Death of an abused 5-year-old girl: Abject failure of Tokyo child services based on inaction
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Yua Funato, a five-year-old child, weighed a mere 12.2 kilograms when she finally passed away from the neglect enacted on her by her parents in March. This happened in Tokyo, one of the most ultra-modern cities in the world. Hence, it begs the question, if child abuse is treated so flimsily in Tokyo despite the abundant wealth of this mega-city, then what hope in areas of Japan that are underfunded?
Equally astounding, the obvious trauma suffered by the emancipated body of Yua still enabled the culprits to be released. Hence, Yudai Funato and his wife Yuri were released despite the obvious signs of neglect. This equally needs to be investigated because both culprits were rearrested on June 6. Yet, why were they released (especially the main culprit Yudai) on license given the fact that the police arrested Yudai on March 3 under the suspicion of neglect and physical abuse? Surely, with such evidence of the emancipated body and other signs of neglect, then it was abundantly obvious that something terrible had happened to this young child.
Yua had been abused in the prefecture of Kagawa and for a time the local child services took action twice. Despite this, the child was ultimately released to two individuals who would in time set in motion her death based on further abuse and neglect. However, the young girl would ultimately die in Tokyo after inaction and neglect by the local authorities – irrespective of any excuses being made.
The simple truth is that authorities in Kagawa had contacted the child welfare center in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Hence, individuals employed to protect vulnerable children knew full well that Yua had been abused and neglected throughout her life. Yet, a simple unanswered home visit in Meguro (Tokyo) meant that Yua would continue to suffer in silence and ultimately pass away from this world.
In fairness to the Kagawa police, they twice sent papers in relation to the suspected abuse of Yua by Yudai to prosecutors in 2017. Yet, the failings of prosecutors to take action meant that one-day this vulnerable young girl would pay the ultimate price. Therefore, with the child welfare center in Tokyo knowing the abuse of Yua in the past, then why was no further action taken when Yudai and Yuri failed to answer the door?
Despite the enormous abuse and suffering faced by Yua, the little girl is known to have written, “I’ll try so hard to do better tomorrow than today … Please forgive me, forgive me.”
It is hoped that Yuriko Koike, the Governor of Tokyo, will focus more on real issues like child abuse and homelessness, rather than lavish events in relation to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Similarly, the central government must continue to enact tighter laws in relation to child abuse. Also, all child welfare centers must be told to take immediate action when contact isn’t made with a vulnerable child.
In a past article by Modern Tokyo Times, it was reported, “According to an important investigation by the Yomiuri Shimbun media outlet, only half of all fatal cases involving child abuse were investigated between 2012 and 2015. This figure is alarmingly low because it is appropriate to review all shortcomings in fatal child abuse cases. Therefore, the central government must support local governments – and local governments must equally take responsibility in preventing further deaths related to child abuse.”
Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group
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