Authorization

Woman pleads guilty to complicity in husband's fatal abuse of their daughter

Prosecutors asked a court Thursday to sentence a woman to two years in prison as she pleaded guilty to complicity in her husband's assaults on their 10-year-old daughter who died last January near Tokyo in a case that has attracted international attention.
Nagisa Kurihara, 32, was accused of failing to stop her husband Yuichiro, 41, from assaulting their daughter Mia and following his instructions not to feed her from around Jan. 22. Mia was found dead inside the bathroom of their home in Noda, Chiba Prefecture, two days later.
"The defendant showed no intention to protect her daughter and left the abuse as it was. She abandoned her responsibility as a mother," a prosecutor said in the first court hearing at the Chiba District Court.
The mother told the court that when she tried to stop her husband from abusing Mia she was "grabbed by the collar, forced down on the floor and assaulted" by him.
One time her husband straddled her and forced a blanket into her month, she said.
Asked if she was a victim of domestic violence, she said, "I didn't think I was then, but as I look back now, I may have been."
She said she believed Mia wanted to be rescued by her from the abuse, while admitting there were times she herself had taken out her anger on her daughter.
Prosecutors said the woman tolerated her husband's abusive behavior, asserting that her failure to act in the situation and fulfill her responsibility as a mother constituted a malicious crime.
The court will hand down its ruling on the mother on June 26.
Her defense team argued she had been controlled by her husband and did not intend to abuse her daughter.
The prosecutors said the father had resumed assaulting and injuring Mia by around July 2018 after her protective custody at a child welfare center ended the previous year.
The mother did not report the assaults to police even though she sometimes intervened, the prosecutors said.
The man has been indicted for assaulting his wife around Jan. 1 in addition to assaulting Mia and causing her death by depriving her of sleep and nutrition, among other related charges. His trial schedule has yet to be decided.
Investigations into the case have uncovered how a child welfare center, her school and other local authorities failed to respond promptly to Mia's repeated calls for help, and a member of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child said it demonstrated a crucial lack of responsibility on the part of the adults involved.
The family moved to Chiba Prefecture from Okinawa Prefecture in 2017, with the man and Mia arriving earlier and the woman joining at a later date.
According to the woman's confession read out in court, Mia described those days without her mother at home as a "living hell," saying her father forced her to stand all night, among other abusive acts.
In November 2017, Mia wrote in a school questionnaire in Noda that she was being "bullied" by her father and was subsequently taken into protective custody at the child welfare center for seven weeks.
But as she started saying she wanted to go home, the center concluded the abuse was not serious and ended her protection in late December that year.
Mia then stayed with her relatives. But she finally returned to her parents' home upon approval by the welfare center in February 2018.
After her protective custody ended, no visits were paid to her home by officials of either the center or the school to check her safety.
It was also found that a local education board handed the man a copy of Mia's questionnaire, and that the girl was released from protective custody despite his suspected sexual abuse of her.


© KYODO
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