National / Crime & Legal

Stepfather's 13-year term finalized after fatal abuse of 5-year-old Yua Funato

Kyodo

A 13-year prison sentence was finalized Wednesday for a man convicted of physical abuse and neglect that led to the death of his 5-year-old stepdaughter, after neither the defense nor prosecutors appealed the ruling.

The Tokyo District Court ruled on Oct. 15 that Yudai Funato, 34, had restricted his stepdaughter Yua’s food intake from around late January last year and beat her, and did not seek medical care despite her weakened state while at their home in Meguro Ward, Tokyo. The girl died on March 2 last year.

Prosecutors had demanded that Funato be sentenced to 18 years in prison, while the defense had sought a nine-year term.

“The restriction of food intake and the violence went far beyond discipline,” said Minoru Morishita, presiding judge at the Tokyo District Court, when handing down the ruling earlier this month.

Yua’s 27-year-old mother, Yuri, who is now divorced from Funato, received an eight-year prison term in September for parental neglect resulting in the girl’s death. She has appealed her sentence.

In her case, Tokyo District Court noted that the woman had suffered psychological abuse by Funato, but acknowledged that she knowingly accepted the violence he inflicted on her daughter.

The girl’s death attracted nationwide attention and prompted the government to enact revised laws in June this year to ban parents and other guardians from physically punishing children. The revised laws also strengthened the ability of child welfare centers to intervene in cases where abuse is suspected.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5