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The 13-year prison term handed down to Yudai Funato for the fatal abuse and neglect of his 5-year-old stepdaughter, Yua, last year should provide an opportunity to review once again whether steps taken in the wake of the high-profile case involving the family in Meguro Ward, Tokyo, are being effective in fighting the increasingly serious problem of child abuse.

The death of Yua Funato in March 2018, after she suffered persistent violence at the hands of her stepfather and was denied sufficient food for several weeks, highlighted shortcomings in the nation’s efforts to combat child abuse, such as poor communication and coordination among relevant offices that often result in failure to intervene and save abused children, manpower shortages at child welfare centers tasked with handling abuse cases, and the lack of measures to cope with spousal violence in the background of child abuse.

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