Three female teachers who used to work at a nursery school in the central Japan city of Susono near Mt. Fuji were arrested on Sunday on suspicion of repeatedly abusing toddlers in their care. The teachers were held hours after police searched the private school following the city’s disclosure on Wednesday that they were involved in 15 cases of abuse between June and August, such as holding toddlers upside down by their feet and slapping their faces. The three, who left the nursery recently, admitted the abusive behaviour, also including forcibly removing their pants and brandishing a knife in a threating manner, but said they were trying to discipline the children, according to the city in Shizuoka Prefecture. Japan probes ‘unforgivable’ workplace abuse of Vietnamese intern The teachers were among six in charge of the 1-year-olds’ class at the school, Sakura Hoikuen. The police, suspecting that the abuse at the nursery was continuous, will analyse seized documents. They are believed to have conducted the search out of concern that evidence could be destroyed as it was also found that the school had made its staff sign an oath not to disclose what took place there. The police said the former teachers are Sachi Miura, 30, Kaori Komatsu, 38, and Rie Hattori, 39. They were arrested for their actions in June against three toddlers. Miura is suspected of pushing a girl in the face on June 1, while Hattori allegedly hit a boy on the head on June 10. Komatsu is suspected of holding a boy upside down by his feet on June 27. Catholic Church in Japan sued over alleged sex abuse by priest The city and prefectural governments on Saturday started carrying out a special audit of the school, questioning its head, Toshihiko Sakurai, and having him present the three teachers’ work records, according to officials. The abusive behaviour was brought to light after the city received a report in mid-August. It had met with Sakurai for its probe but kept the case secret for more than three months.