Ex-nursery head found guilty over boy’s death in bus

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Fukuoka District Court and The Fukuoka High Court. In Chuo Ward, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture on November 10, 2020.

FUKUOKA (Jiji Press) — The Fukuoka District Court on Tuesday sentenced a former nursery school head to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for three years, over the death of a 5-year-old boy left behind in a school bus.

Prosecutors had sought a two-year prison term for Yoko Urakami, 45, who used to head the private nursery school in Nakama, Fukuoka Prefecture, where the boy, Toma Kurakake, died from heatstroke.

Presiding Judge Atsushi Tomita also sentenced Noriko Toba, 59, a nursery school teacher, to one year and six months’ imprisonment, suspended for three years, for her involvement in the incident. The prosecutors had demanded a prison term of one year and six months.

“Confirming that all pupils have got off is within the very basic duty of care that child care workers must abide by,” the judge said, adding that their failure to do this was a “grave error.”

“I can only feel extreme pity to think of the pains, loneliness and despair the victim must have felt while he was kept alone in the bus for a long time in burning heat,” he added.

But the judge handed the suspended sentences in view of their long-standing devotion to child care work. Both defendants had admitted to their guilt and sought lenient judgments.