YOKOHAMA - Kanagawa prefectural police arrested a 26-year-old man on Tuesday on suspicion of abandoning the body of a 2-year-old boy found in his apartment in Fujimi, Saitama Prefecture, according to senior officials of the police.
Yuji Motte, who identifies himself as a babysitter, was arrested on suspicion of abandoning the body of Riku Yamada of Isogo Ward, Yokohama, at his apartment in Fujimi.
According to police, when investigators visited Motte's home on Monday morning, he was about to go out, and leave behind the body of the boy. The prefectural police judged this action to be grounds for suspicion, the senior officials said.
Investigative sources, meanwhile, said they have found evidence of hard pressure applied around the boy's mouth, which appears to have been caused by attempting to cover his mouth. The police have also found several relatively fresh bruises on the boy's body, the sources said.
Motte has denied his involvement in the boy's death, according to police.
During voluntary questioning by police on Monday, Motte reportedly said: "I had been taking care of Riku [and a baby boy] at my home since Friday. I gave the children food. On Sunday, I was supposed to return the children to their mother. But, I took medicine around noon Sunday, when I had to return the boys to their mother, and slept until the following morning. When I woke up, the boy was dead."
The Kanagawa prefectural police obtained an arrest warrant early Tuesday, but allowed Motte to return to his parents' home in Isogo Ward because his voluntary questioning had lasted many hours. On Tuesday afternoon, the police asked Motte to come in for further questioning.
According to police, Riku's mother had contracted for babysitting services with the man through the Internet.
The police said they would perform a judicial autopsy to identify the cause of Riku's death on Tuesday. They will then proceed with an investigation of the circumstances surrounding his death.
Ministry to investigate websites
The labour ministry will conduct a fact-finding survey on Internet-based brokering of babysitters, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura said on Tuesday.
The investigation was motivated by the Fujimi case.
"We'd like to examine the circumstances to understand the nature of these systems," Tamura said at a press conference after the day's Cabinet meeting.
"We'll give the highest priority to measures to protect children's lives and health, and to ensure that parents can leave their children to babysitters in good conscience," said Masako Mori, state minister for measures for the declining birthrate, at a press conference after the Cabinet meeting. Mori expressed her intention to study ways to guarantee the quality of babysitters.