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Fukuoka instructs day care center to improve after uncovering child abuse

This file photo shows the Fukuoka Municipal Government building. (Mainichi)

FUKUOKA -- The Fukuoka Municipal Government issued a business improvement advisory to the operator of a day care center here on Feb. 15 after finding nurses at the facility verbally abused children by calling them "pigs" and physically punished them on 13 occasions.

The city instructed operator, Hokuto-kai, to punish the nurses and their supervisors, take preventive measures and sufficiently inform guardians of children attending the Akatsuki Hoikuen day care center about the issue.

According to people familiar with the case, the southwestern Japan city conducted a special inspection of the facility from Jan. 11 and interviewed some 50 workers there after receiving a tipoff. The probe found that at least eight nurses committed "improper nursing" by calling children "idiots" and "pigs," pushed food spewed out by a youngster back into the child's mouth, and locked up a child in a closet.

The city had received complaints about the facility in December 2017, and the municipal government instructed the center to find out what happened. The center reported back in February 2018, saying that four nurses conducted improper nursing in fiscal 2017, such as placing adhesive tape on a child's mouth, placing a child in a storehouse and scolding children while wearing a scary mask.

Yet another complaint came in again in July 2018, saying some children were still being treated improperly at the facility. City officials interviewed nurses and others but could not find any new improper acts. The municipal government launched the special inspection following a report by a TV station. In that report, a former nurse quoted a former colleague as saying that the center's nurses had been told not to tell the truth to city investigators.

Rie Ishibashi, who took up her position as newly appointed chief of the day care center on Jan. 26, issued a statement saying that she was sorry for "causing major concerns to the children and their guardians." The new chief also stated that she wanted to "review the way nursing is conducted by finding out what was wrong and establishing a new system."

(Japanese original by Masashi Yomogida, Kyushu News Department)

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