Last week some newspapers reported that the National Police Agency will begin accepting anonymous tips related to suspected cases of child abuse and that the agency will pay up to ¥100,000 in reward money for any tips that lead to an arrest. This is news because in the past the police did not accept anonymous reports for child abuse cases, much less offer money in return for such information, and the media has speculated that the sudden turnaround indicates desperation in the face of the death of 7-year-old Kaito Okamoto on Jan. 24.
The boy’s parents have been accused of beating him, and it turns out that at least one neighbor had heard beatings taking place for the past year. In addition, a hospital that treated him had him in its care for a week and did not call the police, though they are required to do so if they suspect that a patient is the victim of abuse. Even staff at Kaito’s school apparently suspected something was wrong but didn’t say anything.