CHIBA - Mia Kurihara, who died in January following a series of alleged assaults by her father, was released from protective custody despite suspicion that he had sexually abused her, local government sources admitted Tuesday.
According to the sources, the 10-year-old girl had told child welfare center officials during interviews in 2017 that her father, Yuichiro Kurihara, had woken her up at night and pulled her pants down.
Kurihara, 41, has already been indicted on assault-related charges after his daughter was found dead in the bathroom of their home in Noda, Chiba Prefecture.
She said her underwear also slipped down, and that when she told him to stop and pulled her pants up Kurihara had told her other family members “will notice if you say (something) like that,” according to the sources.
During the interviews, which were conducted while she was in protective custody at the Kashiwa child welfare center, the girl also gave accounts of physical abuse by her father, such as him covering her mouth and nose with his hands while she was asleep.
The center ended her protective custody even though a doctor said she had been subjected to assaults as well as sexual abuse and was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. The national and prefectural governments are now looking into whether the decision at the time was appropriate.
Mia was taken into protective custody at the center on Nov. 7, 2017, after she reported in a school questionnaire that her father “bullied” her.
But as she started saying she wanted to go home, the center concluded that the abuse was not serious. It ended her protection as of Dec. 27 that year so she could stay with relatives, and she was allowed to return home on Feb. 28, 2018.
The girl’s 32-year-old mother, Nagisa Kurihara, has also been indicted on a charge of assisting in assault.
The case has revealed an apparent lack of coordination among authorities and questionable responses.
Officials in local governments apparently failed to share information on the family despite the abuse allegations, and a local education board provided a copy of Mia’s complaint to her father. Welfare officials also failed to check on the girl’s safety after her protective custody ended.