The 47-year-old mother of a 16-year-old girl who died of extreme weakness in 1999 has been arrested on suspicion of starving her to death, according to local police.
Tsuneko Naraoka, a post office worker in Hachioji in western Tokyo, was arrested Tuesday over the death of her daughter Masako. Naraoka has admitted to the allegations, police said.
According to investigators, Masako became bedridden after falling ill around September 1998. Naraoka neglected her, only giving her small portions of food and drink at their apartment in Hamura, western Tokyo.
When Masako died on April 25, 1999, she was 140 cm tall but weighed only 13 kg, police said.
After an administrative autopsy was conducted the day after her death, it was concluded that the cause of death was debility, or extreme weakness of the body.
Because the girl was extremely underweight, police conducted another autopsy and determined in September 2001 that her death was caused by starvation.
But investigators did not begin questioning Naraoka until August 2003.
Police said they conducted the autopsy as they had doubts about the cause of death from the outset.
They said it took some time to arrest the mother after questioning her because there were many points that had to be clarified and they were proceeding with caution.
Masako was mentally disabled.
Despite suggestions that she be placed in a special school, she was not enrolled in one and virtually stopped attending regular school at about the third grade.
At the time of Masako’s death, Naraoka’s eldest daughter was living with them, but was often out of the house, sources close to the investigation said.
Naraoka was quoted as telling police she did not take her daughter to a hospital because she thought that if she did, her daughter would be taken to a welfare institution.
“I was depressed due to problems at home and at work, but I should have taken her to the hospital,” she was quoted as saying.
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.