• Kyodo

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Two elderly women and a man found dead Tuesday in a house in Higashi-Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, apparently starved, police said.

The residents of the home were Chiyoko Fujita, 81, who owned the home, her sister, Kimiko, 78, and Kimiko’s son, Yoshio, 53.

The emaciated bodies were found around 5 p.m. by local police and the brother of Chiyoko and Kimiko.

Neighbors said the three, who had lived together, rarely communicated with others.

Police said Chiyoko had been in poor health for some time.

Neighbors said Kimiko had been bedridden since suffering a stroke several years ago. Yoshio was physically disabled, they said.

The Higashi-Osaka Municipal Government said Wednesday it had been aware of the family’s health problems. Chiyoko had refused visits by nursing-care workers, it claimed.

“We had no choice (but to leave them alone) because (Chiyoko) rejected the city’s help,” the city said, calling their deaths “regrettable.”

The city said Kimiko began receiving nursing-care support in 2003. But in April, Chiyoko blocked visits by care workers dispatched from a private-sector firm commissioned by the city.

In May, Chiyoko called a city health center and told workers to suspend care visits for her sister. She also told them to stop calling.

An official from the health center visited Chiyoko in September and was told to stop making visits. Workers at the center spoke to Chiyoko by phone for the last time in November, after which they were unable to get hold of her, the city said.

The two women had apparently been dead for about two months. Police found their partially skeletonized bodies.

The man probably died a few weeks ago, they said.

Police quoted a neighbor as saying he thought he heard Yoshio’s voice from inside the house in late December.

One of the women was found near the front door and the other was in the kitchen. The man was in another room. All were wrapped in blankets, police said.

The three reportedly lived off income from rents on apartments and parking lots owned by Kimiko.

The brother became worried Tuesday when he could not get in touch with his sisters. When he visited the house he noticed a foul odor and reported it to police.

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