• Kyodo

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A 55-year-old masseur was arrested Thursday for allegedly failing to take a woman to a hospital when she was starving from his diet therapy, causing her to die at his villa in Oita Prefecture last year, police said.

According to police, Keiji Murata, who has a masseur license but not a medical license, was treating the 27-year-old woman from Kobe for atopic dermatitis by limiting the amount of food and drink she could take. The woman soon reached a state of starvation and became unable to walk by herself, but Murata did not take her to a hospital, and she died of acute pneumonia on April 7, 2005.

The diet therapy began at the villa in Kusu, Oita Prefecture, in late March 2005 and was to end the next month.

Murata mainly provided brown rice and sesame for the woman, and her weight plunged from about 50 kg to less than 40 kg in two weeks. The woman became bed-ridden after about 10 days.

Murata has a therapy facility in Fukuoka but often visited the villa to give diet therapy to groups of patients that lasted for several weeks, according to police.