• Kyodo


The decomposing and naked body of a 6-year-old boy was found Monday inside a plastic bag floating in a canal in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, six days after he was reported missing, police said.

Reporters gather in front of the Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, home of Kyoichi Seta, 6.

The parents, who had reportedly not been seen since Aug. 8, were located by authorities near their home Tuesday and questioned by police in connection with their son’s death.

The victim was identified as Kyoichi Seta, a student in the first grade at Kobe’s Tachibana Elementary School. Police said the boy, who had been living at a children’s institution in Kobe since March after reports of parental abuse, had several scars on his body believed to have been inflicted before his death.

Hyogo Prefectural Police searched several locations in connection with the case Tuesday on suspicion of murder and disposing of a corpse, while an autopsy was performed later in the day to pinpoint the cause of death, investigators said.

According to police, Seta was naked and bound in adhesive tape when his body was found in a black plastic bag floating in the Kitabori canal in Amagasaki’s Ohama industrial zone.

The body was in two bags that had been taped together to make one large container, investigators said.

Police said the boy’s parents, both aged 24, were granted permission to take the boy from the children’s home on Aug. 1. They then contacted officials of the home two days later, saying they wanted to keep the boy with them.

Welfare authorities looked into the case, but decided it was too early for the boy to be returned to the couple on a permanent basis.

But the children’s home allowed the boy to stay a little longer with his parents, after they visited the center on Aug. 6 and said they wanted to go on a trip to Shikoku. At that time, the pair said the boy was with his grandmother.

Police officials said Seta’s grandmother filed a missing person report with Osaka police on the night of Aug. 7, claiming the boy had not returned to her home in Osaka after reportedly saying earlier that night that he was going to a nearby convenience store.

It was learned Tuesday, however, that she told authorities the following day that she had lied, concocting the story at the parents’ behest.

Police said Seta was born before his mother divorced his father and remarried. Her current husband reportedly has a 2-year-old child from a previous marriage.

According to a child welfare center in Hyogo, the parents of the boy contacted them on Feb. 1, saying they were having problems disciplining their son. After meeting the family, center officials found him to be covered with bruises apparently a month old and caused by abuse. The boy was immediately placed in protective custody.

On March 21, he was sent to the welfare facility with his parents’ consent, they said.

The latest incident has raised concerns among welfare experts as to the effectiveness of the current child welfare system in cases involving alleged parental abuse.

According to government figures, more than 18,800 cases of child abuse were brought before welfare authorities in fiscal 2000, the largest number on record.

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