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Search for missing 6-year-old girl in Kobe enters 5th day

40 Comments

About 180 police officers and volunteers on Monday continued their search for a fifth day for a 6-year-old girl who went missing in Kobe on Sept 11.

The girl, Mirei Ikuta, disappeared while walking home after leaving school in Nagata Ward at around 2:45 p.m. last Thursday. TV Asahi reported that she dropped in to see her grandmother who lives near the school and then left to go home.

Street surveillance camera footage showed Mirei walking past a convenience store 400 meters from her home at 3:15 p.m.

Police said her school bag was found at home, leading them to believe she dropped it off and then went out again. She was seen walking by a park at around 5:30 p.m., going in the opposite direction from her house, but after that, there has been no trace of her. Her mother contacted police at around 7 p.m. Thursday.

Police on Monday widened the area of their search to include parks, canals and bushland in the vicinity.

In the latest development, police said they had found a parasol that Mirei was seen using on the surveillance camera footage, near the entrance to the apartment building next to the convenience store, Fuji TV reported.

Mirei is 115 cm tall, and was wearing a one-piece blue and pink dress and had a rucksack with a stuffed bear in it.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Nagata police at 078-578-0110.

© Japan Today

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40 Comments
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I know it's normal for first graders to walk home from school themselves in Japan, but our daughter doesn't. DH drives her, or she takes the school bus. He knows this kind of thing happens, and doesn't want to risk it with his own daughter. He thinks the risk is too great, because "she's too cute".

We send her to a private school that has school buses for little kids, and allows parents to walk them to and from school if they prefer to do that. There are always plenty of other moms at the school waiting to pick up their kids, and a few more that hide along the road near school and intercept their kids a few blocks after they leave the school. Are private school parents more over-protective?

I don't blame the parents of this girl for letting her walk home alone. Letting her walk home alone is considered normal in Japan. In fact, SOME public schools DON'T EVEN ALLOW parents to pick the kids up. Public school teachers exert a lot of pressure on parents not to do it, and I've even heard of some teachers making fun of kids in class if their parents pick them up.

So I don't think anybody should blame the parents, but I think they'll probably spend the rest of their lives blaming themselves. We don't want to live with that kind of guilt, so we don't send our daughter to and from school by herself.

It looks like they found her today. I am so glad it wasn't my daughter, and feel terrible for the girl and her own parents. I hope they find the villain soon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder if she were meeting another family member?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@bicultural: he lived in a house with sliding doors. It was summer, and one of them was unlocked. (And according to a friend, even a cat can open one of those, let alone a two-year-old child.)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Back on topic please.

Tessa, a boy so small he can hardly speak cannot open the door of a house to let themselves out. I have a 4 year old who can barely reach the lock. Even if unlocked, the door is too heavy to push open.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Oh, please be okay little girl!

We don't know the whole story.

One day I came across a half-clothed little boy riding his tricycle in heavy traffic. I plucked him from the road, and asked him where his mother was, but he was so small that he couldn't speak much at all. By a wonderful coincidence his next-door-neighbour saw us, and took us both to his home, where his distraught mother was calling the police. I found out that the mother had ducked out for a few minutes while he was napping to pick up his cold medicine from the pharmacy ... little did she dream that her feverish son would wake from a sound sleep, and decide to go for a bike ride. Kids do the darndest things! She was obviously very regretful, and I found myself sympathizing with her. As other posters have said, we don't know the whole story.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Let's all hope she's OK. I hope people also think more about common sense protections of small children.

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A child at her age shouldn't be out walking alone. That being said, we don't know what happened. For all we know she was supposed to stay at her grandmother's. we also don't know what's happened to her. Other reports suggest she was going to a park. From the news, it looked like a park that could easily be a place for a kid to fall off the sides and get seriously hurt. Jumping to conclusions that she was abducted is silly at this point. I hope for her sake and her family's she wasn't and that she's found safe and alive but with perhaps some bumps and bruises.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I agree with LaWren. I don't want to point the finger at the parents in this case. It's terribly sad. And I don't want to run afoul of relevancy. But I do question the way people care for children and worry that the most powerless humans are not looked after or advocated for. 6 is very young. One cannot expect a 6-year-old to be making good decisions without guidance. I think letting a 6-year-old wander about is questionable. I think the police would have good cause to inquire if they see such a child. So is riding a bicycle with a baby bag or with a kid who doesn't have a helmut. We had old people's day. Do they have a children's day holiday where we can focus on the most powerless members of society?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The possibility of getting run over is yet another reason for a 6 year old to be accompanied by an adult. There are many things that can go wrong, for a young child, without the physical ability to protect itself, not the intellectual capacity to react to danger. There are many risks out there for young unaccompanied children. All the MORE reason for parents to be encouraged to supervise them.

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Actually, in Japan we still basically DO live in such a world. That is why such an incident is shocking here, and fills up the national news. I agree that in Western countries today, that kind of world has long disappeared.

You can site all the statistics you want about safety. I would not abide a 6-year-old in my care walking around alone. Not in any country. 6-year-olds are just not developed enough to be trusted to be wandering around alone. They need some kind of supervision. Maybe a very precocious 8 or 9-year-old. Maybe. An adult needs to have an eye on a 6-year-old.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Actually cases like this, and tragic accidents caused by children not being supervised happen sadly regularly in Japan

Please define your meaning of the word 'regularly', as it would appear that your usage of the world differs from how everyone else uses it.

the fact we are even talking about this case means that even in Japan, that kind of world HAS long since gone.

No it doesn't.

A kid is more likely to get into a car accident when being picked up from school, than they are to get abducted while walking home from school.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I hope she's found safe .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is in denial as to the number of sexual predators here. One only needs to view some of the graphic content in the comic books

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Actually cases like this, and tragic accidents caused by children not being supervised happen sadly regularly in Japan, and the fact we are even talking about this case means that even in Japan, that kind of world HAS long since gone. If it hadnt this little girl would be with her parents still.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

LaWren:

" We would all love to live in a world in which 6 year olds can go out alone, unaccompanied, however we do NOT. "

Actually, in Japan we still basically DO live in such a world. That is why such an incident is shocking here, and fills up the national news. I agree that in Western countries today, that kind of world has long disappeared.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Readers, please do not post insensitive remarks about the child's mother.

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Whilst it would be wonderful to think children could still walk home late afternoon, it is not safe to do so anymore. It would be great IF it were safe, but it is taking chances every time a young child is allowed outside without a safe adult to accompany them. The consequences are just not worth it.

I guess it depends on what you consider to be safe. But when you consider that millions of kids go to and from school without supervision every day, and without getting abducted, I'd say it's still quite safe to have kids commuting by themselves in Japan.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That little girl should have been holding the hand of a safe adult out at that time of night, WilliB. If she had been this situation would never have happened. It is avoidable. Her parents were extremely negligent. We would all love to live in a world in which 6 year olds can go out alone, unaccompanied, however we do NOT.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

LaWren

" Would she have STILL been abducted if a safe adult been with her? "

We don´t know for sure yet if she was abducted. But I agree, it looks that way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Would she have STILL been abducted if a safe adult been with her? Of course not. Im not victim blaming, Im just being realistic. That answers everything about her parent's culpability in the matter.

Whilst it would be wonderful to think children could still walk home late afternoon, it is not safe to do so anymore. It would be great IF it were safe, but it is taking chances every time a young child is allowed outside without a safe adult to accompany them. The consequences are just not worth it.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I see small kids walk home alone in my neighbourhood in Tokyo all the time. Just like I did as a kid back then in Europe. In Europe, those "Normal Rockwell painting" times have long gone -- crime and distrust is rampant. In Japan, it is still like back then. Alas, the occasional crime does happen here, too, and for criminals, it is easy picking.

I hope there is a good outcome for the case in Kobe, but I am pessimistic.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Once again,Negligence at it's finest!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

some people here are so quick to blame the parents...the girl went home and then she went out to her grandma's house then went out again to her friend's house and on her way to her friends mansion she disappeared. Blame the perp not the victim.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Its so weird. She was seen at 5:30 pm, walking in the opposite direction, far from her house. There is no indication from witnesses that she was in distress. I wonder what all the factors are. It isn't so strange that a young girl her age was out walking. But something just doesn't add up. She dropped her bag off, picked up another rucksack to carry (that fuzzy one with the bear on it), and went for a walk. Perhaps she told a friend at school she would visit there house? Or was she inspired by something she saw on TV to go for a walk with a parasol around the neighborhood without thinking? A 6 year old child has a different perspective of the world. They are so innocent and have no idea the dangers (even in their own neighborhood).

I pray she is found. As a new mother myself. I pray.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

why are they not checking every appartment in the complex nect to the combini

Because you need a search warrant. And Japan requires probable cause for judge to issue a search warrant.

Having a suspected crime occur in your neighborhood is not probable cause. Having a crime in your neighborhood is not probable cause.

Having an eye-witness account of an alleged criminal entering your apartment building is not probable cause.

Having an eye-witness account of an alleged criminal entering your apartment is.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Blame the predators, not the parents. Kids going to school by themselves is normal in Japan.

Kids going to school along with a bunch of other kids at the same time is normal in Japan.

Kids coming home from school to an empty house alone at the age of 6 happens, but is not really necessary or acceptable, especially with granny just down the road who IS home.

And kids aged 6 going out alone from an empty house at the age of 6 at 5.30 in the afternoon with no one knowing where they are going as there is no one home to know - WAY unacceptable.

The guilty party is whoever has taken this little girl. But I would very much like to know where her parents were in all this. At work? What about Gakudo? Or granny? Not at work? Then where? When is it ok to have a little girl home alone from what seems like around 3.15 to when she went out again around 5.30?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree that a six-year old should not be walking around alone. That doesn't mean I'm necessarily blaming the parents. Would you leave a six year old home alone? They need supervision at that age. In any country.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Blame the predators, not the parents. Kids going to school by themselves is normal in Japan

sure predators are to blame. but the fact this 6 year old was walking the streets at 5:30PM, well after she was supposed to be home from school.. and yet the mom didn't contact police until 7PM? the parents share some responsibility in making sure their kids are safe.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

why are they not checking every appartment in the complex nect to the combini?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Having my own six year old daughter makes me cringe at the thought that predators are out there with depraved intentions to satisfy their cravings from the fantasy world of comics. There have been a glut of these happenings recently and these cretins need to be stopped pronto. But how?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A six year old should not be out alone, a six year old cannot defend themselves effectively against would-be >predators. Her parents are were very irresponsible. I hope she is found safe and sound.

Blame the predators, not the parents. Kids going to school by themselves is normal in Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

That is incorrect. It is further than that.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The news reported its only about a 3 min walk from her school to her house.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Please don't let this end in an abduction tragedy!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

First graders in Japan travel alone all the time. This sort of thing is not a normal occurrence.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I hope she is found soon and unharmed!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A six year old should not be out alone, a six year old cannot defend themselves effectively against would-be predators. Her parents are were very irresponsible. I hope she is found safe and sound.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

I feel so sorry for the family, and as with sensei hope the poor girl is found safe and sound, soon.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I hope she's found and unharmed. I know I'd be going crazy if it happened to our family.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

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