• Kyodo

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The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that sentenced a mother to eight years in prison for parental neglect that resulted in the death of her 5-year-old daughter in 2018.

The high court rejected an appeal by Yuri Funato, 28, who was accused of causing her daughter Yua to die of sepsis in March 2018 in Tokyo's Meguro Ward.

According to the Tokyo District Court ruling in September last year, Funato did not feed the girl adequately from around late January that year nor take her to the hospital even though her daughter's condition seriously deteriorated following an assault by her then-husband, and Yua's stepfather, Yudai Funato. Yua died after developing pneumonia.

In the appeal trial, the mother's defense lawyer argued the lower court ruling was too severe as she had been the target of her husband's psychological abuse and was powerless to stop him. The couple, who also have a boy born after their marriage in 2016, are now divorced.

Yudai Funato, 35, was sentenced to 13 years in prison last October for physical abuse and neglect that led to the child's death. The jail term has been finalized.

During the high court hearing that was held just for one day in July, Yuri Funato explained that she published a collection of her notes on her daughter's death in February and donated the royalties to a group supporting abused children.

The high-profile case drew nationwide attention for the girl's desperate pleas for her parents to stop mistreating her.

It prompted the Diet to enact revised laws, banning parents and other guardians from physically punishing children and strengthening the ability of child welfare centers to intervene in cases where abuse is suspected.

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