Gov't to look into babysitting websites after child's death

TOKYO —

The government plans to examine ways to regulate online babysitting sites following the death this week of a 2-year-old boy while in the care of a freelance babysitter.

The boy, Riku Yamada, and his 8-month-old brother, had been left in the care of Yuji Motte, a 26-year-old uncertified male babysitter. The children’s 22-year-old single mother, who works nights, had contacted a babysitting website and handed over her children to a man representing the babysitting service, at Shinsugita Station in Yokohama last Friday night. The man in turn entrusted the children to Motte who took the kids to his apartment in Fujimi, Saitama Prefecture.

When the babysitter didn’t show up with the children at the arranged time on Sunday night, the woman contacted police. Riku was found dead in Motte’s apartment on Monday morning, while his younger brother was unharmed.

Motte, who has been arrested, was quoted by police as saying he fell asleep after taking medicine on Sunday, and that when he awoke, Riku was dead. An autopsy revealed he died of suffocation, Fuji TV reported Wednesday.

The incident has thrown the spotlight on the plight of working mothers who often are forced to use such online services because they are flexible and because there is a shortage of daycare centers.

Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Norihisa Tamura told a news conference that his ministry plans to investigate the current situation concerning babysitter matching websites.

He said the ministry will examine if the broker sites are properly managing babysitters’ names and addresses, how experienced the babysitters are, and if they are covered by insurance in case of an accident. He said there needs to be a screening process for anyone wishing to work as a babysitter.

In the Saitama case, Motte has a website on which he advertises his services as a babysitter. He also said that his apartment was a child care facility, but it was not registered as such with the prefectural government, Fuji reported.

Japan Today

  • 0

    HongoTAFEinmate

    After the horse has bolted.

  • -3

    Cricky

    So I am guessing, anyone can do it ? Not something aged infertile politicians have a concern for. It's not a medieval country after all!

  • 1

    fxgai

    there is a shortage of daycare centers.

    There's your root cause.

    the ministry will examine if the broker sites are properly managing babysitters’ names and addresses, how experienced the babysitters are, and if they are covered by insurance in case of an accident. He said there needs to be a screening process for anyone wishing to work as a babysitter.

    Is that going to make child care services more, or less difficult to access? Why do they think there is a shortage of daycare centers?

    That aside, I am sure this guy who posed as a babysitter will get dealt with by the justice system. And I hope the young mum is able to find a way to look after her precious 8 month old if she continues to work nights.

  • 4

    rickyvee

    The incident has thrown the spotlight on the plight of working mothers who often are forced to use such online services because they are flexible and because there is a shortage of daycare centers.

    uh sorry, but daycare isn't availalbe at nights. that's why it's called daycare. yes, there is a shortage of them but that is not the main point about this news. first, why would this woman use a babysitting service for 2 days and nights? what was she thinking? second, this online babysitting matchmaking service doesn't verify any of the information posted on its website. i'm surprised some other criminal incident hasn't occured before.

  • 3

    Disillusioned

    No qualifications, no insurance and (probably) no experience! It's easy money until a kid dies in your charge from a lack of duty of care. Obviously, this carer was not qualified and lacked the skills needed to take care of two small children. I have no idea what the government intends to do about it, but if it follows the Japanese norm, they will just set up hefty fines for violators with no real legislation governing them.

    Please, do not scold or frown upon the mother for this. She did the right thing and put her children into the care of a so-called 'professional' babysitting agency. If she had left them in a car or at home by themselves you would have a reason to complain about her. You should only feel pity for her after losing one of her children.

  • -2

    gogogo

    the government does nothing proactive

  • -3

    Frungy

    The main company is also responsible. I mean seriously, this Motte guy was basically working a 48 hour shift and the company knew it. You simply can't do that with kids, you need to watch them ALL the time.

  • -8

    falseflagsteve

    If you have a kid you should look after it not pay some nutter to look after it or send to daycare which stunts development in many kids.

    The government should pass a law that a child must be looked after by a family member 24/7 until the age of 5 and if the mother is single or the family is poor the government should give welfare to provide. I would certainly pay extra in taxes to help children be safe and stop the family unit being destroyed.

  • 6

    hatsoff

    Latest news from NHK NewsWatch 9 is that this guy Motte was using a false name. He had previously received so many complaints from parents that the babysitting company had taken him off their books. He simply signed on again under a false name. Terrible vetting, and I agree that the company bears a huge responsibility.

    I feel sorry for the mother as well as the child. It's tough, especially working nights, to get the right kind of support. No one deserved this.

  • 1

    Disillusioned

    /falseflagsteve - are you serious? So, how do you expect a single mother to pay for food and rent for two children with no means cos she has to look after her kids 24/7? Are you gonna support her? Sorry, but your comment is probably the most ridiculous and naive thing I have ever heard about raising children.

  • 0

    falseflagsteve

    Diillusioned, what i find ridiculous is your post, did you actually read mine?

    I stated that the government should pay for a single mother in that situation and i am well prepared to put my hand in my pocket and pay extra taxes to do so. I

  • -3

    kaimycahl

    I blame the government PERIOD!! Japan is not a child friendly country, they want all salary men to work come home drunk. The wives leave their jobs after marriage and once kids arrive they are expected not to work but to take care of the kids. What they should have is a structured child care system. If that had such a system maybe there would be more people marrying and having children and working. Japan is suffering from the beginning to the end. First no childcare that's the beginning and the end the lack of care for the gray aging population!

  • 2

    Bellexxx

    /falseflagsteve

    That is exactly what Australia has - government funding support service called Centrelink. While it helps many people in different situations have the means to support themselves and have enough money to buy food and receive education etc, there are also many people who abuse the system. This includes women, often having many children, so that they can receive these benefits and not have to work to earn a single cent. And the more children you have dependent on you, the more money you will receive. This money that the government is giving is coming from taxpayers pockets, mine included and I am most certainly NOT HAPPY that I am forced to pay ridiculously high taxes only to have it given to people too lazy to work, and the money is not going where it SHOULD be.

    I'm not sure what country you're from, but feel free to live in Australia if you're that keen on "putting my hand in my pocket to pay extra taxes".

    The issue here is that there needs to be strict regulations on childcare services and workers dealing with children. Also vocational education and courses to ensure qualified child care workers have the right knowledge and practices.

  • 0

    kimuzukashiiiii

    If I were to write my personal feelings on this man, I would almost definitely be banned from JT, so Ill leave him out of this.

    I quite seriously disagree about babysitting being easy money - babysitting is not easy. A 2 year old is a real handful - tantrums, curious, into everything and still very high needs in terms of toilet training, etc.

    The problem is, this woman worked nights, and there are no licensed hoikuens which are open 24 hours. Its even impossible for parents to get their kids into a licensed hoikuen open normal times. Perhaps this is something that needs looked into - 24 hour care would help an awful lot of mothers who are working in the overnight jobs.

    My heart breaks for this woman. She was doing her best, and not just leaving her home alone while she went to work (which is what an awful lot of women who work night jobs do.) She, and that poor little boy, are in my thoughts.

  • 1

    ka_chan

    Nothing new, the government won't do anything. Children are not a priority for this government. Besides, they are all too old, grand parents or even great grand parents. Too far removed from reality.

  • 1

    sensei258

    @ Dis and False - A single mother of two would normally be getting a lot of financial assistance from her local city hall.

  • -4

    Frungy

    sensei258Mar. 20, 2014 - 05:31AM JST @ Dis and False - A single mother of two would normally be getting a lot of financial assistance from her local city hall.

    A lot of financial assistance? About 10 000 ~ 15 000yen a month per child, depending on the city hall. For those who don't need the assistance it is a nice gesture, a top-up that reduces some of the childcare expenses, like the fact that for the first three years your kid will need an entirely new wardrobe every season because they're growing so fast. For those who desperately need the assistance it isn't nearly enough.

    Personally I'd prefer if the child care allowance was income-based so that those who didn't need it didn't get it, and instead it went to someone who really needed the money.

  • 4

    kickboard

    Frungy, if you are a boshi-katei receiving seikatsu-hogo, you would be getting around 200,000 yen a month. In this case, she's working so she's probably getting less than that (however much she needs to meet the minimum amount of income needed for a single mother and 2 kids - predetermined by the local government)

  • 3

    Imperious_Bastid

    When I was a kid I was babysat often by a local teen girl. I could have died in her care. I could have died in my mother's care!

    Here we are talking about unqualified poorly vetted babysitters. Do you all have any idea how many unqualified poorly vetted parents are out there? Kids die in their very own parents' care all the time! What is done about it?

    As ever, the government is poised to over-react to a rare, one-off situation. I would be all in favor of some sensible regulations regarding these services, but I am afraid what we will get will be much more than that. And why? Well if what hatsoff says is true this guy went out of his way to hide his past. What's a babysitting service to do?

    His apparent history of established uselessness aside, both babysitters and parents need sleep and have awoken to find a child dead of suffocation. It does seem that this guy was particularly inept, given follow up reports, but we should not jump to conclusions so fast, sad as it is to hear of a child's death.

    Anyway, the lack of daycare is a fundamental flaw in this country. Another is that generally, the idea of babysitting is outrageous and unthinkable for many Japanese despite how badly Japan needs babysitting. But no one one would need to use an online service if Japan had a deeper sense of community where kids were already visiting the neighbors so much that neighbors babysitting became a natural step. So don't just blame the government. Blame this Japanese-style, cold, stiff arm society as well.

  • 0

    tmarie

    uh sorry, but daycare isn't availalbe at nights. that's why it's called daycare. yes, there is a shortage of them but that is not the main point about this news. first, why would this woman use a babysitting service for 2 days and nights?

    There is care for children at night. Nightcare? Not sure of the name. I do believe this is only offered in major cities though. I am not sure if this is actually done by the government but I have a friend who uses the night service as she runs her on cafe/bar and works nights. Her sister helps her a lot because she hates leaving her son there so many times a week but it is offered - though not everywhere. She was given the names from the ward office - again though, not sure if these are government centers.

    There is a massive shortage here for child care - be it daycare, babysitters or whatever. I agree with you though, two nights and three days is questionable. Sorry but I don't think there are services for that - and I'm not sure I disgaree with it not being offered.

    ** I mean seriously, this Motte guy was basically working a 48 hour shift and the company knew it. You simply can't do that with kids, you need to watch them ALL the time.**

    How is it any different than expecting a SAHP to look after their kid though? Not really understand your line of thinking on this one. I agree that leaving a kid in childcare for that amount of time is too long though - hence me questioning WHY she left the kids for the length of time she did. Some folks work 24 hours shifts - cops, police... but they do get time off and many of these people are parents.

    **No qualifications, no insurance and (probably) no experience! ** What qualifications would you like a babysitter to have? This person isn't running a daycare center nor a school. The person was hired to care temporarily for a child. At least that is my understanding of what "babysitting" services are. This went beyond what is normal for babysitting. This woman wanted daycare and nightcare. If you start to demand qualifications, who needs to have them? Granny? The mother up the street who offers to help out a mother from time to time? I certainly agree qualifications and training for daycare or long term care workers but this isn't the same - or it's not supposed to be the same. I started babysitting a 12. I took a course. None of my other friends did though. Was I too young to look after a kid for a few hours when the parents went out? I don't think I was. Don't think the same can be said for many here - and many of those I view as not able ARE parents and well into their 20s. If you're going to start demanding qualifications for childcare, why not demand them of parents as well? I'd actually be in favor of mandatory parenting classes for all before they have kids and are given the baby allowance. Doubt that will happen though.

    ** Perhaps this is something that needs looked into - 24 hour care would help an awful lot of mothers who are working in the overnight jobs. ** Why should they get 24 hour care when other working mothers don't? Stay at home moms work 24 hours a day all the time Why not give them a break as well? Sorry but if you work nights and don't think you can handle having kids with working, the solution is... don't have kids. Is that harsh? Yes but so is dropping off your kid for 24 hour daycare. I am very supportive of daycare and care for working moms but 24 hour care? For two days? Unreal. If one doesn't want to or can't care for their kids over 24 stretches, don't have kids.

    The lack of daycare services here is an issue. My city alone has a waitlist into the 100s. They are building ONE new daycare this year. ONE. Unreal. This has been an issue for years but very little is being done. Why? Because people really aren't demanding more daycare. Women are forced to quit their job and instead of raising hell about it, they take it. Crap government, passive publis leads to kids dying or being killed by stressed out parents - or perhaps, useless caregivers.

    Clearly there is a massive issue here in Japan with regards to child welfare and safety. Criminal background checks are very rarely done, if ever. I worked in both eikwai, private and public schools. Not ONCE did I have to do a criminal background check. You can't even volunteer in many places "back home" without a check. Why on earth this isn't demanded here is beyond me.

    This company should be sued for allowing this guy to register under a false name and come back after being let go. Not only for the safety of the kids but also what about taxes and the like? It seemed like this guy was making his living off of this. Was he paying taxes on his income? The company should be held for this as well - the legality of the company comes into question when they can easily hire someone who doesn't actually exists in the eyes of the law. Massive issues in Japan with people working under the table and not paying taxes but claiming benefits.

    Imperious_Bastid, great post.

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