November 27, 1999
TOKYO, NOV 26: A Japanese woman confessed to strangling her neighbour’s two-year-old girl in an astonishing case of reported kindergarten exam rivalry, the police said Friday.
Thirty-five-year-old housewife Mitsuko Yamada allegedly killed her neighbours daughter, Haruna Wakayama, becuase she passed an entrance exam to a prestigious kindergarten while her own daughter, aged two, failed to get in.
Both the families lived only 200 meters from each other and both had two-year-old daughters and five-year-old sons.
On Monday, Haruna accompanied her 32-year-old mother to pick up her brother from school. While the mother was chatting with other parents, her daughter disappeared, the police said.
Yamada, a former nurse, confessed to snatching the toddler and strangling her with her scarf in a nearby public toilet, before putting the body in a bag and returning home with her son, the official said.
She allegedly travelled some 200 kilometres (120 miles) by train before burying the corpse in the back yard ofher mother’s home in Oigawa, a central Japan town. The accused woman’s husband, a Buddhist priest, allegedly persuaded his wife to surrender to the police.
Yamada turned herself to the police late on Thursday and confessed to the killing, said a official who declined to be named.
After her surrender, Yamada, when asked why she killed the little girl confessed: "I thought of killing Haruna because of a clash of hearts with her parents." Japanese children’s lives are often dominated by exams and hours of private tuition to get into the right schools, which largely determine which university and career they will be able to follow.
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