The Tokyo High Court on Wednesday added a year to the original 14-year prison sentence of Mitsuko Yamada, who killed the 2-year-old daughter of a female acquaintance in 1999 in a public lavatory in Tokyo.
Yamada, 38, was found guilty of strangling Haruna Wakayama on Nov. 22, 1999, near a kindergarten in Bunkyo Ward and burying the victim’s body in the backyard of her parents’ home in Oigawa, Shizuoka Prefecture.
Prosecutors had initially demanded an 18-year term and appealed the 14-year sentence meted out by the Tokyo District Court in December.
Presiding Judge Shogo Takahashi of the high court rejected the lower court’s decision to grant Yamada a degree of leniency on the grounds that she had turned herself in and pleaded guilty.
“Circumstances leave little room for leniency,” he said. “The fact (Yamada) took the life of a girl who had no fault of her own and buried her should draw more focus.
“The lower court did not sufficiently take into account the unbearable feelings of the girl’s family,” he said. “The ruling was too lenient.”
The lower court ruled that Yamada felt she had been snubbed by Haruna’s mother and decided to kill her child.
Yamada’s son went to the same kindergarten as the victim’s older brother. The lower court concluded Yamada murdered the girl to sever ties with her mother and release herself from her feelings of hatred.
Yamada told both courts, however, that she still does not know why she felt compelled to kill Haruna.
The victim’s parents are suing Yamada for about 137 million yen in damages.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.