• Kyodo

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The parents of 3-year-old and 1-year-old girls were given a suspended prison sentence Tuesday for leaving their daughters at home in Kagoshima while the couple stayed at a hotel for more than a week after receiving the government’s COVID-19 cash handout.

Mitsugu Yamamoto, 28, and his wife Kazuki, 24, charged with abandonment of guarantor responsibility, were sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for four years, with Judge Kanji Tomita at the Kagoshima District Court saying, “It was a crime that posed a high risk to life” particularly for the smaller girl who was found dehydrated.

Although prosecutors demanded a prison term of two years for the couple, the court permitted a suspension as the mother has expressed her intention to take care of the girls by heeding the advice of social workers and her own parent, he said.

The couple stayed at a budget hotel in Kagoshima between July 11 and 21, and returned home several times to feed their daughters but not at all between July 15 and 20, according to the ruling. Both have admitted to the allegations.

During their trial, the mother said they thought of using the cash handouts of ¥100,000 per person given to all residents to pay the hotel bill, because she was “tired from work and wanted to get away from child care at a messy home.”

Currently, the two girls have no health problems, according to the couple’s lawyer.

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