• Kyodo


A 31-year-old woman was issued a fresh arrest warrant Friday on suspicion of causing her 4-year-old son’s death by force-feeding him red pepper powder in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, in January, police said.

Miyuki Mitsunaka has denied the allegations, saying she does not recall having committed any such act, police said. The latest arrest warrant was on a charge of causing injury resulting in death.

Police said their investigation showed that her son, Kakeru, a kindergarten student, choked to death at their house at around 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 3 on an amount of red pepper powder that was more than a small child could swallow.

On the day of the incident, Mitsunaka called for an ambulance, telling the rescue team that her son stopped breathing and fell unconscious after mistakenly swallowing the powder, according to police.

Police initially arrested Mitsunaka on Jan. 4 and served her with another warrant on Feb. 7 for allegedly beating the boy and leaving him outside last December after she got upset about his having eaten meat from the refrigerator. She is currently standing trial on a charge of assault and negligence as a guardian.

The boy had red pepper in his lungs and died later at a hospital. Police found a nearly empty bottle of cayenne pepper in the kitchen.

Mitsunaka’s older son was taken from the home and institutionalized in 2004 after it was found the boys had been abused. Since the older boy was the main victim of the abuse at that time, a child welfare center determined it was safe for Kakeru to return home, according to sources at the office.

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