• Kyodo

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A 25-year-old woman was given a suspended prison term Wednesday for starving her 14-month-old son to death, but the Nagoya District Court ordered that she be placed on rehabilitative probation.

In handing down the sentence on Miyuki Tamura, presiding Judge Toyoshige Numari cited the chain reaction set in motion by the abuse she suffered at the hands of her own parents, a problem experts say is a key factor leading to child abuse.

The court sentenced Tamura to three years, suspended for five years, for the death sometime around last July 2 of her son, Kenichi, whom she had failed to adequately feed for about two weeks. Tamura had been working at a restaurant at the time.

The baby weighed only 5.1 kg and his diaper had not been changed for more than a week when he was found dead by paramedics. The weight is equivalent to that of a 1- to 2-month-old boy.

“It was a selfish crime, but the accused was raised in misfortune and is now remorseful,” Numari said as he handed down the ruling.

Prosecutors demanded a three-year prison term, but her lawyers sought probation, arguing Tamura had been abused during childhood and lacked parenting skills.

The judge pointed out that Tamura was deserted by her mother and abused by her father as a child.

“The way the accused grew up has had a serious impact and distorted her social life, and it is cruel to lay the blame for the son’s death solely on the accused,” the judge said.

Numari concluded that the childhood abuse hampered Tamura’s mental development and left her unable to build good human relationships, supporting the defense argument that she lacked parenting skills even though she had felt a certain love for her baby.

One of her lawyers hailed the ruling as a “landmark decision.” that digs into the question of why child abuse takes place and why mothers need help.”

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