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4-year-old boy falls to death from fifth-floor apartment window in Shiga

34 Comments

A four-year-old boy died on Thursday after falling from a fifth-floor apartment window in Otsu City, while his mother was in the next room, police said. Serio Takahashi fell from the window sill, which was about 120 cm high, just after 5 p.m., hitting the ground some 13 meters below and suffering serious head injuries. He was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead shortly after.

His mother, Yumiko, 26, was reportedly in the next room at the time, and Serio was playing with his younger brother. Another resident of the city-run apartment complex, who was parking her bicycle on the first floor at the time, told police she noticed the boy standing up on the window sill. She parked her bicycle and heard a thud, and saw the boy lying on the ground, police said.

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"She parked her bicycle and heard a thud, and saw the boy lying on the ground, police said."

This statement made the bile rise in my throat. How absolutely horrible for that little boy... Do most windows not have screens? I would think that you'd want to get screens for windows in rooms where your little children are going to be playing, or at least not open the window all the way if the sill is low enough for a 4 year old to climb over. Who knows. But I cannot imagine how the mother must be feeling.

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Parental negligence. Take your eye of a small child for a minute and this is the result. The cops should be all over this one like a bad smell.

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Parental negligence.

Agreed. Children cannot watch themselves.

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Here comes the lynch mob again... (who of course have never been guilty of taking their eyes off their own kids for one minute)

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I am certain that it is impossible to keep your eyes on your kids for 24 hours a day but in saying this a parent should be aware of the possible dangers that can occur in the place in which they are living. i.e. A 13 metre drop to the ground and a window with no safety screens.

The mother had to learn a tough lesson and will probably beat herself up over this for the rest of her life.

RIP little fella.

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Lynch mob? I think not.

What turns my gut is that people do not child-proof their homes. They then turn around and ask why when something happens.

Well here are my questions - Why was a small child left unattended in a room that had windows that the aforesaid child could open themselves? Why were measures not taken to ensure that the aforesaid child could not go out the window? Surely a quick trip to the local home center would have resulted in being able to buy window locks. You know, those things that prevent small children from opening windows and doing Icarus impersonations. Then again, accidents like this might be Darwinism by proxy. In other words, the stupidity of the parents does not lead to themselves being removed from the gene pool, but rather their children.

Will I feel very sorry for the child, my sympathy does not extend to the parent in this case. This was no act of god (a random event), it is something that a modicum of intelligence could have averted.

I am certain that it is impossible to keep your eyes on your kids for 24 hours a day

And why do you think 6 inch nails were developed, if not to nail a child's feet to the floor.

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I often wonder if parents of young children, like the mother in this story, read about similar incidents or see them on the TV news, and say to themselves, "That could happen to my son/daughter," and then make an effort to be more vigilant.

I am also tired of readers saying you can't watch children 24 hours a day. That is not the point. Children that young must be supervised if they are near water, a balcony, open window, train platform, escalator, stairs and other places with potential hazards. This means the parent must make a personal sacrifice in terms of time, and not go shopping, reading, texting messages on a cell phone, cooking in the kitchen while the child is in another room, etc.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Too many parents (not all, I know) in Japan are nonchalant about their young children, and regard them as if they were little more than pets.

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We all know you can't watch your kids 24/7, but how about leaving the door locked so the child can't jump to their death? Is it really that difficult?

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can't even imagine how this mom would be feeling right now.. i mean, she did not leave the kids in the house and go pachinko or anything, they were all in the same house and mom was simply in the other room... who knows if it was for a minute or two, or could be longer, but my heart goes to this mom and also the dad.. even though there are things that we can blame on her, but i just cant imagine how terrible and sad she must be feeling.

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mother 26, kid four, no mention of father, city run apartment complex.

figure it out guys.

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timorborder did you insert only the first half of my sentence for any reason in particular?

I agree that the mother is at fault but to not feel sympathetic for her loss, that is just cold.

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i would have hoped the lady seeing the kid would have shouted at him but that wouldn't be very Japanese. RIP kid and poor Mum this will haunt her till she dies.

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First off, few things disgust me more than people who make “natural selection” comments when addressing a tragedy like this. Talk about callousness. When along the way did we all become such unfeeling, bitter, judgmental ###holes?

Take your eye of a small child for a minute and this is the result. The cops should be all over this one like a bad smell.

Parental negligence

To address the point specifically made that by taking one’s eye off a child, this is the inevitable result, I say horse puckey.

It's a practical reality that NO parent can keep their eyes on their children 24/7, particularly in the home. Nor should they have to. By the above estimations, a parent would have to follow a child everywhere, daily, hourly, by the minute and second, to ensure their safety. Oh, if only parents had the luxury of such free time. A parent would further have to camp beside a child's bed every night – if for no other reason than to prevent a mishap due to, say, sleepwalking or night terrors. Which is simply asinine.

To suggest eternal vigilance is mandatory for childrearing reveals the high probability that those making those demands haven’t really been in the position of having to be the omnipresent sentinel. Either that or someone here isn’t being very forthright about how they raised (or are raising) their own kids.

In fact, there likely isn't a single poster here who was brought up without ample time to get into trouble all by him or herself, with nary an adult in sight. Obviously, those posters didn’t die from the harsh trauma of being left to play on their own, lest they wouldn't be here to preach idealistic arm-chair criticisms of the presumed laxness of other parents in comparison to their evolutionarily infinite wisdom. So, does the liberty these posters enjoyed as small children make their parents child-abusing criminals? Hardly.

Yes, as TimBorder points out later (after his initial knee-jerk response), this woman should have made every effort to danger-proof her home, from blocking off potentially deadly falls down open stairs, to placing chemicals in secure places, to not leaving sharp objects within reach. And for all we know, she did just those things.

But I’m certain at this very moment, the only thing she’s thinking right now is about that window. Hindsight is like that, and kudos to those parents out there who thought of the windows first. But if you think you’ve covered every base in your own home and have created an absolute danger-free environment for your child due to some supposed advanced intellect, think again. Give an “expert” two minutes in your home and they’ll leave you feeling like Pol Pot by the end.

The truth is no one here really knows how this happened. Perhaps the family financial situation precluded cranking the air-conditioner, and the mother opened the windows. It was 27.4C degrees outdoors, 32C indoors, in Shiga yesterday. Perhaps she left the room to get something or answer the phone or use the bathroom, and tragedy struck in that instant. The woman who saw the child from the parking lot below painted a picture of tragedy striking in the time it took her to look up as she arrived at the apartment to the time she started to lock up her bike: Not long at all.

Perhaps the mother had made sure there was nothing in front of the window to climb on, and placed a safety gate across the window, but the 4-year old was resourceful, as they are wont to be, and found a way up and over anyway? There are a lot of possibilities that are infinitely more likely than quick-fire accusations of “criminal negligence” to explain how this accident may have occurred. There’s a reason the word “accident” exists in the English language. It’s reserved for those incidents that occur when least expected and for reasons unanticipated.

I feel for this woman, regardless of the circumstances. Losing a child is probably the greatest single painful experience a human being can experience. So, I’ll refrain from making suggestions about how she should raise her remaining child. I think she got the point.

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Maybe it was hot and she had the windows open, screens are not that strong and maybe he fell through. It is almost Impossible to watch any child every minute of the day, bathroom breaks, cooking meals, well you get my point. Also child proofing a home is an exspensive job to be done, sometimes things like this are just accidents, its not like she left the poor kid in the car to go and play pachinko!

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Davin - you make a good point. She could have just popped to the bathroom. The sill was 120cm (higher than most 4 year olds' height I think)....Ok it's avoidable but an accident none-the-less

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There certainly is a lynch mob here, same old thing they say "its the parents fault hang them", "no matter what the reason, the man was stupid because he fell off the boat" and the list goes on. Pretty hard to deduce from most stories what the who truth is but lets just hang them any way regardless of the life long suffering of the mother in this case who will certainly be scared for life.

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I think these news story are posted just to start a fire of "parental negligence in Japan" debate on here. It's a shame that my brain reads the headline and automatically files it in the "here we go again" file. Next we just need another child/parent killing or maybe another child left to die in a pachinko parking lot.

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I think timorborder is trying a little too hard

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mother 26, kid four, no mention of father, city run apartment complex. figure it out guys.

Guess it never occurred that Dad was probably working. The accident did happen at around 5pm, you know. Imagine that -- a Japanese man working at 5pm!!!

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OK I'll bite - figure what out baboohat?

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I agree that sometimes things like these happen and it's very easy to say, "Well, I would have never let that happen to my child", but it's always possible. I wouldn't call this woman a horrible parent for leaving her kids in the next room (instead of, say, leaving them completely home alone or in a locked car in a parking lot on a hot day), but I'm sure she has learned a very painful lesson from all of this. That is punishment enough, it seems, knowing that her child is dead.

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Wicked sad! Hope the mom can find peace. RIP little man!

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Obviously, people saying parents should always be watching their child and make sure the whole house safe never raised a kid or never had a dynamic one. You do not need to be in a different room. You just have to open a cupboard looking for something. In the meantime, your 4 y.old kid took a chair and less than 30s after, was on the table jumping and smiling by the time you look back. You think you can prevent all possibilities a kid can endanger him/herself? You are fooling yourself. Accident happened and will happen.

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Based on what information is in the story above, I do feel horrible for that mother. She did not leave her toddlers home alone while she ran out to the conbini, she didn't leave them in a car in sweltering heat while playing pachinko...she was in what she thought was the safety of their home, in the next room.

Most of the stories that I have seen on JT before about kids dying were due to horrible negligence on the parents' part. But there was nothing in this story to indicate that this woman was negligent in the least. She was very nearby. She very well could have been negligent but there is nothing in the story to indicate that. The stories on here usually seem to have more detail about what the parent was doing if he/she was being negligent at the time. We don't know what she was doing. She could have been getting them a snack or a drink. She could have been getting things out for their dinner. She could have been in the loo. There are a million uneventful, routine everyday things that every parent has to do that causes them to take their eyes off their children for a moment. A vast majority of those times, nothing happens and all is well. But, there are some occasions when, no matter what precautions you put in place, no matter how careful you are, an accident will still happen.

This was a horrible, tragic accident. My heart goes out to that family.

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Having 3 kids myself, I understand how difficult it is to keep an eye on them all of the time. However, this does not mean that a parent should avoid the obvious dangers.

I am still amazed by the fact that nearly every J family I see out for a drive in the family car that allows their kids to climb over the back seats without wearing a seat-belt. When will these clueless parents realize how dangerous their ignorance is to their kids...

How about a series of new parent classes sponsored by the government and/or short public information movies in-between the mind numbing 'tarento-less' TV programs teaching the parents of the not so obvious (to them) dangers to their kids and what they can do to ensure their children's safety (in the house, pools, beaches, in the car etc, etc). I just find it so sad and traggic that so many little angels lose their lives because their parents were not aware of the sometimes obvious dangers...

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I am still amazed by the fact that nearly every J family I see out for a drive in the family car that allows their kids to climb over the back seats without wearing a seat-belt. When will these clueless parents realize how dangerous their ignorance is to their kids...

A very good point indeed. It seems that some people find my view of things a bit cold and heartless. Indeed, my views might be a result of my background, which saw me do a medic's rotation as part of my military service at a major hospital casualty department in Perth, Australia many years ago. Seeing kids on slabs does not do much for me. Seeing kids on slabs as a result of parents who did not take minimal precautions against events such as car accidents (no seat belts), burns (flammable clothing and lack of supervision) or falling out windows (a lack of child-proof locks) makes me mad. The facts are that a 4 year old is dead because the parents (the mother and father) did not have the foresight to realize that it is not a question of if, but when will accidents happen in the home. Living above the ground floor and not taking steps to child-proof your windows is inexcusable. A couple of months ago it was a kid climbing over a veranda rail and impersonating Icarus on the way down, this time it was a kid falling out a window. Where will it all end? It is not merely a case of watching your kids 24 hours a day. Rather it is a case of running all the simulations in your head as to what may possibly happen and addressing such issues so they do not occur. It is also a case of hearing what has happened to other people and making sure that it does not happen on your own watch.

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@ timorborder There has been and always will be senseless deaths of children even if the parents protect the home. What is a parent to do, protect their children from every possibility in their young life? Impossible!

True negligence should be dealt with appropriately, however in life there are tragic accidents. This seems to be one.

Many times in apartments there are no safety screens. The windows are set into concrete. In addition, there may be lease clauses against modifying anything in your "mansion."

For those of you who have or have had 4-year olds...they are very creative, determined and can adapt to most countermeasures an adult creates.

This was a terrible accident.

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Hindsight is like that, and kudos to those parents out there who thought of the windows first. BS, as I visited my friend in a high rise, I was amazed that her two boys had easy access to a balcony on the 17th floor. The FIRST thing I thought was, make it inaccessible, and these weren't even my kids. If they were mine, I'd NEVER let them anywhere near that balcony. BS, that mother is 100% at fault, and if it were up to me, she get a long stretch indoors to think about it. Stupid!

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Blame it on Japanese buildings. Japanese buildings never has window grills. just sliding glass windows without any safeguard. I am living in 9th floor of a new apartment, it has big sliding windows which I am always thinking it is very dangerous for childrens.

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city-run apartment complex

So, a city run complex with windows that open enough for children to fall through. Pure architectural genius at work! As much as I feel sorry for the mother she should have had the forethought to realise a four year old boy will climb out an open window whether it is 1.2m off the ground or not. I bet she doesn't leave the window open in the future.

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You don't blame the mother for what has happened to her son death, but they should sue the owner of the apartment complex for poor construction made building. Becuase, every building should have safty window to protect children from this horrible incident.

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LFRAgain, hear, hear! Couldn't have said it better myself.

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"sue the owner of the apartment"

Suing the Japanese Government would get you absolutely nothing!

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I hate high rise buildings! I feel so sorry for this poor family, who could not afford to have their own house. RIP little boy and may other parents, from all over Japan and all over the world use this as a lesson on trying harder to protect our innocent children.

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