the first half, taking the lead through Celtic’s livewire forward Daizen Maeda, who according to former Man Utd defender Rio Ferdinand, played like a “man possessed.” It was a more even contest after the break as Croatia equalized through Ivan Perisic’s bullet header. The two sides went looking for a winner, but both lacked that killer instinct in front of goal. In the end, it was Croatia’s ability to stay calm under pressure that got them over the line.  

Ritsu Doan was one of the star performers for Japan

A World Cup to Remember for Moriyasu’s Men  

The team received a hero’s welcome when they arrived at Narita Airport on Wednesday. Despite the bitterly disappointing ending, it had been a memorable tournament for Japan. The comeback victories over four-time winners Germany and 2010 champions Spain will never be forgotten by fans of the Samurai Blue. In the latter game they had just 17.7 percent of the ball. According to Opta, that’s the lowest ever recorded possession figure for a victorious side at the World Cup. It didn’t matter. Despite a frustrating 1-0 loss to Costa Rica, they managed to top the group. Considering very few had given them a chance of making the knockout stages beforehand, it was an impressive achievement. 

Standout players included Mitoma, who looked so explosive every time he came on and Ritsu Doan, who netted against Germany and Spain. Shuichi Gonda made crucial saves, Junya Ito dazzled on the wing and Wataru Endo pulled the strings brilliantly in midfield. For the likes of Nagatomo and Yoshida this was more than likely their last ever World Cup. The core of the squad, though, should still be around in three and a half years’ time for the 2026 tournament. That will be played in the US, Canada and Mexico and, for the first time, will include 48 teams. For Japan the aim will once again be getting over that best 16 wall.