Japanese mother is jailed over death of daughter


Japanese mother is jailed over death of daughter, five, who begged for approval in her diary, writing ‘I will do more things without daddy and mummy telling me what to do’ before she died in shocking child abuse case

  • Yuri Funato, 27, was jailed for eight years over the death of her daughter Yua
  • Mother pleaded guilty to parental neglect after five-year-old died in March 2018
  • Yua had allegedly suffered abuse at the hands of her stepfather Yudai Funato, 34

A Japanese mother has been jailed for eight years over the death of her five-year-old daughter, in a shocking child abuse case that triggered a national outcry.

Yuri Funato, 27, was handed the sentence at Tokyo District Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to the parental neglect which led to the death of her daughter Yua.

The five-year-old died shortly before her sixth birthday on March 2 last year, after she developed sepsis and pneumonia, the Straits Times reported.

The young girl, who allegedly suffered abuse at the hands of her stepfather Yudai Funato, 34, had urged her parents to forgive her in a journal entry written before her death.

A mother and her child mourn for Yua Funato in front of the apartment where she died

A mother and her child mourn for Yua Funato in front of the apartment where she died

In a passage, she wrote: ‘Please, please, please forgive me. I will make sure I can do more things tomorrow than today without daddy and mummy having to tell me what to do.’ 

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Her words caused outrage across Japan, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressing the case in Parliament as he pledged to make an effort to eradicate child abuse.

‘We’re determined to do all we can [to prevent child abuse cases], including providing full-scale support for efforts by local authorities’, he said in February. ‘We must work while putting children’s lives first.’

Yudai’s abuse of Yua began after her mother gave birth to a son in 2016, reports said.

The girl, who had not been fed adequately since January and weighed just 12.2kg, had lost more than 4kg in two months after she was only given two bowls of soup to eat per day.

Yua was also said to have been regularly locked inside her home in Meguro Ward, Tokyo and starved as her mother and stepfather, who are now divorced, cared for her brother. 

Her words caused outrage across Japan, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressing the case in Parliament as he pledged to make an effort to eradicate child abuse (Pictured: Shinzo Abe on Tuesday)

Her words caused outrage across Japan, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressing the case in Parliament as he pledged to make an effort to eradicate child abuse (Pictured: Shinzo Abe on Tuesday)

In the trial, prosecutors said Yuri had prioritised her relationship with her husband over the welfare of her daughter, the Japan Times reported.

‘She failed to do a parent’s bare minimum of protecting her child by contacting a medical facility or her own parents,’ they said.

It was also said the mother had failed to take Yua to hospital in February 2018 after she fell ill due to her stepfather’s alleged abuse. 

Lawyers defending Yuri claimed she had been powerless to stop her husband as she also had been a victim of his ‘relentless psychological abuse’.

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But the court concluded that this psychological abuse at the hands of her ex-husband ‘cannot be a factor that would greatly reduce her responsibility.’

Yuri was also found guilty of failing to alert the authorities about the abuse Yua allegedly faced at the hands of her ex-husband, and stopping welfare workers from seeing her daughter, reports said.

Her ex-husband Yudai is accused of the neglect and assault of Yua, and will stand trial on October 1. 



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