National / Crime & Legal

Mother held over death of 10-year-old girl in Chiba admits depriving her of food at father's request

Kyodo

The mother of a 10-year-old girl who died last month at their home in Chiba Prefecture has told police that she sometimes gave the girl no food, at her husband’s insistence, in the days before her daughter’s death, investigative sources said Tuesday.

Nagisa Kurihara, 31, was sent to prosecutors that day. She was arrested a day earlier for allegedly failing to stop the assault of her daughter Mia.

Mia was found dead on Jan. 24 inside the bathroom of their home, in the city of Noda, with multiple bruises on her body. Nagisa’s husband Yuichiro, 41, was arrested the next day on suspicion of assault, but an autopsy has failed to determine the cause of Mia’s death.

While Mia was not underweight to an extreme degree, the autopsy revealed there was almost no food inside her stomach, indicating that she had not been fed sufficiently, according to the sources.

Prior to her arrest, the mother told investigators that, despite her pleas not to do so, her husband sometimes woke Mia up in the middle of the night and made her stand for long periods.

Yuichiro has told investigators he began making Mia stand from 10 a.m. on Jan. 24, and that he does not consider his action wrong because he was just “disciplining” her.

He is suspected of assaulting Mia between 10 a.m. to 11:10 p.m. the same day, including dousing her repeatedly with cold water.

Investigators have been informed that the mother herself may have been a victim of Yuichiro’s domestic violence.

Mia reported to her school in Noda in 2017 that she was being “bullied” by her father, who used “violence” against her, according to local authorities.

A note made by her classroom teacher after speaking with Mia said the mother had been subjected to violence when they were living in Okinawa Prefecture, before the family moved to Chiba.

Following the report, Mia was taken into protective custody for seven weeks at a child welfare center. But after that period, no visits to her home to check on her safety were made by officials from either the center or the school.