Having a baby should be a joyous experience. You are going to have a baby you will love and will carry on your legacy. Babies are cute and can make your heart melt, but they can also be expensive. Today, the cost of raising a child in Tokyo, Japan is 63 million yen, which is 581,285.25 in US dollars. So, imagine if you are already struggling financially. Add to that if it’s during a horrific world war where your country experienced a nuclear bomb and tons of economic woes. Miyuki Ishikawa created a business where she helped desperate parents get rid of their babies. Not when they were still pregnant, but after the baby was already born.
Becoming a Midwife
What we do know about Miyuki Ishikawa is that she was born in 1897 in a small town in Japan called Kunitomi, Miyazaki. Miyuki left her town and headed to college at the University of Tokyo. She would get married and start working as a midwife. Later in her career, Miyuki would become the Director of the hospital ward. This is the same time that the end of World War happened, and Japan was struggling. However, there was a huge baby boom. Theories are that this is due to separated couples who came together after the war. We also have to remember that there wasn’t the array of birth control methods that we have today. This caused a lot of babies to be born to overwhelm, stressed-out parents. It was also causing more strain to an already-struggling economy. Miyuki Ishikawa saw the issues and decided to handle it by trying to reduce the new baby population.
Murdering Defenseless Newborns
Miyuki used her position to kill an estimated 103-169 babies. Parents would come to her to help, and she would kill the babies by neglecting them. I am not sure what that means other than probably starving the babies and making sure they were exposed to temperatures they shouldn’t have. Eventually, she would get the help of her husband and a doctor at the hospital. Her husband was the salesman of the morbid business and start asking parents for a considerable amount of money to get rid of their baby. He would tell them that it was easier just paying the lump sum now than having to raise their child. After the parents agreed, Miyuki would murder the babies. The second accomplice was a doctor who would create death certificates for the murdered babies.
It isn’t known if someone tipped the police, but in 1948, two police officers found the body of five infants. This caused a massive investigation and the arrest of Miyuki, her husband, and accomplice. Witness statements led the police to a temple, and 30 newborn baby bodies were found. It didn’t stop there. 40 more bodies were in a mortician’s house.
The court hearing started, and Miyuki pretended that she had no idea about the bodies. She even blamed the parents saying that they were probably trying to get out of the expenses of raising a baby when they were in economic need.
Miyuki was sentenced to eight years in jail, and her husband and another accomplice only got four. They would appeal to the High Court and get their sentences to reduce to four years for her, and two for them. This case caused the government to discuss legalizing abortion. In 1949, legal abortion was accepted as long as it was due to extreme economic distress as part of the Eugenic Protection Law.
Four years for murdering over 100 defenseless newborns. It is tough because a lot of those parents are also murderers as well, so it would be a lot of people in jail for what Miyuki Ishikawa did. However, I still can’t get over that she only served four years, and her two accomplices only got two. They always say that something good comes out of something terrible. I am glad the Japanese government changed the law so that couples who couldn’t afford a baby and found themselves pregnant, could get a legal abortion and not wait until the baby is here. If they hadn’t, I have a suspicion that copycat Ishikawas would have sprung up. But I do wonder if there were already in other parts of Japan, but people turned a blind eye or didn’t know.