• Kyodo


A couple in the village of Izumizaki, Fukushima Prefecture, have been arrested on suspicion of abusing their 3-year-old son to the point of death, police said Saturday.

The father, Isao Shirahige, 40, has a history of child abuse.

The police alleged he and his wife, Wakako, 33, neglected to provide sufficient food to their son, Hiromu, leaving him malnourished.

The boy died around May 28 before they brought him to a hospital, the police said. At the time of his death he weighed 7.9 kg, normal for a 6-month-old.

Numerous bruises were detected on his body at the hospital.

Police also found bruises on two other children, a boy and girl attending elementary school, according to the police.

The children have been placed under the protection of a child consultation center.

The couple have had a total of five children. A daughter, who would have been the oldest girl, died three months after birth.

The father was arrested in June 1999 for injuring his then 2-year-old eldest son and eventually lost parental authority over him.

The police said they are now investigating whether the children were abused on a regular basis.

The father has admitted that the boy who died in May was malnourished, while the wife has denied the allegation, the police said.

According to their neighbors, the two children who go to a nearby elementary school are much skinnier than their fellow students.

“She was always eating school lunch as much as possible, but I only saw her brother at the school’s sports event,” said a classmate of the surviving daughter.

A 64-year-old woman in the village said she once saw the father slap the girl and tried to stop him. The father told her not to intervene in a family matter as he was only disciplining his daughter.

“I feel very sorry for their children,” said a 33-year-old woman who lives in the same neighborhood. “If they are not going to take care of the children, I don’t understand why they decided to have any of them in the first place.”

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