Japanese city files criminal complaint against nursery school head for covering up infant abuse

TOKYO, Dec. 5 (Xinhua): Susono city in the central Japan prefecture of Shizuoka on Monday filed a criminal complaint against the head of a nursery school, alleging he tried to cover up the repeated abuse of infants in its care.

The complaint against the head of the Sakura Hoikuen nursery in Susono city, Toshihiko Sakurai, was filed by Susono Mayor Harukaze Murata.

Three teachers meanwhile were sent by police to prosecutors on Monday following their arrests a day earlier on suspicion of abuses committed to infants including hitting one-year-olds in their care and holding them upside down in the air by their feet, as well as threatening them with knives, among other abusive acts.

Sakurai is thought to have attempted to keep the incidents of abuse quiet by making all of his staff sign a pledge vowing to keep silent on the matter, local reports said.

It came to light last week that there were at least 15 cases of abuse carried out by three teachers on infants in their care between June and August this year.

Other abusive acts committed on the one-year-olds included slapping their faces, locking them in storerooms, and reportedly forcing a child to touch the buttocks of another who was suffering from the infectious hand, foot and mouth disease, according to Susono city.

The school had previously been asked by local officials in mid-August to provide a detailed account of the abuse inflicted on each child, but the school, including its head, kept silent on the accusations for more than three months, informed sources said.

Given that local officials knew of the abuse at the school, Murata said the officials' actions had been slow and as a result three city officials will be reprimanded for not swiftly reporting the issue to the mayor.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Monday that such abuses are intolerable at a facility where children's sense of ease and safety is paramount.

Matsuno added that the result of city and prefectural investigations into the abuse and cover-up allegations will be acted on strictly. - Xinhua

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