CHIBA – A man at the center of a high-profile child abuse case was sentenced to 16 years in prison Thursday for causing the death of his 10-year-old daughter.
Yuichiro Kurihara, 42, deprived his daughter Mia of sleep and nutrition at their family home in Noda, Chiba Prefecture, leading to her death in January last year, according to the ruling.
Prosecutors had demanded an 18-year prison term for Kurihara.
The father, dressed in a black suit and blue necktie, expressed no emotion as he bowed to the presiding judge and the prosecutors after the ruling was handed down.
During hearings at the Chiba District Court, Kurihara admitted to assaulting Mia but denied other charges leveled against him.
However, the court found him guilty on all charges of fatal child abuse during Thursday’s ruling, calling the father’s testimony “unreliable.”
The father was indicted in March after the girl was found dead in the bathroom of their home on Jan. 24.
He forced her to stand in the bathroom while showering cold water on her between Jan. 22 and 24, according to the indictment.
A video on Kurhihara’s cell phone showed Mia being forced to do stretching exercises repeatedly and begging for help as he continuously reproached her.
Kurihara had also faced charges of physically abusing his daughter from December 2018 to January 2019 and beating his 33-year-old wife, Nagisa.
His wife was sentenced last June to 30 months in prison, suspended for five years with probation, for being complicit in her husband’s treatment of Mia.
When handing down the ruling on Nagisa, the court said it was difficult for her to resist her husband’s will due to his abuse and her mental condition.
“(Mia) was very kind and thoughtful, and loved by everyone,” she said during the trial. “(Kurihara) may not have liked her strong sense of justice.”
Defense lawyers had argued that, while Kurihara’s actions went too far, it was not done on a daily basis.
Mia moved from her mother’s hometown of Itoman, Okinawa Prefecture, to her father’s in Noda in July 2017, when she was 8 years old. According to the prosecution, the abuse began immediately after they moved.
In November 2017, Mia wrote in a school questionnaire that she was being bullied by her father and was subsequently taken into protective custody for seven weeks.
However, a local education board was found to have given the father a copy of Mia’s questionnaire. Kurihara stated her claims were “lies.”
After her protective custody ended, with a welfare center approving her return to her parents, no visits were paid to her home by officials of either the center or the school to check on her.