• Kyodo


Former world championship marathon runner Yumiko Hara was sentenced Monday to one year in prison, suspended for four years with supervision, for shoplifting food, with the court citing an eating disorder she has.

The 36-year-old was on another suspended sentence for a similar crime when she was arrested after stealing three items, including a bag of candy worth a total of ¥382, from a convenience store in Gunma Prefecture on Feb. 9.

The Maebashi District Court acknowledged that her bulimia, which makes her crave food, affected her ability to control her behavior. But the court also concluded she was mentally competent and so could be held responsible.

“It is not easy to treat (the disorder). But we can expect you not to repeat offenses if you continue with treatment,” Judge Masaya Okuyama said in handing down the ruling.

Her disorder, which involves eating excessively and vomiting numerous times a day, continued even after her retirement, according to her lawyer.

Hara, who represented Japan in two world championships and came sixth in the women’s marathon in Helsinki in 2005, said the eating disorder began during training due to excessive stress.

“I’d like to be completely treated and give even a little courage to those who are similarly suffering,” she said at a news conference after the ruling.

Prosecutors had sought a one-year prison term, saying she committed the crime to get food as she was worried about her unstable income.

Monday’s ruling came after she was sentenced by a different court to one year in prison, suspended for three years, in November last year for shoplifting at a convenience store in Tochigi Prefecture in July.

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