The Sapporo District Court has sentenced a 22-year-old woman to nine years in prison for parental neglect resulting in the starvation death of her two-year-old daughter at their home in Sapporo last year.
The court said in its ruling on Friday that Rina Ikeda said her daughter Kotori’s condition suddenly deteriorated on the morning of June 6, 2019, after she appeared to be OK, Sankei Shimbun reported. Ikeda called an ambulance at around 5 a.m., saying her daughter was ill. Kotori showed no vital signs while she was being taken to a hospital where she died later that day.
Presiding Judge Toshikazu Ishida said Ikeda had been an irresponsible mother as she went out for hours and left her daughter alone without feeding her.
Ikeda was arrested along with her then 24-year-old boyfriend Kazuya Fujiwara on suspicion of repeatedly abusing Kotori at Ikeda's apartment and other locations. After her arrest, Ikeda pleaded not guilty.
The court heard that Kotori had not been fed properly and could have been regularly abused as multiple bruises and cigarette burns were found on her body. She weighed less than 10 kilograms, about half the average weight of a girl of her age.
In September 2018, a child consultation center received a call from Kotori’s daycare center, expressing concern that she was being neglected. But it concluded there was no neglect after a worker met with Kotori and her mother at their home. The girl appeared to have been very attached to her mother at that time, according to investigative and local officials.
But the center received another tip in April 2019 that Kotori was constantly crying but it was unable to meet or contact Ikeda.
A police officer then met with Kotori and her mother on May 15 and noticed an injury on her face and a bandage on her foot, but the injury did not appear serious enough to suspect abuse, police reported at the time. Ikeda had said the injury was the result of Kotori's tripping over, they said.
Prosecutors claimed Kotori was subjected to serious physical abuse after the meeting with the police officer as fresh bruises were found at the time of her death.
Kotori’s former boyfriend Fujiwara was tried separately and convicted last month. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Before the verdict was handed down, prosecutors had sought a 14-year prison sentence for Ikeda.© Japan Today/Kyodo