NAGOYA -- Employees at the Aichi Prefectural Government in central Japan abandoned a suspected stroke victim in a park outside their jurisdiction on a cold, rainy night in mid-January because they didn't know what to do with him after taking over care responsibilities from police, sources disclosed on Feb. 3.
The man, who is in his 70s, is now said to be receiving treatment at a hospital. According to the prefectural government, he was taken into custody by staff at Aichi Prefectural Police's Tsushima Police Station after he was found trying to use an ATM without a bank card in mid-January. He was then handed to the Ama welfare consultation center in Tsushima. He was reported at the time to be incapable of spoken or written communication.
Three employees at the center, aged between their 20s and 50s, searched for accommodation for the man but found nowhere he could go. They also requested that the local fire department and other bodies take him to a hospital, but their requests were apparently refused on the grounds that it wasn't an emergency and therefore the measures were not necessary.
At a loss over how to respond to the situation, they took the man to a park late that night in Nakamura Ward in the city of Nagoya, which is outside their jurisdiction. They then used a public telephone to call the 119 emergency services number, provided a fake name, and left the man in the park alone. He was taken into care by a rescue team from the city's fire department that arrived at the scene.
According to the Nagoya Local Meteorological Observatory, at the time of the incident it was just 6.4 degrees Celsius in the area, and it was raining.
The prefectural police, who believed the man had been entrusted to the welfare center in Tsushima, were surprised to hear he had been found in Nakamura Ward, and contacted the center. A superintendent there then pressed staff to tell the truth about what happened, which shed light on the events leading up to the man's abandonment.
It is unknown when the man first started showing symptoms of a stroke, but according to his family, he was well several days before the incident.
According to the prefectural government, when elderly people of unknown identity are brought into care by the authorities, they are supposed to stay either at municipal government facilities or at medical institutions.
The head of the prefecture's Community Welfare and Services Division said, "We're in the middle of an investigation so I can't offer comment, but if this is what truly happened, then it was a totally unacceptable response."
(Japanese original by Hitomi Takai and Naoto Takeda, Nagoya News Center)