OSAKA – A couple arrested this week after they were found hiding the body of their son in a car trunk are suspected of accepting child care allowances even though the child is dead.
The case is the latest in a series of stories drawing attention to child abuse by relatively young couples mired in financial trouble.
The Osaka Prefectural Police arrested Rena Suzuki, 24, and her partner Yuta Oshima, 22, on Tuesday on suspicion of abandoning the body of Suzuki’s son, Ryusei. The couple allegedly hid his body in a cooler with deodorant and ice packs to prevent its discovery, according to police.
The two told police that Ryusei died in the car in April.
Suzuki accepted ¥15,000 in child care support in September after registering as a resident of Osaka’s Higashisumiyoshi Ward and requesting the allowance in August, investigative and other sources said. Oshima was living with Suzuki at the time.
They also said they had been moving around since April, staying at places including hotels and friends’ homes, the source said. The police suspect the boy’s health worsened while they were driving around.
The police searched Suzuki’s home for evidence on Friday.
A child consultation center in Osaka had repeatedly called Suzuki, asking her to visit on Monday because the center was unable to confirm the boy’s whereabouts, the sources said. But she told the center by phone that she was unable to visit due to work and was tired of getting its repetitive calls, they said.
On Tuesday, the center contacted the police, who found Suzuki’s car parked in Sumiyoshi Ward. Police arrested the pair, who were staying at a nearby hotel, after finding the boy’s body.
In a similar case in Sakai in Osaka, a man and woman were taken into custody in October on suspicion of unlawfully claiming around ¥360,000 in child allowances between April 2015 and February 2016 despite the fact that their son had not been seen for three years.
After interrogating the boy’s father, police found the toddler’s body in a mountainous area of the prefecture earlier this month. Police said Tuesday that DNA testing has confirmed that the body is that of their son. Police suspect the boy was killed by his father last December when he was 3 years old.
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