• Kyodo

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The Aichi Prefectural Police confirmed that a body found Tuesday in the Aizuma River in Kariya is that of a 15-year-old high school boy who was allegedly beaten Saturday night by a group of teens and forced to swim across the river before disappearing in the water.

The body of Tatsuya Yoshida was found about 350 meters downriver from the spot where he went missing. The corpse showed no signs of serious injury, the police said. An autopsy will be conducted to examine the cause of death.

“I feel relieved they’ve found Tatsuya,” his mother told reporters gathered in front of the family’s house on Tuesday night, when she returned from a police facility where she identified the body.

“I knew it was Tatsuya the moment I saw the face,” she said, seeming to force herself to stay calm as she spoke. She also conveyed an apology and gratitude to police officers, firefighters and Japan Coast Guard personnel involved in the search for her son’s body.

But the tone of her voice changed when asked what she felt about the three teenagers who allegedly forced her son to swim in the river.

“I’m so confused right now and I can’t give any comment,” she said, and then entered the house.

A source at Yoshida’s school said the mother earlier in the day choked up when a teacher called her on the phone. The source quoted her as saying, “it seems the missing boy is our son.”

The police will continue investigating three teenage boys — a 16-year-old high school student, a 15-year-old described as a “company worker” who does not attend school and a 14-year-old junior high school student — who were arrested Sunday on suspicion of attacking Yoshida. They could face charges of causing injury resulting in death.

According to other boys who were with the three teenagers, they beat Yoshida and forced him to get into the river, which is about 30 meters wide and 3 meters deep in that area. They said he disappeared beneath the surface of the water not long after.

Police officers, firefighters and Japan Coast Guard personnel subsequently launched a search for the missing boy.

At 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, citizens watching the search spotted a body floating in the river. Its clothing — a white T-shirt and red trousers — matched what Yoshida was wearing when he went missing.

According to the police, the three suspects had squabbled with Yoshida before beating him. They allegedly told him he “would be forgiven” if he could swim to the other side of the river and return. He began to swim but disappeared underwater after making it about 15 meters into the river, the witnesses said.

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