Miyuki Ishikawa was a Japanese midwife and serial killer who is believed to have murdered many infants with the aid of several accomplices throughout the 1940s. It is estimated that her victims numbered in general estimation of 103. When she was finally apprehended, the Tokyo High Court’s four-year sentence she received was remarkably light considering that Miyuki’s actions resulted in a death toll so high that it remains unrivaled by any other serial killer in Japan, or any female serial killer worldwide.
On January 12, 1948, two police officers from the Waseda precinct in Tokyo accidentally came upon the remains of five infants. While that shocking find was clearly suspect, it was affirmed by an autopsy that showed the infants’ deaths were not natural. An investigation led to the arrest of one Miyuki Ishikawa, two conspirators, and the reveal of a morbid practice that included the death of over one hundred infants.
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Much of Miyuki’s early life is unknown. Born in 1897 in the southern Japanese town of Kunitomi, she attended and graduated from the University of Tokyo, later marrying Takeshi Ishikawa. Miyuki’s career led to her being a midwife at the Kotobuki maternity hospital and then becoming its director.
As abortion wasn’t legal in Japan during this time, many couples were having children they were not able to financially take care of. Miyuki saw this, and also knew that charitable resources were sparse. Through cold calculation, she decided it would be best if the children were killed.
If the act of killing the defenseless wasn’t repulsive enough, Miyuki then enlisted her husband and a doctor to take advantage of the situation. Dr. Shiro Nakayama drew up false death certificates for the infants that were killed, and Miyuki’s husband went around asking the parents for large sums of money, telling them that it would be cheaper to pay them instead of raising the child.
During the trial, Miyuki argued that the parents who deserted the children were responsible for their deaths. This defense received support from a large section of the public, a fact that was reflected in Japanese law, which gave infants almost no rights. Consequently, Miyuki was sentenced to eight years of prison. For their part, Miyuki’s husband and Dr. Nakayama received only four years imprisonment. Miyuki and her husband even managed to halve their sentences through an appeal.